Tag Archives: Castilla y Leon

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.

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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.


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
Web: https://www.turismocastillayleon.com/es/rural-naturaleza/espacios-naturales/parque-natural-lago-sanabria-sierras-segundera-porto

The Grazalema Guide

The best way to see all our web projects in one place is over at the Grazalema Guide.

The Grazalema Guide – Tourist Information Portal for the Sierra de Grazalema, Wildside Holidays, The town of Ronda and the Caminito del Rey.


Babia Biosphere Reserve

  • Region: Castilla y Leon (Leon)
  • Declared a biosphere reserve in 2004
  • Protected area: 38.107,60 hectares.
  • Towns and villages: Cabrillanes – (La Cueta, Huergas de Babia, Lago de Babia, Mena de Babia, Meroy, Las Murias, Peñalba de Cilleros, Piedrafita de Babia, Quintanilla de Babia, La Riera de Babia, San Félix de Arce, Torre de Babia, Vega de Viejos). San Emiliano – (Candemuela, Cospedal, Genestosa, La Majúa, Pinos, Riolago, Robledo de Babia, Torrebarrio, Cubiechas, Torrestío, Truébano, Villafeliz de Babia, Villargusán, Villasecino)

Points of interest.

The Babia biosphere reserve is located in the in the Babia region, northwest of the province of León. The protected area covers around 38,000 hectares in the municipalities of Cabrillanes and San Emiliano.

At some point in the future this area may be combined with other protected areas and biospheres such as the Parque natural de Babia y Luna and the Omaña-Luna biosphere to form the recently proposed “Great Cantabrian Biosphere Reserve”.

To the north, the peaks of Peña Ubiña, Alto Rosapero and the Picos Blancos stand out due to their altitude of more than 2,000 meters whilst on the southern edge, La Cañada peak at 2,154 meters is just as impressive.

The land between these two mountainous areas has been shaped by humans and agriculture for many thousands of years and livestock farming using the various altitudes allowed year round food supply.

Population decline, a reduction in livestock farming and the opening of open cast coal mines in the area during the 20th century has also affected the landscape. There are still coal mines open in the area but it is logical to assume that they will close in the near future as renewable energy becomes the mainstream and fossil fuels are left behind.

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Carved by Glaciers

From the high peaks of Babia de Peña Ubiña (2,417 m), Peña Orniz (2,193 m), Montihuero (2,180 m) or Alto de la Cañada (2,157 m), you can observe the mountainous landscape of the Biosphere Reserve of Babia and among the most important glacial features, you can see several lagoons such as Las Verdes in Torre de Babia, Laguna Grande in Lago de Babia or Lake Chao in Riolago de Babia. You can also see remains of glacial modeling and moraines in the valleys of La Cueta, Torre de Babia and Torrestío.

Star Park

In 2013, the Babia Biosphere Reserve started a project to publicize and protect its night skies and without doubt, this is one of the best places in Spain for stargazers. Quite a recent developement, in Spain, a Star Park is a territory that protects its night sky enough to develop observation, educational, cultural or recreational activities, linked to astronomical events (passage of comets, eclipses of the moon and sun, alignment of planets, meteor showers, etc.


There is a sporadic but constant presence of the Cantabrian brown bear (Ursus arctos) in the area which acts as a corridor for individuals from the eastern and western nuclei of the Cantabrian populations. (Hence the plan for the “Great Cantabrian Biosphere Reserve”).

Ornithological interest is also high, highlighting the excellent populations of birds linked to alpine environments such as the wall creeper (Trichodroma muraria), grey partridge (Perdix perdix), alpine accentor (Prunella collaris), alpine chough (Pyrrhocorax graculus) and white-winged snowfinch (Montifringilla nivalis).

Also present (depending on the time of year) is a diverse population of raptors such as the European honey buzzard (Pernis apivorus), Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus), short-toed eagle (Circaetus gallicus), hen harrier (Circus cyaneus), golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), and peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus).

Although there is no evidence of its current presence in the area, the Cantabrian grouse or western capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus) deserves a special mention since there is recent historical data and the area is home to a habitat suitable for this species to flourish.

Walking routes in the Babia Biosphere Reserve

  • Camino Real de Prégame – This route of about 8 km runs through a section of the old Camino Real de Prégame. The old path linked the town of Quintanilla de Babia with Huergas de Babia. The terrain is quite flat and this route can also be made by bike.
  • El entorno de Ubiña – This route, of about 14 km starts from either Torrebarrio or Pinos de Babia. The slope from Torrebarrio to Collado del Ranzón is quite steep. The route passes through a high mountain landscape, dominated by grasslands of great beauty. The panoramic views of the entire Babia Biosphere Reserve, as well as the surrounding territories are impressive. From the hill, and for the more adventurous, you can access the peak of Peh.
  • Lago Chao – This 6km route starts from Riolago de Babia towards Lago del Chao and Laguna del Lago, at the foot of Alto de la Cañada (2,157 m).
  • Laguna Las Verdes – The 11 km route to the Las Verdes lagoon starts from the town of Torre de Babia. Glacier modeling can be observed at various points along the path showing lateral and frontal moraines formed by the glacier that covered the valley.
  • Las Fuentes del Sil – The 11 km Fuentes del Sil route starts from the town of La Cueta, and runs along the first section of the Sil river to its source at the foot of Peña Orniz (2,191m).
  • Majúa – Torrestío – This 12 km route joins the towns of La Majúa and Torrestío runs around the Morronegro peak (2,152 m). From the Col de Queixeiro there are panoramic views of a large part of the Babia Biosphere Reserve including the peaks of Peña Ubiña, Alto de la Cañada and Montihuero.

