- Region: Extremadura (Badajoz)
- Declared a biosphere reserve: 2019
- Surface area: Almost 156,000 hectares
- Towns and villages: Baterno, Casas de Don Pedro, Castilblanco, Esparragosa de Lares, ,Fuenlabrada de los Montes, Garbayuela, Garlitos, Helechosa de los Montes, Herrera del Duque, Peloche, Puebla de Alcocer, Risco, Sancti-Spíritus, Siruela, Talarrubias, Tamurejo, Valdecaballeros, Villarta de los Montes
Points of interest
La Siberia biosphere reserve (Los Montes) is located to the northeast of the province of Badajoz and has borders with Cáceres, Toledo and Ciudad Real. The name “Siberia” Extremadura began to be used in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when projects to construct roads, railway and reservoirs began. During those years the name of the Russian Siberia was constant news in Spanish newspapers due to the deportations of Russian citizens for political reasons and also the construction of the Trans – Siberian railway that connected Moscow with the most distant parts of Eastern Russia. The remoteness of the towns of this part of Extremedura from the capital Badajoz (some towns are more than two hundred kilometers away) spawned the nick name for of “Siberia” for this region which has lasted to present day replacing the historic name of Los Montes.
This is a land of very varying terrain and habitat. The foothills of the Montes de Toledo dominate the north and the Sierra Morena runs through the south. Two major rivers flow through the region creating vast plains in the less mountainous areas. The Guadiana River flows the entire length of La Siberia biosphere reserve from northeast to southwest and continues on to form most of the southern portion of the border between Spain and Portugal.
The vegetation is characterized by the predominance of Quercus formations including: Holm oak (Quercus ilex subsp. ballota), Cork oak (Quercus suber) and Portuguese oak (Quercus faginea). The peat bogs are home to rare species such as Drosera rotundifolia and Pinguicula lusitanica. Shrub vegetation is also present and includes Kermes oak (Quercus coccifera) and strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo).
The area is perhaps most famous for its reservoirs Cijara, García de Sola and Orellana. Orellana is itself famous for having the only inland blue flagged beach resort which is very popular during summer for Spanish tourists. To the south the Zujar river has been damned in two places forming the Zujar and the Serena reservoirs. The Serena is the largest reservoir in Spain and also the second largest in Europe. These five reservoirs hold approximately 12% of Spain’s water resources and Serena alone holds 6% of the country’s water.
The areas lakes have become world famous for fishing, especially carp which were introduced in the late 60`s. Fish of 70llbs are not uncommon. Read more about fishing here: https://orellanacarp.com/
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Bird watching in La Siberia biosphere reserve
Of course with so much water around this is an incredibly important area for resident and migratory bird life and various areas have extra protection. More than half of the provincial population of griffon vultures are found in the rocky cliffs of ‘Los Montes’ and also present are Bonelli’s eagle, golden eagles, Egyptian vulture, peregrine falcon, eagle owl, black vulture, Iberian imperial eagle and black stork.
There are many observatories, hides and bird watching areas and quite a few SPAB (Zones of Special Protection Areas for Birds) and SAC (Special Areas of Conservation) within the Natura 2000 Network. Below are the main areas for ornithology in the area. (Visit the info centres mentioned at the bottom of this article for more information)
- Sierra de Escorial.
- Sierra de Siruela.
- Puerto Peña – Sierra de los Golondrinas.
- Embalse de Orellana and the Sierra de Pala.
- Rio Estena.
- La Serena and Sierras Periféricas.
- La Serena.
- Sierra de Villares.
- Rio Guadelmar.
- Rio Guadalupejo.
Information / visitor centres
Oficina de turismo de talarrubias (Centro de interpretación de la fauna rupícola puerto peña)
The main tourist office for La Siberia biosphere reserve is located close to the town of Talarrubias on Calle Reyes Huertas next to the hermitage of San Roque, the García de Sola reservoir and the Puerto Peña campsite.
The tourist information centre is on the ground floor and holds various exhibitions covering the fauna and flora of the area along with general tourist information. On the second floor there is a viewing terrace pointing towards a cliff face that holds a colony of griffon vultures (the largest colony in Badajoz). Look out also for black stork, Egyptian vulture, eagle owl and Bonelli’s eagle
The centre is just two km from the García Sola reservoir, also known as Puerto Peña, at the crossroads of the “Ruta de los Embalses“
Oficina de turismo de Herrera del Duque
Address: Avenida del Ejército, 26. 06670 Herrera del Duque (Badajoz)
This tourist office offers information on everything there is to do or visit in the area. They will be able to help you to make the most of your stay and they will give you information on the best routes and activities in the area.
The official website for La Siberia biosphere reserve (in Spanish) is here https://lasiberiabiosfera.com/
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