The Hoces del Río Riaza Natural Park is located in the northeast of the province of Segovia near to the border with the province of Burgos.
This stunning area has been created by the Riaza river which has excavated the limestone of the Segovian plains to create one of the largest areas of gorges, canyons, cliffs and ravines in Spain.
One of the largest Griffon vulture colonies in Spain are resident here and also, due to the caves, it is a safe haven for the Greater mouse-eared bat (Myotis myotis.)
The Linares reservoir is worth a visit especially the dam which has fantastic views and is a great place for birdwatching. The village of Maderuelo was recently named as one of the most beautiful villages in Spain.
This area is characterized by the dominance of the sessile juniper mixed with other oak species woodland. There are rosaceae species such as wild rose, blackberry, hawthorn and blackthorn and various planted woodlands of pine. Depending on the time of year, the Cistus species (Cistus ladanifer and Cistus laurifolius.) can be a beautiful sight when in flower.
Mammals are represented well in this area with otter, wild boar, fox, roe deer, badger, genet, marten, weasel, wild cat, rabbit and hare
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Footpaths in the area (Ask in the visitor centre)
Senda entre puentes
Senda del Río
Senda de la Ermita del Casuar
Senda del Cerro Alto
Senda de las Tenadas de Valdevacas
Senda del Embalse de Linares del Arroyo
From January 1 to July 31 it is necessary to request an authorization at the Information Centre to be able to travel through the reserve area of the natural park, this area includes the PR-SG-6 (Senda del Rio) and PRC-SG- 7 (Hermitage of Casuar).
Hoces del Río Riaza Natural Park visitor centre
Address: Las Eras street in the village of Montejo de la Vega de la Serrezuela. Take the A-1 / E-5 highway, exit 146 and in Milagros, the road to Montejo de la Vega. From Aranda de Duero, continue on the N-1 road to Fuentespina and there take the C-114 road to Fuentelcesped where you take the detour to Montejo de la Vega.
At the Information centre you will find all the information you need to get the best out of a visit to the area. Guides and leaflets are available about the various trails (Including permits when needed) as well as details of other nearby areas of cultural or natural interest.
There is an audivisual film and also exhibitions on the fauna, flora, geology and culture of the area.
Region: Castilla y Leon Province: Soria y Burgos Declared a Natural Park: 1985 Park surface area: 10,176 hectares Towns and Villages: Casarejos, Hontoria del Pinar, Herrera de Soria, Ucero, Nafría de Ucero, San Leonardo de Yagüe, Santa María de las Hoyas
Points of interest
The Cañón del Río Lobos Natural Park is a stunning limestone landscape with two thirds of the park located in the province of Soria and the rest in the province of Burgos.
One of the most visited areas of the Natural Park is the Templar hermitage of San Bartolomé, a Romanesque construction from the first quarter of the 13th century with some Gothic influence. It was part of a monastery of which only the chapel remains.
Located behind the hermitage are the caves which contain engravings and paintings dated to the Bronze Age.
There are extensive forests of juniper and black pine, over a hundred pairs of griffon vultures and also nesting in the area golden eagle, bonellis eagle, Egyptian vulture and various hawks. Mammals include roe deer, wild boar, squirrels, otters, badgers, and wildcats.
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Video on You tube in Spanish about the Cañón del río Lobos Natural Park
Main access points to the Cañón del río Lobos Natural Park.
On the western side, upstream, access is from the village of Hontoria del Pinar On the N-234 road.
12km from Hontoria del Pinar the Puente de los Siete Ojos is the acces most used by hikers who want to walk through the Canyon to the hermitage of San Bartolomé and to visit the caves
At the end (downstream) of the canyon is the Galiana entrance, on the SO-920 road between Casarejos and Ucero. This is close to the Interpretation Center which is located in an old mill converted into a fish farm. (See below)
At all entrances there are car parks and information services.
There are recreational areas at various points in the park, in the Siete Ojos area, the Galiana entrance, in Hontoria del Pinar, Los Agualinos and La Fuente del Pino near Santa María de las Hoyas.
In addition, there are five fantastic viewpoints in the natural park: Costalago, Lastrilla, Castillo, Galiana and Gullurías. The first four can be accessed by car, whilst Gullurías can only be accessed on foot.
