Category Archives: Natural Parks in Castilla la Mancha

Calares del Rio Mundo y de la Sima Natural Park

  • Region: Castilla la Mancha
  • Province: Albacete
  • Declared a Natural Park: 2005
  • Park surface area: 19,192 hectares
  • Place of Community Importance (SCI)
  • Special Protection Area for Birds (ZEPA)
  • Towns and villages: Yeste, Cotillas, Molinicos, Riópar, Víanos, Villaverde del Guadalimar and Veste

Points of interest

A mountainous terrain, the Calares del Rio Mundo y de la Sima Natural Park is marked by several watercourses that have eroded and created karst landscapes of great beauty across the Sierra de Alcaraz, Campo de Montiel and the Sierra del Segura . This park is close to the neighboring Natural Park of the Sierras de Cazorla, Segura and Las Villas in Andalucia.

The Mundo river is well known for its picturesque source. The river originates from a cave in the middle of a tall cliff and forms a waterfall with a height of almost 100 meters. Subsequently, it forms a series of smaller cascades and pools.

There are more than 35 endemic plant species in the area and the park is a haven for classic Iberian wildlife such as Otter, Wildcat, Spanish ibex, Griffon vulture, Golden and Bonellis eagle

The humidity of the area makes the vegetation lush and varied with more than 1,300 cataloged species. The entire park has a high forest density, where the Mediterranean forests of holm oaks and gall oaks intermingle in the lower areas, to give way to conifers such as black pine and resin pine depending on altitude.

Find a hotel in the Calares del Rio Mundo y de la Sima Natural Park

The waterfalls and the source of the Mundo River plus various caves in the area are well worth visiting.

  • Barranco de los Marines
  • Estrecho del Infierno
  • Cueva de los Chorros (You need a permit for this cave, ask in the info centre)
  • Nacimiento del Río Mundo
  • Valle del ríoTus
  • Sierra del Cujón
  • Calar de la Sima

Information/Visitors Centers

Centro de Interpretación del Parque Natural de los Calares del Mundo y de la Sima “Monte Ardal”

Located in the street called Fuensomera in the town of Yeste this information centre for the Calares del Rio Mundo y de la Sima Natural Park consists of a reception area, audiovisual room, interpretive exhibition room, reproduction of a cave, offices, toilets, parking, and a viewpoint on the roof over the spectaular Segura river valley.

There are exhibitions detailing fauna / flora, geology / mountains and river environments.

The Grazalema Guide

The best way to see all our web projects in one place is over at the Grazalema Guide.

The Grazalema Guide – Tourist Information Portal for the Sierra de Grazalema, Wildside Holidays, the town of Ronda and the Caminito del Rey.

Lagunas de Ruidera Natural Park

  • Region: Castilla la Mancha
  • Province: Albacete and Ciudad Real
  • Towns and villages: Argamasilla de Alba, Ruidera, Alhambra, Ossa de Montiel and Villahermosa.
  • Declared a Natural Park: 1979
  • Park surface area: 3,772 hectares

Points of interest

The Lagunas de Ruidera Natural Park acts as a buffer zone to the Tablas de Daimiel National Park and It consists of a complex lagoon system made up of fifteen lagoons, which over 30 kilometers constitute the Alto Guadiana valley and in its highest part the source of the Guadiana river.

A lot of activities are available in the area such as hiking, diving, kayaking, paddle surfing, sailing, etc. There are bathing areas during the summer, and good places for sport fishing (See below)

In the lagoons, the marshy vegetation that is usually found consists of great fen-sedge (Cladium Mariscus), a species classified as vulnerable in Castilla la Mancha. Reeds (phragmites australis), and southern cattail (thypa dominguensis, Thypha latifolia) and lakeshore bulrush (Scirpus lacustris) are also present

The marsh vegetation provides shelter and nesting place for a multitude of animal species that live in this natural park. However, in some lagoons, the marsh vegetation has been removed in order to create false beaches for human summer visitors. That said there seems to be a good balance of wildlife protection and human enjoyment of the countryside here in this natural park.

