Nature Parks in Andalucia

Nature Parks in Andalucia
 
 
Acantilados de Maro-Cerro Gordo Natural Area
The Park Natural de Los Acantilados de Maro-Cerro Gordo (Cliffs of Maro-Cerro Gordo Natural Area) was designated as such in 1989. The area covers 375 hectares, including one kilometre out to sea. It has dramatic steep cliffs which plunge down to the sea, with a few sheltered bays with beaches in-between.
 
Alborán Natural Area
The Isla de Alborán is located in the Mediterranean sea and is 48km from the port of Adra on the Almeria coast. The protected area covers the island itself and a band of sea around it. It is an area rich marine life, which is home to one of the most threatened marine species in the Mediterranean, the limpet patella ferrunginea. Bottle-nose dolphins are found here as well as and several species of coral.
 
Albufera de Adra Natural Reserve
Located ten kilometres east of the industrial port of Adra and comprising of 217 hectares on Mediterranean coast is this small wetland reserve. The area is intensively farmed but the reserve provides a wildlife oasis! It comprises of intertidal marshes and a series of coastal lagoons of varying depths and degrees of salinity. Albufera Honda (Deep Lake) and Albufera Nueva (New Lake) are the two largest lakes and there is a third one, which is much smaller, just outside the reserve's boundary.
 
Los Alcornocales Natural Park
This immense park covers 167,767 hectares from Tarifa in the south to the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park in the north. It is named after its beautiful and beautifully kept cork tree grove, the largest in the Iberian Peninsula and one of the most important ones in the world. It is probably the best example of what the densely wooded, primeval Iberian forests may have been like.
 
Alto Guadalquivir Natural Area
The Alto Guadalquivir Natural Area comprises three reservoirs (referred to as embalses). Embalse de Puente La Cerrada is located in the east, in the middle is the Embalse de Doña Aldonza and to the west is, the Embalse de Pedro Martín (the smallest reservoir). It is located along the upper part of the Guadalquivir river and covers an area 663ha.
 
Bahía de Cadiz Natural Park
The Bahía de Cadiz Natural Park is an area consisting of marshes, salt pans, freshwater lakes, sandy beaches and tidal inlets. It covers roughly 10,500ha.
 
Brazo del Este Natural Area
The Brazo del Este Natural Area is 20 km south of Seville. It is a former branch of the Guadalquivir river which has now become a lagoon and wetland area. Large numbers of waterfowl use this area during the seasonal migration. It is also a place where the birds flock to during drought from the nearby Doñana National Park.
 
Breña y Marismas de Barbate Natural Park
The Nature Reserve is an area located on the south coast of Cádiz province. The Breña y Marismas de Barbate park is Andalucia's second largest coastal reserve and has one of the most impressive stretches of rocky cliffs along the Andalucian Atlantic coastline. Although small, the park has a diverse range of habitats which include pine forest, wetland, mobile dunes, sea cliffs and a marine section.
 
Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park
Cabo de Gata-Níjar is Andalucia's largest coastal protected area. It covers over 45ha. The park is home to Spain’s largest volcanic rock formation. There are large steep cliffs which plunge to the sea as well as coves which hide beautiful white sandy beaches. The natural park includes several tiny islands located offshore which is home to coral reefs packed with marine life.
 
Cascada de la Cimbarra Natural Area
The Cascade de la Cimbarra Natural Area is a series of stunning waterfalls which covers an area of around 500ha. They are found on the Guarrizas river. The highest being 50m which is the Cascade de la Cimbarra and the smallest is Cascada del Cimbarrillo.
 
Complejo Endorreico de Espera Natural Reserve
The Complejo Endorreico de Espera Natural Reserve consists of three lakes: Hondilla, Salada de Zorrilla and Dulce de Zorrilla. It covers an area of just over 400ha. 
 
