Maquetación 1 - Hotel La Fragua

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Maquetación 1 - Hotel La Fragua
Ecotourism in Spain
Guide to sustainable destinations
Protected areas and companies awarded the European Charter of Sustainable Tourism
The European Charter of Sustainable Tourism (ECST) is an initiative designed to promote effectively the
aims of sustainable tourism in protected natural areas by means of accreditations given to signatories that
commit themselves to implementing the objectives of the Charter.
The European Charter was set up between 1995 and 1998 by managers of protected areas and representatives of the tourism industry, and is funded by the EU’s LIFE programme. It aims to act as a participatory planning tool involving all local stakeholders.
The implementation process is carried out in three phases, in which all the signatories commit themselves
voluntarily to improving the sustainability of their tourism activities:
I. Accreditation of the protected area, defined in an five-year action plan.
II. Tourism businesses sign a partnership agreement with the protected area in question that includes a
three-year action plan aimed at improving the sustainability of the company.
III. Tour operators sign the partnership agreement.
The Charter is coordinated by the Europarc Federation, which acts as an umbrella body for the protected natural areas of 38 European countries and oversees all the application and verification processes.
Of the 75 protected areas in Europe who have been awarded the European Charter, 28 are Spanish.
This guide provides information for travellers and tour operators about the activities and tasks carried out
in Spain during phases I and II of the Charter.
Ecotourism in Spain
Guide to sustainable destinations
Protected areas and companies awarded the European Charter of Sustainable Tourism
CREDITS
Published by: Spanish Institute of Tourism (Turespaña)
Project manager: Ricardo Blanco (Head of Department of Sustainable Tourism, Subdirectorate General of
Development and Sustainability, Turespaña)
Concept and management: Ángeles de Andrés
Design and edition: José Manuel Reyero
Texts
Natural parks: Daniel Burón, José M.ª Montero, Josep M.ª Prats
Company data-sheets: Cristina Vega, Susana Casado, Alfredo Ortega
Other collaborators: Patricia Elola, Elena Muñoz, Isabel Junquera, María Villa
Research: Almudena de Velasco
Photographs
Diego López (Andalusian natural parks)
Jordi Bas (La Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park)
Other collaborators: Daniel Burón, Óscar Díez, José Luis Gómez de Francisco, Mamut Sierra Nevada,
Juan Muñoz, José Manuel Reyero, Manuel Román, Juan Tébar
Maps: cartographic information provided by the Andalusian Ministry of the Environment and
SigVulcà (La Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park). Maps adapted by Matilde de la Vara
Copy editor: Federico Romero
English translation: Michael Lockwood, Teresa Farino, John Muddeman
Acknowledgements: many thanks to Europarc Spain and to all the staff who work in the public use and access
departments of the protected natural areas that appear in this book.
Edition: Comunicación y Gestión Ambiental ALAIRE S. L.
Printing and binding: V.A. Impresores, S.A.
NIPO: 701-10-014-3
Legal Deposit: M-53648-2009
Printed in Spain
Printed on FSC-certified paper
All rights reserved. No part of this publication, including the cover, may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, photochemical, optical,
recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the owner of the copyright.
INDEX
Welcome
5
Preface
6
Introduction
7
La Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park
Companies based in La Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park
10
18
Sierra de Aracena y Picos de Aroche Natural Park
Companies based in the Sierra de Aracena y Picos de Aroche Natural Park
32
38
Doñana Natural Space
Companies based in the Doñana Natural Space
48
55
Los Alcornocales Natural Park
Companies based in Los Alcornocales Natural Park
70
79
Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park
Companies based in the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park
84
91
Sierra Nevada National and Natural Parks
Companies based in the Sierra Nevada National and Natural Parks
102
111
Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas Natural Park
Companies based in the Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas Natural Park
125
134
INDEX
3
t is a great pleasure for me to present this publication, the first guide to sustainable ecotourism destinations published by Turespaña. This guide not only
shows the magnificent diversity of Spain, and what it offers tourists, but also
the administration’s efforts to improve the sustainability and competitiveness
of the Spanish tourist system. It is not just a compilation of tourist infrastructures
located in certain areas of the country, but rather, an attempt to agglutinate the
tourism businesses committed to sustainable tourism and development that are
based in these protected natural areas. It thus aims to be both a guide and a
catalogue.
I
Joan Mesquida
Secretary of State for Tourism
This guide will enable travellers to get to know in greater detail a select group
of protected natural areas that, in terms of their natural heritage, are not only
some of the most important natural sites in Spain and even Europe, but are also
the natural parks that have made the firmest commitment to ensuring the sustainability of the tourism that is practiced within their boundaries.
It is also a reference work for finding service providers that are fully committed to sustainable tourism and can guarantee respectful eco-tourist practices
during its daily operations.
This guide is centred on the first seven Spanish protected areas to be
awarded the European Charter of Sustainable Tourism (ECST) out of the current
total of 28 such protected areas in Spain. For each area there is an introduction
with a description of its most significant natural and cultural values, followed by
valuable information about the public facilities and services on offer and, finally,
details of the businesses located in the area in question that have been awarded
the ECST. Each company has its data-sheet, which contains relevant details concerning the sustainable practices that it has put into operation and practical information for travellers wishing to contract any of their services.
This book is the result of the work of many professionals, from the technical
staff who have helped service providers improve the sustainability of their businesses, to the writers and photographers, who in their work, have strived to reflect the essence of each natural space and each business.
Turespaña, and all those involved on a daily basis in the protected areas included in this work, hope that the publication of this guide will be an effective
contribution to make our tourism more sustainable. It should also be useful too
for travellers and tour operators alike who are planning trips to Spain.
This publication reflects the Spanish tourist administration’s firm commitment to sustainable ecotourism. I hope you enjoy reading this guide and use it
when visiting the protected natural areas it includes.
5
PREFACE
pain is remarkable for the variety of its climates, relief and landscapes, in goodly part due to four distinct biogeographical regions that harbour a range of natural features that are one of the
main attractions for the tourists of all types that visit its shores and
mountains.
The best of Spanish wildlife is today protected by its many natural parks, and it has been shown that these protected areas can act
as a motor for local development, for example in the guise of the increasingly popular practice of ecotourism. As a means towards ensuring that the development of ecotourism is compatible with the
main objectives of protected areas, the European Charter of Sustainable Tourism (ECST) under the auspices of the European Union
was drawn up jointly by conservation managers representing protected areas and the tourist industry.
Currently, more protected areas have been awarded the ECST in
Spain than in any other European country — in all, 28 out of a total
of 75 parks — and all have set in motion programmes designed to
promote sustainable tourism: the time has now come for both the
public and private sector to take advantage of this initial momentum
and forge on ahead.
The Plan Spanish Tourism Horizon 2020 launched by the State
Secretariat of Tourism aims to improve the sustainability and competitiveness of the Spanish model of tourism and one of its objectives is to encourage the implementation of sustainable tourism
models in protected areas visited by tourists.
Turespaña is actively investing resources in protected areas that
have been awarded the ECST, given that this accreditation guarantees a commitment by all involved to implement a series of initiatives aimed at converting these areas into sustainable tourist destinations.
This commitment is undertaken by environmental protection
agencies and tourist boards alike, and aims to fulfil two of the requirements of the ECST:
S
• to help tourism companies located in protected areas to implement more sustainable practices and to establish a close
working relationship with the administrators of the protected
area in question.
• to create tourist products that are specifically linked to the protected areas, in other words, ecotourism products.
To fulfil this first requirement and promote the involvement of the
private sector, the State Secretariat of Tourism via Turespaña designed and financed a system involving Europarc-Spain, the tourist
and environmental administrations of the Spanish autonomous communities and Local Action Groups whereby businesses could initiate
the process of opting for the ECST. This methodology was approved
6
ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
by the European Federation of National and Natural Parks and by its
Spanish branch, Europarc-España, in which all the Spanish autonomous communities and the Spanish Government are represented. Turespaña has pioneered the development of this system
and its use, and nowhere else has such a high level of cooperation
between environmental and tourist administrations been achieved.
In terms of the requirement to create ecotourist products, Turespaña has set up a pilot process in the protected areas that have been
awarded the ECST and is currently designing a Ecotourism Product
Club for these very same protected areas.
If the commercialisation of a tourist product is to be successful,
all the links of a long chain of different entities must put in a lot of
hard work; and if the aim is to sell experiences and emotions via
tourism, all the implicated parts must work together to ensure that
products are based on the authentic values and qualities of the protected areas in question.
Thus, the aim of this guide is to promote the products generated
by providers committed to sustainability in both their daily activities
and in the protected areas in which they operate. In order to aid the
companies opting for the ECST, it was first necessary to provide technical advice and assistance, in which the managers of the protected
areas involved played a decisive role.
This guide is a first step in the promotion of those protected
areas and businesses that have been awarded the ECST. The idea is
to provide tourists and travellers wishing to get to know first-hand
the protected natural areas that actively promote sustainable
tourism with a means of experiencing the singular pleasure of visiting such a park, and to guarantee the quality of the services designed to enable visitors to discover the joys of these wonderful natural areas. We hope that the ecotourists that come to Spain — as
well as those that simply wish to spend a few days in one of our protected areas — will find this guide a useful way of getting to know
Spain’s protected areas and a good tool for finding service providers
who will offer truly sustainable activities and experiences.
We encourage all tour operators to work with businesses
awarded the ECST as a means of offering their clients a guarantee
that their visit is contributing to the sustainable development of the
area they are travelling to.
In the future the Ecotourism Product Club in accredited natural
protected areas will help organise tourist products based on the criteria of quality and sustainability. It also aims to bring together companies that voluntarily want to participate in this process and help
participants to promote their products in such a way that they will
reach people looking to contribute to the sustainable development
of the places they holiday in.
Turespaña
INTRODUCTION
ustainable tourism is not as such a type of tourism, as many people believe; rather, it is a way of organising tourist activities. Although it goes without saying that all tourist development must be
sustainable, it is essential that the tourism practiced in the protected
natural areas that harbour a country or a region’s best-preserved
wildlife be sustainable. Due to their natural attractions, these areas
are becoming increasingly popular as tourist destinations and if not
regulated and controlled with great care, visitor numbers may well
begin to have a negative impact on these ecosystems and landscapes, which are habitually fragile and exceedingly vulnerable to
excessive visitor pressure.
The European Charter of Sustainable Tourism (ECST) was born
out of a desire to reconcile conservation and tourism, and acts as a
participatory planning instrument that aims to develop sustainable
tourism in protected areas; specifically, one of its objectives is to
help tourist companies located within protected areas that have
been awarded the ECST to establish close ties with the management
of these areas. Essentially, these links mean that businesses voluntarily commit themselves to adopting measures to improve the sustainability of their businesses via a collaboration agreement with the
protected area in question.
Since the first Spanish protected area was awarded the ECST in
2001 a lot of hard work has been put in, and this guide hopes to
repay this effort by highlighting those parks and businesses that
have gone to great lengths to ensure the sustainability of their activities. Thus, this is a very important book and one that aims to be
both:
S
• a guide to encourage travellers to improve their knowledge of
the protected areas that have taken most steps towards promoting sustainable tourism in Spain;
• and a catalogue to help visitors choose the businesses that are
most committed to offering sustainable and singular ecotourism activities in the area they are visiting.
This guide is the result of a lengthy period, begun in 2005, in
which Turespaña provided support for the ECST and for the accredited protected areas and the companies located in these areas.
This guide is not a simple promotional catalogue of the tourism
activities in a particular part of the world and instead offers travellers
a choice of singular activities that are all compatible with a commitment to sustainable tourism and the promotion of protected natural
areas.
Of the 28 Spanish ECST-accredited areas, this guide concentrates
on the seven oldest such areas, given that their experience in working towards sustainability has helped steer local businesses through
the process of being awarded the Charter.
In all, 91 businesses are described, all of which have had to work
hard to reach this point in the process. The whole procedure has
been financed by Turespaña and conducted by Europarc-España,
with specialised training and personalised support for each company
provided by the technical staff of the consultants Ecotono, and by a
ECST representative in the protected area in question.
To be awarded the ECST all these companies have had to carry
out over 30 basic actions, which are summarised below:
• In order to improve the activities and services they offer and
increase their cooperation with the natural park, businesses
have had — amongst other task — to improve their knowledge
of their market and of the area they work in (client lists and
questionnaires), provide training for their employees, offer
guests informative material about the protected area (whose
usefulness guests then evaluate) and promote the values of
the territory in a responsible fashion. Businesses work in harmony with other tourist providers since all the companies involved in the process also form part of the Permanent Forum
for Sustainable Tourism of the protected area in question.
• To improve their environmental performance companies have
had to adopt water- and energy-saving policies, monitor consumption and follow a series of protocols designed to detect
and solve malfunctions in their installations and facilities.
