White villages of Extremadura: walking through pasturelands
Whitewashed walls and green holm oaks. Rivers, reservoirs and birds. Delicate Gothic monuments and Baroque towers. These are only some of the things you will see in the white villages area of Extremadura, in Spain's interior. Travelling along its trails is a good way to enjoy its unique natural environment and rural charm. Let's get started!
The natural environment in Extremadura is valuable and highly varied. One part of this region that is well worth a visit is the area where the white villages are located. This is the border area encompassing the southern/south-western part of Badajoz, which is known for the typical architecture of its towns and villages: cobbled streets and low whitewashed houses and walls, against a backdrop of beautiful mountain scenery. There are several options that will let you discover, at a leisurely pace, the natural attractions of this region of pasturelands, streams, and cork and holm oak forests. Here are a few.
The Pasturelands of Jerez de los Caballeros. When you walk through this vast area of holm and cork oaks, you will see an excellent example of conservation and sustainable development. The products of these trees are used for the cork and pig-breeding industries, although it is also a special protection area for birds. The most representative avian species is the black stork, as this is the most important area in Western Europe for this bird during its reproductive period. If you go to the Cuncos Reservoir, you will have the opportunity to see numerous aquatic birds at the observatories installed there. Between April and May, the courtship ritual of the great bustard is spectacular, a sight not to be missed. If you follow the course of the Alcarrache River, you can also travel along the route that crosses these pasturelands between the villages of Villanueva del Fresno and Higuera de Vargas, either on foot or by bicycle. Before you leave, make sure to see the majestic Baroque towers in Jerez de los Caballeros.
Los Llanos de Olivenza region. The Sierra de Alor Mountains are in the interior of this region, where you can travel the route that starts at the village of San Jorge de Alor. Along the 10.5 kilometres of the route, you will see how the typical mountain vegetation, scrub and holm oaks intermingle with olive trees and other crops. Along the way you will also come across small, old huts built near the land where livestock raising takes place. The route is very easy, presenting little difficulty, and the scenery is worth seeing. We also recommend a stop in the town of Olivenza, located less than 7 kilometres from San Jorge de Alor, whose collection of historic buildings features some lovely churches.
The Fuentes de León Caves. You will find them in the village of Fuentes de León, 42 kilometres from Jerez de los Caballeros. They are made up of five natural grottoes. Inside are rock carvings, a lake that covers over 200 square metres, and, naturally, stalactites and limestone formations measuring up to two metres. The caves are also important because they are home to a population of bats. To visit the caves, arrangements must be made at the Fuentes de León Nature Interpretation Centre, or by phoning +34 924724174.
These are some of the surprises that await you in the interior of Spain, in the peaceful natural setting where Extremadura's white villages are located.
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