Complejo Endorreico de El Puerto de Santa María
This Natural Reserve near El Puerto de Santa María is three freshwater lakes: Salada, Chica and Juncosa. They are fed by rainwater, which means that they are prone to dry out during times of drought. It provides an important water source to many birds during summer and the winter migration.
 
Desfiladero de los Gaitanes Natural Area
The Desfiladero de los Gaitanes contains is a magnificent gorge on the path of the Guadalhorce river. It is known as the Garganta del Chorro. The protected area covers just over 2,000 hectares and is located within the Subbetica mountain range.
 
Desierto de Tabernas Natural Area
The Desierto de Tabernas Natural Area is a semi desert and is the only one in Europe. Located between several mountains its appearance is almost lunar. It is somewhat desolate but spectacular with its strange shaped ravines and dry river beds.
 
Despeñaperros Natural Park
The Natural Park of Despeñaperros is located in the north of the province of Jaén, in the heart of Sierra Morena mountains. The area covers over 7,000 hectares and includes the magnificent Los Órganos Natural Monument, a rock shaped like a giant church organ. It is mainly a steep gorge but also includes caves and waterfalls.
 
Doñana National Park
The Doñana National Park is a huge area covering cover 1,300km. It is a wetland reserve consisting of fresh water lakes, marshes (marismas), dunes and sandy beaches. As with all of Spain’s wetland parks and reserves it is crucial to migrating birds and a permanent home for many others. 
 
El Torcal Park Nature Reserve
The El Torcal Park Nature Reserve is famous for its’ remarkable limestone rock formations. It can be found approximately 30 km north of Málaga city. Wind and rain have shaped the limestone, which over time have produced beautiful and unique shapes.
 
Embalse de Cordobilla Natural Area
The Embalse de Cordobilla Natural Area includes a reservoir and immediate surrounding area on the Genil river. It covers 1,460ha. As with all water sources it is an important area for birds.
 
Embalse de Malpasillo Natural Area
The Embalse de Malpasillo Natural Area includes a reservoir and outer surroundings. It covers 512 hectares and is home to varying species of birds depending on the time of year.
 
Estero de Domingo Rubio Natural Area
The Estero de Domingo Rubio Natural Area is located 7 km south of Huelva city. It covers an area of 480 ha. The Estero is actually a stream which runs into the Odiel/Tinto estuary. It is encircled by saltmarshes and mudflats at the estuary end and freshwater marshes further upstream. Also at the upper end is a freshwater lake.
 
Estrecho Natural Park
The Estrecho National Park covers an area of nearly 19,000 hectares and consists of coastline and its costal waters. It starts from Cabo de Gracia in the west near Bolonia and finishes at Punta del Carnero in the east, south of Algeciras. Also included in the National Park is the Duna de Bolonia Natural Monument and the Playa de los Lances Natural Area.
 
Estuario del Río Guadiaro Natural Area
The Estuario del Rio Guadiaro covers only 27ha. However, it is still a very important wetland area particularly for migrating birds as it is the only wetland site for 100km between the estuaries of the Guadalhorce river near Malaga and the Palmones river.
 
Fuente de Piedra Natural Reserve
The Fuente de Piedra Natural Reserve contains the largest natural lake in the Iberian Peninsula. Measuring around 2.5km wide and 6.5km long it provides an important habitat for an immense amount of birds. It is a seasonal lake though and can in summer almost dry out. As it is a salt lake, it is particularly important for flamingos. The reserve is home to the second largest colony of flamingos.
 
Guadalhorce River Estuary Natural Area
The Guadalhorce River Estuary Natural Area comprises the silty delta of the Gudalhorce river and a series of artificial ponds and scrubland. During migration it provides a stopping place for many hundreds of different species of birds and is a permanent home to many others.
 
Karst en Yesos de Sorbas Natural Area
The Karst en Yesos de Sorbas Natural Area has a dramatic landscape.  It has a lunar type appearance due to its semi-arid desert climate and eroded rocks. The area covers over 2,000ha.  Its karst landscape is considered one of the finest examples of its kind in the world.  The Aguas river flows through the area, giving it a slash of verdant green, and helping to create steep ravines. The area is also home to natural springs, which have a huge importance due to their location within the desert.  The karst landscape is made up of Gypsum which is highly toxic for most plants. 
 
