Natural Parks in Andalucia

There are 113 ‘Parques Naturales’ in Spain, occupying just under three million hectares (six per cent of the country’s landmass). Of these 113, Andalucia has 24 natural parks, occupying 17 per cent of the region.

The figure of the Parque Naturales, next to that of the Parque Nacional and of the Reserva de la Biosfera, is the most important in the protection of natural spaces; their declaration and management corresponds exclusively with the autonomous communities of the region. Moreover, Andalucia has five of the biggest natural parks in Spain: Cazorla, Sierra de Aracena, Sierra Norte, Sierra Nevada and Los Alcornocales.

Sierra Nevada

Sierra Nevada

From the point of view of their popularization, attention to visitors and the promotion of a culture of respect and protection towards the environment, comes the essential need for interpretative information centres (with specialist staff and equipped with display spaces for educational materials – diagrammes, legends, models, reproductions, audiovisual and interactive installations – highlighting the ecological wealth and characteristics of the individual park).

The figure of the natural park is one of the most relevant in the field of conservation in Spain, and one of the most extensive in our country. They are regulated, quite specifically, by the law number 4/89 approved by the Congreso de los Diputados and stated in its article number 13 that the natural parks “are natural areas, little changed by exploitation or human occupation that, by reason of the beauty of their landscape, the representativeness of their ecosystems or the singularity of their flora, of their fauna, or their geomorphological formations, possess ecological, aesthetic, educational and scientific merits whose conservation deserves preferential attention.” In the same article it was established that in the parks “it is possible to limit the use of the natural resources, prohibiting in every case those incompatible with the aims that have justified their creation”. It also signalled that in the parks entry to visitors should be with specific limitations to guarantee the protection of the parks.

Los Alcornocales

Los Alcornocales

Difference between the distinctive natural spaces.

Each autonomous community has established different categories for their own natural spces: regional parks, rural parks, natural ares of special interest, protected natural monuments, natural reserves, sites of scientific interest, protected area, and so on, and all of these sites have different specific aims and levels of protection.

PARQUE NATURAL AND PARQUE NACIONAL

These differences are fundamentally administrative, although with certain nuances:

Parque Natural: Their management depends on each autonomous community (corresponding to the ministry of the environment). Therefore, they are defined as a subject of Spanish protection, which implies the conservation of natural resources and their management by the autonomous community.

Parque Nacional: basically this is the same as the above definition of a natural space, although in principle the national parks are even less altered by the intrusion of the hand of man, and their singularity is is due to their status as being of general interest to the Nation as representative of the principal natural systems of Spain.

Reservas de la Biosfera: Their management is also the duty of the autonomous communities, but their origin is different. It is the governments of each country that through their respective National Committees propose spaces to be considered as Reservas de la Biosfera, and it is the Consejo (council) Internacional de Coordinación of the international programme, Hombre y Biosfera (Man and The Biosphere) of UNESCO that studies each proposal and approves in effect to meet their individual requirements.

Cádiz

Bahía de Cádiz

La Breña y las Marismas del Barbate

Málaga

Sierra de las Nieves

Montes de Málaga

Huelva

Doñana

Sierra de Aracena y Picos ed Aroche

Granada

Sierra Nevada

Sierra de Baza

Sierra de Huertor

Bahía de Cádiz

Date of declaration as Parque Natural: 1989

Park area: 10,522 hectares

Tel: 956 59 09 71

E-mail: pn.bahiadecadiz.cma@juntadeandalucia.es

Annual visitors: 11,181.

USEFUL INFORMATION

WHERE IS IT:Occupying the municipalities of Cádiz, San Fernando, Chiclana, Puerto Real and Puerto Santa María

WHY IT DESERVES ITS STATUS:As a habitat for breeding, hibernation and migration for populations of more than 200 species of aquatic birds, virgin beaches, wetlands, salt marshes and pine forests.

Vegetation: It comprises various species adapted to salt water environments, to tidal inundations and sandy terrain. Visitors can see areas of stone pine and a small forest of six hectares at Sancti Petri.

Fauna: A great number of aquatic birds such as grebes, cormorants, seagulls and gannets.  Black-winged stilts, herons and avocets nest here, as well as the flamingo and osprey. Abundant sea species include cockles, shrimps and crabs,  sole and sea bass.