Information centres

Casa del Parque de Babia y Luna y sede de la Reserva de la Biosfera de Babia

In the village of Riolago de Babia and located in the stunning palace of the Quiñones (who were once the powerful landowners in the area), this information centre has information panels and exhibitions detailing the human presence in the area and the areas long history of livestock farming. There is information about geology, fauna, flora and the best places to visit in the area.

  • From the A-66 take exit 93 towards Villablino. On the CL-626 continue to the town of Huergas de Babia turning left to Riolago de Babia
  • From Villablino take the CL-626 towards León to the town of Huergas de Babia, turning right to Riolago de Babia

Website: https://patrimonionatural.org/casas-del-parque/casas-del-parque/casa-del-parque-de-babia-y-luna

Official website for the Babia Biosphere Reserve: https://www.babiabiosfera.es/

Iberia Nature Forum

Discover the Iberia Nature Forum – Environment, geography, nature, landscape, climate, culture, history, rural tourism and travel.

Iberia Nature Forum: https://iberianatureforum.com/

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.

Find a hotel in the Sierra de Gredos Regional Park


There is an array of flora and fauna to suit each of these habitats. The southern side of this protective band enjoys a milder climate where they are able to grow peppers and citrus fruits. There are planted orchards of Cherry, Fig, Sweet chestnut and Walnut trees in the valley to the north.

Snow can cover the high ground from November lasting on the peaks to May or June and so the many streams flow with fast clear water.


There are around 1,400 different plant species recorded within the park. Trees include evergreen and deciduous Oaks (Quercus ilex), (Quercus pyrenaica), Poplar (Populus alba, P.tremula, P. nigra), Alder (Alnus glutinosa), Birch (Betula alba), Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris), Stone pine (Pinus pinea) and Mountain ash (Sorbus acuparia).

Most well known are the low growing brooms (Cytisus purgans) that cover the slopes with fragrant yellow flowers in spring. There is an extensive range of gorse and brooms that inhabit these mountains such as Echinospartum barnadesii, Adenocarpus hispanica, Adenocarpus complicates, Genista falcate and Cytisus scoparius. Some hold special habitats such as the flat growing Genista carpetana that creeps over rocks, in oak leaf litter are Genista cinerea, Cytisus scoparius, Cytisus multiflorus or close to pines Genista florida.

Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) grows in woodland clearings and Dog rose (Rosa canina) grows under the pine trees with herbs such as oregano, thyme and rosemary in open areas.

Endemics to Gredos mountains are the Snapdragon (Antirrhinum grosii), Centaurea avilae, Dianthus gredensis, Armeria bigerrensis subsp. bigerrensis, Saxifraga pentadactylis subsp. almanzorii, Jasione laevis subsp gredensis, Sedum campanulatum, Santolina oblongifolia, Scrophularia bourgeana, Sedum campanulatum and Doronicum kuepferi.


The numerous Western Spanish Ibex or Gredos Ibex (Capra pyrenaica victoriae) roaming here are an isolated subspecies of Spanish ibex the latter can be found in many mountainous regions throughout Spain.

Western Spanish Ibex or Gredos Ibex (Capra pyrenaica victoriae)
Western Spanish Ibex or Gredos Ibex (Capra pyrenaica victoriae)

Iberolacerta cyreni is a lizard endemic to the Sistema Central mountain range. It is a montane species found close to the tree line in damp, rocky habitats from 1,300 to 2,500m. (Formerly treated as a subspecies of Lacerta monticola).

Mammals of the park include Beech Marten, Wild cat, Otter, Pyrenean muskrat, Ávila snow vole, Pygmy shrew, Long-tailed shrew and Cabrera’s vole,

Raptors that can be seen are Golden eagle, Booted eagle, Short-toed eagle, Imperial eagle, Egyptian vulture, Goshawk, Griffon vulture, Black vulture, Montagu’s harrier, Sparrowhawk, Red and Black Kite, Hobby and Tawny Owl.

Other birds noted within the park are White stork, Black stork, Black redstart, Rock thrush, Bluethroat, Alpine hedge sparrow, Ortolan Bunting, Stonechat, Citril Finch, Rock Bunting, Black-eared Wheatear, Northern Wheatear, Turtledove, Water Pipit, Dipper, Yellow Wagtail, Common Sandpiper, Iberian green woodpecker, Firecrest, Crested Tit, Wood Lark, Western Bonelli’s Warbler, Dartford Warbler and Whitethroat.

