Category Archives: Natural Parks in Castille y Leon

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.

The area has also become famous as a starlight destination. The Starlight Foundation is a non-profit organization that was founded in 2009 to promote the protection of the night sky and the development of “astrotourism” and there is an ever growing list of starlight destinations in Spain to visit.

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Arribes del Duero Natural Park

  • Region: Castilla y Leon
  • Province: Salamanca y Zamora
  • Declared a Natural Park: 2002
  • Park surface area: 106,000 hectares
  • Towns and villages. Argañín, Almendra, Cabeza del Caballo, Villardiegua de la Ribera, Villadepera, Torregamones, Villar del Buey, Fariza, Gamones, Fermoselle, Villarino de los Aires, Pereña, Masueco, Mieza, Vilvestre, Puerto Seguro, San Felices de los Gallegos, Ahigal de los Aceiteros, Sobradillo, La Fregeneda, Hinojosa del Duero, Saucelle, Adeadávila de la Ribera, La Bouza, Bermellar, Saldeana, Barruecopardo, Fonfría, Pino del Oro, Villalcampo, Moralina, Moral de Sayago, Trabanca, Lumbrales, Cerezal de Peñahorcada, La Zarza de Pumareda, La Peña.

Points of interest

The steep gorges of the Arribes del Duero Natural Park are formed by the river Duero which is also the national boundary between Spain and Portugal. The protected area continues into the Portuguese side where it is called the International Douro Natural Park. In 2015, the two parks were declared a transboundary biosphere reserve by Unesco under the name of the Meseta Ibérica and combined, this enormous protected biosphere reserve covers over 1 million hectares in both countries.

Read about biospheres in Spain here: https://wildsideholidays.co.uk/biospheres-in-spain/

This video gives a quick overview of the terrain in the Arribes del Duero natural park

The biosphere reserve of the Meseta Ibéricas altitudes range between 100 and 2000 meters above sea level and includes several protected areas including the natural parks of Arribes del Duero and Lago de Sanabria in Spanish territory and that of the International Duero in the Portuguese part. There are also various areas of the Natura 2000 Network such as the Duero Canyons, the Villafáfila Lagoons, the Sierra de la Culebra and the Albufera del Azibo/Romeo.


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Flora

There is a very rich plant community present which is characterized by the great abundance of typically Mediterranean species mixed in with cultivated olive, grape vine, almond and other fruit trees. In many areas the farmland has been abandoned and is now covered with naturaly regenerated thickets of junipers, holm oak, gall oak, cork oak interspersed with beautiful meadows of grasses and wild flowers.

Fauna

Over 300 species of bird have been recorded here but the black stork is one of the most emblematic in the Arribes del Duero Natural Park and they are accompanied by birds of prey such as griffon vulture, egyptian vulture, eagle owl, golden eagle, bonnellis eagle, kites (both red and black), peregrine falcon and lesser kestrel.

Mammals include both the Iberian wolf and Iberian lynx.

Traditionally, hunting of the Iberian wolf has been allowed north of the Duero river but in 2021 the Spanish goverment announced a total ban much to the dismay of the hunting fraternity and many livestock owners. Time will tell how this works. (Read the comments on the ban at the Iberia Nature Forum https://iberianatureforum.com/forums/topic/iberian-wolf-hunting-ban/ )

Video on YouTube – Arribes del Duero Natural Park (Spanish)


Information/Visitors Centers

Casa del Parque de Arribes del Duero ‘El Torreón de Sobradillo’

Located in the town of Sobradillo east of Salamanca on the border with Portugal, the best way to get there is from Salamanca via the SA-300 heading towards Ledesma or towards Vitigudino via the C-517 and from Zamora via the C-527 towards Fermoselle. From Portugal take the N-620 towards Salamanca and the N-122 towards Zamora.

This information centre has audivisual films about the park and its fauna and flora with exhibitions and models showing the geology and history of the area.

Casa del Parque de Arribes del Duero ‘Convento de San Francisco’

This information centre is located in the old Convent of San Francisco de Fermoselle, a town located in the southwest of the province of Zamora.