Culture: Phoenician and Roman remains. Vestiges of fortification and military structures.  Remnants of the oldest railway in Spain. Easy access to the ancient port at el Caño del Trocadero, in Puerto Real. Numerous sunken galleons are sited off the coastline. The castle of Sancti-Petri should not be missed. The Park has cafeterías and a restaurant.

Climatology: Mild climate, of the Mediterrnean type. Average annual rainfall of 600 mm. Average temperatures between 13ºC (January) and 24ºC (August).

FACILITIES

Reception: Oficina del Parque Natural. Jardín Botánico de San Fernando. C/ Coghen s/n San Fernando. Hours: 8am-2.30pm.

Birdwatching hides: Yes.

Signposted routes: Yes.

Guided tours: Yes.

Other activities: No.

Information materials:Yes.

Interpretative displays: Yes.

La Breña y Marismas de Barbate

Date of declaration as Parque Natural: 1989

Park area: 4,845 hectares

Tel: 956 59 04 05 / 956 59 09 71

E-mail: pn.bahiadecadiz.cma@juntadeandalucia.es

Annual visitors: 28,216.

USEFUL INFORMATION

WHERE IS IT:The districts of Barbate and Vejer, in the south of Cádiz province.

WHY IT DESERVES ITS STATUS:Outstanding for its cliff forms and pine forests, as well as its spectacular views.

Vegetation: The upper level of the cliffs in the Park is colonized by a wood of stone pines, the result of a reafforestation programme towards the end of the 20th century, and accompanied by an undergrowth of Mediterranean bush and brush maintained to avoid the risk of forest fires. On the edge of the cliff there are numerous examples of Aleppo pine mixed with Spanish and common juniper, next to bushes planted as windbreaks. The saline quality of the cliff wall is due to tiny drops of seawater blown up from the rocks below as ‘salt spray’. These physical conditions make it a natural habitat for the development of halophytic, or salt-loving, species of plant, among which we find the saltwort, sweet glasswort, and houseleeks. In the protected areas and across the cliff face there are also wild figs and brambles.

Fauna: The Park is a very important habitat for a group of birds from species such as the bullfinch, serin, goldfinch and true finches. There is also a pair of both peregrine falcons and kestrels.

Culture: The town centre of Vejer has an architectural plan of well preserved structures among which the two castellated towers are outstanding. Also noteworthy are the Ermita de San Ambrosio and the Santuario de la Oliva on the road between Vejer and Barbate.

FACILITIES

RECEPTION: C/Coghen, nº 3, San Fernando 11100. 9am-2pm.

Birdwatching hides: No.

Signposted routes: Yes.

Guided tours: Yes.

Information materials: Yes.

Interpretative displays: Yes.

Sierra de Grazalema

Date of declaration as Parque Natural: 1984

Total area of Park: 51,695 hectares

Tel: 956 71 60 63 / 956 71 62 36 / 952 87 77 78 / 952 87 11 71 / 952 15 45 99 / 956 72 70 29 / 956 12 31 14

E-mail: pn.grazalema.cma@juntadeandalucia.es

Annual visitors: 63,294.

USEFUL INFORMATION

WHERE IS IT:The natural park of the Sierra de Grazalema mountains sits astride the provinces of Cádiz and Málaga, with an area of 51.695 hectares in the most westerly part of the Cordillera Bética. A total of 14 municipalities are inside the area, to lesser or greater degree, in the overall outline of the Park: Grazalema, Zahara de la Sierra, Villaluenga del Rosario, Benaocaz, Ubrique, El Bosque, Prado del Rey, El Gastor and Algodonales in the province of Cádiz, and Benaoján, Montejaque, Cortes de la Frontera, Jimera de Líbar and Ronda in the province of Málaga.

WHY IT DESERVES ITS STATUS: The Parque Natural, also declared a Reserva de la Biosfera, is notable for its wild, jagged peaks and valleys with high vertical walls, such as the famous Garganta Verde ravine, with a depth that reaches 400 m. As well, the Park is home to a great diversity of animal and vegetable species; elms, willows and poplars are the species that form the woods hanging above its rivers and water courses, which can be best experienced in the higher stretches of the río El Bosque river. It also boasts the unique forest of pinsapo pines, Abies pinsapo Boiss, in the entire world.  All of these species, perhaps as many as 90, are represented in the Jardín Botánico El Bosque, which features two alternative routes through its botanic gardens. Numerous bird species live in the Park, although perhaps by their sheer size and majesty in flight the raptors are the ones that attract the most attention.