Casa del Parque del Cañón del Río Lobos interpretation centre
Carretera SO-920 del Burgo a S. Leonardo de Yagüe Km. 16. The best way to access is via the SO-920 that connects El Burgo de Osma with San Leonardo de Yagüe, accessing these two towns either by the N-122 or the N -234.
A very informative information centre with knowedgable staff. there are audio visual displays and exhibitions of the fauna, flora, gology and human history of the area. Also one of the largest exhibitions about mushrooms and funghi in Spain.
Castilla y Leon official Tourism website for the Cañón del río Lobos Natural Park
Declared a Natural Park: (Fuentes Carrionas and Fuente Cobre-Montaña Palentina Natural Park) 1992
Renamed and expanded: (Montaña Palentina Natural park) 2000
Park surface area: 78,360 hectares
Towns and villages: Aguilar de Campoo, Brañosera, Castrejón de la Peña, Cervera de Pisuerga, Dehesa de Montejo, La Pernía, Polentinos, Triollo, Velilla del Río Carrión, San Cebrián de Mudá
Points of interest
The Montaña Palentina Natural Park (formerly called Fuentes Carrionas y Fuente Cobre-Montaña Palentina Natural Park) is a protected area located in the north of the province of Palencia. The Palentina Mountain range is home to the Fuentes Carrionas and Fuente del Cobre which are the sources of the Carrión and Pisuerga rivers.
This is a space of great natural, landscape, fauna and botanical value. It has the most northern mass of junipers in Europe, together with endemic species from the Cantabrian Mountains such as the Cantabrian Artemis and the Echium cantabricum.
It is a refuge for the emblematic and endangered brown bear. Also, The Cantabrian Capercaillie became extinct in the natural park at the beginning of the twenty-first century and since 2010 the European Union’s LIFE programme has supported a recovery plan for this bird.
This area is also a national hunting reserve, the Reserva Nacional de Caza de Fuentes Carrionas, and this was in existence prior to the designation of the natural park. It now forms a regional hunting reserve within the park boundaries. With an area of almost 50 thousand hectares the reserve covers a large part of the natural park.
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Also in the area
The Cueva del Cobre : Interesting cavity, not only because it is the source of the Pisuerga river but because of the formations and dimensions of its galleries. The route to the cave is simple but takes around 5 hours (13 kilometers.) The route starts in the Palencian town of Santa María de Redondo. (Entering the cave system is for experienced cavers with proper equipment)
The Sel de la Fuente sinkhole: In the Sierra de Híjar there is a cavity that collects the waters of the glacial cirque of the Valdecebollas peak but also this is an incredible alpine meadow and has been a summer pasture area for the cattle and horse herds of the Redondo valley (San Juan de Redondo and Santa María de Redondo) for millenia.
The Brown Bear Foundation interpretation centre (Centro de Interpretación del Oso Cantábrico)
The emphasis across this region of Northern Spain is, of course, with the Cantabrian brown bear and there are four interpretation centres run by the Brown Bear Foundation.
These centres provide a fantastic opportunity to learn about the life and conservation problems of the brown bear, and its relationship with the humans with whom it shares territory. In all the Houses you can enjoy a documentary, about twenty minutes long with exhibits about the life and customs of the Cantabrian brown bear and its habitat.
Nearby towns and villages: Puebla de Sanabria, Cobreros, Galende, Porto, Trefacio
Points of interest
The stunning Lago de Sanabria Natural Park has been extended into the Parque natural Lago de Sanabria y sierras Segundera y de Porto.
At almost 200 hectares and a depth of 50 odd metres the lake, that gives its name to the park, is the largest natural lake in the Iberian Peninsula of glacial origin.
The trout inhabiting both the lake and rivers in the area are highly appreciated in sport fishing and exquisite culinary tasting. In the lake they grow to a large size and the flesh usually has a salmon-pink hue. If you like trout ask for “trucha Sanabrasa” in a restaurant as it is a a staple in the zamorana kitchen.
Located in Sanabria, the northwest part of the province of Zamora close to the border with Portugal it covers the mountainous areas of the Sierra Segundera and Sierra de la Cabrer with heights ranging from 997 m at the lake banks to the 2,124 m of the peak of Peña Trevinca.
This area is one of the few areas in Western Europe having a sizeable population of Iberian wolf living in the close by Sierra de la Culebra mountain range.
