Category Archives: Natural Parks in Andalucia

Sierra Mágina

  • Region: Andalucia
  • Province: Jaén
  • Declared a Natural Park: 1989
  • Park surface area: 19,961 hectares

Points of interest

There are three peaks over 2000m within the Sierra Mágina park. The highest is Mágina which stands at 2,165m and dominates the limestone terrain. This area is part of the Cordillera Subbetica range and along with other mountains in the area has a selection of highly specialized plants that are endemic to the park.

The exposed rocky peaks, vertical cliffs, shaded woodland, river banks and extensive Olive and Almond groves each offer a different habitat.

The “Pinar de Cánavas” is a natural monument south of the village of Jimena. It is a small woodland of exceptionally large, centennial Aleppo pines (Pinus halepensis).

The sierra Magina contains many limestone caves, several of which are open to visitors. Neolithic cave paintings and Paleolithic tools date back to the 4th and 3rd century BC. (Ask about them in your hotel or one of the information centres.)

Continue reading Sierra Mágina

Sierra de Cardeña y Montoro

The natural park of Sierra de Cardeña y Montoro. Above image – Dehesa de encinas con viboreras – Photo by Zumaya Ambiente Creativo.

  • Region: Andalucia
  • Province: Granada
  • Declared a Natural Park: 1989
  • Park surface area: 41, 212 hectares

Points of interest

The natural park of Sierra de Cardeña y Montoro is a combination of gentle hills with outcrops of batholithic boulders, forest and meadows. The highest point being 828m at La Colmena.

It is located on the north eastern border of Cordoba and is separated from the natural park of Andújar in Jaen by the deeply ravined river Yeguas. There are cultivated fields along with Cork and Holm oak forests plus dense natural Mediterranean scrub.

This Natural park is part of the Sierra Morena and shares some endangered species in common with other natural parks in this mountain range. The Sierra de Cardeña y Montoro has among its inhabitants the protected Lynx and Wolf.


Hotels in the Sierra de Cardeña y Montoro

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Flora

On a humid plateau near Cardeña there is a woodland of Pyrenean oak (Quercus pyrenaica) with shrubs of rockrose and lavenders. It is the only woods of this type in Cordoba province. The most dominant oak trees are Holm (Quercus ilex) and Cork (Q. suber) with small areas of Gall oaks (Q. faginea).

The undergrowth consists of Kermes oak (Quercus coccifera), rock roses (Cistus sp), Lentisc (Pistacia lentisc), Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), Wild olive (Olea europaea subsp oleaster) and strawberry trees (Arbutus unedo).

There are also reforestation areas of Stone pine (Pinus pinea) and Maritime pine (Pinus pinaster). The river banks are clothed with Willows, Ash, Oleanders, Black poplar and Alder.

Fauna

Dense thicket gives cover to much wildlife including Red, Fallow and Roe deer, Wild boar, Badger, Fox, Mongoose, Stone martin, Genet, Wild cat, Weasels, Hare and Rabbit.

Among the raptors are Imperial, Bonelli’s, Booted, Short-toed and Golden eagles, Sparrow hawk, Goshawk, kite, Buzzards, Kestrel, Lesser kestrel and Peregrine. Black and Griffon vultures, Tawny, Long-eared, Little and Eagle owls.

Along the river you will find Kingfisher, Dipper, Nightingale, Warblers, Wrens, Stripe-necked terrapins and Barbel.

There is a hide for bird watching on the reservoir named Embalse de Tejoneras. The birds you may see include Herons, Egrets and Little grebes. Many aquatic birds rest here on this lake on their migratory routes.

Tours in the province of Granada from Viator


Also in the area

Tin, copper and lead used to be mined in the area of Venta del Charco, where there are remains from the Iberian and Roman eras. Roman coins and silver Iberian vessels have been discovered at Azuel.

Remains of Megalithic graves from the Metal Age (3rd century B.C.) have been discovered at Torrubia.

Information/Visitors Centers

Centro de Visitantes Venta Nueva, just outside Cardeña at Km 79 on the A92.

This visitor centre in the Sierra de Cardeña y Montoro has an interesting exhition displaying the typical Mediterranean landscape of this fertile highland zone, with its extensive dehesa pastureland, its Mediterranean scrub and its pine groves.