Vegetation: Thanks to the simple absence of man since remote times, the Sierra is a prime conservation site for an important variety of vegetation typical to the Mediterranean basin, chiefly holm oak, cork oak and olives. In the shade of the Sierra del Pinar there is a magnificent wood of pinsapos, the biggest conserved area of pinsapo today, excluding the Serranía de Ronda. In nearby mountain ranges there are small pinsapo woods or isolated examples of the species, testifying to its millennial presence in the region. A visit the Pinsapars, as to other parts and Áreas de Reserva inside the Park, can only be made at certain times of the year and among a limited numbers of visitors, admitted by permit system. At times it is also necessary to visit accompanied by a guide.

Fauna: Among the bird species, the griffon vultures found here are members of the largest griffon vulture colony in Europe. It is this, among other factors, that makes this zone a magic enclave for lovers of ornithology.

Culture: It is easy to arrange a visit to the caves or grottos here, among which you’ll find the ‘Complejo Hundidero-Gato’, the biggest cave system in Andalucia, or the ‘Cueva de la Pileta’, whose Paleolithic cave paintings, dating back 25,000 years, have been compared to those at Altamira and Lascaux. The gastronomy of the comarca, region, constitutes another important cultural heritage here. There are also numerous Roman sites in the municipalities across the Park.

FACILITIES

CONTACT INFORMATION:

Offices of the Parque Natural:

Avenida de la Diputación s/n 11670 El Bosque (Cádiz)

Casa de la Alameda, calle Alameda del Tajo, s/n 29400 Ronda (Málaga)

Centros de visitantes:

Palacio de Mondragón, Plaza de Mondragón (Ayuntamiento Ronda) 29400 Ronda (Málaga) .

Cortes de la Frontera: Avenida de la Democracia s/n, 29380 Cortes de la Frontera (Málaga)

El Bosque: Avenida de la Diputación s/n, 11670 El Bosque (Cádiz)

Zahara de la Sierra: Plaza de Zahara, 3, 11688 Zahara de la Sierra (Cádiz)

Interpretation centre (El Bosque): 10am-2pm and 4-6pm. Festivals: 9am-2pm (Saturdays only: 9am-2pm & 4-6pm).

Signposted routes: Yes.

Guided tours: Yes, for either individuals or organized groups.

Other activities: Yes; hiking, parasailing, climbing, canoeing and other water sports, canyoning, caving.

Information materials: Yes.

Interpretative displays: Yes.

Sierra de las Nieves

Date of declaration as Parque Natural: 1989

Total park area: 20,163 hectares

Tel: 951 04 00 58 / 952 87 77 78

Interpretative centre: Palacio de Mondragón, Plaza de Mondragón s/n, 29400 Ronda. Tel: 952 87 11 71

Fax: 952 87 11 71

Office of Parque Natural fax: 952 87 72 21

E-mail: pn.sierranieves.cma@juntadeandalucia.es

Annual visitors: 30,000.

USEFUL INFORMATION

WHERE IS IT:The Park occupies much of the central natural area of the Serranía de Ronda mountain range, in the western sector of the province of Málaga. It covers parts of the municipal centrs of  El Burgo, Istán, Monda, Parauta, Ronda, Tolox and Junquera.

WHY IT DESERVES IT STATUS:One of the largest attractions is its vast humpback formations of limestone. It also has the most extensive population of pinsapo pines.

Vegetation: Its hilly terrain, creased with deep ravines, gorges and narrow passes, characterized by abrupt escarpments, the deepest part being the G.E.S.M. abyss, at nearly 1000 m the third deepest in the world. The different altitudes across the Serranía make each zone a habitat for different species of flora. Most noteworthy, of course, is the Pinsapo, a pine tree exclusive to this area and parts of northern Morocco, which here occupies around 3,000 hectares in the Natural Park. The visitor will also encounter Algerian oak, holm oak and cork oak.