Moreover, companies have produced their own informative material aimed at ensuring that both employees and clients participate in the environmental management of the company’s
facilities. To reduce water consumption, appropriate water recycling methods are employed, natural or organic cleaning
products are used, and neither employees nor clients may tip
waste oil into the sewage system.
• To help preserve the local heritage and support local businesses, companies buy local products, use local service suppliers and provide guests with information as to how they too
can support local shops, crafts and industries. As a way of influencing clients’ activities, companies have to be able to provide information on public transport and to have established a
series of environmental regulations for visitors.
Companies that offer active tourism have had to adapt the design
of their products so as to rigorously respect the regulations of the protected areas in which they work, and to take into account the limitations and fragility of the places in which their activities are performed.
All the companies awarded the ECST are presented with a plaque
that they can place on the outside of their establishment, and a Collaboration Certificate detailing the company’s commitments, which
can be exhibited inside for visitors to read.
INTRODUCTION
7
Being awarded the ECST is advantageous for businesses, as well
as for both the managers of protected areas and local tourist authorities. For travellers and tour operators, the ECST is a guarantee
of sustainability, and a singular and novel type of tourism.
• Ecotourism is performed in the marvellous setting of protected
natural areas that are home to the best-preserved wildlife and
landscapes in the continent, boasting sights that are unique to
Europe and even the world.
• The managers of these protected areas are committed to sustainable tourism.
• The tourist service providers in these areas are also committed to sustainability, and the agreements they have signed are
displayed publicly in their establishments.
• Park managers and companies work together to design proposals aimed at providing travellers with a chance to visit some
of the region’s most genuine natural and cultural values.
Amongst the 91 accredited businesses included in this guide,
there are 51 accommodation providers (hotels, independent selfcatering establishments, camp-sites, spas, etc.) and 40 outdoor-activity providers, of which 8 also run some of the public facilities in
protected areas. Together, they have accumulated 70 different
awards and certificates for their environmental management systems and quality labels and brands, which guarantee that their products and services are performed in the protected area (see list). The
Charter acts as an umbrella under which all these systems operate,
and its main role is to optimise the potential benefits for both the
companies and managers of the protected areas.
• ISO 9001: 14
• ISO 14001: 13
• Andalusia Natural Park Brand (Andalusian Autonomous Government): 23
• Doñana 21 Brand (Foundation Doñana 21): 5
• Environmental Quality Label (Catalan Autonomous Govern.): 1
• Sustainable Management Code (Foundation Garrotxa Líder): 3
• ‘Q’ Quality Tourism Label (Institute for Spanish Tourist Quality): 12
• European Ecological Label: 1
Moreover, many companies are also park information points, with
an accreditation awarded by the park authorities (part of the Action
Plan in some parks) to the companies that have trained staff to provide information on the values and activities of the park. Each of
these companies is provided with a display facility for the printed information they hand out.
Structure of the guide
This guide is the result of a collective process and the fruit of a collaboration between numerous professionals — from the park staff
8
ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
The ‘C’ used as a logo on the plaque identifying the companies working with the
ECST also stands for the triple ‘C’ of ‘Committed to Collaborating with the Charter’.
who have helped companies to improve their sustainability, to the
writers and photographers who have tried to reflect in their work the
singularity of each company.
For each of the natural areas described, the guide first includes
a description of its main natural and cultural values, followed by a
complete data sheet with information on the main public facilities in
the park in question (visitor and interpretation centres, footpaths,
guided visits, botanical gardens, picnic sites, etc.). Given the possibility that opening times may change, travellers are recommended to
check times on the internet or to telephone before visiting. This information is then complemented by a brief description of some of
the other public facilities present in the vicinity of the protected area.
Essentially, this guide aims to satisfy a travelling ecotourist’s
need for information and interpretation, but will also be useful to
other visitors to these protected areas.
After the site description, there is a page devoted to each of the
companies working in the protected area in question that have been
awarded the ECST. Here, the company’s main characteristics are described, and details are given on its sustainable activities, with special emphasis placed on what each company can offer visitors to the
protected area. Finally, all practical details relevant to the company
are provided.
The company data sheets are arranged in alphabetical order of
the place in which they are based. For accommodation providers, the
type of accommodation on offer according to the classifications used
by the relevant autonomous community is provided. To avoid a tediously long complete list of prices, the price of a double room in
high season is given (VAT included). It was not possible to include
the prices charged by activity companies since these vary greatly in
terms of the type of activity, its duration, group size and the options
selected. Languages spoken other than Spanish are given.
An ever-popular initiative
Currently, 28 Spanish protected natural areas have been awarded
the ECST, in the autonomous communities of Andalusia, Asturias,
Canary Islands, Castilla y León, Castilla-La Mancha, Catalonia and
Galicia. Support from Turespaña will enable the number of protected
areas and companies committed to sustainable tourism to continue
increasing in the years to come.
Autonomous community
Year ECST awarded/
renewed
La Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park
Catalonia
2001 / 2006
Sierra Nevada National and Natural Parks
Andalusia
2004 / 2009
Los Alcornocales Natural Park
Andalusia
2004
Sierra de Aracena y Picos de Aroche Natural Park
Andalusia
2004
Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park
Andalusia
2004
Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas Natural Park
Andalusia
2004
Doñana Natural Space
Andalusia
2006
Somiedo Natural Park
Asturias
2007
Delta de l’Ebre Natural Park
Catalonia
2007
Sierra Norte de Sevilla Natural Park
Andalusia
2007
Sierra de Las Nieves Natural Park
Andalusia
2007
Cardeña y Montoro Natural Park
Andalusia
2007
Sierra María-Los Vélez Natural Park
Andalusia
2007
Sierra Mágina Natural Park
Andalusia
2007
La Breña and Marismas del Barbate Natural Park
Andalusia
2007
Galicia
2008
Las Batuecas-Sierra de Francia Natural Park
Castilla y León
2008
Garajonay National Park
Canary Islands
2008
Sierras Subbéticas Natural Park
Andalusia
2008
Strait of Gibraltar Natural Park
Andalusia
2008
Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park
Andalusia
2008
Sierra de Gredos Regional Park
Castilla y León
2009
Valle de Iruelas Natural Reserve
Castilla y León
2009
Hoces del Río Riaza Natural Park
Castilla y León
2009
Protected natural areas awarded the ECST
Serra do Xurés-Baixa Limia Natural Park
Ojo Guareña Natural Monument
Castilla y León
2009
Alto Tajo Natural Park
Castilla-La Mancha
2009
Cabañeros National Park
Castilla-La Mancha
2009
Andalusia
2009
Sierra de Andújar Natural Park
For more information visit the following web pages: www.spain.info / www.european-charter.org / www.europarc-es.org
INTRODUCTION
9
Aerial view of the volcano of Santa Margarida.
LA GARROTXA VOLCANIC ZONE NATURAL PARK
A landscape sculpted by volcanoes
Situated between the Pyrenees and the Mediterranean, the Catalan region of La Garrotxa (Girona) is an area of mid-altitude mountains
whose main singularity lies in its volcanic landscape, the most extensive and best preserved in the whole of the Iberian Peninsula. This region, though, is far from being the inhospitable land that many associate with volcanic landscapes, for visitors will find that in La Garrotxa
volcanic cones and lava flows blend into the uplands carpeted by a mixture of forest types. Despite the centuries of human occupation that
have left their mark here, this welcoming landscape still harbours numerous nooks and crannies and medieval villages that contrast delightfully with dynamic Olot, the region’s small but modern capital town. All in all, La Garrotxa is a rural land of gentle natural contrasts that
bids a warm welcome to visitors from near and afar alike.
ccording to the dictionary, the literal meaning of the word garrotxa is ‘a rough and rugged land’. Yet, this description is misleading and is only really applicable to the northern part of La Garrotxa (known as the Alta Garrotxa), for most of the region — including
the Natural Park — is characterised by mountains ranging from 200
to 1,500 m, whose gentle slopes are covered in vast humid forests.
The great variety in this region’s verdant vegetation is one of the
things that visitors first remark upon, above all when they come
across the Mediterranean Holm Oak and Beech forests standing all
but side-by-side, just 50 km as the crow flies from the Mediterranean. The Natural Park boasts a very peculiar microclimate, the
result of its situation midway between the high Pyrenees and the
warm Mediterranean Sea, and its barrier of volcanic cones block the
warm winds coming in off this warm sea, which has given rise to
spectacular contrasts in the landscape and ever-varying mixture of
habitats. The south-facing slopes are home to typical Mediterranean
ecosystems, with Holm Oak forests with Rosemary- and thymescented scrub, whilst on the north faces of the very same mountains a mixture of Beech, deciduous oak and Sweet Chestnut
forests — more typical of central Europe — predominate. All in all,
this is a landscape where valleys and mountains blur into a single
mosaic of forests, pastures, fields and small villages still blessed
with age-old rural charm.
A
A landscape moulded by volcanoes
There can be no doubt that volcanoes have the power to create, destroy and profoundly alter a landscape. This is the case of the vol-
canic zone in the centre of La Garrotxa, where volcanic eruptions
have occurred periodically for the last 700,000 years, although these
volcanic episodes have been interspersed with long periods of inactivity. The most recent eruption that created the volcano Croscat
dates back some 11,500 years, and built the 160 m high volcanic cone
that today is both the tallest and youngest volcano in the Iberian
Peninsula. The underlying cause of the volcanic activity here are the
faults meeting in La Garrotxa that allow lava to erupt with a certain
degree of regularity (on a geological time-scale). Within this comparatively small region, around 40 volcanic cones have been identified. All are relatively small and covered in thick vegetation, although
this does not hinder an appreciation of the different types of volcanic
structures present in the region: Strombolian cones with horseshoeshaped lateral craters (Croscat and Rocanegra), cones crowned by
perfectly symmetrical craters (Montsacopa) and freatomagmatic volcanoes, whose broad but low craters are the result of powerful explosions occurring when magma comes into contact with groundwater (Santa Margarida)
Examples of volcanic material
All the material expelled by volcanoes has the same essential chemical composition, although its forms and textures vary a great deal:
particles range in size from pieces of ash measuring just a couple of
millimetres across to volcanic ‘bombs’ of up to a metre, although
most in truth are only a few centimetres across. Nevertheless, by far
the most abundant material found on the surface is the lapilli, locally
known as greda, which consists of small light, highly porous particles
LA GARROTXA VOLCANIC ZONE NATURAL PARK
11
Bas. Another interesting case is where a river has eroded away the
edge of one of these lava flows and exposed tall cliffs, as at El
Boscarró in Sant Joan les Fonts or at Castellfollit de la Roca, where
the basaltic cliffs completely surround one of the most spectacularly
situated villages in the whole of Catalonia.
that measure on average 1-2 cm in diameter. Collectively, ash, lapilli
and bombs are referred to as pyroclasts, which can be thought of as
the solidified ‘splashes’ of lava that created the volcanic cones as
they fell to ground around their eruption centres. The best way to
study these different types of pyroclastic material is to visit the former quarry in the volcano Croscat, which, whilst it was operating and
extracting the volcanic material, ate out an impressive bite from the
volcano that, thanks to the restoration carried out by the Natural
Park, visitors can now enter.
The volcanoes of La Garrotxa also expelled masses of molten
magma that formed extensive lava flows and travelled for great distances — in some cases up to 4 km — over the local landscape. They
had a great impact on today’s landscape and dammed rivers, thereby
creating large lakes upstream, and filled in valley bottoms; today
these areas contain fertile alluvial soils, as in the case of the Vall d’en
Beech and Holm Oak forests side-by-side
Despite the fact that the most abundant woodland in La Garrotxa is
the Mediterranean Holm Oak forests, it is without doubt the beechwoods that attract the majority of visitors; the most famous is the
Fageda d’en Jordà, whose mysterious atmosphere was immortalised by the poet Joan Maragall as a “liberating prison” that captivates walkers with its “silence and verdure”. Situated on the lava
flow emitted by the volcano Croscat, this unique beech forest is
characterised by a series of large hummocks (known locally as tussols) that originated when the lava slid over and evaporated the
standing water in a marshy area, thereby creating huge bubbles of
steam that burst the hardening outer crust of the lava. This forest
lies at an exceptionally low altitude (545 m) and in a valley bottom,
an atypical situation for a beechwood in the Iberian Peninsula. The
abundance of volcanic rocks and stones and its meagre soils have
meant that historically this area was uncultivable and so visitors
to the region can enjoy this remarkable forest that has survived to
the present day.
Nevertheless, the rarest woods in La Garrotxa are the few
patches of English or Pedunculate oak (Quercus robur subsp. pedunculata), scarce south of the Pyrenees, that cling on around Olot
in places such as La Moixina, La Roureda de Cuní and the Parc Nou
Botanical Garden in Olot itself. This oak is at home in cold damp
climes and once would have been the dominant tree species in the
Olot depression, whose singular microclimate is largely the result of
the barrier of volcanoes situated to the south and east that prevent
warm damp winds off the Mediterranean reaching Olot. Overall, the
number of different soil types, combined with the presence of a va-
The volcano Croscat.
