Category Archives: Natural Parks in Castille y Leon

Lago de Sanabria Natural park

  • New name: Parque natural Lago de Sanabria y sierras Segundera y de Porto
  • Region: Castilla y Leon
  • Province: Zamora
  • Declared a Natural Park: 1978
  • Park surface area: 32,302 hectares
  • 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.

Find a hotel close to the Lago de Sanabria Natural park

Booking.com

Flora

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.

Fauna

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.

Information/Visitors Centers

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.

Opening times

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.

Opening times

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

See also the official tourist website for Castilla y Leon
Web: https://www.turismocastillayleon.com/es/rural-naturaleza/espacios-naturales/parque-natural-lago-sanabria-sierras-segundera-porto


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.

https://grazalemaguide.com/

Sierra de Gredos Regional Park

  • Region: Castilla y Leon
  • Province: Ávila
  • Declared a Regional Park: 1996
  • Park surface area: 86,236 hectares.
  • Z.E.P.A -Special Bird Protection Zone
  • 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.

Find a hotel in the Sierra de Gredos Regional Park

Booking.com

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.

Flora

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.

Fauna

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.

Western Spanish Ibex or Gredos Ibex (Capra pyrenaica victoriae)
Western Spanish Ibex or Gredos Ibex (Capra pyrenaica victoriae)

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“.

Information/Visitors Centers

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.

More information on the tourist information website of Castilla y Leon
Web: https://www.turismocastillayleon.com/en/countryside-nature


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.

https://grazalemaguide.com/

Las Batuecas-Sierra de Francia Natural Park

  • Region: Castilla y Leon
  • Province: Salamanca
  • Declared a Natural Park: 2000
  • Park surface area: 32,300 hectares
  • Towns and Villages: Monsagro, El Maíllo, Serradilla del Arroyo, La Alberca, El Cabaco, Nava de Francia, Mogarraz, Herguijuela de la Sierra, Monforte de la Sierra, Madroñal, Cepeda, Villanueva del Conde, Miranda del Castañar y Sotoserrano and​ San Martín del Castañar

Points of interest

Las Batuecas-Sierra de Francia Natural Park is part of the western foothills of the Cordillera Central. An isolated area, it is located to the south of the province of Salamanca. The highest peaks are the Hastiala at 1,735 meters and the Peña de Francia at 1,723 meters.

The whole area has a great scenic and ecological value with abundant fauna and flora along with a great cultural wealth and an important historical-artistic heritage. There are five municipalities in the area declared “Historic-Artistic Complex” due to the wealth of cave paintings, remains of Roman mines, hermitages and monasteries that are scattered throughout area.

Among prehistoric remains we find the dolmen of La Morisca in Nava de Francia, the cave shelter of the Canchal de las Cabras Pintadas de las Batuecas (declared Asset of Cultural Interest ) and six cave shelters in Linares de Riofrío “Coquilla”, “Las Viñas”, “Majada Llana”, “Las Carreteras”, “Los Vallejos” and “Relagüesa“.

The great biodiversity of this area has led to it also being designated a biosphere reserve by UNESCO as well as SCI and ZEPA within the Red Natura 2000 project.

Find a hotel close to the Las Batuecas-Sierra de Francia Natural Park

Booking.com

Flora

At higher levels the vegetation has had to adapt to the windswept harsher climate and is dominated by broom and the “hedgehog zone” (low growing prickly shrubs). As you descend, species such as holly and chestnut, oak and birch forests appear. In the lands facing south there are holm oaks, cork oaks, strawberry trees and rockrose whilst in sheltered and sunny areas there are orchards of chestnut, almonds, vineyards and olive groves.

Fauna

Fauna of the park is well represented with 213 cataloged species of vertebrates, of which 9 correspond to the fish group, 13 to amphibians, 19 to reptiles, 126 to birds and 46 to mammals.

As for birds, it is common to see vultures, both griffon and black, golden eagle, peregrine falcon, Egyptian vulture and eagle owl. The black stork, listed as endangered, is also present

Among the mammals that inhabit the Las Batuecas-Sierra de Francia Natural Park are Iberian lynx, badger, ibex, wild cat, mongoose, marten, Iberian desman and otter as well as roe deer, red deer and wild boar.

In the many streams and ponds you can find Iberian newt and Iberian midwife toad

The Peña de Francia lizard (Lagartija batueca – Iberolacerta martinezricai) is exclusive to these mountains as the name sugggests.

Information/Visitors Centers

Casa del Parque de las Batuecas-Sierra de Francia

The information centre is located in the village of La Alberca. From Salamanca, take the CL-512 road towards Necinos. After about 30 km arrive at Tamames and from there on the SA-215, follow the signs to La Peña de Francia. It can also be reached by the A62 motorway; Salamanca – Portugal. Take the Fuentes de San Esteban exit towards Cabrillas-Tamames-La Alberca.

There are excellent audio visual displays, exhibitions covering fauna, flora and the area in general plus the friendly helpful staff will help you to find the best routes and places to see in the area.