Fauna: From the golden eagle to the Spanish ibex, including fallow deer, mouflon sheep and the European otter.

Culture: The locality of Ronda, declared a ‘Paraje Pintoresco con todos sus alrededores’, or a site of great beauty including all of its surroundings. The El Tajo gorge cuts the town into two parts, the first, newer, Mercadillo area, and La Ciudad, the old cobbled town. The two halves communicate across three bridges: the Puente Árabe (Arab bridge), the Puente Viejo or puente romano (old, or Roman, bridge) and the Puente Nuevo, new bridge, at a height of nearly 100 m above the rio Guadalévin.

Climatology: Average annual rainfall: 1.030mm. Monthly average temperatures between  9ºC (January) and 27ºC (July).

FACILITIES

Reception: An information centre is planned, but otherwise at present the park is open.

Inrterpretative centre (Palacio de Mondragón, Ronda): 8am-3pm.

Viewing facilities: No

Signposted routes: Yes.

Guided tours: Various private companies organize guided visits, ask any local tourism office.

Other activities: Various forms of adventure tourism, organised by private companies.

Information materials: Yes. Free brochures and CD.

Interpretative displays: Yes.

Montes de Málaga

Date of declaration as a Parque Natural: 1989

Total park area: 4,996 hectares

Tel: 951 04 51 00

E-mail: pn.montesdemalaga.cma@juntadeandalucia.es

Annual visitors: 12,286.

USEFUL INFORMATION

WHERE IS IT:The montes, or heights, are 15 km north of the city of Málaga

WHY IT DESERVES ITS STATUS:Its proximity to Málaga, as well as its interest as a zone of natural beauty close to a major city, awards it a great value as an alternative leisure area to the tourism on the Costa del Sol.

Vegetation: The large part of the Park space is occupied by woods of Aleppo pine, the result of a reafforestation programme in the 1930s initiated to avoid the periodic floods that inundated the city of Málaga. Without doubt the reafforestation displays a marked difference in development among the different conditions of climate and terrain. In the north of the area, visitors will notice Aleppo pines mixed with Algerian, holm and cork oaks, Mediterranean species that began to colonize the area before it became prone to rainy-season floods.

Fauna: The interesting fauna, and also the best conserved, can be observed in the first place among those that are in danger of extinction, including one of the infrequent refuges of the chameleon. It also provides a habitat for the Least weasel, the wild cat or mountain cat, beech marten and wild boar. Among the raptors we find, in majestic flight above the summits of the montes, the short-toed eagle and booted eagle, the goshawk, common buzzard and the Eurasian eagle owl, the largest of the nocturnal raptors.

Culture: Cave art from millennia ago can be seen in small cave systems across Andalucia. In Málaga city itself, noteworthy museums and galleries include the carving in the Catedral, the castle of Gibralfaro, the Alcazaba (fort), the Roman Theatre, the Picasso birthplace museum, the Museo de Bellas Artes, the Palacio de los Condes de Buena Vista, the Iglesia de Santiago, the botanical and ornithological gardens of ‘El Retiro’ in neighbouring Churriana, which contains one of the most important Jardines Históricos in Spain, and the Jardín Botánico ‘La Concepción’

Climatology: Annual rainfall of 500 mm. Average monthly temperatures between 10ºC (January) and 26ºC (July).

FACILITIES

Reception: Visitors’ centre ‘Lagar de Torrijos’ Carretera Málaga-Colmenar (C-345) Km 544,3 29013 Málaga.

Centre hours: 10am-5pm.

Birdwatching hides: Yes.

Signposted routes: Yes.

Guided tours: Yes, by prior appointment.

Other activities: Cycling on mountain routes.

Information materials: Yes.

Interpretative displays: Yes.

Doñana

Date of declaration as Parque Natural: 1989

Total park area: 53,709 hectares

Tel: 959 45 01 59 / 956 38 09 22

E-mail: pn.donana.cma@juntadeandalucia.es

Annual visitors: 4,174.

USEFUL INFORMATION

WHERE IS IT:The Parque Natural del Entorno de Doñana occupies a large part of the extreme south-east of Huelva province, south-east of the province of Seville and north-east of Cádiz province, and includes nine municipalities from these three provinces.