Staffed by knowledgable local people this centre will help you get the best out of a visit to the area and has a lot of information on local events and activities as well as exhibitions about the Arribes del Duero Natural Park, its fauna, flora and human history.

Official Tourism website here: https://patrimonionatural.org/espacios-naturales/parque-natural/parque-natural-arribes-del-duero


Ronda Today

Everything you need to know before you visit Ronda “The city of dreams” in Andalucia. https://www.rondatoday.com/

Visit Cádiz

Planning on visiting Cádiz? Tourist information. Monuments. Hotels. Activities. City guides: https://visitingcadiz.com/

The Caminito del Rey

Find tickets for the Caminito del Rey: https://www.caminodelrey.es/

Wildside Holidays – Spain

Take a trip on the Wildside! Discover the wildlife and nature of Spain, its Natural and National Parks and find the top wildlife, activity and walking holiday companies.

Iberia Nature Forum

Struggling with identifying those bugs and beasties? Why not check out the Iberia nature Forum! https://iberianatureforum.com/

The Sierra de Culebra

  • Region: Castilla y Leon
  • Province: Zamora
  • Status: Regional Hunting reserve. With its definitive protection status yet to be determined. In recent years, there has been a debate over the proposal to declare this mountain range a natural park, a measure that has been opposed by the residents of the municipalities affected, as they consider it detrimental to their economic interests.
  • Area: The Sierra de la Culebra covers an approximate total area of 70,000 hectares, of which 61,305 hectares have been designated as a Site of Community Importance (LIC), and 67,340 hectares were declared a national hunting reserve in 1973, later converted into a regional hunting reserve since 1996. It is also part of the “Plan de Espacios Naturales Protegidos de Castilla y León” and is part of the Meseta Ibérica biosphere reserve.
  • Nearby towns and villages: Pedralba de la Pradería, Puebla de Sanabria, Ferreras de Abajo, Ferreras de Arriba, Ferreruela, Tábara, Manzanal de Arriba, Otero de Bodas, Villardeciervos, Figueruela de Arriba, Mahíde, Riofrío de Aliste
Introduction to the Sierra de Culebra

The Sierra de la Culebra is a Spanish mountain range located in the northwest of the province of Zamora and the autonomous community of Castilla y León. It’s main value lies in the large population of Iberian wolf with the highest concentration in Spain. Populations of red deer, roe deer and wild boar are also very significant.

The name of this mountain range is thought to have been inspired by its undulating contours, which bear a resemblance to a snake, hence its name “Sierra de Culebra” (Snake Mountain Range). However, another theory suggests that the name could have stemmed from the historical presence of snake species, including the smooth snake, the horn-nosed viper, and the whip snake.

The area continues across the border and is included in the Portuguese Natural Park of Montesinhos. Its small elevations range from 800 to 1,200 meters in height. Reforestation pine is dominant in the mountains, although native forest masses of oak, Spanish oak, and chestnut are also present. In the scrublands, heather and rockrose are the dominant plants.

The area has also become famous as a starlight destination. The Starlight Foundation is a non-profit organization that was founded in 2009 to promote the protection of the night sky and the development of “astrotourism” and there is an ever growing list of starlight destinations in Spain to visit.

The Sierra de Culebra: A land of wolves.

This mountain range is internationally renowned for being home to one of the most precious faunal treasures and a symbol of conservation efforts—the Iberian wolf. Its vast expanse allows for days of exploration through wide, untouched natural spaces, far from human presence. It stands as one of the premier destinations in Spain for wolf observation.

The best place to see wolves in Spain is in the rolling hills of the Sierra de la Culebra.
The best place to see wolves in Spain is in the rolling hills of the Sierra de la Culebra.
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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.

The area has also become famous as a starlight destination. The Starlight Foundation is a non-profit organization that was founded in 2009 to promote the protection of the night sky and the development of “astrotourism” and there is an ever growing list of starlight destinations in Spain to visit.

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