Spanish National Parks: seeing is believing
Mountains and wetlands, beaches and forests, volcanos, lava and lakes. Spain's 14 National Parks are characterised by their variety, but above all, by their stunning ecological wealth. Nature is the absolute protagonist in these unique areas, some of which have the UNESCO World Heritage designation. Would you like to get to know them in more detail?
From the Pyrenees to the Canary Islands. Come and explore one of Spain's National Parks: they cover a total of more than 325,000 hectares of land with immense natural and cultural value, all but untouched by man over the centuries, with special State protection. These areas share some common features, such as their spectacular landscapes, but each National Park has its own special character that makes it unique. Here we suggest a trip packed with activities for all ages and tastes. Take note. And don't forget your camera!
High-mountain National Parks
From hiking, mountain traverses and guided routes, to mountain biking, adventure sports and even skiing. A long list of ideas in landscapes dominated by water, intense green and, in winter, the snow.
In the Picos de Europa Mountains, a last refuge for endangered species such as the brown bear and the capercaillie, you can explore itineraries such as the one crossing the El Cares gorge. Routes to waterfalls, rivers and canyons come one after another in the Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici National Park which, with close to 200 lakes and ponds, is the largest area of lakes in the Pyrenees. In this mountain range you will also find the Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park, crowned by the peak of Monte Perdido, at 3,355 metres above sea level. Did you know that this area has the UNESCO World Heritage designation? You will find its contrasting landscapes stunning. An excellent way to enjoy it is by exploring its tracks and trails: a real paradise for nature lovers. Further south, in Andalusia, you will find the unmistakable silhouette of the Sierra Nevada Mountains just a few kilometres from the city of Granada. Here you can enjoy the highest peaks on the Iberian peninsula, Mulhacén (3,482 metres) and Veleta (3,398 metres). If you like skiing, than you are in luck, because these mountains are home to the Sierra Nevada Resort, the southernmost in Europe.
Spain is one of the European countries with the most "IBAs" (Important Bird Areas), with 391 protected areas. You should also know that in Spain there are six National Parks that are privileged observatories from which to these animals up close. So, in the Islas Atlánticas National Park and in the Cabrera Archipelago, the largest Land and Sea-based National Park in Spain, major colonies of sea birds make their nests. This biodiversity takes on special importance in Doñana, which also has the UNESCO World Heritage designation: it is the only place in Europe that is the habitat for numerous migratory birds and other animals such as the Iberian lynx, an endangered species. Come and visit the Tablas de Daimiel or the Cabañeros National Parks, both of which are in the Castile-La Mancha region, and explore their wetlands and forests, criss-crossed by numerous trails that are easy for walking, where you can see a host of birdlife species. The same is true of the Monfragüe National Park, in Extremadura, home to the world’s largest colony of black vultures.
Contrasts in the Canary Islands
Contrasts take on their maximum splendour in the National Parks of the Canary Islands. Head back into prehistory in the laurisilva forests of Garajonay, a UNESCO World Heritage area. The volcanos, craters and solidified lava in Timanfaya will make you think you have touched down on the moon. Enjoy the most rugged, untamed countryside at the Caldera de Taburiente National Park, with its almost sheer canyons and cliffs that reach over 2,000 metres in altitude. You can also see Spain's highest peak, the Teide, an imposing volcano that towers 3,718 metres above sea level, one of the world's most spectacular geological monuments.
Remember that each National Park has its own itineraries and regulations for visiting. Whichever you choose, we can assure you that they are well worth discovering.
Alle rettigheter er forbeholdt. Turespaña / Segittur © 2013
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