Inside the beech forest of Fageda d’en Jordà.
Garrotxa flora and fauna. (Left, top) Hepatica (Anemone hepatica). (Left, bottom) Rosalia alpina, a protected beetle found in beechwoods. (Centre) Black Woodpecker. (Right,
top) Woodcock Orchid (Ophrys scolopax). (Right, bottom) Hawfinch.
riety of natural habitats, ensure that there is an exceptional variety
of plant species in this region.
At the beginning of spring, before the trees begin to leaf, flowers
such as Rue-leaved Isopyrum (Isopyrum thalictroides), a lungwort
Pulmonaria affinis and Common Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum multiflorum), typical plants in the humid forests of central Europe, decorate the soils of these oak woods, whilst in the beechwoods appear
Seven-leaflet Bittercress (Cardamine heptaphylla), Yellow Anemone
(Anemone ranunculoides) and Pyrenean Squill (Scilla lilio-hyacinthus). Outside the forests, in spring the pastures are dotted with
colourful orchids that include species such as White Helleborine
(Cephalanthera damasonium), Purple Limodore (Limodorum
abortivum), Fly (Ophrys insectifera) and Monkey (O. simia) orchids,
and Lesser Butterfly Orchid.
Rivers such as the Fluvià and Brugent are lined with well preserved fluvial woodland composed of poplars, Alders and Hazels,
which can be admired around the town of Sant Feliu de Pallerols
and at El Molí del Collell and El Tussols-Basil near Olot. The region’s
Holm Oak forests were once severely affected by the demand for
wood to make charcoal, but since this traditional activity has disappeared the forests have recovered and today in some mid-altitude areas form a dense impenetrable mass that walkers have
learnt to avoid.
In cooler areas, stands of Sweet Chestnuts mix in with other deciduous trees such as Downy Oak, Large-leaved Ash, Large-leaved
Lime and various species of maple, whose wonderful autumn colours
contrast with the permanent dark hues of the Holm Oaks.
Northern and Mediterranean fauna
La Garrotxa is a fairly humanised region and as such is not home to
a wide array of large mammals, but, as a transition zone between
northern and Mediterranean environments it can boast, nevertheless, a rich variety of invertebrate and vertebrate species. Two of the
most interesting local ‘specialities’ are the Map Butterfly Araschnia
levana, a butterfly first recorded in the Iberian Peninsula from Olot
and the Hawfinch, which in La Garrotxa has one of its most important
populations in the whole of Spain.
In recent years rural-urban drift has increased and forests have
advanced, leading to changes in faunal communities. For example, the Wild Boar is more abundant than ever, the Roe Deer has
established itself well after being reintroduced, woodpecker populations including the scarce Black Woodpecker are strengthening, forest raptors such as the Goshawk and Honey Buzzard are
doing well and invertebrates such as the beautiful beetle Rosalia
alpina are sure to benefit from the increase in availability of dead
wood.
LA GARROTXA VOLCANIC ZONE NATURAL PARK
13
Limestone gorges covered in Holm Oaks and scrub, with the peak of Bassegoda
(1,375 m) in the background.
However, the increase in forest cover also implies a loss of valuable open spaces, for the most part abandoned pastures and croplands, that are a repository of much of the region’s biodiversity. As
woods and scrub invade the open grasslands, invertebrate communities harbouring scarce butterflies such as Provence Hairstreak
(Tomares ballus) and Green-underside (Glaucopsyche alexis), Large
(Maculinea arion) and Damon (Polyommatus damon) blues come
under threat. Likewise, the Red-backed Shrike and Woodlark, two
birds in decline in Europe, as well as the Cirl Bunting and numerous
warblers, will also be affected by the increase in the forest cover, although for the moment these species are still relatively abundant in
the transition zones between open spaces and woodland.
Today a great variety of habitats still coexist in La Garrotxa and
woodland, pastures and scrub form a harmonious mosaic that is
home to important reptile populations — for example, the abundant
Green Lizard and smooth and Montpellier snakes — that are also
prey items for the Short-toed Eagle. On cliffs, Peregrine Falcons and
a few pairs of Golden Eagles breed alongside Red-billed Choughs
and Alpine Swifts, and sightings of Griffon and Egyptian Vultures and
Lammergeiers are becoming ever more frequent, although as yet
none of these scavengers breeds in the area.
Amphibians have decreased in recent years, although in the
headwaters of a number of streams in the area there are interesting populations of the Pyrenean Brook Newt, a species which in the
Natural Park reaches one of its most southerly points in its distribution.
14
ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
A land of history: from the Roman road to the small-scale home
industrial production
La Garrotxa has been populated since antiquity and was traversed by
the Romans along a road stretching from the coast and over the Pyrenees whose original paved surface can be still walked today in the
Vall de Bianya. The local territorial population model was consolidated in the ninth century, the period in which most of the churches
and main settlements were first constructed. Today, the Romanesque
is alive and well in the churches of Sant Pere and Sant Vicenç in Besalú and Saint Sepulcre de Palera in Beuda, and in the beautiful
monastery of Sant Joan les Fonts, as well as in the many small rural
chapels scattered around the whole region.
Besalú, once the capital of its own countdom, is a magnificent medieval village, famous for its bridge and call (Jewish quarter), whose
highlight is the miqvéh, a ritual purification bath dating from the thirteenth century — one of the very few that still exist in Europe — that
has been preserved intact to this day. Just as interesting is the village
of Santa Pau, with its well-preserved medieval streets, baronial castle, gothic church and defence walls, as well as many houses with
family shields carved on their lintels.
In the fifteenth century the Vall d’Hostoles was the scene of a
series of peasant revolts known as the remences led by a certain
Francesc de Verntallat, which concluded with the abolition of the
feudal laws enshrined in the infamous legal code of the malos
usos. Visitors to the Natural Park can follow the Remença Route
through Sant Feliu de Pallerols and the villages of the Vall d’en Bas
and imagine for themselves the events of this fascinating historical
episode.
Olot is the local capital and was the scene in the eighteenth century of early industrial development based on printed textiles. The
entrepreneurial spirit of local people led to the opening of many
other local industries, of which the most original was the manufacture of religious images. In the Museu dels Sants in Olot visitors can
see for themselves how these hand-painted images are produced by
El Arte Cristiano, the company that exports these ‘saints’ throughout most of the world.
Art Nouveau also left its mark on the city of Olot in the form of
outstanding buildings such as the houses of Solà Morales and Gaietà Vila in Paseo de Blay. The urban lay-out of the city is completed
by the Malagrida garden quarter, with its noble houses built by local
industrialists and rich immigrants returning from the Indies. One
such house, La Torre Castanys, surrounded by beautiful gardens that
are today a botanical garden, is home to the Museo dels Volcans,
one of the Natural Park’s information points and also its administrative centre. In the very centre of Olot stands the volcano Montsacopa
from whose summit, perhaps the most interesting vantage point in
the region, a 360° panorama of the city and surrounding landscape
can be enjoyed.
The Alta Garrotxa, a wild and lonely land
La Garrotxa is not just a land of volcanoes, for its northern third consists of an area of rugged mountains, famous for its narrow inaccessible valleys whose rivers have fashioned deep gorges and carved
numerous caves out of the pale limestone rocks. This remote and
unforgiving area, whose landscape is so unsuitable for agriculture,
has gradually been deserted by its inhabitants and has become
much loved by walkers, who come to the area to wonder at its cliffs
and gorges, frequented by numerous raptors, the Pont de Llierca, a
graceful medieval bridge near Sadernes, and the many isolated Romanesque churches such as that of Santa Bàrbara de Pruneres.
This grandiose and rugged landscape has always provided excellent refuge for outlaws, known locally as trabucaires, and the smugglers who in past centuries passed through this difficult terrain at will;
it was also the scene of many a battle during the bloody nineteenth
century Carline Wars. Today, the Alta Garrotxa is part of the Catalan network of Areas of Natural Interest and is managed by a consortium that
depends on the Catalan Ministry of the Environment and Housing.
Management in the Natural Park
La Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park occupies the central part of this
region and provides protection for the best conserved volcanic zone in
the Iberian Peninsula and, together with the Consortium of the Alta
Garrotxa, is responsible for the preservation of the natural and scenic
values of La Garrotxa. The diversity and riches of the volcanic zone demand meticulous and detailed management — micro-management —
that is adapted to the special needs of every last corner of the protected area. A good example of this is the restoration of the volcano
Croscat, whose cone was partially destroyed by the quarrying of its
volcanic deposits; it was acquired by the Catalan government in 1995
and has been restored to provide access for visitors. The large chunk
taken out of one side of the volcano has been left open and today is of
great scientific and educational interest as visitors can contemplate
the veritable ‘innards’ of this fascinating volcano and discover the secrets of its eruptive processes. Annually, aside from general visitors,
around 60,000 school children visit the volcano and it has become one
of the most appreciated parts of the whole Natural Park.
The Natural Park has also encouraged local traditional building
techniques and is active in the restoration of many dry-stone walls
and stone huts built out of the local volcanic stone. A good site to
study these structures is the Pedra Tosca Park near the town of Les
Preses, where old fields and stone walls have been restored, and the
traditional cultivation of buckwheat and local varieties of fruit trees
is being encouraged. Today this interesting site can be visited along
a well-signposted path. From top to bottom: village of Joanetes; Can Vidal, a farm near the Fageda d’en
Jordà; Castellfollit de la Roca, village perched on top of a basaltic cliff.
LA GARROTXA VOLCANIC ZONE NATURAL PARK
15
PRACTICAL INFORMATION AND PUBLIC FACILITIES
La Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park
• Date declared. 3 March 1982
• Surface area. 15,309 ha
• Province. Girona
• Municipalities. Castellfollit de la Roca, Mieres,
Montagut, Olot, Les Planes d’Hostoles, Les Preses, Sant Aniol de Finestres, Sant Feliu de
Pallerols, Sant Joan les Fonts, Santa Pau, La Vall
de Bianya.
Aside from the Natural Park in a strict sense, the
ECST will be applied to the whole of the comarca of La Garrotxa, which covers a total of
73,535 ha and includes a second large protected area, the Alta Garrotxa Area of Natural Interest, and additionally the following municipalities: Ridaura, Vall d’en Bas, Tortellà, Sant Jaume
de Llierca, Sales de Llierca, Argelaguer, Sant Ferriol, Maià de Montcal, Beuda and Besalú.
• ECST accreditation. 2001
• Contact details
Casal dels Volcans
Avda. de Santa Coloma s/n
17800 Olot (Girona)
Tel.: 972 26 60 12 (office) /
Tel.: 972 26 81 12 (information)
e-mail: [email protected]
www.mediambient.gencat.net/cat/el_medi/
parcs_de_catalunya/garrotxa
www.turismegarrotxa.com
VISITOR FACILITIES
CASAL DELS VOLCANS
INFORMATION CENTRE
The starting point of a number of the park’s
waymarked itineraries, the information centre
shares a building with the Museu dels Volcans
— a museum devoted to the volcanic history
and natural systems of La Garrotxa — and also
has a room housing temporary exhibitions.
• Location and contact details. Avda. de Santa
Coloma, s/n, Olot (Girona). Tel.: 972 26 81 12
16
• Services. Museu dels Volcans, botanical garden, information about routes and guiding service. Publications on sale, café, toilets, car park.
• Opening times. All year round, except 1 and
6 January and 25 and 26 December. MondaySaturday: 10-14 and 16-18. Sundays and public
holidays: 10-14.
• Accessible for people with reduced mobility
CAN SERRA (FAGEDA D’EN JORDÀ)
INFORMATION CENTRE
Starting point for a number of the park’s
marked itineraries. Boards with general information and park maps.
• Location and contact details. Olot to Santa
Pau road, km 4. Tel.: 972 19 50 74
• Services. Information about waymarked itineraries and guided routes, publications on sale,
information panels, toilets, cold-drinks machines, car park, picnic spot.
• Opening times. From 6 April to 8 December,
Monday-Friday: 10-15; from 10 January to 6 December, weekends and public holidays: 10-15.
• Accessible for people with reduced mobility
CAN PASSAVENT (VOLCÁN CROSCAT)
INFORMATION CENTRE
Starting point for a number of the park’s itineraries and a display about the volcano Croscat.
• Location and contact details. Located on the
flanks of the volcano Croscat. Access on foot or
by bicycle only; vehicles must be parked in the
car park of Santa Margarida, where there are
toilets. This car park is also the starting point of
a number of the park’s itineraries, including one
that passes by Can Passavent on its way into
the volcano Croscat. Tel.: 972 19 50 94
• Services. Information on itineraries and
guided routes. Sale of publications.
• Opening times. From 1 March to 8 December:
10-15.
ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
• Accessible for people with reduced mobility. Access in motorised vehicle only for people
with reduced mobility, who must previously
have obtained written authorisation from one
of the other information centres.
SANT FELIU DE PALLEROLS
INFORMATION CENTRE
Located in the former train station of Sant Feliu
de Pallerols, this centre is the starting point for
a number of the park’s marked itineraries and
also a support point for cyclists using the OlotGirona bike lane. Here visitors will find information about the Natural Park, the Ruta Remença
(route themed around a local medieval peasant’s revolt), the Natural Park’s network of trails
and the Itinerànnia network of footpaths. Also
available is an interactive information point.
• Location and contact details. Olot road, 43,
former train station of Sant Feliu de Pallerols.
Tel.: 972 44 44 74
• Services. Information on waymarked routes,
sale of publications, toilets and showers, cafe.
• Opening times. From 24 April to 24 September, Monday-Saturday: 10-14 and 16-18. From 6
June to 8 December, Sundays and public holidays: 10-14.
• Accessible for people with reduced mobility
RECREATIONAL FACILITIES
VIEwPOINTS
• Montsacopa, in Olot (Girona). Accessible for
people with reduced mobility in motor vehicles
with authorisation obtainable from the information centres.
• Xenacs, in Les Preses (Girona). Accessible for
people with reduced mobility.
FOOTPAThS
The Natural Park has a network of 22 waymarked paths totalling around 158 km, of
which the following are some of the best for exploring this Natural Park:
• Fageda d’en Jordà-Volcano Santa MargaridaVolcano Croscat. This path takes walkers
through the famous beech forest of La Fageda
d’en Jordà, singular due to its situation on a lava
flow and at an unusually low altitude, and into
the crater of Volcano Santa Margarida and the
former quarry that reveals the insides of volcano Croscat. Length: 10 km. Time: 4 h 30 min.
• Olot-Fageda d’en Jordà-Can Xel-Santa Pau
(itinerary that can be tackled on foot or by
mountain bike). This route gives visitors a
chance to admire the beech forest of La Fageda
d’en Jordà, a number of the park’s most interesting volcanoes, the medieval village of Santa
Pau and the typical rural landscape of the region. Length: 14.6 km. Time: 3 h 30 min.
• Three lava flows itinerary (Boscarró, Molí
Fondo and Fontfreda). This itinerary visits the
three basaltic lava flows near the town of Sant
Joan les Fonts, and also provides a good
chance to admire the riparian woodland of the
local river. Length: 5.5 km. Time: 1 h 30 min.
The whole area can also be visited by following
any of paths and trails of the following two important hiking and cycle-path networks:
• Vía Verde Olot-Girona. Commonly known as
the Ruta del Carrilet, this cycle-path follows the
route of the old narrow-gauge railway closed
in the mid 1960s that is still fondly remembered
by locals as the ‘Carrilet’. In all, 57 km of cyclelane separate Olot and Girona and this route is
used by walkers and cyclists alike on its journey
along the valleys of the rivers Fluvià, Brugent
and Ter. www.viesverdes.org
• Itinerànnia. This extensive (700 km) network
of waymarked paths and trails criss-crosses the
whole of La Garrotxa, connecting all the villages and towns, and places of cultural, natural
and scenic interest. It is also linked to the neighbouring regions of El Ripollès and Alt Empordà
and between these three comarcas there are
over 2,500 km of waymarked paths and trails.
www.itinerannia.net
GUIDED-vISIT SERvICES
DISCOVER LA GARROTXA
A very complete programme of guided visits
on foot to some of the most interesting parts
of La Garrotxa. Most of the visits have been designed with families with children in mind, and
some of the local hotels and restaurants have
free tickets for those of their clients wishing to
take part in these excursions.
www.turismegarrotxa.com
MORE INFORMATION
Turisme Garrotxa. This joint public-private association is dedicated to the development of
sustainable tourism in La Garrotxa. It works to
promote this region and all the tourist services
that are members of this association, and its
web-site contains a lot of valuable information
about the region. Tel.: 972 27 16 00
www.turismegarrotxa.com
Monars
La Garrotxa
La Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park
Natural Reserves
Talaixà
Sant Miquel
de Pera
Oix
Comanegra
Vall del Bac
S e rra
de M
Sadernes
alfor
at
Tortellà
Sant Pere
Despuig
Castellfollit
de la Roca
Sant Joan
les Fonts
L'Hostalnou
de Bianya
Sales
de Llierca
Beuda
Segueró
Montagut
Maià
de Montcal
1
Sant Jaume
de Llierca
La Canya
Argelaguer
Begudà
Sant Ferriol
Riudaura
La Pinya
3
Puigpardines
Puigsacalm
Collada
Joanetes
de Bracons
4
El Torn
El Sallent
5
6
Volcà de
Santa Margarida Santa Pau
Les Preses
Bas
Sant Julià
del Mont
El Croscat
Sant Miquel
del Corb
B
Batet
de la Serra
Boscdetosca
Sant Privat
d'en Bas
S e rra
2
OLOT
Besalú
Serra del Corb
Puigsallança
Els Hostalets
d'en Bas
lance
rs
de l L
Mieres
Sant Aniol
de Finestres
Falgars d'en Bas
Sant Feliu
de Pallerols
7
Sant Esteve
de Llémena
Les Planes
d'Hostoles
1
Sant Joan les Fonts Tourist Office
2
Olot Tourist Office
3
Casal dels Volcans Information Centre
4
Can Serra Information Centre
5
Can Passavent Information Centre
6
Santa Pau Tourist Office
7
Sant Feliu de Pallerols Information Centre
LA GARROTXA VOLCANIC ZONE NATURAL PARK
17
WALKING CATALONIA
More than twenty years have passed since Mike
Lockwood arrived in Spain to work as an English
teacher. He currently lives in Besalú, a beautiful medieval town in La Garrotxa in Catalonia. From here,
he started up Walking Catalonia, today synonymous
with an excellent range of guided wildlife walks,
many of which are within La Garrotxa Volcanic Zone
Natural Park.
A vocational self-taught naturalist, Mike has extensive knowledge of the area’s flora and fauna,
which allows him to specialise in wildlife guiding.
Habitats, landscape and birds, but also lesser-known
groups such as flora, butterflies and dragonflies all
enter into Walking Catalonia’s guided walks. Some of
his preferred destinations are the Sierra del Corb
within the Natural Park and the mountains of the Alta
Garrotxa, which boast floral and faunal communities
of particular interest.
Being a native English speaker means that Mike is
a key person for British and other foreign tourists who
visit La Garrotxa looking for a quality introduction to
its natural heritage. Indeed, approximately half of all
Mike’s clients are from overseas, a particularly high
percentage compared to other similar initiatives.
Identifying features of the company are its use of
public transport — for example, ensuring that clients
do not need private vehicles to get to the starting
point of the activity — and the priority it gives to travelling on foot during excursions. Mike also participates in several studies and projects, such as those
Visitor services and activities
• Wildlife excursions. Orientated towards a
deeper knowledge of the flora and fauna,
these are custom-made according to
clients’ interests. Maximum of 20 clients
per guide.
developed by Oxygastra, a Catalan group devoted to
the study of dragonflies and damselflies, and the butterfly atlas of La Garrotxa, promoted by the Catalan
Institute of Natural History (ICHN).
Walking Catalonia is also highly involved in Itinerànnia, the extensive network of paths created in the
areas of El Ripollès, La Garrotxa and L’Alt Empordà in
Catalonia, which has so far signposted some 2,500 km
of trails.
Material/equipment provided
Documentation, maps and leaflets
Languages
Catalan, English and French
Open
All year round
Official endorsements
Natural Park Accredited Guides
Natural Park Collaborative Body
• Expert guide. In all wildlife types, but with
special interest in butterflies, dragonflies
and wild flowers. In addition to La
Garrotxa, Walking Catalonia also works in
France, Andalusia, Extremadura, the
Pyrenees and the Ebro Valley.
18
• Environmental education. Activities for
schools, with an emphasis on close but
respectful encounters with the flora, fauna
and habitats.
• Training. Teaches the natural systems
module in the guide-training programme
of La Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park.
• Consultancy. Provides information,
documentation and recommendations to
visitors planning to visit the area.
ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
Contact details
Mike Lockwood
C/ La Devesa 3, 1º
17850 Besalú (Girona)
Tel.: 972 59 03 27 / 661 95 69 39
[email protected]
www.walkingcatalonia.net
CAN PIQUÉ
As it leaves the small villages of theVall d’en Bas behind
and begins to snake its way uphill across the wooded
slopes of the mountains, the road to Can Piqué runs
through beautiful rural landscapes dominated by the
unmistakable silhouette of Puigsacalm, identifiable
from afar as one of the most prominent local landmarks and an excellent reference point for visitors.
Can Piqué is a characteristic rural house constructed in the eighteenth-century, totally isolated in
natural surroundings and immersed in the dense deciduous forests of the Puigsacalm-Bellmunt Area of
Natural Interest. The isolation and harsh working conditions endured in this rural environment, until even
just a few decades ago, are readily imaginable by visitors as they approach; today however, given all the
comforts available, no one will deny the sheer pleasure of staying at Can Piqué at any time of the year, in
close contact with nature and a perfect site for the
contemplation of its leafy surroundings.
The interior has been specifically designed to
offer visitors maximum comfort and pleasure during
Accommodation type
Independent self-catering
accommodation
Visitor services and activities
• Information is provided about the area’s
active tourism activities (hiking, horse
riding, hot-air balloon trips, guided routes
on donkeys, guided 4WD excursions, etc.).
• Walking routes leading directly from the
accommodation.
• Pets are welcome.
their stays, particularly in the communal areas. Guests
may indulge in animated conversations in front of the
fire on winter evenings or in summer simply relax or
read in the gardens, or have a quick dip in the pool to
escape the heat. Walks in the surroundings of Can
Piqué allow clients to visit a natural spring (La Font de
Piqué), a waterfall (El Salt de Roure), the Pla de la
Grevolosa beech wood or even climb Puigsacalm, the
Location
Joanetes (Girona)
Road from Joanetes to Coll de Bracons (no
number). (From Joanetes, follow the Coll
de Bracons road for about 5 km)
Coordinates: 42º 6’ 56.94” N, 2º 23’ 16.65” E
highest peak in the local area. Currently Can Piqué
collaborates with the Natural Park in monitoring the
native White-clawed Crayfish population, as part of a
reintroduction project, and other species on the estate. In addition, and to reinforce its commitment to
the conservation of the surroundings, Can Piqué is reforesting by planting native tree species on its property.
• Meeting/dining room with open fire
• Fully equipped kitchen (fridge, washing
machine, dish-washer, oven, microwave,
etc.)
Languages
Catalan, English and French
Open
All year round
Capacity
4 rooms, sleeping 10
Facilities
• Swimming pool
• Car park
• Gardens
• Barbeques
Prices
Cost varies depending on the number of
clients and nights, but approximately
between 900 and 1,500 € per week for the
entire complex.
Official endorsements
Park Information Point
Contact details
Tel.: 972 26 50 12 / 679 41 36 80
[email protected]
www.canpique.org
LA GARROTXA VOLCANIC ZONE NATURAL PARK
19
FONDA BARRIS
The dictionary defines fonda as an establishment providing accommodation and food, and adds that it derives from the Greek term pandokos, meaning ‘hospitable’. The Fonda Barris fits this definition exactly,
being a simple and friendly guesthouse with a restaurant offering fixed menus during the week and a
wider variety of dishes at weekends.
This is a family-run business, started in 1949 and
currently run by the second generation of owners. Located in Joanetes, a tiny village in the Vall d’en Bas,
the arrival of the first ever tourists there is still remembered in perfect detail, especially since they
stayed in Fonda Barris. While all the equipment and
furnishing have been restored and changed over
time, the spirit of the family-run service that characterises this establishment still predominates; the
clientele and the Barris family continue to share the
spaces, conversations and, if so desired, even the
work in the vegetable garden.
The restaurant, popular amongst locals at weekends, offers typical local dishes such as patates d’Olot
(meat-filled potato slices), duck with pears
and pig’s trotters with turnips. This traditional cuisine is complemented with a
commitment to culinary innovation using
local produce and promoted by the Cuina
Volcànica group, to which Fonda Barris belongs.
Regarding the accommodation, mention should be made of the recently created communal living room, where visitors can spend hours just watching the
fire, the television or thumbing through
the books. Rooms are characterised by their functionality and the absence of details that would interfere with Fonda Barris’ objectives: simplicity, quality
and human warmth. If it were not this way, why
would part of the Fonda’s clientele have returned
here every summer for more than twenty years?!
Fonda Barris is well placed to explore the Vall d’en
Bas or enter into the Puigsacalm-Bellmunt Area of
Natural Interest, following the Itinerànnia footpath
network. The firm commitment shown by the family
to locally produced goods and its promotion of the
rural environment is reflected, among other things,
by the breakfast jams which are made on-site and its
commitment to the ECST programme aimed at developing various activities such as a classroom-garden to teach about the crops and local seeds, developed in conjunction with the help of La Garrotxa Seed
Bank.
