Lago de Sanabria Natural Park

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.

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.

Find a hotel close to the Lago de Sanabria Natural park


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.

This video shows the terrain and habitat around the Lago de Sanabria natural park.


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

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3 thoughts on “Lago de Sanabria Natural park”

  1. I found this interesting information from a really old article at time magazine….,33009,868967,00.html

    The peasants of northwestern Spain tell a legend about Lake Sanabria. At its bottom, they say. lies the village of Villa-verde de Lucerna. It was drowned a long time ago. when Jesus, dressed as a pauper, came begging alms and the villagers turned him away. Only a few women who gave him bread were saved, as well as the oven in which the bread was baked —and the oven survived as a small hermitage on the western shore of the lake near the village of Ribadelago.

    One night last week all was quiet in Ribadelago. In the tavern men were playing cards. At the church Father Plácido Esteban-Gonzalez had just arrived on his motor scooter from the provincial capital of Zamora. An electrician named Rey was working late in his shop. Shortly after midnight the lights in the village flickered out. At the tavern, irritated cardplayers lit candles, went on with their game. Suddenly, a distant, muffled roar was heard. To woodcutters in the mountains, it sounded like a “great stampede.” To one villager, the noise resembled “a continuous dynamite blast.” Father Placido went worriedly into the street, as did the electrician and some of the men from the tavern.

    The thunderous rumble came from up the valley, where, three miles distant and 1,690 ft. above them, the Tera River, swollen by a fortnight of rain, was held in check by a stone and concrete dam built two years ago. The only explanation of the now deafening thunder was that the dam had burst. Electrician Rey scrambled up the church tower, began ringing the bell in alarm. Father Plácido started waking his neighbors. Some few fled with him across the only bridge and climbed the opposite hillside. Others raced to the church tower or to high ground.

    A wall of water, with the weight of 230 million cu. ft. behind it, came surging down the narrow ravine, smashed into the village in a wave 20 ft. high. The stone bridge was swept away. The church was cut in two, and only the tower remained standing. All but 25 of the town’s 150 houses were wiped out.

    Slowly, the flood subsided and lost itself in the waters of Lake Sanabria. On the surface floated the bodies of men, women and children. Dead cows, pigs and chickens were mingled indiscriminately with tree trunks, telegraph poles, rooftops, household goods. A man caught in his home floated to safety on the inflated rubber mattress on which he was sleeping. The innkeeper, who escaped to the hillside, went back to empty his cash register and was drowned. Just before the water hit, an elderly couple dashed back for their life savings. They disappeared. Of the village’s 500 inhabitants, 201 were drowned or missing, and rescue workers estimated that the toll would pass 250.

    This time the legendary oven hermitage of Villaverde de Lucerna was not spared; it too was swept away.

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