Category Archives: Natural Parks in Spain

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.)

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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.

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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)


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Sierra Cazorla Segura y Las Villas

  • Region: Andalucia
  • Province: Jaen
  • Declared a Natural Park: 1986
  • Park surface area: 209,920 hectares

Points of interest

The Sierra Cazorla, Segura y las Villas offers a great array of very well conserved ecosystems, each of high natural value with many endemics. Spectacular landscapes including waterfalls, deep valleys and lakes make this park unique. The important Guadalquivir and Segura rivers both begin in the park. Large pine forests clothe this limestone mountain range whose highest point is Pico Empanada at 2,107m. It is a very accessible park with many old donkey routes crisscrossing the mountains.

Flora

Too many to name and a botanists dream destination. Boasting more than 2000 different plant species, of which 34 are unique in the world such as Viola cazorlensis. This territory holds a 5th of the variety of plant species to be found within the Iberian peninsular.

A visit to the botanical gardens at Torre de Vinagre is pretty much obligatory.

Fauna

Historically this zone has constituted a refuge for the wild fauna. There are 280 species of vertebrates (11 of which are fish, 12 amphibians, 21 reptiles 185 birds, and 51 of mammals). One reptile unique to the park is the Valverde lizard. (Algyroides marchi)

Spanish ibex, Red deer, Fallow deer, Mouflon, Wild boar and Red squirrel are well represented.

Griffon vulture is plentiful and the Bearded vulture has been re-introduced recently.


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Also in the area

The area has held onto its historic roots and the village of Segura de la Sierra is dominated by its Mudejar castle. The church of Our Lady of Collado dates from the 15th century also there are Arab baths.

The village of Hornos de Segura has marvellous views, it retains its old city walls and the Puerta de la Villa or old city gate plus the castle and church which have led to the denomination of this town as an “Historic Artistic Site”.


The Sierra de Cazorla in Andalucia has the stunning Parador de Cazorla.
Located at the heart of the Cazorla Nature Reserve, in stunning natural surroundings, the Parador de Cazorla
Located at the heart of the Cazorla Nature Reserve, in stunning natural surroundings, the Parador de Cazorla

Click here to reserve your room over at booking.com.

Located at the heart of the Cazorla Nature Reserve, in stunning natural surroundings, the Parador de Cazorla is perfect accommodation for a rural getaway in the north east of Andalusia.


Information/Visitors Centers

Cazorla, information centre

In the town of Cazorla you will find a well equippped information centre. probably the best place to start if you are in the area.


Torre del Vinagre

The main park visitor centre is at Km. 45 of the A-319 road between the villages of Cazorla and Hornos de Segura, one of the main access routes into the park.

The Torre del Vinagre visitor centre should be an obligatory visit and there is a huge amount of information about Spain’s largest Nature Park. Its outstanding location in the Guadalquivir valley makes it possible to enjoy one of the most emblematic sectors of this natural area.

The Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas encompass five types of environment, each with its own scenic attraction, and this information centre helps visitors to discover all their secrets. The different landscapes comprised of rocky environments, with a whole universe of shapes and colours; water environments, based around water as the source of life, richness and diversity; pine groves, the predominant woodland in the Sierra; the craggy relief of the high peaks – a wilderness that is nevertheless full of life; and lastly the human landscapes, where Man has transformed the land he has occupied since times immemorial.

The exhibition presents the inhabitants of these five landscapes, and there is a room in which visitors can view live images of deer and other local wildlife. These species, among others, are crucial to the hunting activity for which the area is famous, and the Torre del Vinagre centre describes their evolution in great detail.

Opposite the Torre de Vinagre Visitor centre you will also find the excellent Botanical gardens .


Fluvial Río Borosa

To get to this visitor centre follow the signposts along the A-319 CazorlaHornos de Segura road to the Torre del Vinagre visitor centre at Km. 45. From there, turn off towards the River Borosa and the Loma de Mariángela ridge. The facility is 1,5 kilometres further on.

The Río Borosa Visitor Centre is in one of the most emblematic parts of the Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas Natural Park, on the bank of the river from which it takes its name and which is the Guadalquivir’s first sizeable tributary. Next to the centre there is a fish farm and a path called the Río Borosa trail which follows the course of the river and enables visitors to familiarise themselves with the area.

The location is the ideal setting for visitors to discover the importance of water and the river ecosystems which exist in this protected area. But apart from shaping the landscape, water has also been used by Man since ancient times to transport wood, this area’s main natural resource. In the Río Borosa visitor centre we can see how logs were floated down river from the timber yards to the railway stations lower down the mountain, from where they were distributed throughout Spain.

Common and rainbow trout, barbel and nase constitute the diet for a wide variety of the small mammals and fish-eating birds which inhabit this environment. Between them they represent a huge food chain which is also covered in the display at the visitor centre.


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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.

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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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