Laguna Amarga Natural Reserve
The Laguna de Zóñar is a series of saline lakes.  They are the largest in largest in southern Cordoba province and the deepest in Andalucia. The lake is particularly important for aquatic birds as they use it for breeding and overwintering.
 
Laguna del Chinche Natural Reserve
The Laguna del Chinche Natural Reserve is a total protected area of around 200ha.  Near the reserve is another important lake called the Laguna Honda.  Both lakes are used by many different species of birds.
 
Laguna del Conde o Salobral Natural Area
The Laguna del Conde is a seasonal saline lake located in the Cordoba province.  It is sometimes referred to as Laguna Salobral (Salty Lake).  It helps to provide an important feeding and breeding site for migrating birds during the winter and spring migration periods.
 
Laguna del Gosque Natural Reserve
Laguna Del Gosque Natural Reserve is a seasonal saltwater lake.  Located in Seville is provides a vital breeding site for flamingos.  The birds particularly use the area when the water and food is low at the nearby Laguna de Fuente de la Piedra.
 
Laguna Grande Natural Area
The Laguna Grande Natural Area covers a total of 200ha.  It is the largest saltwater lake in the Jaen Province.
 
Laguna Honda Natural Reserve
The Laguna Honda is a seasonal saltwater lake which is protected along with approx. 200 hectares around the lake.
 
Laguna de los Jarales Natural Reserve
The Laguna de los Jarales reserve covers 122 hectares and consists of a saline lake and its surrounding shores.  It provides an important breeding and overwintering site for many birds.
 
Laguna de Medina Natural Park
The Laguna de Medina Natural Park houses an important lake which provides a breeding and overwintering site for many waterfowl.  The lake itself is 120 hectares and the protected surrounded area is 250ha. 
 
Laguna de El Portil Natural Reserve
The Laguna de El Portil Natural Reserve is home to a small freshwater lagoon surrounded by woodland.  The reserve covers 13 hectares and is close to Punta Umbría.  The reserve is noteworthy because of its population of chameleons.
 
Laguna de la Ratosa Natural Reserve
The Laguna de la Ratosa Natural Reserve consists of a small lake and its surrounding area covering approximately 168ha.  The lake is used during winter in particular by many waterfowl.
 
Laguna del Rincón Natural Reserve
Laguna del Rincón is a inland saline lake.  It is located in the Cordoba province.  The total protected area including the lake and its surrounds covers 138ha.  It is an important feeding and breeding site for many bird species.
 
Laguna de Tíscar Natural Reserve
The Laguna de Tíscar Natural Reserve is a seasonal saline wetland located in the southern Cordoba province.  It covers an area of 190 hectares and is an important feeding and breeding area for many bird species. 
 
Laguna de Zóñar Natural Reserve
Laguna de Zóñar Natural Reserve includes a large inland saline lake.  The total protected area covers 370ha, with its lake alone measuring 37a.  It is an important site for migrating birds as well as providing a vital place for other species to breed and overwinter. 
 
Lagunas de Archidona Natural Reserve
The Lagunas de Archidona Natural Reserve is a protected area of around 190ha.  It includes two lakes; Laguna Grande which is the largest of the two and is freshwater and Laguna Chica which is saltwater. 
 
Lagunas de Campillos Natural Reserve
The Lagunas de Campillos Natural Reserve is home to the lakes  Dulce (the largest), Salada, Camuñas, Capacete, Cerero and Redonda. These lakes are seasonal saltwater lakes and play an important part in providing refuge and feeding areas for migrating and resident birds.
 
Lagunas de Palos y las Madres Natural Area
The Lagunas de Palos y las Madres covers 690 hectares and is part of another larger protected area called the Paraje Natural Marismas del Odiel.  The area consists of four lagoons: Las Madres, La Jara, La Mujer and Palos.
 