Amphibians and reptiles include common Spade foot (Pelobates fuscus), Midwife toad (Alytes obstetricans), and European tree frog (Hyla arborea), Schreiber’s green lizard (Lacerta schreiberi), Large Psammodromus (Psammodromus algirus), Iberian Wall Lizard (Podarcis hispanica), Ocellated lizard (Lacerta lepida), Lataste’s viper (Vipera latastei) and European Pond Terrapin (Emys orbicularis).

Two other endemic animals of the park are the Almanzor salamander (Salamandra salamandra almanzoris) and Gredos toad (Bufo bufo gredosicola).

Also in the area:

The caves called “Cuevas del Águila” contain spectacular concretions and can be visited in the Tiétar valley near Arenas de San Pedro and Ramacastañas.
Web: https://cuevasdelaguila.com/?lang=en

At El Raso just south of the Sierra de Gredos Regional park, there is an Iron-age hill fort from the 3rd – 2nd Century B.C. The site is roughly 20 hectares and was once protected by a wall that in places was 3m wide. The Romans ordered this wall to be demolished and now only parts of it remain. There are two reconstructed houses to demonstrate structures of these times. Visit the tourist office in the town of Candeleda (Oficina de Turismo of Candeleda) for more information.

There are also excellent Neolithic cave paintings which can be visited, near El Raso called “El Collado Braguillas“.

Information/Visitors Centers

Casa del Parque de Sierra de Gredos (zona norte) ‘Pinos Cimeros’

Located in the town of Hoyos del Espino, in the southeast of Ávila.The best way to access it is through Av-941 that connects the N-502 with the town of El Barco de Ávila. It is located on Av-931 that leaves from Hoyos del Espino to the Platforma.

This is a fantastic interpretation centre with all the information that you need. There are interactive maps, exhibitions and detailed information on the geology, fauna, flora and ethnic history of the area.

This video give an idea of what to expect.

Casa del Parque de Sierra de Gredos (zona sur) ‘El Risquillo’

From Madrid you can come along the C-501 (Alcorcón-Plasencia road) to Arenas de San Pedro, and from there take the 5 km provincial road that reaches Guisando. You can also go along the A-5 to Talavera de la Reina and through Arenas arriving at Guisando. From Salamanca and Valladolid you can get to Ávila and from there take the N-502 to Arenas de San Pedro and Guisando.

Another excellent information centre well worth the visit with all the information you need, exhibitions and very knowledgable staff.

More information on the tourist information website of Castilla y Leon
Web: https://www.turismocastillayleon.com/en/countryside-nature

The Grazalema Guide

The best way to see all our web projects in one place is over at the Grazalema Guide.

The Grazalema Guide – Tourist Information Portal for the Sierra de Grazalema, Wildside Holidays, The town of Ronda and the Caminito del Rey.


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.

Find a hotel close to the Las Batuecas-Sierra de Francia Natural Park



At higher levels the vegetation has had to adapt to the windswept harsher climate and is dominated by broom and the “hedgehog zone” (low growing prickly shrubs). As you descend, species such as holly and chestnut, oak and birch forests appear. In the lands facing south there are holm oaks, cork oaks, strawberry trees and rockrose whilst in sheltered and sunny areas there are orchards of chestnut, almonds, vineyards and olive groves.


Fauna of the park is well represented with 213 cataloged species of vertebrates, of which 9 correspond to the fish group, 13 to amphibians, 19 to reptiles, 126 to birds and 46 to mammals.

As for birds, it is common to see vultures, both griffon and black, golden eagle, peregrine falcon, Egyptian vulture and eagle owl. The black stork, listed as endangered, is also present

Among the mammals that inhabit the Las Batuecas-Sierra de Francia Natural Park are Iberian lynx, badger, ibex, wild cat, mongoose, marten, Iberian desman and otter as well as roe deer, red deer and wild boar.

In the many streams and ponds you can find Iberian newt and Iberian midwife toad

The Peña de Francia lizard (Lagartija batueca – Iberolacerta martinezricai) is exclusive to these mountains as the name sugggests.

Information/Visitors Centers

Casa del Parque de las Batuecas-Sierra de Francia

The information centre is located in the village of La Alberca. From Salamanca, take the CL-512 road towards Necinos. After about 30 km arrive at Tamames and from there on the SA-215, follow the signs to La Peña de Francia. It can also be reached by the A62 motorway; Salamanca – Portugal. Take the Fuentes de San Esteban exit towards Cabrillas-Tamames-La Alberca.

There are excellent audio visual displays, exhibitions covering fauna, flora and the area in general plus the friendly helpful staff will help you to find the best routes and places to see in the area.

Official website for the tourist infomation centre

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.