Bordering the Ruidera lagoons, and at the bottom of the valleys and cliffs, near streams and sources, a humid microclimate of great biological interest is created. There are small woodlands formed mainly of deciduous trees These groves do not represent the original vegetation of the area, but rather are a mosaic of repopulated species, mainly black poplars (Populus nigra) and white poplar (Populus alba) along with fig trees (ficus carica), elm , willows, ash , brambles, and other species of shrubs, as well various species of fruit trees.

Find a hotel close to the Lagunas de Ruidera Natural Park

Cervantes and Don Quixote – The Cueva de Montesinos.

Remember that you are in the domain of Cervantes and Don Quixote!…

One of the most extravagant and enigmatic episodes of Don Quixote is when he enters what is known as “Cueva de Montesinos”, but not before always invoking his beloved Dulcinea del Toboso, whom he asks for her protection, “… She is his mistress and through her the virtues of the gentleman are strengthened … ”. Illuminated with a torch and sword in hand he enters the cave, tied to a rope a hundred fathoms long. Discovering, although in dreams, a wonderful alabaster world where he contemplates the wonders that the cave contains.

The Montesinos Cave is located on the road from Ruidera to Ossa de Montiel and is well signposted. (Ask about a guided visit in the information centre – see below)


This wetland is of special interest as a nesting area and a rest area for passage migrants. Aquatic birds, such as the Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus), Lesser Grebe (Tallibaptus nigricollis), as well as anatidae such as red-crested pochard (Netta rufina), common pochard (Aythya ferina) and Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos). In winter Tufted duck (Aythya fuligula) are present.

Among the reedbeds great reed warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus), bearded reedling (Panurus biarmicus) are numerous and kingfisher (Alcedo Athis) are usually found on the banks of streams. Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea) breeding in the secluded areas of the lagoons along with little bittern (Ixobrichus minutus). Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) makes an appearance during autumn and winter.

Among the raptors Marsh harrier (Circus aeruginosus) nests in the marsh vegetation and hen harrier (Circus cyaneus) is present during the winter months. In the mountains around the park you can see the Bonelli’s Eagle (Hieraaetus fasciatus), Short-toed Eagle (Circaetus gallicus), Eurasian sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus), Goshawk (Accipiter gentiles), Little Owl (Asió otus), Scops owl (Otus scops) and Eagle Owl (Bubo bubo), with several pairs that use the park to nest and feed.

This diversity birds that populate the Lagunas de Ruidera Natural Park, makes it an exceptional place for bird watching.


The mammals that we can find in this protected area are found in the groves, areas of scrubland and holm oaks. Common species of these environments is Wildcat (Felis sylvestris), Fox (Vulpes vulpes), and wild boar (Sus scrofa). Other common species are Common Shrew (Crocidura russula), Hedgehog (Erinaceus europaens), Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus), Otter(Lutra lutra).

With many cavities and caves in the area nine species of bats have been recorded such as the southern long-eared bat (plecotus austriacus), shreibers bat (Miniopterus schreibersi), and the large horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus ferrum-equinum) that form important colonies inside the caves such as the well-known “Cueva de Montesinos

Amphibians and reptiles

Amphibians are present including the marbled newt (Triturus marmoratus), the common toad (Bufo bufo), natterjack toad(Bufo calamita) as well as the southern tree frog (Hyla meridionales), and the common frog (Rana perezi).

Among the scrub formations and paths, it is fairly easy to spot Red-tailed Lizard, Ocellated Lizard (Lacerta lepida), Iberian Skink (Chalcides bedrigai), Southern Smooth Snake (Coronela girondica), Ladder snake (Elaphe scalaris), Montpeliers Snake (Malpolon monspessulanus) and European pond terrapin (Emys orbicularis).


the Ruidera lagoons boast an interesting community of freshwater fish in the Upper Guadiana with species like barbel, chub, carp, pike and black-bass.

Fishing is allowed in various areas of the park but you need to ask in the information centre about permits and where you may and may not fish.

Information/Visitors Centers

Located close to Ruidera on the N-430 next to the junction with the road that runs parallel to the lagoons, The natural park information centre has all the information you need about the lagoons, walking routes, areas for swimmingand fishing permits.