Accommodation type
One-star accommodation
• Restaurant, café and bar service
• Good access to dining room for people
with limited mobility
• Outdoor car park
visitor services and activities
• Starting point for many cultural, leisure
and sporting activities.
Open
All year round
Prices
Bed and breakfast: 37 €/night
Half-board: 55 €
Full-board: 67.50 €
• Establishment associated with the
Itinerànnia footpath network.
• Free tickets for clients for the visits and
excursions of the Discover La Garrotxa
programme.
• Traditional cooking. The restaurant is a
member of the Grup Cuina Volcànica.
• Access to the signposted cycle routes of
the Vía Verde del Carrilet.
• Options of access other activities, such as
horse riding and hot-air balloon trips.
• Picnics can be provided.
Languages
Catalan, English and French
20
ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
Location
Joanetes (Girona)
Torelló road s/n.
Coordinates: 42º 7’ 14.88” N, 2º 25’ 31.70” E
Capacity
• 8 rooms, sleeping 16
• 50-cover restaurant during the week and
135 covers at weekends
Facilities
• Communal room with open fire
• TV
• Computer and Wi-Fi internet access
• Library
Official endorsements
Park Information Point
Contact details
Tel.: 972 69 00 64
[email protected]
www.fondabarris.com
CAN MORERA
Lying adjacent to the old railway line between Olot
and Girona — now transformed into a Vía Verde
(green route) — Can Morera is a typical old country
house, restored in 2008, and combines accommodation, restaurant and a shop selling agricultural goods
produced by businesses run by the same family.
During its reformation, great efforts were made
to integrate the area’s traditional architecture with
modern needs for functionality and comfort. For example, black basalt rocks, characteristic of this volcanic area, form part of the restaurant walls, while in
the apartments, new materials have been chosen to
merge with the old through careful colour selection.
All the apartments are fully equipped and simply decorated, thereby producing a calm atmosphere inviting visitors to relax.
Some of the apartments have balconies, providing wonderful panoramic views of the surrounding
area, including the distant outline of the Pyrenees to
the north-west and the volcanic cones much closer at
hand. And to help the visitor learn more about the
Accommodation type
Apartments
area, the rooms are named after specific geographic
features visible from the house: Malloll, Puigsacalm,
Els Llancers, El Collfred, Falgars, Xenacs and Puig
Rodó.
The establishment is an excellent base from
which to organise trips into the Natural Park, to the
medieval villages of Vall d’en Bas, the Xenacs view-
Languages
Catalan and French
point, the Pedra Tosca park or indeed to any of the numerous points of interest in the region.
As a consequence of the accreditation given to
Can Morera by the ECST, the company will soon be
taking part in promotion of the Agrovolcània brand,
developed by the association of the park’s local producers.
Capacity
• 8 apartments, sleeping 39
• 120-cover restaurant
Location
La Vall d’en Bas (Girona)
Sta. Coloma road, 10 (although Can
Morera is in the municipality of Vall d’en
Bas, it is actually situated on the edge of
the village of Les Preses on the road that
separates this municipality from that of
the Vall d’en Bas)
Coordinates: 42º 8’ 36.53” N, 2º 27’ 28.49” E
Open
All year round
visitor services and activities
• Free tickets for clients for the visits and
excursions of the Discover La Garrotxa
programme.
• Information about the area’s activities
and routes, including easy access to the
Vía Verde del Carrilet and the Itinerànnia
walking trail network.
• Traditional cooking using local products
and including a children’s menu.
• Sale of agricultural products from the
same company (separate from the
apartments).
Facilities
• Restaurant, with bar area and two private
lounges
• Conference room for displays, courses,
talks, etc.
• TV in all apartments
• Communal washing machine/dryer
• Private exterior car park
• Children’s playground
• Wi-Fi internet connection in rooms and
communal areas
Prices
Apartment (three types): 80 €/night,
100 €/night, 120 €/night
Official endorsements
• Natural Park Information Point
• Sustainable Management Code (awarded
by Fundació Garrotxa Líder)
Contact details
Tel.: 972 69 34 08
[email protected]
www.can-morera.com
LA GARROTXA VOLCANIC ZONE NATURAL PARK
21
EDUC’ART
Educ’art clearly stands apart from other tourist
providers in La Garrotxa area through its commitment
to the use of cultural heritage as a tourism and teaching resource. Its main strength is its programme of
guided excursions for schools and independent
groups that provide visitors with detailed knowledge
of the historic monuments found in the villages of La
Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park and the surrounding area.
This is the case, for example, of the surprising medieval town of Besalú, with its Miqvé, the only Jewish
baths in Spain, and the numerous Romanesque
churches in La Vall de Bianya. Logically, Educ’art also
works a lot in its home town of Olot, the local capital,
and provides visitor services to its rich array of monuments, museums, exhibition halls and buildings of
great beauty.
Educ’art’s work complements that of the other
operators in the area, which are more orientated tovisitor services and activities
• Cultural visits. Educ’art is the only
operator working exclusively in the field of
cultural, historic and artistic heritage in
Olot and La Garrotxa area.
• Cultural education. Teaching
opportunities using various different types
of resources have been adapted to offer to
schools via guided visits and other
activities.
wards the volcanoes and their wildlife. Educ’art has
been operating in this field since 1997, when its
founders, a group of experts in education management, decided to create a small company as a means
of developing their teaching activities.
From its office in Olot, Educ’art employs an active
team of teachers and specialists whose work on its
cultural programme allows the company to participate in many of the projects promoted by the local
administration that have recently been set in motion.
For example, Educ’art works in Discover La Garrotxa,
an eclectic series of guided visits for tourists, Living
among Volcanoes, aimed specifically at local organisations, and Meetings among Volcanoes, designed to
provide visitors to congresses and meetings organized by companies with leisure activities.
Educ’art also works extensively in other parts of
Girona Province, organising and running the educational services and educational visits to the Dalí
Theatre-Museum in Figueres, the Museum of Cinema
in Girona, and the Museum of Exile in La Jonquera.
• Training. Educ’art teaches the cultural
content for La Garrotxa Volcanic Zone
Natural Park accredited guide-training
courses.
Languages
Catalan, English and French
Open
All year round
• Research. As a specialist in the area’s art
and culture, Educ’art is able to take on
highly specialised projects such as an
inventory of the historical heritage of La
Garrotxa, commissioned by the La
Garrotxa Area Council.
• Specialist guides. These offer in-depth
knowledge of the historical and artistic
heritage of Girona Province and a wealth
of experience in the local museums’
cultural services.
22
Material/equipment provided
Information sheets and other teaching
resources for schools, and printed
information for adults
ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
Official endorsements
• Natural Park Collaborative Body
• Natural Park Accredited Guides
Contact details
C/ Antoni Llopis 6, 1º, 5ª
17800 Olot (Girona)
Tel.: 616 13 24 33
[email protected]
www.educart.biz
ESCOLA DE NATURA LA GARROTXA
One of the most ambitious ideas on offer in La Garrotxa is the programme Discover La Garrotxa, in which
local administrations and the La Garrotxa Volcanic
Zone Natural Park work in collaboration with a number of tourist companies. The scale of this initiative is
clear given the two-hundred-plus annual visits and
weekend guided excursions, as well as daily activities
in summer, that are carried out every year.
The design and execution of the section of this
programme centred on local wildlife is undertaken
by a small group of biologists from Girona Province,
who at the end of the 1990s decided to form the Escola de Natura La Garrotxa. Shortly afterwards they
were asked to participate in Discover La Garrotxa,
which enabled them to consolidate their activity as
a company.
The programme covers the great majority of the
principal wildlife attractions of the Natural Park. A
good example of this is the so-called Ruta dels Deu
visitor services and activities
• Environmental education. Guided
excursions for schools and other leisure
activities for children. Both day visits and
longer stays in rural accommodation.
• Naturalist excursions. Visits to interesting
sites and along trails in La Garrotxa
Volcanic Zone Natural Park. A large part of
this activity is channelled through the
Discover La Garrotxa programme.
Volcans (Ten Volcanoes Route), which visits an important selection of volcanic cones and lava flows, as well
as woodlands and wetlands associated with the area’s
singular geology.
Another of the Escola de Natura’s main lines of
work is guiding the schools which visit the area every
• Specialist guides. Guides are specialised in
the interpretation of the environment and,
above all, in geology (vulcanology),
ecosystems and landscapes.
year: they have been working hard in environmental
education for the last ten years, and share the spirit
and objectives with the company Guaita, with whom
they maintain very close links.
The Escola de Natura offers primary and secondary school children day visits, longer stays in hamlets,
plus workshops and other activities. The subject matter includes the formation of the local volcanoes, the
different types of volcanic activity, the materials the
volcanoes are made out of, how the landscape was
changed by volcanic action, and the profound influence that man has had on the landscape.
The volcano Croscat, the Fageda d’en Jordà
(beech wood) and the Moixina oak woods are some
of the principal sites the Escola de Natura visits as part
of its work with children and teenagers. The emblematic volcano Montsacopa with its circular crater
is also of great interest and has the peculiarity that it
is situated completely within Olot town centre.
• Promotion of local heritage. Selection and
management of footpaths in El Ripollès, La
Garrotxa and L’Alt Empordà in Catalonia,
part of project Itinerànnia.
Open
All year round
Official endorsements
Natural Park Collaborative Body
Natural Park Accredited Guides
• Training. The Escola de Natura
participates in the elaboration and
teaching of natural systems.
• Research. Collaboration in diverse
environmental projects such as the weekly
butterfly census that are part of the
Catalan Butterfly Monitoring Scheme.
Material/equipment provided
Documentation, work dossier and various
materials, above all for use with children
Languages
Catalan, English and French
Contact details
C/ Antoni Llopis 6, 1º, 5ª
17800 Olot (Girona)
Tel.: 972 26 46 15 / 669 82 63 22
[email protected]
www.escoladenatura.org
LA GARROTXA VOLCANIC ZONE NATURAL PARK
23
MAS MASNOU
A small window allowing a ray of light to illuminate
the stairs, a lamp half-hidden in a corner, the traditional blue of the walls, a chest of drawers perhaps
containing old-fashioned table linen, a flowerpot on
a window-sill ... just some of the typical details that
delight visitors at every step in Mas Masnou, a completely restored farmhouse in the peaceful location
of Vall del Corb.
Mas Masnou is remarkable for its rustic ambience
and the simplicity of its apartments, as well as for the
remarkable peace of its surroundings and the friendliness with which Joana receives her visitors; simplicity and calm appear effortlessly in this establishment,
as if they were part of its very fabric.
The apartments are both intimate and welcoming, the thick stone walls always guarantee a pleasant
temperature and one can also relax in front of the fire
in the living/dining room. Outside, you can relax in
the garden while contemplating the blend of mod-
ern and traditional architecture used during the
restoration of this former barn. For the more intrepid,
various possibilities exist for exploring the dense
woodlands and their wildlife in the immediate surroundings.
Other attractions include the rural landscapes,
where through their daily work local people continue
to maintain the mosaic of forest, fields and pastures
that characterises the Vall del Corb. Mas Masnou also
lies close to a number of other features that characterise the Natural Park, namely a landscape heavily influenced by man (but yet still harmonious), perfectly
circular volcanic craters and leafy forests. It is more
than likely that these idyllic surroundings and the
comfort of Mas Masnou will lead guests to change
their busy programme of visits and instead simply
stay within the confines of the building and its
grounds!
Given its location in a densely forested area, the
owner has entered into a commitment to improve the
surrounding woodland so that visitors can enjoy easily walked paths, including for people with mobility
problems and for families with child buggies. Plans
are also afoot to restore the estate’s dry stone walls.
Accommodation type
Rural self-catering apartment
visitor services and activities
• Information is provided about the
surroundings (natural attractions,
architecture, hiking, etc.).
• Free tickets for client for the visits and
excursions of the Discover La Garrotxa
programme.
• Sale of free-range eggs and garden
vegetables in the summer.
Prices
30 € /person/day
Official endorsements
Park Information Point
Languages
Catalan and English
Location
Les Preses, Olot (Girona)
Residencia Masnou del Corb, along the
road from Olot to Les Preses towards Sant
Miguel del Corb
Coordinates: 42º 9’ 7.01” N, 2º 29’ 27.35” E
Capacity
4 apartments, sleeping 14
24
ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
Facilities
• Own garden and woodland
• Vegetable garden in summer and
chicken coop
• Swimming pool
• Garden with swings and barbeque
• Terrace for ground-floor apartments
• Fully equipped kitchen
• TV and DVD
• Wi-Fi internet connection in all apartments
Open
All year round
Contact details
Tel.: 972 69 30 10 / 689 68 18 83
[email protected]
www.masmasnou.com
HOTEL PERLA D’OLOT
Lying on the southern access into the busy city of
Olot, the capital of La Garrotxa, La Perla is a hotel,
aparthotel and restaurant and has provided its clients
with carefully cared-for rooms and excellent personal
service since the 1970s. The hotel, under continuous
improvement and renovation, provides a magnificent
base from which to explore Olot and its beautiful surroundings. The comfort found in La Perla’s rooms and
apartments is matched by the calm which reigns over
its surroundings and ample gardens, where children
can play on the slides, swings and other playground
equipment.