Official website for the tourist infomation centre
https://patrimonionatural.org/casas-del-parque/casas-del-parque/casa-del-parque-de-las-batuecas-sierra-de-francia


Iberia Nature Forum

Struggling with identifying those bugs and beasties? Why not check out the Iberia nature Forum!

Discover the Iberia Nature Forum – Environment, geography, nature, landscape, climate, culture, history, rural tourism and travel.

Hoces del río Duratón Natural Park

  • Region: Castilla y Leon
  • Province: Segovia
  • Declared a Natural Park: 1989
  • Park surface area: 5,037 hectares
  • Towns and villages Carrascal del Río, Sebúlcor, Sepúlveda

Points of interest

The relatively small Hoces del río Duratón Natural Park is a jewel in the countryside in the province of Segovia. Its name refers to a 27 kilometre stretch of the Duratón River and “Las Hoces” refers to the series of gorges, some up to 100 metres high, that have been formed by the river..

The Duratón river gorges have also been classified as a Special Protection Area for Birds (ZEPA) and integrated into the Natura 2000 Network in April 1991. The whole area has also been declared as a Site of Community Importance (SCI) in January 1998 and since 2004 the management of the park has been carried out through the European Unions LIFE Project.

The cultural heritage of this area also makes it an important tourist and leisure destination. The hermitage of San Frutos and the monastery of Nuestra Señora de la Hoz are well visited monuments.

Find a hotel close to the Hoces del río Duratón Natural Park

Booking.com

Flora

In the protected area there are varied habitats depending on the climatic and soil differences. Three different and determined zones are distinguished, the moorland in the upper zone, the riverside forest on the river bank and the gorge cliffs.

The moorland zone, which occupies most of the surface of the park, is located in the upper zone, where the soil is dry and poor. Here we find junipers, thyme, gorse, sage, lavender and other scrubland polants that dominate the open areas.The junipers have been greatly affected by human action and clearing have been replaced by thyme and gorse that have come to form a kind of pseudo- steppeland. In some areas there are resin pine plantations although today they are practically abandoned.

The vertical walls that make up the gorges and rupicolous ecosystem descend from the height of the moors to the bottom of the canyon. They are a rocky and inaccessable with very little soil and a scarcity of water creating a unique habitat. Sedum acre, S. dasyphyllum and S. sediforme are present along with ivy, maidenhair fern and asplenium taking advantage of the nitrogen rich droppings from the bird nesting areas. Larger vegetation is made up of black hawthorn, fig tree and Terebinth or turpentine tree (Pistacia terebinthus).

At the bottom of the canyon the riparian ecosystem holds richer soils, a greater availability of water and shelter provide an excellent habitat for an exuberant riverside forest made up of alder, willow, poplar, elm, and ash trees mixed with dogwood, elderberry, blackberry, wild rose, blackthorn and hawthorn. There are also planted stands of fast-growing poplars, walnut and chestnut trees.

Fauna

Birdlife is well represented in the area especially the nesting colony of Griffon vultures with over 500 pairs and many other raptors. The river gorge is a haven for many types of warbler, kingfisher, dipper, woodpecker and finches.

Larger mammals present are otter, wild boar, roe deer and badgers accompanied by the smaller weasel, rabbit and stone marten.

Among the amphibians there are common frog and San Antonio frog, common toad, midwife toad and natterjack toad. Common reptiles seen are viperine snake, ladder snake and ocelated lizard.

Other sites of interest

El Solapo del Águila, in the Corral de Muñecas has the highest concentration of cave paintings.

The hermitage of San Frutos is located on a rocky spur over one of the gorges, and the monastery of Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles at the bottom of the canyon. Also interesting to visit are the ruins of the Visigothic hermitage of San Julián, excavated in the rock and the cave of the Seven Altars.

Not to miss viewpoints (Miradors)

  • Mirador de la Virgen de la Peña, in Sepúlveda, next to the church of the Virgen de la Peña, with information panels.
  • Mirador del Meandro, on the road to Villar de Sobrepeña .
  • Postigo de la Perejilera viewpoint, near the town of Sepúlveda.
  • Mirador del Portillo, with views of the Monastery of Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles de la Hoz.
  • Viewpoint of the Paso de la Glorieta, near Sepúlveda.

Information/Visitors Centers

The interpretation center of the Hoces del Río Duratón natural park is located in the town of Sepúlveda. It is located in the old church of Santiago, in ruins since 1930, which was restored and adapted for this purpose in 1994 . There is an audiovisual room plus an excellent exhibition covering many aspects of the fauna and flora and human habitation/history of the area.

This is also where you get any permits to visit some of the resticted areas of the park.

official website for the Hoces del río Duratón Natural Park
https://www.turismocastillayleon.com/es/rural-naturaleza/casas-parque/casa-parque-hoces-rio-duraton


Iberia Nature Forum

Struggling with identifying those bugs and beasties? Why not check out the Iberia nature Forum!

Discover the Iberia Nature Forum – Environment, geography, nature, landscape, climate, culture, history, rural tourism and travel.