Visitors can follow the Cardeña-El Cerezo trail, which enters the dehesa and winds past a series of unusual granite blocks known as bolos.

For other sites and places to see try to visit the tourist office in the town ofCardeña. (Number 3, Miguel Gallo street)

Nearby towns

Cardeña, Montoro (Tourist office in Cardeña here in Spanish)


Wildside Holidays – Spain

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Bahía de Cádiz

  • Region: Andalucia
  • Province: Cádiz
  • Declared a Natural Park: 1989
  • Park surface area: 10,522 hectares
  • Towns and Villages: San Fernando, Chiclana de la Frontera, Puerto Real, Puerto de Santa María and Cádiz

Points of interest

This 5km bay area (Bahía de Cádiz) is a wintering ground and summer breeding area to 200 different aquatic bird species.

This Atlantic tidal area consists of sandy beaches, river estuary, marshlands, salt pans, dunes and rocky inlets.

Extensive pine groves once covered a large part of this area.

The tidal marsh of Sancti Petri, which is situated in Chiclana de la Frontera, to the south of the Bay of Cádiz and which forms a part of this natural park, is an area of high scenic value, given that is one of the few marshes that has not been altered by its use as a salt mine. In addition, the condition of the island and the existence of a large stone pine forest (Pinar del Coto de la Isleta) at higher grounds clearly contributes to an image of what the natural landscape of the Bay of Cádiz must have been like many years ago.

Find a hotel in the area of Bahía de Cádiz

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Flora

Flora in the Bahía de Cádiz is made up of plants that have adapted to living in sand with saline atmospheres and tidal flow. Cord grass, glasswort or maritime purslane, among others, have an important presence, whilst in the transition of the marshland into dry land there are grasses such as rostraria and barren brome.

On the intertidal plains, rich in nutrients, there are submerged meadows of gracilaria and algae, such as ulva linza and the sea lettuce. These seafloors, rich in food, half way between The Strait and the Doñana marshes, play an important role in the migratory movements of birds, enabling many birds to winter on the coast

Natura Tours


In the area and endemic to Andalucia are Armeria gaditana, Taraxacum gaditanum and Hymenostemma pseudoanthemis, the latter two are recorded as vulnerable on the list of endangered plants.

Enclaves of Stone pine, (Pinus pinea) including a woodland of 6 hectares at Sancti Petri. Edible pine nuts are collected from this species. These forests are a sanctuary for birds such as blackbirds, robins, owls and kestrels, as well as for chameleons, amphibians and mammals like the European hedgehog and the dormouse.

Fauna

There are a great amount of aquatic birds like grebes, cormorants, gulls and gannets. White stork, herons and avocets nest here. Flamingo and osprey can also be observed. Invertebrates such as shrimps, crabs, clams, cockles along with the fish sole, sea bream, grey mullet and sea bass are abundant. It is an important breeding ground for many commercial species of fish and crustaceans.

Also in the area

Phoenician and Roman remains. Numerous galleons sunk off the coasts.

The site is surrounded by urban centres of around 400,000 inhabitants and the Cádiz port. This of course creates urban, tourism and leisure environmental pressures on the protected area.

Information/Visitors Centers

Parque Natural Bahía de Cádiz visitor centre. (Calle Buen Pastor, carretera de Campo Soto (opposite camposoto beach))

The Visitor Centre of the Bay of Cadiz Nature Reserve is in San Fernando (Cádiz). The recently built facilities, a model with regards to sustainability, are located at the Salina of La Leocadia, opposite the camposoto beach. The ideal place for a visit to this Nature Reserve, as its facilities offer you diverse information on the area and the activities possible there.