While clearly constituting a family business, La
Perla is not small and its extensive buildings offer
clients numerous services (accommodation, restaurant, meetings room, terraces, etc.) in the 44 rooms
and 18 apartments it has at the moment.
In addition to Olot itself, La Perla is ideally positioned for exploring both the Natural Park and the
Accommodation type
• Two-star hotel
• Three-star aparthotel
rest of the region, and a large quantity of information
material is available to guests, including welcoming
leaflets and information on the attractions of the area,
plus good tourist practices. Besides its traditional
commitment to sustainable tourism based on the
• Facilities for cycling tourists (locked
bicycle park, cleaning and workshop area).
• Pets are welcome (aparthotel only).
Languages
Catalan, English and French
Location
Olot (Girona)
De la Deu road, 9
Coordinates: 42º 10’ 9.40” N, 2º 28’ 36.14” E
quality and range of attractions in the region, through
its ECST accreditation La Perla has also committed itself to promoting local culture and has transformed
some of its family rooms into thematic rooms that
highlight some of the city’s characteristic features.
Facilities
• Conference room (for 50 people)
• Wi-Fi internet connection
• Restaurant
• Café
• Satellite TV in rooms
• Reduced mobility access almost
throughout
• Private car park
• Children’s playground
• Close proximity to Olot swimming pool
and other municipal sports facilities
• Terrace-garden
Open
All year round
visitor services and activities
• The reception acts as Natural Park
Information Point.
• Information is provided about guided
visits and hiking and wildlife routes.
• Information is provided on the social and
leisure events in Olot and the region.
• Free tickets for clients for the visits and
excursions of the Discover La Garrotxa
programme.
• Close proximity to the Itinerànnia
footpath network, the Vía Verde, La
Moixina (in the Natural Park) and the
Museo dels Volcans.
Prices
• Double room with breakfast (two room
types): 66-89 €/night
• Double apartment with breakfast: 83107 €/night
Official endorsements
• Park Information Point
• ‘Q’ quality tourism label
Capacity
• Hotel: 26 rooms, sleeping 43
• Aparthotel: 18 rooms and 18 apartments,
sleeping 72
• 55-cover restaurant
Contact details
Tel.: 972 26 23 26
[email protected]
www.laperlahotels.com
LA GARROTXA VOLCANIC ZONE NATURAL PARK
25
HOSTAL SANT BERNAT
Hostal Sant Bernat is a small hostel located in the
heart of Olot, a city well known for its magnificent
modernist buildings, thriving cultural scene and numerous parks. A simple place with a homely character, its doors open onto a quiet street which climbs
the steep slopes of the Montsacopa volcano. Given its
location, it is ideal for exploring the centre of city as
well as enjoying excellent views over the hostel’s immediate surroundings in the capital of La Garrotxa.
Started in 1970, the hostel’s facilities have been in
a process of continuous improvement ever since, highlighting the passion and commitment of its owners, sisters María and Ferranda, to the hotel’s management.
Summer is the best time to enjoy the hostel’s
modest garden and the fine views from it, while in
winter there is nothing quite like relaxing in front of
the fire in the dining room, whilst enjoying the tastes
of the traditional cooking. Various types of breakfast
are offered, from the classic continental breakfast to
the typical local breakfast of locally cured meats and
fesols (small white beans) from the neighbouring vil-
lage of Santa Pau. María and Ferranda always prefer
local produce or buying in bulk so as to minimise the
generation of waste.
The hostel is also committed to energy saving,
and uses solar-panel heating combined with carefully
regulated temperature control, plus other good practices that clients will discover for themselves! Another
of the commitments to the sustainability of tourism
undertaken by Sant Bernat is the creation of walking
and cycling itineraries starting at the hostel itself; an
Accommodation type
One-star hostel
Facilities
• Restaurant and bar service
• Public cable and Wi-Fi internet
connection
• TV in rooms
• Garden
• Open fire
• Good access to communal areas and
rooms for people with reduced mobility
visitor services and activities
• Half-board restaurant service (breakfast
and dinner), with traditional cooking.
• Free tickets for clients for the visits and
excursions of the Discover La Garrotxa
programme.
• Close proximity to the Itinerànnia
footpath network and GR-83 and in the
centre of Olot.
26
excellent excuse to forget about motorised transport
and a good way of getting fit at the same time. This
latter proposal is possible thanks to the perfect position of the hostel with easy access to the Itinerànnia
footpath network and the GR-83 or ‘Camí del Nord’
(which links Mataró to Canigó), thereby making it an
ideal base for all types of walking and cycling activities. And for those who prefer more urban walks, Olot
is just a step outside the front door and there is no
need to take the car.
• The hostel provides equipment for
cycling tourists: a locked bicycle park and
cleaning materials.
• Pets are welcome.
Open
All year round
Languages
Catalan, English and French
Prices
Bed and breakfast: 60 €/night
Location
Olot (Girona)
C/Les Feixes, 29-31
Coordinates: 42º 11’10.33”N, 2º 29’32.30”E
Official endorsements
Park Information Point
Capacity
• 37 rooms, sleeping 67
• 50-cover restaurant
ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
Contact details
Tel.: 972 26 19 19
[email protected]
[email protected]
www.hostalsantbernat.com
TOSCA
In 1994, five people working in environmental education in La Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park set
up a multidisciplinary team called Tosca. Their aim
was to develop programmes for education, communication and environmental information within this
reserve. Today the team consists of ten professionals
specialised in environmental education and tourism,
and Tosca has become a reference point in La Garrotxa for its experience in various areas related to sustainability.
Tosca offers teaching services to schools, social
groups and even individuals. Their programmes are
characterised by personal contact and all are specifically designed for the clients or centres in question.
To a backdrop of volcanoes and a spectacular
landscape, Tosca acts as an intermediary between the
visitor and the territory. Their guides and monitors do
not merely limit themselves to talking about the park;
rather, they encourage participants to feel truly involved and, finally, to develop a critical spirit towards
the environmental problems affecting society.
visitor services and activities
• Environmental education. Oriented
towards both students and adults. The aim
is to improve the interpretive and critical
skills of the participants through guided
field trips.
Tosca also manages the teaching and information services of the four park information centres: the
Casal dels Volcans (in Olot), the old railway station in
Sant Feliu de Pallerols, and Can Serra and Can Passavent in Santa Pau. In addition to its principal activities, the Tosca team also promotes and participates in
• Research. Social and environmental
studies are undertaken with the objective
of improving territorial management.
• Conservation and management. As part of
its work in maintaining and evaluating
local wildlife resources, Tosca participates
in a number of projects, including those
based on the concept of territorial
stewardship.
various activities aimed at studying and conserving
the park’s natural heritage. One of the most interesting is Finding Trees with a History (Busquem Arbres amb
Història). This initiative aims to involve the local population in finding and documenting all the area’s singular trees.
Open
All year round
Material/equipment provided
Different materials aimed at helping the
interpretation of the local area and user
participation.
• Information centre management. Tosca
manages the education and information
services of La Garrotxa Volcanic Zone
Natural Park, via a concession won in a
public tender.
• Training. Tosca participates in short
training courses, including the training of
the park’s future accredited guides, in
which it teaches aspects related the
company’s fields of specialisation.
Languages
Catalan and French
Official endorsements
• ‘Q’ quality tourism label
• ISO 2000
• Sustainable Management Code
(equivalent to the Distintiu de Qualitat
Ambiental, but at regional level)
• Natural Park Accredited Guides
• Natural Park Collaborative Body
Contact details
Casal dels Volcans
Avda. Santa Coloma s/n
17800 Olot (Girona)
Tel.: 972 27 00 86 / 972 26 81 12
[email protected]
www.tosca.cat
LA GARROTXA VOLCANIC ZONE NATURAL PARK
27
GUAITA
When environmental educators Nani Armengou and
Beth Cobo started up Guaita, they were well aware of
the tourism and educational possibilities offered by
La Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park. And since
they have been working in this protected area their
initial expectations have been borne out during the
many outdoor excursions and other activities that
Guaita offer, highlighting the park’s importance for
wildlife.
The majority of their work centres on providing
environmental education to the school groups that
visit the park. The wonderful concentration of volcanic cones and lava flows is an excellent geological
resource and children are encouraged to imagine
what it would be like to travel back in time to remote
areas, overwhelmed by tremendous volcanic eruptions.
A good example is the visit to Croscat, in the municipality of Santa Pau: visitors can enter the area that
visitor services and activities
• Environmental education. Guided
excursions for schools plus other leisure
activities for young children. Young
children can participate in summer camps
designed to teach the environment
through games. Ratio of 1 guide/teacher
per 20 students.
• Naturalist excursions. These are especially
designed for families and organised
groups and following trails in the La
Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park.
was once quarried for the volcano’s pyroclastic material, thereby making it a particularly good site for environmental interpretation.
Guaita also offers guided excursions for families
and other groups along the park’s trails and provide a
relaxed introduction into the world of vulcanology.
Guaita programmes visits to fascinating sites such as
Croscat or the Fageda d’en Jordà, a singular beechwood growing on a lava flow, that are always conducted on foot so as to minimise environmental impact.
Coincidentally, both Nani and Beth are magicians,
which enables them to broaden their range of activities and including magic shows and workshops in
their work. This wealth of experience has also led
them to set up the Desert Màgic campaign, which
takes them each year for a few days to the schools and
hospitals in the Saharan refugee camps in Tinduf (Algeria) to practice their magic.
• Specialised guides. Environmental
educators for a number of years, their
experience is concentrated mainly on the
interpretation of the natural world and in
particular geology (vulcanology),
ecosystems and landscapes.
In addition, Guaita is also closely involved in volunteer programmes and activities coordinated in Sant
Feliu de Pallerols, where Nani and Beth live and work,
one of the towns that lies fully within the La Garrotxa
Volcanic Zone Natural Park.
Material/equipment provided
Workbooks and dossiers for school
children (depending on age), an
information guide to the Natural
Park for adults and a field notebook for
children.
Open
All year round
Official endorsements
Natural Park Collaborative Body
Natural Park Accredited Guides
• Volunteers. Guaita collaborates with local
volunteer programmes and activities.
28
ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
Languages
Catalan, English and French
Contact details
C/ Puig de Colltort, 6
17174 Sant Feliu de Pallerols (Girona)
Tel.: 657 86 18 05 / 650 97 09 60
[email protected]
www.guaitagarrotxa.cat
ALBERGUE & RESTAURANTE BELLAVISTA
The small medieval village of Santa Pau nestles between volcanoes in the heart of the region of La Garrotxa. And here on the edge of the village, immersed
in the region’s attractive countryside, we find the spacious rural complex of Bellavista, combining a restaurant and hostel.
The complex caters for those wanting leisure activities as well as relaxation. Its strategic location means
Accommodation type
Youth hostel, hostel and restaurant
visitor services and activities
• The centre acts as a hostel for school and
summer camps, as well as for family
reunions, for groups of friends, for hikers,
etc.
• A small fully equipped kitchen is
available for clients.
• Free tickets for clients for the visits and
excursions of the Discover La Garrotxa
programme.
• Close proximity to the Itinerànnia
that visitors can leave the car behind and, instead, take
long walks through the countryside or through the
streets of Santa Pau to discover the hidden gardens
where a local delicacy, fesols (small, exquisitely
flavoured white beans), are grown or explore two of
the jewels of the Natural Park: the volcanoes of Croscat
and Santa Margarida. In spring and summer, a visit to
the Can Batlle waterfall is highly recommendable, and
in autumn a visit to the Fageda d’en Jordà. With luck,
and regardless of the season, you may possibly be able
to confirm that the accommodation is worthy of its
name and make out the beautiful view of the turquoise
Mediterranean beyond the mountains.
Both the restaurant and the accommodation are
outstanding in their functioning and commitment to
the environment, with recycling and energy-saving
systems integrated throughout the entire establishment, resulting in it being a worthy holder of the Environmental Quality Distinction (Distintiu de Qualitat
footpath network, Itinerary 3 of the
Natural Park (between Santa Pau and Olot)
and GR-2.
• The hostel has also runs a farm shop in
the town’s main square, selling local
products such as honey, vegetables,
beans, chocolates, jams and liqueurs.
• Restaurant with traditional Catalan
cuisine, offering both moderately priced
menu options as well as organising
wedding receptions, baptisms,
anniversaries, etc.