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The geographic location of the Lago de Sanabria Natural park on the edges of both Atlantic and Mediterranean climates and in both humid and temperate zones creates a diverse habitat for an enormous wealth of flora with more than 1500 recorded species.
Plentiful water is also another factor of diversity with the abundance of streams, springs, lagoons, bogs and flooded areas that allow the existence of a characteristic aquatic flora adapted to the clean waters found in this natural space. Among these humid environments peat bogs stand out for the quantity of compact masses of different species of Sphagnum moss and that can reach several meters in thickness. These peat bogs are also the prefferred habitat are the preferred habitat for Sundew – a small carnivorous plant.
The dominant forest is that of Quercus pyrenaica and in the colder, damp valleys and on the banks of the Tera river these oaks are replaced by alder (Glutinosa Alnus), birch (Betula pubescens), haze (Corylus avellana), rowan (Sorbus Sorbus) and holly (Ilex aquifolium.) Junipers and yews are also present and closer to towns and villages we find tended groves of wallnut and chestnut.
Around 40 species of mammals are present in the area and species such as the Iberian wolf, wild cat, pyrenean desman, otter , stone marten, stoat and badger stand out. Red deer, roe deer and wild boar are numerous.
From around 2012 the brown bear has been repopulating the area. It would seem that they are dispersed adults from the Western Cantabrian subpopulation that holds around 200 individuals. in 2019 and 2020, reports were made of sightings around the Sanabria lake and the Sotillo valley coupled with attacks on beehives in the area.
Raptors are present in good numbers. Golden eagle, Honey buzzard, Peregrine falcon, Kestrel and Eagle owl to name a few and around 125 species of bird species are recorded in the park.
Interpretation centre for the Parque natural Lago de Sanabria y sierras Segundera y de Porto
Address: Ctra. ZA-104, Km 4,5. Rabanillo (Galende). 49360 Zamora.
Located near the town of Rabanillo at the intersection with the ZA-104 road The Park Interpretation Centre has a permanent exhibition that shows the natural, social and cultural aspects of the park using scale models, explanation panels and audiovisual presentations, etc.
Summer: Every day from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Winter: Open by appointment during the week and open only on weekends from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m
San Martín de Castañeda
The restored monastery of San Martín de Castañeda is a medieval building that housed the Cistercian monks and has been declared a Historic-Artistic Monument. There is an exhibition covering history, ethnography and a sample of recovered sacred art.
Address: Pza de la Iglesia s/n. San Martín de Castañeda (Galende). Zamora.
Winter: From October 1 to December 9: Friday: 16:00 – 20:00 Saturdays, Sundays and holidays: 10:00 – 14:00 and 16:00 – 20:00
Summer: From June 19 – September 30): Every day: 10:00 – 14:00 and 16:00 – 20:00
Local towns and villages El Arenal, Arenas de San Pedro, Bohoyo, Candeleda, La Carrera, Cuevas del Valle, Gilgarcía, Guisando, El Hornillo, Hoyos del Collado, Hoyos del Espino, Los Llanos de Tormes, Mombeltrán, Nava del Barco, Navalonguilla, Navalperal de Tormes, Navarredonda de Gredos, Navatejares, Puerto Castilla, Santiago de Tormes, San Juan de Gredos, San Martín del Pimpollar, Solana de Ávila, Tormellas, Umbrías, Villarejo del Valle, Zapardiel de la Ribera and San Esteban del Valle.
Points of interest
The Sierra de Gredos Regional Park is situated in the southern part of the province of Ávila and encompasses the highest altitudes of the mountains. The highest point of the Sierra de Gredos and also central Spain is the Pico Almanzor at 2,592 metres.
The Sistema Central mountain chain, predominately of granite rock, cuts east to west from Madrid province to Portugal. The Sierra de Gredos is a part of this formation which stretches for nearly 140km running through the provinces of Madrid, Ávila, Salamanca, Toledo and Cáceres.
This once glaciated region has been gradually eroded and molded by the action of ice and water. At lower altitudes deciduous and evergreen forests move up to slopes covered in broom, to alpine meadows and higher still to exposed rock which grows lime coloured lichens, often snow covered. The range of habitat types covers alpine meadows, glacial cirques, glacial lake, moraines, rocky crags, river gorges and sub tropical slopes.