WHY IT DESERVES ITS STATUS:The Doñana natural park is considered the largest ecological reserve in Europe. Thanks to its geographical situation, at the confluence of the Mediterranean and Atlantic regions, the Parque Natural de Doñana, combined with the  Parque Nacional de Doñana, forms the European link in the avian migratory routes between Europe and Africa. By their proximity, the park comprises regions similar to both offering habitats to distinct species of animals and vegetation.

Vegetation: Growing in the Park Parque are the grass known as Vulpia fontquerana, described as a species at risk of extinction in the Spanish Catálogo Nacional de Especies Amenazadas (threatened), and currently the subject of a legislative campaign to prevent its extinction, as well as the tiny relative to the antirrhinum, Linaria tursica, and Micropyropsis tuberosa grass, both included in the ‘Catálogo Andaluz de Especies de Flora Silvestre Amenazada’ (Andalucian catalogue of threatened wildflower species), as well as other species of community interest. The plant life is extremely diverse and specific to the various different ecosystems supported in the Park.

Fauna: Each of the park’s ecosystems has its own distinct fauna. Here we can observe 20 species of freshwater fish, 11 amphibian specues, 21 types of reptiles, 37 species of dry-land mammals, and 360 bird species, of which 137 breed annually in the Park. Of especial interest (if largely because it is now so rare) is the sight of the retiring Iberian lynx.

Culture: The most singular cultural manifestation of the entire region is the famed annual Romeria, pilgrimage, del Rocio, which draws thousands on its procession across Andalucia. In Almonte there is a notable local folkloric museum.

Climatology: Annual rainfall of between 500 and 700 mm. For Almonte, annual rainfall of 630mm. Average monthly temperatures between 11ºC (January) and 25ºC (August).

FACILITIES

Reception: Oficina del Parque Natural, calle Sevilla nº 33 – 1ª planta, 21730-Almonte (Huelva)

Visitors centre Bajo de Guía: Avenida Bajo de Guía, s/n, 11540-Sanlúcar de Barrameda (Cádiz)

Interpretative centre: Tue-Sun 10am-2pm; Beween 1 June and 30 September, also open 6-8pm.

Birdwatching hides: Yes.

Signposted routes: Yes.

Guided tours: Yes, by private travel agencies.

Other activities: Yes, by private travel agencies.

Information materials: Yes.

Interpretative displays: Yes.

Sierra de Aracena y Picos de Aroche

Date of declaration as Parque Natural: 1989

Total park area: 186,827 hectares

Tel: 959 12 88 25

E-mail: pn.aracena.cma@juntadeandalucia.es

Annual visitors: 20,932.

USEFUL INFORMATION

WHERE IS IT:To the north of Huelva province, the park covers 186,827 hectares shared between some 28 municipalities of the Sierra de Huelva. It is criss-crossed by a network of rivers that meet in three hydrographical basins: the Guadalquivir (Rivera de Huelva), the Guadiana (Caliente, Múrtigas, Ingenio) and the Odiel (Rivera de Linares, Rivera de Santa Ana).

WHY IT DESERVES ITS STATUS:A visit to the Park is justified by the richness of its extensive pastures with holm and cork oaks, its chestnut woods and the riverbank woodlands; and as much as for the quality of its gastronomic specialities, among which is perhaps the most outstanding jamón ibérico, dried ham. Of enormous geological and visual interest is the ‘Gruta de las maravillas’, grotto of marvels, of great size and beauty, penetrating deep beneath the limestone substrate of the Sierra, making it one of the largest cave systems in the Iberian Peninsula, with a length of 1,200 m.

Vegetation: The climate is ideally suited to leafy species such as the chestnut, introduced by the Romans and nowadays occupying over 4,000 hectares in the highest shaded areas between Aracena and Cortegana. Poplars, forests of maritime and rock pine and eucalyptus are other non-indigenous species that have replaced earlier indigenous woods. These indigenous species include principally holm oak, accompanied by cork oak and Algerian oak, and with an undergrowth of Kermes oak, terebinth and common slimax. In the pasturelands of Cala and Aroche there are magnificent specimens of Algerian oak, relics of the ancient woodlands here. In only a few other sites, such as the hill of Castaño, in Castaño del Robledo, there are some dispersed plantations of beeches or Pyrenean oak, a species that has been severely depleted in recent years by logging. On the beds of the ravines the brooks and streams are colonized by species adapted to wetlands and flood zones, such as willow, alder and ash, which at times constitute true ‘bosques de galería’, miniature arboreal ecosystems, such as in the case of the Múrtigas waters below Galaroza.