Lantejuela Natural Reserve
The Lantejuela Natural Reserve consists of two saltwater lakes: Laguna de Calderón and Laguna de la Lantejuela located East of Seville.  They provide an important feeding area for migrating birds.  The best time to visit is outside of summer as they can dry out in times of drought.
 
Las Marismas del Odiel Natural Area
The Paraje Natural de las Marismas del Odiel is a large wetland reserve.  Its protected area includes fresh and saltwater marshland (marismas) and the estuary of Odiel and Tinto rivers.  Spring and winter see a large population of waterfowl using the area for breeding and feeding.
 
Lebrija Las Cabezas Natural Reserve
The Lebrija - Las Cabezas Natural Reserve is an important wetland reserve, made up of 949ha. Pilón, Taraje, Cigarrera, Peña, Galiana and Charroao, in order of size with Pilón being the largest.  Although it consists of six lakes only one, the Taraje Lake, has water all the year round.  The area is particularly important for migrating birds.
 
Los Enebrales Natural Area
The Los Enebrales Natural Area has a diverse series of habitats.  These include sand dunes, beach and woods, including a juniper grove.
 
Los Reales de Sierra Bermeja Natural Area
The Los Reales de Sierra Bermeja Natural Area is a mountain range located in the southwest part of Malaga province which covers 1,240ha.  The mountain range is a beautiful red/orange colour due to oxidized iron and magnesium within the rocks
 
Marismas de Isla Cristina Natural Area
The Marismas de Isla Cristina Natural Area is a small wetland reserve covering two square kilometres. It is located between the northern edge of Isla Cristina village and the Carreras estuary to the east and Ayamonte and the Guadiana estuary to the west.
 
Marismas del Río Palmones Natural Park
The Marismas del Río Palmones Natural Area covers an area of  about sixty hectares. This includes large (reaching up to 300m high) costal dunes, marshland and intertidal pools and creeks. The reserve is a protected jewel squeezed between busy industrial areas. 
 
Marismas del Río Piedras y la Flecha del Rompido Natural Area
The marshes of the river Piedras and El Rompido spit cover a protected area of just over two thousand five hundred hectares.  A long sand bar has formed where the river meets the Atlantic Ocean called the Barra or Flecha del Rompido. It is unique in its size for the Andalusian coast; reaching a total of 12km. 
 
Montes de Malaga Natural Park
Extremely close to the city of Malaga is the Montes de Malaga Natural Park.  It is characterized by its dense Aleppo pine forest, hills, valleys and large number of water courses.  The protected area covers nearly 5,000ha. Its hills range from 80m to just over 1,000m above sea level. The park is located in the river basin of the Río Guadalmedina, which flows to the west of the park.
 
Penas de Aroche Natural Area
This protected mountainous areas covers about seven hundred hectares.  It is quiet remote and therefore not visited by many people.  It is located southwest of Aroche.
 
Penon de Zaframagon Natural Park
The Peñón de Zaframagón Natural Park includes a striking 600m-high limestone outcrop.  The park is located to the north of the Sierra de Lijar close to the Seville/Cadiz provincial border. A large colony of Griffin vultures reside here along with other birds of prey.
 
Playa de los Lances Natural Area
The Playa de los Lances Natural Area is a protected area covering 226 hectares including a 3km beach its dunes, marshlands and lagoons.  It is part of the Estrecho Natural Park and is located west Tarifa.  The rivers Jara and Vega run parallel to the beach and have formed the marshlands and lagoons called Jeli and Montellano. 
 
Punta Entinas-Sabinar Natural Area
The Punta Entias-Sabinar Natural area is 15km stretch of coastline.  It is close to the resort Roquetas del Ma.  It provides a much needed refuge for birds as it is surrounded by intensive agriculture. More than 150 species of birds have been recorded in this wetland, these include flamingos and the rare Audouin's gull.
 