There are exhibitions covering the fauna and flora of the lagoons as well as cultural history of the area and there is a small botanical garden with many species of plants that are present in the area.

Also available is a downloadable app from the Google Play Store. In both English and Spanish languages this guide has the most up to date information on the Lagunas de Ruidera Natural Park. The app includes, maps guides, audio information and information on walking routes in the area.

The Grazalema Guide

The best way to see all our web projects in one place is over at the Grazalema Guide.

The Grazalema Guide – Tourist Information Portal for the Sierra de Grazalema, Wildside Holidays, the town of Ronda and the Caminito del Rey.

Alto Tajo Natural Park

  • Region: Castilla la Mancha
  • Province: Cuenca and Guadalajara
  • Declared a Natural Park: 2000
  • Park surface area: 174,545 hectares

Points of interest

The Alto Tajo Natural Park located between the southeast of the Guadalajara province and the northeast of Cuenca is famous for its canyons and gorges formed by the river Tagus and its tributaries. (The most extensive river gorge system in the region and one of the most important in Spain, with a great geological, botanical and fauna diversity.

Pine forests and spectacular cliff formations make for a wonderful area to explore with over 40 villages and towns within the parks boundaries. There are several Special Protection Areas for Birds (ZEPA) and Special Conservation Zones (ZEC) established in accordance with the Natura 2000 Network.

Most of the species of birds of the Iberian Peninsula reside in or migrate through the Alto Tajo Natural Park which has led to the creation of a Special Protection Area for Birds (ZEPA).

The concentration of mammals, (predators and herbivores), reptiles, amphibians and fish are abundant throughout the park due to its massive size and wealth of habitats.

Hotels in the Alto Tajo Natural Park

Threats to the Alto Tajo Natural Park

This protected natural space is in an excellent degree of conservation however:

“The park has been threatened by Kaolinite mining, with the government finding it hard to regulate as it contributes to 13.5% of all the jobs in the area and because Kaolinite is considered an important mineral in the national economy as it is a raw material in many industries. Currently two mines are operational in Poveda de la Sierra which affects an area of around 100 hectares. There is also an open mine in Peñalén, where mining has been put on hold. Mining in the area began in the 1960s with an English multinational company called ECC being the sole miner for 20 years before they pulled out of the country.
The present mining companies hold a mining right for 90 years and have been reluctant to stop mining without proper compensation.

The runoffs from the mines are polluting the Tagus river, besides affecting the fauna in the river

The Alto Tajo Natural Park is famous for its canyons and gorges formed by the river Tagus and its tributaries
The Alto Tajo Natural Park is famous for its canyons and gorges formed by the river Tagus and its tributaries

Information/Visitors Centers

This is a large protected area and as such has quite a few information centres dedicated to the natural park of Tajo Alto.

Centro de interpretación Dehesa de Corduente

Located in the northern sector of the Natural Park, 2 km from Corduente, at KM 85 of the CM-2015 road that connects this town with Zaorejas, about 10 km from the town of Molina de Aragón.

Plenty of information and excellent exhibitions covering woodlands, lagoon ecosystems, ethnography, flora, fauna, mountains and rivers.

Centro de interpretación Sequero de Orea

Located in the village of Orea, Calle Camino del Río, number 2.

The Interpretation center in Orea is dedicated to the inhabitants of the Alto Tajo, it was built by reforming the building of the old “Orea Sequero“, a forest house located in the town that had an oven to dry pinecones and extract pine nuts that later were used in the forest nurseries for reforestation of the mountains. The museum is mainly oriented to the interpretation of the ethnographic heritage and traditional uses of the Tajo Alto but there is also general information available.

Centro de interpretación del Río Tajo

Km 56 of the CM-2015 road close to ​​Zaorejas

This interpretation center focuses on the details of the Tagus River from its source and the 1000 km journey to its estuary in Portugal studying the most relevant aspects of its passage through the Natural Park including the lagoon and river ecosystems, fauna and flora.