Fauna: Due to the transformation of the original woodlands of the sierra of Heulva into pastures, smallholdings and cultivated areas, the fauna of the Park is of an extraordinary complexity. Among the raptors who nest regularly here are the black stork, golden eagle and the lesser kestrel. The pastures of holm and cork oak provide the habitat for species such as the wild cat, genet, fox, beech marten and others of a great value in preserving livestock for hunting, such as the wild boar or the red deer, reintroduced in recent years. It is also a breeding area for the common buzzard, the black and red kite, and the Eurasian black vulture.

Culture: The towns and villages of this part of the Sierra Morena have sustained a cultural heritage of great importance. There are the prehistoric remains of Aroche: dolmens and menhirs believed to be the ‘Rocks of the Devil’. The Iglesia-Fortaleza (church-fort) of Aracena, built by the horsemen of the Order of Santiago (Saint James) in the 14th century, is set atop a limestone mountain below which we find the aforementioned Gruta de las Maravillas, grotto of marvels, with a gallery of over a kilometre in length and first opened to the public in 1914. The castle of Cortegana and the fortresses of the Cumbres Mayores, Aroche, Cala and the Cumbres de San Bartolomé present an important architectural legacy from earlier epochs, as does the small 10th century mezquita, Arabic mosque, in Almonaster la Real. In the town of Zufre you can admire the Ayuntamiento, council building, a grand structure from the 15th century, which was the seat of the Inquisition here.

Climate: Average annual rainfall 1.100 mm. Average temperatures between 7ºC (January) and 25ºC (August).

FACILITIES

Reception: Centro de Interpretación del Parque Natural. Upper square of Aracena. Edificio Cabildo Viejo, 21200 Aracena (Huelva).

Centre hours: Summer (May-Sept): 10am-2pm & 6-8pm. Winter: 10am-2pm & 4-6pm.

Birdwatching hides: No.

Signposted routes: Yes.

Guided tours: Yes.

Other activities: Hiking.

Educational materials: Yes.

Interpretative displays: Yes.

Parque de Sierra Nevada

Date of declaration as Parque Natural: 1989

Total park area: 171,829 hectares

Tel: 958 02 63 00 / 958 02 63 03 / 958 34 06 25 / 950 51 35 48

E-mail: pn.snevada.cma@juntadeandalucia.es

Annual visitors: 75,985.

USEFUL INFORMATION

WHERE IS IT:In the provinces of Granada and Almería, specifically to the south-east of Gradanda and the western half of Granada province. .

WHY IT DESERVES ITS STATUS:This is one of the largest protected natural spaces in Andalucia and one of the highest mountain ranges in western Europe after the Alps. It is the roof of the Iberian Peninsula, as it features two of the country’s highest peaks,  Mulhacén ( 3,482 m.) and Veleta ( 3,398 m.)  and more than twenty peaks are over 3.000 m high. The difference in altitude mean that the Park has an enormous botanical variety; it is also the area with the greatest concentration of endemic natural qualities in Europe.

Vegetation: the Park of the Sierra Nevada features holm oak and Portuguese oak,  deciduous woods of chestnut and high-mountain pine forests and dense shrub at the highest altitudes, where species adopt a low, packed form against low temperatures and icy winds. The innumerable water courses that cross the Sierra Nevada are flanked by serried woods of poplar and willow. In the ‘cascajares’, areas of loose stone and gravel, and in the ‘borreguiles’, wet grasslands, the extensive high mountain pastures, are found over 50 species that grow only the Sierra Nevada, It is also obligatory, then, to visit the botanical gardens of the Jardín Botánico de La Cortijuela near the Cerro del Trevenque hill where there are specimens of over a hundred species of flora from the Park.

Fauna: Among the many invertebrates we find in the Park, there are also more than twenty species of butterfly. The Sierra also offers protection to numerous species of small bird, a good number of raptors and diverse mammal species among which the most notable is the ‘cabra montés’, mountain goat, in fact the Iberian or Spanish ibex, which pastures in the high mountain wet grasslands.