Sierra de Alhamilla Natural Area
The Sierra de Alhamilla Natural area is a large predominately barren mountain range.  The protected area is 8,500 hectares and is located close by to Almeria city.  The area is stunning with its cavernous gullies and peaks, the highest of which is the Colativí peak reaching 1,387m.
 
Sierra de Aracena y los Picos de Aroche Natural Park
The Sierra de Aracena and Picos de Aroche natural park is a huge 184,000 ha.  Its habitats are varied, with its high rocky peaks, valleys swathed in wood and gentle rolling hills.  It has a predominately wooded landscape which consists of mainly Mediterranean oak.  This Natural Park is a walkers paradise with many well-marked routes.
 
Sierra de Baza Natural Park
The Natural Park is part of the Cordillera Penibética located in the northeast of the province of Granada.  It covers 53,649 hectares and is home to high jutting peaks of up to 2,000m along with pine forests.  These high peaks are often snow capped during winter and are home to several species of birds of prey including the golden eagle.
 
Sierra de Cardeña y Montoro Natural Park
Sierra de Cardeña-Montoro Natural Park is located within the Sierra Morena in the province of Cordoba.  Separated by the river Yeguas, it boarders the Sierra de Andujar Natural Park. It is home to deep ravines, woods and rises up to just over 800 m in parts.  It is a very wild and unspoilt area and is home to some interesting granite and batholith blocks (up to 1 metre in diameter), known as Bolas.
 
Sierra Castril Natural Park
The Sierra Castril Natural Park is a mountainous region in the north of the Granda province.  Its limestone mountains, eroded by its high levels of rain are dramatic, with gorges, cliffs, waterfalls and underground caves.  There are large number of diverse habitats which support a large variety of flora and fauna.
 
Sierra Crestellina Natural Area
The Sierra Crestellina Natural Area is located north of the village of Casares and consists of a limestone ridge and some surrounding area covering a total of 478ha.  The ridge is 926m at its highest point.
 
Sierra de Andújar Natural Park
The park is located north of Andújar and is part of the immense Sierra Morena.  The Sierra de Andújar Natural Park is over 70,000 hectares and is heavily covered by Mediterranean forest and scrubland which is home to many endangered species including the pardel lynx, wolf, black vulture and imperial eagle.
 
Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park
The Sierra de Grazalema was the first natural park in Andalucia.  It covers 51,695 hectares and is home to a magnificent landscape of rugged limestone cliffs, gullies, caves and gorges.  Thanks to the area’s high rainfall (the highest in the Iberian Peninsula), the rocks have been eroded over many thousands of years.  This is turn has created a huge cave system.  The Hundidero-Gato is the largest cavern measuring 4km long and with an entrance of 60m tall. The area is rich in flora and fauna and has many species which are endemic and some unique to the Sierra.
 
Sierra de Hornachuelos Natural Park
Hornachuelos Natural Park (Parque Natural de Hornachuelos) is located in the west of the province of Cordoba and lies within the massif of Sierra Morena, the Dark Mountains, so called on account of the hue of this slate rich earth. It covers 60,032 hectares and is part of the vast 400,000 hectares Unesco Biosphere Reserve for the Sierra Morena mountain range.  It is home to many endangered species such as lynx, black vulture, black stork, golden eagle and Bonelli's eagle.
 
Sierra de Huetor Natural Park
The Sierra de Huétor is a popular park due to its close proximity of the provincial capital of Granada.  It is a dramatic mountainous area that consists of steep cliffs, springs and caves and covers a total of 12,128ha.  The porous limestone rocks have eroded away over thousands of years to leave many caves including the Cueva del Agua.  The area is home to many endemic and rare plants and also the endangered wild cat.
 
Sierra Mágina Natural Park
The Sierra Mágina Natural Park has a rich history which can be seen in the form of its prehistory cave paintings and Muslim and Christian architecture.  It is home to many ruined castles and watch towers which were built by the warring religious parties.  The Natural Park is named after its highest peak which reaches 2,165m.  The limestone mountains are rugged, barren and often snow capped in winter.
 