Centro de interpretación Museo de la ganadería tradicional en el Alto Tajo

located in the town of Checa. Plaza Lorenzo Arrazola nº 1. (Next to the Town Hall).

This museum focuses on the traditional livestock farming that has been carried out in the Alto Tajo since ancient times. Also the timber extraction that has shaped the landscape that we see today.

The interpretive exhibition covers the following topics:

  • Traditional methods of cattle management: Methods that have been used to adapt livestock exploitation to the climatic, ecological and social conditions that shaped traditional livestock farming in the area.
  • Livestock and landscape: The influence that the activity has had on the natural environment, the evolution of pastures and the relationship of traditional livestock with wild animal populations.
  • Livestock infrastructures: The different constructions and traditional equipments such as farm buildings, holding pens, drinking troughs etc

Official website in Spanish

The Grazalema Guide

The best way to see all our web projects in one place is over at the Grazalema Guide.

The Grazalema Guide – Tourist Information Portal for the Sierra de Grazalema, Wildside Holidays, the town of Ronda and the Caminito del Rey.

Barranco del Rio Dulce Natural Park

  • Region: Castilla la Mancha
  • Province: Guadalajara
  • Declared a Natural Park: 2003
  • Park surface area: 8,348 hectares
  • Local towns and villages: Sigüenza, Mandayona, Saúca, Torremocha del Campo, Algora and Mirabueno

Points of interest

The Barranco del Rio Dulce Natural Park is Special Area of Conservation (SACs), Special Protection Area (SPA), a Site of Community Importance (SCI) and is also included in the Natura 2000 network.

The impressive ravine is the result of the erosion on Mesozoic limestone, dolomites and paleogene outcrops. During the Cretaceous period the area was frequently covered by seas which deposited the current limestone. More recently, in the Quaternary, the river has been dissolving the limestone and eroding the current canyon.

This spectacular landscape was popularized by the famous naturalist Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente as it provided the ideal setting for a number of his television wildlife documentaries. (Especially those dedicated to eagles)

The viewing area over the gorge is dedicated to him. (Félix Samuel Rodríguez de la Fuente (March 14, 1928 – March 14, 1980) was a Spanish naturalist and broadcaster. He is best known for the highly successful and influential TV series, El Hombre y la Tierra (1974–1980)

Video showing the Barranco del Rio Dulce Natural Park from the air

The cliff walls provide the perfect habitat for swift (Apus melba), Eurasian crag martin (Ptyonoprogne rupestris), redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros), rock sparrow (Petronia petronia), blue rock thrush (Monticola solitarius) and raven (Corvus corax).

These rocky areas are also inhabited by griffon vulture, red-billed chough (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax) and Egyptian vulture as well as the increasingly rare Bonelli’s eagle (Hieraaetus fasciatus), eagle owl (Bubo bubo) and peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus).

The riparian (river) ecosystem is an important habitat for the otter which feeds mainly on the large and healthy population of common trout (Salmo trutta)

There is also an isolated population of the endangered Pyrenean desman (Galemys pyrenaicus) The river is an ideal habitat for birds such as the white-throated dipper (Cinclus cinclus), grey wagtail (Motacilla cinerea) and kingfisher. The Mediterranean water shrew (Neomys anomalus) is also present

In the woodland and moorlands there are roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), wild boar (Sus scrofa ).

These wooded and open areas are hunting grounds for raptors such as booted eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus), short-toed eagle (Circaetus gallicus) and goshawk (Accipiter gentilis).

Find a hotel close to the Barranco del Rio Dulce Natural Park

Information/Visitors Centers

Centro de interpretación Parque Natural Barranco del Río Dulce

Located in the village of Mandayona the exhibition dedicated to the natural resources of the park is influenced greatly by the work of the famous Spanish naturalist Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente.

There are live cams showing vulture nests and excellent information on the fauna and flora of the area. This is also the place to get your infomation for walking in the area.


The Grazalema Guide

The best way to see all our web projects in one place is over at the Grazalema Guide.

The Grazalema Guide – Tourist Information Portal for the Sierra de Grazalema, Wildside Holidays, the town of Ronda and the Caminito del Rey.