Culture: In the town of Lanjarón, near to the Park, is the bottling plant of the famous Lanjarón mineral water, the most popular bottled water in Spain. Lanjarón is equally famous for its balneario, spa. In Pampaneira and other towns of the Barranco de Poqueira there are crafts workshops specializing in textile products.  Apiculture, beekeeping, is also a boom industry in the network of towns and villages here known as Las Alpujarras. And in the town of Trevélez you can taste its famously excellent dried hams.

Climate: Temperature: -25ºC (winter minimum) to 35ºC (summer maximum), with an average annual rainfall of 1.200 mm.

FACILITIES

Reception:

Oficina del Parque Natural: Carretera de la Sierra, Km 718191-Pinos Genil (Granada)

Centro de Visitantes: ‘El Dornajo’, Carretera Sierra Nevada, Km. 23 18160-Güéjar Sierra (Granada)

‘Láujar de Andárax’, Carretera Láujar-Berja, Km. 1 04470-Láujar de Andárax (Almería)

Hours:Depending on the centre, although generally in autumn and winter the centres remain open every day except Monday. Winter: 10am-1pm. Spring and summer Friday, Saturday and Sunday only: 11am-7pm.

Hides: No.

Signposted routes: Yes.

Guides tours of Park: Yes, both by private travel company and official Parque Nacional guides.

Other activities: Yes. Climbing, horseriding, cross-country skiing, hiking, 4×4 vehicle routes.

Educational materials: Yes.

Interpretative displays: Yes.

Sierra de Baza

Date of declaration as Parque Natural: 1989

Total park area: 53,649 hectares

Tel: 958 00 20 18

E-mail: pn.baza.cma@juntadeandalucia.es

Annual visitors: 8,122.

USEFUL INFORMATION

WHERE IS IT:The Parque Natural Sierra de Baza, part of the Cordilleras Béticas, sits in the central-western zone of Granada province. It stands out as a spectacular humpback covered in vegetation, reaching altitudes over 2.000 m, which rises among agricultural plateaux. This park has a total area of  53,649 hectares within which are five municipalities, those of Baza, Caniles, Dólar, Gor and Valle de Zalabí, with an approximate population of 30.000 inhabitants.

WHY IT DESERVES ITS STATUS:The area is criss-crossed with numerous paths which offer the opportunity to contemplate the magnificent landscape while walking. The remote and solitary atmosphere of its summits provide suitable habitats for more than ten spieces of raptor whose breathtaking flights and acrobatic hunting techniques offer walkers a spectacular aerial display.

Vegetation: In a mountainous region such as this sierra, vegetation changes as the altitude rises, affected by temperature, humidity and the nutritional content of the substrata. We can distinguish very different communities among the various levels; the lowest zones with gentler slopes are colonized by holm oaks accompanied by a stratum of herbaceous plants and where peonies abound. At the mountain tops there is a blanket of spiny brush alongside an arboreal canopy of Algerian oak and maple, able to survive low temperatures and in poor soil. Nevertheless, the greatest area of growth is in reafforestation with Calabrian pine, Aleppo pine and maritime pine, along with a bush culture of Phoenician and common juniper. Another very interesting group from a botanical viewpoint is the many species of thyme found here, unique in the mountains of the dolomitic Blanquizares area.

Fauna: With respect to the fauna, we can say that in the Sierra there is a varied community of birds, thanks to the existence of a mosaic of ‘biotopos’, small, specialized environments of biota surviving symbiotically in adverse conditions. Among these the most outstanding group is the raptors, such as the goshawk, Bonelli’s eagle, the golden eagle and the European eagle owl. In the remaining parts of conserved Mediterranean woodland, there is an abundance of small mammals such as the beech marten, Spanish ibex and the Eurasian badger.  The thickets along the rivers and waterways provide a unique humid ‘biotopo’ which due to their position are frequently rare and in a very poor condition. Here there is an abundance of the common frog, natrix water snake, white-toothed shrew, Cetti’s warbler and the common chiffchaff.