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There is an array of flora and fauna to suit each of these habitats. The southern side of this protective band enjoys a milder climate where they are able to grow peppers and citrus fruits. There are planted orchards of Cherry, Fig, Sweet chestnut and Walnut trees in the valley to the north.
Snow can cover the high ground from November lasting on the peaks to May or June and so the many streams flow with fast clear water.
There are around 1,400 different plant species recorded within the park. Trees include evergreen and deciduous Oaks (Quercus ilex), (Quercus pyrenaica), Poplar (Populus alba, P.tremula, P. nigra), Alder (Alnus glutinosa), Birch (Betula alba), Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris), Stone pine (Pinus pinea) and Mountain ash (Sorbus acuparia).
Most well known are the low growing brooms (Cytisus purgans) that cover the slopes with fragrant yellow flowers in spring. There is an extensive range of gorse and brooms that inhabit these mountains such as Echinospartum barnadesii, Adenocarpus hispanica, Adenocarpus complicates, Genista falcate and Cytisus scoparius. Some hold special habitats such as the flat growing Genista carpetana that creeps over rocks, in oak leaf litter are Genista cinerea, Cytisus scoparius, Cytisus multiflorus or close to pines Genista florida.
Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) grows in woodland clearings and Dog rose (Rosa canina) grows under the pine trees with herbs such as oregano, thyme and rosemary in open areas.
Endemics to Gredos mountains are the Snapdragon (Antirrhinum grosii), Centaurea avilae, Dianthus gredensis, Armeria bigerrensis subsp. bigerrensis, Saxifraga pentadactylis subsp. almanzorii, Jasione laevis subsp gredensis, Sedum campanulatum, Santolina oblongifolia, Scrophularia bourgeana, Sedum campanulatum and Doronicum kuepferi.
The numerous Western Spanish Ibex or Gredos Ibex (Capra pyrenaica victoriae) roaming here are an isolated subspecies of Spanish ibex the latter can be found in many mountainous regions throughout Spain.
Iberolacerta cyreni is a lizard endemic to the Sistema Central mountain range. It is a montane species found close to the tree line in damp, rocky habitats from 1,300 to 2,500m. (Formerly treated as a subspecies of Lacerta monticola).
Mammals of the park include Beech Marten, Wild cat, Otter, Pyrenean muskrat, Ávila snow vole, Pygmy shrew, Long-tailed shrew and Cabrera’s vole,
Raptors that can be seen are Golden eagle, Booted eagle, Short-toed eagle, Imperial eagle, Egyptian vulture, Goshawk, Griffon vulture, Black vulture, Montagu’s harrier, Sparrowhawk, Red and Black Kite, Hobby and Tawny Owl.
Other birds noted within the park are White stork, Black stork, Black redstart, Rock thrush, Bluethroat, Alpine hedge sparrow, Ortolan Bunting, Stonechat, Citril Finch, Rock Bunting, Black-eared Wheatear, Northern Wheatear, Turtledove, Water Pipit, Dipper, Yellow Wagtail, Common Sandpiper, Iberian green woodpecker, Firecrest, Crested Tit, Wood Lark, Western Bonelli’s Warbler, Dartford Warbler and Whitethroat.
Amphibians and reptiles include common Spade foot (Pelobates fuscus), Midwife toad (Alytes obstetricans), and European tree frog (Hyla arborea), Schreiber’s green lizard (Lacerta schreiberi), Large Psammodromus (Psammodromus algirus), Iberian Wall Lizard (Podarcis hispanica), Ocellated lizard (Lacerta lepida), Lataste’s viper (Vipera latastei) and European Pond Terrapin (Emys orbicularis).
Two other endemic animals of the park are the Almanzor salamander (Salamandra salamandra almanzoris) and Gredos toad (Bufo bufo gredosicola).
Also in the area:
The caves called “Cuevas del Águila” contain spectacular concretions and can be visited in the Tiétar valley near Arenas de San Pedro and Ramacastañas. Web: https://cuevasdelaguila.com/?lang=en
At El Raso just south of the Sierra de Gredos Regional park, there is an Iron-age hill fort from the 3rd – 2nd Century B.C. The site is roughly 20 hectares and was once protected by a wall that in places was 3m wide. The Romans ordered this wall to be demolished and now only parts of it remain. There are two reconstructed houses to demonstrate structures of these times. Visit the tourist office in the town of Candeleda (Oficina de Turismo of Candeleda) for more information.