• Pets are welcome and there are also
facilities for horses.
Ambiental) award. Bellavista has also entered into an
agreement to improve the information provided to
visitors about the region, producing a consultative report about the park and territory plus the European
Charter of Sustainable Tourism and its objectives, as
well as providing information about accredited companies, workshops and local craftworks.
Languages
Catalan
Location
Santa Pau (Girona)
Sant Martí road, 10
Coordinates: 42º 8’ 51.09” N, 2º 34’ 11.56” E
Capacity
• 15 rooms, sleeping 72
• 86-cover restaurant
Facilities
• Restaurant
• Some rooms with en-suite bathroom
• Some rooms with balcony
• One room (with en-suite bathroom)
adapted for people of reduced mobility
• Two multi-activity rooms (approximate
capacity, 40 people). One of these has a
fully equipped kitchen (fridge, freezer,
microwave, etc.); both have a TV, DVD,
sound system, table games, etc.
• First-aid room
• Garden and balcony
• Different areas for sports and games:
basketball, table tennis, billiards, table
football, football
• Children’s playground
Open
All year round, but only with reservations
Prices
• Accommodation from 15 €/person/night
• Menu from 9 €
Official endorsements
• Park Information Point
• Environmental Quality Distinction
(Distintiu de Qualitat Ambiental)
Contact details
Tel.: 972 68 05 12
[email protected]
www.santapaurural.cat
LA GARROTXA VOLCANIC ZONE NATURAL PARK
29
LA FAGEDA
Els Casals farmhouse is located in a typical La Garrotxa
estate (15 ha) in the Fageda d’en Jordà, a beechwood
that is also one of the most famous woodlands in La
Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park. It is the headquarters of La Fageda, a cooperative founded in 1982
by a psychologist Cristóbal Colón (the Spanish version of the name Christopher Columbus), who did not
need to discover America in order to set out on his
own passionate adventure ...
The personal experience he gained while working in various psychiatric hospitals with the social and
workplace integration of people with special needs
and severe learning disorders is reflected in the fact
that almost half of the 300 people who work in La
Fageda come from this sector. The objective of
Cristóbal Colón and other workers who joined the
project was to offer these people therapeutic help
based on the daily life of the farm.
The principal activity in La Fageda is the production of yoghurt and it is now the third largest
producer in Catalonia; its brand name La Fageda is
now synonymous with quality. The breadth of this
project, well known in Catalonia, but also interna-
tionally, is a clear example of how the promotion of
social values can be compatible with commercial
success.
Although not strictly considered ecological production, milk is obtained from around 500 Friesian
cows fed on natural fodder and from which yoghurts
of almost twenty flavours are produced. The Girona
Regional Council has awarded La Fageda the accolade
of the highest quality milk of Girona.
More than 30,000 people participate in the
guided visits to La Fageda and its installations annu-
ally, and are taken to see the cows, the milking parlour, milk tanks and yoghurt factory. Small children
love seeing calves close up and being able to touch
them. Finally, at the end of the visit, participants enjoy
a yoghurt tasting.
A contribution towards sustainable tourism in the
park is the aim of these visits, with an emphasis on
the quality of the experience, rather than the quantity of visitors. Visits are free (by prior arrangement),
except for groups, and the profits obtained are reinvested in the cooperative.
visitor services and activities
• Guided visits. These are designed to
demonstrate the full production processes
for yoghurts and other handcrafted milkbased desserts. Families tend to visit at
weekends, while other groups and schools
visit at other times.
• Dairy product production. La Fageda is the
third largest yoghurt manufacturer in
Catalonia, producing 35 million units per
year.
Official endorsements
• ISO 9001
• ISO 9014
• Park Information Point
Contact details
Mas Els Casals
17811 Santa Pau (Girona)
Tel.: 902 11 81 50
[email protected]
www.fageda.com
• Plant nursery and gardening. Replanting
and landscape works, and design and
maintenance of gardens in a dozen
municipalities in La Garrotxa and the
Natural Park.
• Social work. La Fageda helps with
contributions towards social activities
organised by charities, sports clubs, health
groups and others.
30
ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
Material/equipment provided
Information leaflets and teaching
materials for students and teachers
Languages
Catalan and Spanish (for large groups, by
prior appointment)
Open
All year round
APARTAMENTOS CAN CAMÓ
The Can Camó tourist apartments are located in the
town of Tortellà, on the very edge of the Alta Garrotxa,
a protected area in the north of the region characterised
by its forests, deep valleys and spectacular cliffs; a stimulating and tranquil landscape which can be readily explored using this accommodation as a base.
The intense efforts made while reforming Can
Camó — a building over two hundred years old — are
clearly visible in the rustic nature of its structure and
décor, with the typical Catalan-style floor tiling, stone
walls and entrance arch. The apartments are integrated into the urban centre of Tortellà, allowing the
visitor to enter the Alta Garrotxa landscapes on foot,
on bicycle or on horseback to visit the well conserved
towns and villages of the area, or see the medieval
bridge over the River Llierca. Abundant information
is provided in the accommodation about the numerous activities in the area, and Ricard, the owner and
host, is more than happy to expand on this.
A more tranquil option would be to wander
through the town’s quiet streets, enjoy the apartment’s gardens, barbeque and loungers, and roundoff the day watching the sunset from a comfortable
chair in the dining room. Can Camó is comprised of
one apartment on each of its two floors. Fully
equipped, these ensure complete commodity and
comfort, including for young children who will undoubtedly return again and again to the wooden
playhouse and sand pit provided for them in the garden.
Can Camó’s efforts to provide detailed and accurate information about the area are combined with
the aim of managing the number of visitors going to
the most-visited parts of the Alta Garrotxa protected
area. Here, the availability of first-hand information is
crucial and Can Camó also aims via its webpage to encourage visitors to behave in respectful and sustainable ways whilst they are in La Garrotxa.
Accommodation type
Rural tourist apartment
Languages
Catalan and French
visitor services and activities
• Mountain bikes, included in the price, are
available for clients.
• Free tickets for clients for the visits and
excursions of the Discover La Garrotxa
programme.
• Information about the area.
Location
Tortellà (Girona)
C/ Olot, 9
Coordinates: 42º 14’ 0.97” N, 2º 37’ 45.45” E
Facilities
• Fully equipped kitchen (fridge, washing
machine, dish-washer, microwave oven)
• Satellite TV
• DVD
• Internet connection
Capacity
2 apartments, sleeping 12
Open
All year round
Prices
130 €/night
Official endorsements
Park Information Point
• Bicycles
• Garden
• Children’s playground
• Barbeque
• Close to the municipal swimming pool
Contact details
Tel.: 629 78 21 79
[email protected]
www.can-camo.com
LA GARROTXA VOLCANIC ZONE NATURAL PARK
31
Iberian Black Pigs grazing in a Cork Oak dehesa in spring.
SIERRA DE ARACENA Y PICOS DE AROCHE NATURAL PARK
Dehesas and Sweet Chestnut forests in the western reaches of the Sierra Morena
Of all the protected areas in Andalusia in the Sierra Morena, the Sierra de Aracena y Picos de Aroche Natural Park is the least rugged and
mountainous, and its charms and attractions are to be found more in its rural landscapes dotted with wonderful villages such as Cumbres
Mayores, Aroche, Cala and Cumbres de San Bartolomé, all of great historical interest, and the excellently preserved oak forests populated
by almost all the typical Mediterranean tree species (mainly Holm, Cork, Lusitanian and Pyrenean Oaks). Add the leafy Sweet Chestnut
forests found on the coolest north-facing slopes and the picture of the typical landscape of this mountain range is complete. Even so, perhaps the most characteristic landscape of this Natural Park are the Holm and Cork Oak dehesas or wood pastures, where the famous Iberian Black Pigs graze and glean acorns, and provide the raw material for the famous ham-curing town of Jabugo. The forests of Aracena also
provide other delights, and are renown for their chestnuts and an abundance of wild mushrooms such as Caesar’s Mushroom (Amanita caesarea) and many different types of boletus.
n the westernmost part of the province of Huelva and as it approaches the Portuguese border, the outline of the long mountain
chain of the Sierra Morena — Andalusia’s veritable backbone —
gradually begins to soften and lose some of its former ruggedness;
in this sector of the Sierra Morena (named Sierra de Aracena after
the local capital) the highest peaks struggle to reach 1,000 m.
The Natural Park that protects this part of the Sierra Morena and
the Picos de Aroche is largely covered by forests composed of, above
all, various species of oaks. Holm, Cork, Lusitanian and Pyrenean
Oaks, in this order, cover a large part of the territory and their dominance is only challenged by the Sweet Chestnut, perhaps the bestknown tree of these mountains, which grows on the highest northfacing slopes.
Over the centuries human occupation has altered the configuration of the original forests and today we find a landscape characterised by highly biodiverse dehesas (wood pastures), home to the
famous Black Iberian Pigs that have bestowed such deserved fame
on the gastronomy of the towns of these mountains.
I
The dehesa: a pact between man and nature
Visitors to the Sierra de Aracena will find a protected area that has
been greatly influenced by the techniques that local people have
traditionally employed to garner a living from the forests that surround them. Centuries of exploitation of this Mediterranean landscape has led to the opening up of vast tracts of forest and the disappearance of low scrub- and shrublands, and their replacement by
the dehesas or wood pastures that, albeit a semi-natural habitat,
provide a haven for many species of wild animal and plant and a
productive resource for local people. In all, this unique habitat occupies over 30% of the surface area of the Sierra de Aracena y Picos
de Aroche Natural Park.
Undoubtedly, the product par excellence of these mountains,
which has spread the fame of the dehesas of the Natural Park far and
wide, is the local ham, produced from the freely grazing Iberian Black
Pigs that feed on the seasonal abundance of pastures and acorns
fallen from the region’s many oaks. Pigs are allowed to roam from
the age of 10 months onwards and thanks to the highly nutritional
acorns quickly gain weight — up to 40 kg in just a few months.
The excellence of local pig-based products — including the worldfamous Jabugo cured ham — depends as much on the particular taste
of the essential oils contained in the acorns the pigs consume, as on
all the exercise the pigs get during their stay in the open-air.
In all, there are around 500 pig farms in the Jabugo Denomination
of Origin, which together account for over 60,000 Iberian Black Pigs.
Around 50,000 animals are sacrificed every year and in the storehouses at any one time there are no less than 100,000 hams, worth
over 22 million euros.
The best dehesas, dotted with Cork, Holm and the Lusitanian
Oaks, are to be found in the eastern sector of the Natural Park. The
size of the largest Lusitanian Oaks — for example those that grow in
some of the dehesas near Cala and Aroche, or in the well-developed
dehesas between Jabugo and Castaño del Robledo — make it is posSIERRA DE ARACENA Y PICOS DE AROCHE NATURAL PARK
33
Forest fruits
The southern sector of the Natural Park is higher and is also where
most of the human population is concentrated; here, the predominant tree is the Sweet Chestnut, although there are also a number of
valuable stands of Pyrenean Oak in the highest, most humid spots.
Autumn is possibly the most recommendable time of year to visit,
just as the centuries-old Sweet Chestnuts growing in Los Marines
and Castaño del Robledo are producing their wonderful fruits and
are showing off their golden autumnal colours. The triangle composed of the municipalities of Galaroza (over 700 ha of Sweet Chestnut woodland), Fuenteheridos (600 ha) and Castaño del Robledo
(700 ha) is the centre of local chestnut production, most of which is
exported to make the beloved marron glacé. The province of Huelva
produces 33% of all Andalusian chestnuts, that is, around 3,200
tonnes of chestnuts a year.
If the rains come and the weather stays mild, autumn can also
be a wonderful time for wild mushrooms and other fungi, and in this
part of the province of Huelva alone around 1,200 species of fungi
have been identified, of which the most sought-after are Caesar’s
Mushroom (Amanita caesarea), the boletus Boletus sps. and Saffron
Milk-caps Lactarius sps. In some areas of the Natural Park, the collection of wild mushrooms and truffles can provide an income of up
to 6,000 € per year per hectare.
As a result, the Sierra de Aracena was chosen by the Andalusian
government as a site for an official mycological market-place, like
the one that already existed in Jimena de la Frontera (Cádiz). Here,
the sale of mushrooms such as Amanita ponderosa is regulated and
technical and botanical advice is provided to ensure that products
meet quality standards and are safe from a health point of view. The
market also acts as meeting-place for collectors and wholesalers,
who can thus settle on fair prices for the fungi put on sale. It has
been calculated that fungi collection in Andalusia generates around
12 million euros a year, and a large part of this figure can be put down
to the mountains of Huelva.
The human influence on these landscapes is not only evident
in the dehesas, as many of the region’s riversides evince — here
local people have installed their small-holdings and pastures, although there are still some rivers boasting generous riparian woodland composed of a multitude of willows, Alders and ashes. In some
places, gallery forests thrive, as on the banks of the river Múrtigas
downstream from Galaroza, and along Rivera de Huelva, Rivera
Caliente, Arroyo Guijarra, Rivera del Chanza and Barranco del Colgadizo.