Culture: This Sierra has been a populated area since antiquity, as is demonstrated by the present of Paleolithic remains found in the area of the Jabalcón mountain, where cave art gives testimony to human settlements as long ago as 25,000BCE. The key archeological find, not least for its particular beauty, is that of the famous ‘Dama de Baza’, the 4th century BCE early Iberian sculpture. The ruins of the Vía Augusta are equally important and are part of the ancient track that connected the Roman region of Bética (roughly the size and shape of Andalucia today) to Rome. The town of Baza played an extremely important role as a frontier settlement in the Arabic epoch, from when are conserved numerous monuments of great interest, such as the collegiate church of the town’s Catedral, constructed over an earlier mezquita. The Arabic baths of the Jewish quarter from the 11th century have been restored and are nowadays open as public property.

Climate: Average monthly temperatures: 6ºC (January)-25ºC (July). The annual rainfall is 400 mm.

FACILITIES

Reception: Centro de Visitantes ‘Narváez’, Autovía A-92, exit at Km. 324 18800-Baza (Granada)

Visitor centre hours: Oct-Dec, Wed-Sun: 10am-2pm & 4-6pm. Jan-Mar, Fri-Sun: 10am-2pm & 4-6pm. Apr-June 12, Wed-Sun, 10am-2pm & 6-8pm. 13 June-30 Sept: Fri-Sun 10am-2pm & 6-8pm.

Animal and bird hides: Yes, Campaña de la Berrea zone.

Signposted routes: Yes.

Guided tours: No.

Other activities: yes, with private travel companies.

Information materials: Yes.

Interpretative displays: Yes.

Sierra de Huetor

Date of declaration as Parque Natural: 1989

Total area of park: 12,128 hectares

Tel: 958 02 60 00 / 958 54 04 26

E-mail: pn.huetor.cma@juntadeandalucia.es

Annual visitors: 9,957.

USEFUL INFORMATION

WHERE IS IT:North-east of the city of Granada.

WHY IT DESERVES IT STATUS:The Park represents a great natural lung for the region at just a few minutes from Granada. The numerous mountain ranges and intervening landscape of ths grand limestone region combines a great diversity of vegetation, and a wealth of fauna, as well as an impressive historical tradition.

Vegetation: The greater part of the area is covered by one vast forest, although there are also many areas where the most charactieristic landscape is of scrub and brush, at times of the low-growing and creeper form due to the altitude and prevailing winds and cold, and others supporting hardy members of the thyme and cistus, or rockrose, family, able to thrive in the poor ground conditions. The woodlands are formed mostly of pine woods, some indigenous, but the majority introduced by reafforestation programmes.

There are nevertheless large areas of holm oak as well as, if in fewer numbers, stands of Algerian oak and smaller woods of other oaks and maple.

Fauna: Most prominent among the fauna here are: Spanish ibex and wild boar, among the grand mammals; the fox, commun genet, least weasel, beech marten, wild or mountain cat among carnivores; as well as the European rabbit, common vole, Eurasian badger and garden dormouse. Commonly sighted raptors include the golden eagle, goshawk, Eurasian eagle owl, sparrowhawk, booted eagle, little owl and tawny owl. Other birds to note include the blackbird, European robin, chiffchaff, red-legged partridge, Eurasian jay, etcetera. Of the reptiles visitors will encounter various species of Spanish lizards, notably Lacerta hispanica, the rat snake and Montpelier snake, as well as the snub-nosed or Lataste’s viper.

Culture: From various points in the Park there are magnificent panoramic views of the Sierra Nevada. The different cultures who populated it over the centuries left their own marks: at Cogollos Vega there are Arab baths in a good state of conservation, giving proof of the reach of Muslim culture during the Nasrid and earlier Muslim rule of Granada. The ‘El Cuzco’ palace in Viznar has been declared a Historic and Artistic Monument.

Climate: The zone has a dry climate, with temperature differentials of 15 degrees between summer and winter. Spring and autumn are the recommended times to visit.

FACILITIES

Reception: Centro de Visitantes Puerto Lobo, carretera from Víznar to Puerto Lobo km. 43.

Centre hours: Thur-Sun, 10am-2pm & 4-6pm in winter, and 10am-2pm & 6-8pm in summer.

Hides: No.

Signposted routes: Yes.

Guided tours: Yes.

Other activities: Environmental study centre, birdwatching, others.

Information materials: Yes.

Interpretative displays: Yes

WIDGET GENERICO

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