Walking and wildlife holidays in Madrid
- Capital: Madrid.
- Area: 8,030 km²
We may think of Madrid as the capital city of Spain, therefore low on the list for nature enthusiasts but Madrid province that surrounds the city will surprise you with its variety.
Birds observed include Black vulture, Imperial eagle, Red kite, Great bustard, Little bustard, White-headed duck, Rock sparrow and Spanish sparrow. These reside in the different habitats on offer such as lagoons, plains and mountains. Red deer, Fallow deer, Roe deer, Fox, Wild cat, Mountain goat and Wild boar all enjoy the mountains to the north west of the region.
The highest peak here is Peñalara at 2430m. Given this altitude and the Mediterranean influence, it is easy to see why the temperature extremes for Madrid are from 0ºc to 40ºc.
Find a hotel in the countryside of Madrid
This huge fluctuation in temperatures in turn allows for a wealth of variation in the animal and plant kingdoms. Holms oak, Juniper, Ash, Willow and Scots pines flourish with shrubs such as Lavender, Rockroses, Thyme and Brooms.
A more harsh section of granite massif within the Guadarrama range is called La Pedriza. This is a magnet for rock climbers to test their skills on the strangely eroded, complex formations which are unique in the world.
This area is also the source of the river Manzanares which runs through Madrid city.
The Manzanares joins with the Tajo river which forms the southern border of the province.
The meseta, or high plateau upon which Madrid sits at around 650m above sea level.
National parks in Madrid
1 Guadarrama National Park Not without it’s controversy over the years (due to it conflicting with housing and other human development plans), the Guadarrama National Park project was finally declared in 2013. Its aims are to protect the eleven different ecosystems present in the Guadarrama mountains, including the only Iberian examples of “high Mediterranean mountain”. There are almost 1,300 different animal species in the area of which 13 are in danger of extinction. The species of animals in the mountains represent 45% of the total fauna of Spain and 18% of European fauna. There are mammals such as deer (red, roe and fallow), wild boar, Spanish Ibex, badgers, several mustelidaes, wild cats, foxes, hares, etc. Iberian wolf also seems to have returned to the area after a 70-year absence..
2 Peñalara, Cumbre Circo y Lagunas Natural Park Since the early 2000s, the government of the Community of Madrid and that of Castilla y León carried out a project to declare a large part of the Sierra as a National Park and after the declaration of the Sierra de Guadarrama National park, the Peñalara Natural Park, Cirque and Lakes Nature Reserve (Parque Natural de la Cumbre, Circo y Lagunas de Peñalara) now comes under the control of and is inside the limits of the Guadarrama National Park.
Iberian Wildlife Tours
Iberian Wildlife Tours offer guided natural history holidays that will take you in search of birds, butterflies and wildflowers in the stunningly beautiful surroundings of Andalusia (Andalucía), the Picos de Europa, the Spanish Pyrenees, Extremadura, Catalonia (Catalunya) and western Portugal, to name but a few of their carefully selected Spanish and Portuguese destinations. Read more here.
Regional Parks in Madrid
The South East Regional Park (Parque regional del Sureste) is an area of Madrid that extends from north to south along the Jarama river and presents a great variety of habitats some of which are considered the best and well preserved wetlands in the Comunity of Madrid such as the Mar de Ontígola close to the town of Aranjuez, Laguna de San Juan near Chinchón and the gravel pits between the rivers Jarama, Manzanares and Henares (Soto de las Juntas and El Campillo).
The Cuenca Alta del Manzanares Regional Park (Parque Regional de la Cuenca Alta del Manzanares) is one the largest protected natural areas in the Community of Madrid and now comes under the protection of the Guadarrama National Park.
The Regional Park of the Guadarrama River (Curso Medio del Río Guadarrama y su Entorno) protects approximately 38% of the course of the Guadarrama, whose total length is 131.8 km. The demographic and human population pressure, derived from the existence of numerous large towns in the vicinity (some on the very edge of the river) constitutes the main threat to this protected natural space and almost 90 percent of this regional park is privately owned.
Other protected areas in Madrid
The hayedo Montejo beech forest is located on the slopes of the Sierra de Ayllón and is protected as a Natural Site of National Interest. It is a site of Community Importance (SCI) of Alto Lozoya and is also included within the limits of the the Sierra del Rincón Biosphere Reserve.
The Fauna Refuge of San Juan Lagoon (Refugio de fauna de la Laguna de San Juan) covers an area of 40 hectares and is found along the lower course of the River Tajuña. It is an important wetland area close to the town of Chinchón and one of the largest bird reserves in the Community of Madrid.
The Natural Reserve of El Regajal-Mar de Ontígola is one of the most unknown natural spaces in the Community of Madrid, despite having a great wealth of fauna . This is due to the fact that most of its 630 hectares are on private farms. (The one of El Regajal stands out, which has its own vineyards and winery attached to the designation of origin of Vinos de Madrid.)
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.