Sierra María-Los Vélez Natural Park
The Natural Park is located at the eastern end of the Cordillera Subbética in the north of Almeria province and covers over 20,000ha.  Its landscape is diverse.  It has arid plains and rocky summits, which are capped with snow in winter.  The south facing slopes of the Sierra are barren and dry, whilst the north facing ones are covered in woodland.
 
Sierra Nevada National Park
The Sierra Nevada is home to two of the Iberian Peninsula’s highest mountains - the Mulhacén (3,482m) and the Veleta (3,392m).  Much of mountain range is covered in snow all year round – providing a dramatic and rugged backdrop to the lower sections of the park. The park covers 86,208 hectares and stretches between the provinces of Granada and Almería.  It has glacial lakes, rivers, sheer-sided gorges and scree slopes, along with the foothills of the Alpujarras.  Thus making it the perfect place for an immensely diverse number of animals and birds.
 
Sierra de las Nieves Natural Park
The natural park Sierra de las Nieves is dominated by Mount Torrecilla.  The park is located near Marbella and covers 18,530ha.  It is a mountainous area that is pretty much untouched by cultivation, for this reason its flora and fauna is diverse.
 
Sierra Norte Natural Park
The Sierra Norte is part of the immense Sierra Morena.  It is located in the Seville province and is one of the largest protected areas in Andalucia covering 177,484ha.. The landscape is rolling and is covered with evergreen oaks.  The park is home to the rare black stork and imperial eagle.  Roman and Arab architecture can be found in some of the few towns and villages within the park.
 
Sierra Pelada y Rivera del Aserrador Natural Area
The area covers over 12,000 hectares and is located in the foothills of the Sierra Morena close to the Portuguese border.  It is remote and virtually uninhabited making it a particularly outstanding natural area.  In the centre of the Sierra Pelada is a spectacular granite outcrop, called the Piedras del Diablo (Devil's Rocks).
 
Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas Natural Park
The Sierras de Cazorla, Segura and las Villas Natural Park covers over 200,000 hectares and is one of the largest Natural Parks in Spain.  Located in eastern Jaen province, it connects the Sierra Morena and the Subbética mountain ranges.  This huge mountainous natural park is home to widespread forest, dramatic, dominating peaks reaching up to over 2,000m and numerous rivers, steams and waterfalls.  It is rich with diverse flora and fauna with many endemic species. 
 
Sierras Subbéticas Natural Park
Sierra Subbetica Natural Park covers over 31,000 hectares and is part of the Beticas mountain range which is south east of the province of Cordoba.  Erosion to these limestone mountains has left some stunning formations.  The area is also home to some very pretty villages which are full of historic interest. It is also one of southern Spain's largest breeding colonies of griffon vultures.
 
Sierras of Tejeda, Almijara and Almara Natural Park
The Sierras of Tejeda, Almijara and Almara Natural Park are a large and mountainous region which stretches across the provincial border of Granada and Malaga. It covers over 40,000 hectares and reaches a high of over 2,000m (La Maroma, at 2,080m is the highest peak).  One particular area in the west of Malaga is well known for its beautiful villages which have Moorish origin, this area is called Axarquía.  The Natural Park is a great place for walking and climbers alike. 
 
Torcal de Antequera Natural Area
Close to Malaga is the small Torcal de Antequera Natural Area.  Although small (12km²) it has one of the most stunning and extraordinary karstic landscapes in Europe. The area dates back from the Jurassic period and is a limestone plateau which has been eroded to leave deep gullies and natural sculptures, like the Tornillo Natural Monument. 
 
Utrera Natural Reserve
Utrera Natural Reserve consists of three saltwater lakes which covers a total protected area of 1,161ha. Laguna de Zarracatín (which is the largest), Laguna Arjona and Laguna Alcaparrosa provide an alternative habitat for birds in the nearby Guadalquivir delta.