There are also excellent Neolithic cave paintings which can be visited, near El Raso called “El Collado Braguillas“.
Casa del Parque de Sierra de Gredos (zona norte) ‘Pinos Cimeros’
Located in the town of Hoyos del Espino, in the southeast of Ávila.The best way to access it is through Av-941 that connects the N-502 with the town of El Barco de Ávila. It is located on Av-931 that leaves from Hoyos del Espino to the Platforma.
This is a fantastic interpretation centre with all the information that you need. There are interactive maps, exhibitions and detailed information on the geology, fauna, flora and ethnic history of the area.
This video give an idea of what to expect.
Casa del Parque de Sierra de Gredos (zona sur) ‘El Risquillo’
From Madrid you can come along the C-501 (Alcorcón-Plasencia road) to Arenas de San Pedro, and from there take the 5 km provincial road that reaches Guisando. You can also go along the A-5 to Talavera de la Reina and through Arenas arriving at Guisando. From Salamanca and Valladolid you can get to Ávila and from there take the N-502 to Arenas de San Pedro and Guisando.
Another excellent information centre well worth the visit with all the information you need, exhibitions and very knowledgable staff.
1987 – ZEPA (Special Protection Area for Birds) – 32,549 hectares.
1989 – RAMSAR Wetland (Protection and international importance of the lagoon complex) – 2,854 hectares.
1992 – SCI (Place of Community Interest) – 4,219 hectares
Villages in the area of Reserva Natural Lagunas de Villafáfila
Cañizo, Cerecinos de Campos, Manganeses de la Lampreana, Revellinos, San Agustín del Pozo, San Martín de Valderaduey, Tapioles, Villafáfila (Includes the district of Otero de Sariegos, which is entirely inside the Natural Reserve), Villalba de la Lampreana, Villárdiga and Villarrín de Campos.
Hotels in the area of the Reserva Natural Lagunas de Villafáfila
Points of interest
Depending on the season of the year, different birds can be observed But many people visit this area just for views of the Great bustard (Otis otis)
September is a month in which you can see large concentrations of mallard and an abundance of grey herons from the breeding colonies.
October is the time of passage for migratory birds such as common sandpipers and other waders.
November is the month with the highest concentration of cranes in the reserve and the arrival of the first common geese of the season also important flocks of common sandpipers.
In December, the common goose and the frieze duck abound, being in general a good month to observe rare ducks such as the white-faced goose and the grey-faced geese.
In January there are the highest concentrations of goose and European wigeon
In February the geese begin their journey to the Nordic countries. In their place the stork start to arrive from their southern wintering grounds.
March is the beginning of the arrival of the lesser kestrels, spooonbil and it is the time of spring passage for a large number of waders such as sandpipers and plovers etc. This is also the beginning of the mating season for bustards.
In April the bustard is still in breeding season and large concentrations of male combatants emerge in their full breeding plumage.
May is the breeding season of the lesser kestrels, especially the colony at the church of Otero de Sariegos. Storks and avocets are also in full breeding mode.
June is the month of the quail song in the Reserve, cattle egrets abound and the first flights of young storks.
The heat of July makes the aquatic fauna concentrate in the few remaining wetlands. This month also gives best observations of Montagu’s harrier. The first pre-migratory concentrations of stork are beginning to appear as well.
In August, the post-nuptial passage of sandpipers and other waders begins.
Casa del Parque de las Lagunas de Villafáfila ‘El Palomar’
Ctra. Villalpando, Km. 1,5. 49136. Villafáfila. Zamora
On the N-630 road from Zamora towards Benavente. After the town of Granja de Moreruela, take a detour to the right onto the ZA-701 road, towards La Estación de la Tabla.
On the N-VI highway from Tordesillas towards Benavente leave the highway at Villalpando and at the exit of this town take a detour to the left towards Tapioles and Villafáfila.
This is an excellent information centre for the Lagunas de Villafáfila. There are audiovisual exhibitions, walkways, observation points etc and the place is staffed by very knowledgable guides. Well worth a visit!
Hours: Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holidays 10:30 to 14:00 and 16:00 to 19:00
Entrance price is 2 euros for adults and 1.50 for children (Children under free)