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Sierra de Aracena y Picos de Aroche Natural Park

  • Region: Andalucia
  • Province: Huelva
  • Declared a Natural Park: 1989
  • Park surface area: 186,827 hectares
  • Towns and villages Alajar, Almonaster La Real, Aracena, Aroche, Arroyomolinos de Leon, Cala, Cañaveral de Leon, Castaño del Robledo, Corteconcepcion, Cortegana, Cortelazor, Cumbres de Enmedio, Cumbres de San Bartolome, Cumbres Mayores, Encinasola, Fuenteheridos, Galaroza, Higuera de La Sierra, Hinojales, Jabugo, Linares de La Sierra, Marines (los), Nava (la), Puerto-moral, Santa Ana La Real, Santa Olalla del Cala, Valdelarco, Zufre

Located in the far west of the Sierra Morena Mountains, in the north of the province of Huelva, the Sierra de Aracena y Picos de Aroche Natural Park is characterised by its extensive forest, high rainfall, mild climate and interesting natural and cultural heritage.

Dense forest covers most of the park due to the humid climate which has an Atlantic influence. This is the western end of the Sierra de Morena mountain range, close to the Portuguese border. Oak and Chestnut are the main tree species with meadow pastures which are grazed by Ganado Bravo, fighting bulls. Cerdo Iberico, a breed of black pig from Iberia, is raised in the pastures and feeds on the acorns giving it a distinct flavour.

The village of Jabugo, one of the 28 within the park, produces world renowned Jamon Iberico products. The museum of ham in Aracena is well worth a visit. (Not for vegetarians though)

There are two reservoirs (Embalse) in the The Sierra de Aracena and Picos de Aroche Natural Park. The Embalse de Zufre and Embalse de Aracena.

Flora

Chestnut trees were encouraged here by the Romans and have established dense woodland. Oaks such as Cork (Quercus suber) and Gall (Q. faginea) grow better in the valleys and lower slopes. Poplars, Willows, Alders and Ash occupy river and stream banks. Stone pine (Pinus pinea) and Black pine (Pinus pinaster) have been planted as well as Eucalyptus. Scrub consists of Kermes oak (Quercus coccifera), Smilax (Smilex aspera), Turpentine tree (Pistacia terebinthus). Few Pyrenean oaks exist as they have been used for firewood over the last few decades.

Fauna

Some of the many bird species are Black stork, White stork, Golden, Spanish imperial, Booted eagles, Griffon, Egyptian, Black vultures, Lesser kestrel, Goshawk, Osprey, Black-winged, Black, Red kites, Marsh, Hen, Montagu’s harriers, Crane, Little bustard, Great spotted cuckoo, Red-necked nightjar.

Some colourful characters are Hoopoes, Azure-winged magpies, Bee-eaters, Golden orioles, Southern grey and Woodchat shrikes
Mammals include Wild boar, Fox, Badgers, Genet, Wild cat, Mongoose, Stone martin, Polecat, Weasel and introduced Red deer and Mouflon.

Also in the area

Grutas de las Maravillas (Website in Spanish here) is a limestone wonder with tremendous stalactites and stalagmites and more than 2km of caverns including 6 lakes. The entrance for visitors is in the town of Aracena which is also known for its 13thC Templar church and ruined castle.

The most ancient European copper mines are located south of the village of Riotinto. They were worked since Phoenician times and presently there is a fascinating museum and narrow gauge tourist train visiting the open cast mines. (Website here in Spanish)


Find a hotel in the area

Molino Río Alájar is located in the Sierra de Aracena y Picos de Aroche Nature Reserve. It is a collection of 6 charming cottages with a shared pool and tennis courts.

The property offers a wide range of activities, including flamenco guitar lessons, Spanish lessons and tennis coaching. It also organises hiking and bird watching walks in the nature reserve.

Click here to find out more about Molino Rio Alajar.

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Information/Visitors Centers

“Cabildo Viejo”, Plaza Alta, Aracena.

The Cabildo Viejo visitor centre is in the centre of Aracena and occupies a historic building erected in the 17th century. Its name stems from the fact that the building was also once the seat of Aracena’s first town council. The house’s size and beauty give us some idea of the historic importance of Aracena in this area. The interpretative exhibition inside the centre focuses largely on the heritage, traditional crafts and gastronomy of the Nature Park.

Aracena Tourist Office

The tourist office in Aracena has a very helpfull set of staff and speak English. They can point you in the right direction whether you are looking for tickets for the cave, a tour of the ham museum or other attractions in the area. Just follow the signs in the town for “Oficina de Turismo


Wildside Holidays – Spain

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