North-facing slope with mixed Sweet Chestnut and Cork Oak woodland.
Ancient Sweet Chestnuts in the Sierra de Aracena.
sible to conceive what the primitive forests of these mountains
would have looked like in past centuries. The Pyrenean Oak was once
also abundant, but today can only be seen at its best in a few wellpreserved stands such as on Pico del Castaño, and in Sierra de Navahermosa and Arroyomolinos de León. Part of that original forest
cover succumbed to the axe and, in particular, to the disastrous practice of planting eucalypts and pines, which fortunately are mainly
found just outside the protected area.
34
ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
Black Stork perched on a Cork Oak. Dehesa in spring. The Black Vulture breeds in the nearby Sierra Pelada, but feeds in the parks’ dehesas.
The land of the Black Vulture
The skies of these mountains are dominated by raptors such as
Golden, Booted and Short-toed Eagles, Griffon Vulture and Eagle Owl.
Nevertheless, purely in terms of its rarity value, the most valuable raptor in the area is the Black Vulture, which breeds near the southernmost edge of the Natural Park in the Sierra Pelada y Rivera del Aserrador Natural Area, one of the most important breeding nucleus of the
species in Andalusia and the whole of the Iberian Peninsula.
Of all Spanish avian scavengers, the Black Vulture is the specialist in prospecting scrublands, so common in Mediterranean
mountains, where it not only finds the carcasses of cattle and biggame species, but also comes across much smaller mammals such
as rabbits.
Back in the previous century the local Black Vulture colony was seriously threatened by the forestry exploitation that was being carried
out in a number of private estates, and after a number of years of constant decline the colony bottomed out in 1998 at just 58 pairs. However, since then and thanks to concerted conservation policies, this
negative tendency has been inverted and the most recent censuses
(2009) have revealed the presence of 109 pairs, the most important
colony in Andalusia (out of a regional total of just over 270 pairs).
The common mammals of the dehesas and forests include the
Egyptian Mongoose, Beech Marten, Badger, Wild Cat, Least Weasel
and Genet, while the rivers and streams harbour another of the
park’s faunal jewels, the shy Black Stork. Just as in the case of the
Black Vulture, the Black Stork population of these sierras is tremendously important on an Andalusian scale: the most recent censuses
(2005) indicate that 17 pairs breed in this area out of a total in Andalusia of just over 50 pairs.
Certain rivers and streams such as the Múrtigas and Sillo are perfect refuges for Leuciscus pyrenaicus, Rutilus alburnoides and Anaecypris hispanica, three threatened Iberian fishes, and Otters and
Polecats. The presence of Otters in these waters, along with the
young Spanish Imperial Eagles born in Doñana that use these mountains as a dispersal area, are signs that the environmental quality of
the area is high.
From the dolmen to the farmstead
Aside from its importance from a natural point of view, Sierra de Aracena is also home to more well-preserved villages and settlements
than any other region in the whole of Andalusia.
For whose wanting to take a step back in time, the first settlers
of these mountains left behind a number of dolmens and standing
stones that in the Sierra de Aroche are known as the Devil’s Stones
(Las Piedras del Diablo). Just a few kilometres from the town of
Aroche near the hamlet of Castañuelos stands an excellent example
of these primitive funerary stones, in one the most important Bronze
Age archaeological sites in the Iberian Peninsula. Here it is easy to
appreciate the typical tombs and burial places — or cists — of the
area, dug into the ground and bordered by a series of vertical slate
slabs supporting other flat slate slabs.
The castle of Cortegana is a magnificent example of the numerous fortresses scattered around the municipalities of the Natural
Panoramic view of Castaño del Robledo.
SIERRA DE ARACENA Y PICOS DE AROCHE NATURAL PARK
35
Park, which give a good idea of the turbulent past of these frontier
lands, where great battles were once fought with the Moors and the
neighbouring Portuguese. In fact, in the western sector of the park
there is a vast area known as Las Contiendas (literally, ‘the contests’),
whose name is a reminder of the continuous skirmishes between the
Spanish and Portuguese armies over the lands conquered from the
Moors. The Moorish legacy is also present in the Sierra de Aracena
in the form of the small tenth-century mosque that has survived in Almonaster la Real.
Mysticism, religion and mystery also have their place in these
sierras. La Peña de Arias Montano in Alájar is a wonderful viewpoint,
once used as a retreat by hermits and anchorites, including Arias
Montano himself, and is riddled by over 30 natural caves.
Nearby lies one of the Natural Park’s geological treasures — the
first cave in Europe ever to be opened to tourists. La Gruta de las
Maravillas, whose entrance is within the town of Aracena itself, was
opened to the public in 1914 and since then thousands of visitors
have marvelled at its 12 chambers replete with spectacular stalactite and stalagmite formations. View of the town of Alájar.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION AND PUBLIC FACILITIES
Sierra de Aracena y Picos de Aroche
Natural Park
• Date declared. 28 July 1989
• Surface area. 186,827 ha
• Province. Huelva
• Municipalities. Alájar, Almonaster La Real,
Aracena, Aroche, Arroyomolinos de León, Cala,
Cañaveral de León, Castaño del Robledo,
Corteconcepción, Cortegana, Cortelazor, Cumbres de Enmedio, Cumbres de San Bartolomé,
Cumbres Mayores, Encinasola, Fuenteheridos,
Galaroza, Higuera de La Sierra, Hinojales,
Jabugo, Linares de La Sierra, Los Marines, La
Nava, Puerto Moral, Santa Ana La Real, Santa
Olalla del Cala, Valdelarco, Zufre.
• ECST accreditation. 2004
• Other types of protection. Special Protection
Area for Birds, Site of Community Importance
• Contact details
Plaza Alta, s/n, Edificio Cabildo Viejo
21200 Aracena (Huelva)
Tel.: 959 12 95 39/ 959 12 95 49
[email protected]
Go to Ventana del Visitante at:
juntadeandalucia.es/medioambiente
36
vISITOR FACILITIES
CABILDO VIEJO VISITOR CENTRE
This centre is located in an historical building
in the town of Aracena (sixteenth century). A
visit to the centre will provide visitors with a
good idea of the main characteristics of this
protected area (geology and relief, flora,
fauna, etc.), as well as the local climatic peculiarities, which have had an important influence over the centuries on the way that local
people have made their livings in these mountains.
• Location and contact details. Plaza Alta, s/n,
Aracena (Huelva). Tel.: 959 12 88 25
• Services. Exhibition rooms, audio-guides, shop
(on sale publications about and products from
Andalusian protected areas and the Andalusian
Natural Park Brand).
• Opening times. All year round, Tuesday-Sunday. Summer: 10-14 and 18-20; winter: 10-14
and 16-18.
• Access for people with reduced mobility
INFORMATION POINTS
• El Charcón. Higuera de la Sierra. Avda. de la
Cabalgata de los Reyes Magos. Access for people with reduced mobility.
ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
• Arroyomolinos de León. Arroyomolinos de
León. Edificio del Guadalinfo, near town hall.
Tel. 959 19 76 75. Access for people with reduced mobility.
RECREATIONAL FACILITIES
PICNIC SITES
• Dehesa Tres Encinas (Cala). This is also the
site of the church of San Roque, the patron of
the village of Cala.
• ElTalenque (Galaroza). Near the village of Navahermosa. Start of the Talenque-Valdelarco trail.
VIEwPOINTS
• Alto del Bujo (Arroyomolinos de León).
• Del Castañuelo (Aracena).
• Cerro de San Cristóbal Norte (Almonaster La
Real).
• Cerro de San Cristóbal Sur (Almonaster La
Real).
• El Embalse (Puerto-Moral). Access for people
with reduced mobility.
• Ribera de Alájar (Alájar).
FOOTPAThS AND TRAILS
A network of 20 waymarked paths totalling 83
km exists in the park, of which the following
are some of the best for exploring the Natural
Park:
• Alto del Bujo. During the first part of this walk
along the old trail of ‘Camino del Bujo’ walkers
traverse Holm Oak and Cork Oak woods and,
after climbing a little further, soon enter areas
of scrub and olive groves. At the end of the
walk there is viewpoint with excellent
panoramic views over the Natural Park. Length:
3.9 km. Time: 1 h 30 min-2 h.
• Aracena-Fuenteheridos. The first part of this
route passes through a very humanised landscape of small vegetable plots and scattered
trees, which then gives way to deciduous oak
and, above all, Sweet Chestnut woodland.
Length: 10.6 km. Time: 3 h 30 min-4 h.
• Ribera de Jabugo. This path links the villages of Galaroza and Castaño del Robledo,
and runs along a stream — La Ribera de
Jabugo — whose name, like that of the village
itself, is due to the abundance of Elder Trees.
One of the main attractions of this walk is the
wonderful botanical variety that walkers can
admire along the way. Length: 4.8 km. Time: 2
h-2 h 30 min.
• Climb to summit of San Cristóbal. This
walk climbs quite steeply through Sweet
OThER FACILITIES
MUSEO DEL JAMÓN. IBERIAN BLACk PIG
INTERPRETATION CENTRE
This museum devoted to Iberian cured ham
and the famous Iberian Black Pigs has seven
rooms dedicated to the millenary tradition of
breeding and rearing these pigs. Mycological
(fungi) Information Point.
Aracena. Tel.: 663 93 78 70
[email protected]
www.aracena.es
Chestnut forests and before reaching the
summit there area two vantage points that
provide excellent views of the surrounding
countryside. Length: 5.6 km (circular walk).
Time: 3-4 h.
BIkE LANES
The Natural Park also has two itineraries that
have been specially designed with cycle-touring in mind:
• Carril Blanco. 6.2 km in and around the town
of Zufre (Huelva). As a walking route, also possible for people with reduced mobility.
• Minas de Teuler (Santa Olalla del Cala). 13.2
km circuit that for the most part follows the
route of an old mine railway.
GRUTA DE LAS MARAVILLAS
Three-level cave-system in the marble rocks on
which the local castle stands. Wonderful variety of formations (stalactites, stalagmites,
columns, etc.) and underground lakes. Open to
the public since 1914. To preserve the particular environmental conditions, access is limited.
Aracena. Tel.: 663 93 78 76
www.aracena.es
HISPANO-ROMAN CITY OF TURÓBRIGA
The ruins of this city, started in the second
century BC to protect the local mines, preserve the vestiges of different urban features
such as thermal baths, the Forum and the
Campo de Marte (an area used for physical
recreation).
Aroche. Tel.: 959 14 02 01 / 605 33 88 72
www.aroche.es
www.picosdearoche.com
1
Cabildo Viejo Visitor Centre
2
El Charcón Information Point
3
Arroyomolinos de León Information Point
EX-301
Encinasola
EX-201
EXTREMADURA
Cumbres de Enmedio
Cumbres de San Bartolomé
Cumbres Mayores
N-435
Arroyomolinos de León
Cañaveral de León
3
A-66
Hinojales
Nava
N-433
Valdelarco
Aroche
Galaroza
A-434
Embalse
de Aracena
Cortelazor
Cala
El Real de la Jara
Jabugo
Fuenteheridos Los Marines
1
Castaño
del Robledo
Almonaster la Real
Aracena
Alájar Linares
Santa Ana la Real
de la Sierra
Cortegana
Corteconcepción
Santa Olalla del Cala
Puerto-Moral
N-433
A-461
Higuera de la Sierra
2
A-479
A-461
A-461
5
10
E-803
Embalse
de Zufre
Campofrío
HU-7104
0
Zufre
15
km
Granada de Río-Tinto
N-435
SIERRA DE ARACENA Y PICOS DE AROCHE NATURAL PARK
37
CASAS RURALES EL CAMPANARIO & EL MIRADOR
Built in the shadow of the imposing peak of Arias
Montano in one of the most beautiful parts of the
whole Sierra de Aracena, where the green of the
Sweet Chestnuts and Cork Oaks blends in with the
grey of the local rock, the village of Alájar (a name of
Arab origin meaning‘stone’) is set in magnificent surroundings watered by ebullient springs and small
streams. In the heart of the Sierra de Aracena y Picos
de Aroche Natural Park, this town was founded by the
Romans and today its white walls boast a proud architectural and monumental heritage that has been
declared a site of historical-artistic interest.
El Campanario and El Mirador are two very welcoming self-catering houses that form part of an old
but completely restored building. The design of these
two carefully decorated houses is modern in terms of
layout and functionality (loft accommodation), and
one has been fully adapted for guests with reduced
mobility. The houses have a small library with numerous publications about the area and the Natural Park
and the activities on offer, as well as details of footAccommodation type
• CR El Campanario: Simple self-catering
house, whole-house rental only
• CR El Mirador: Simple self-catering
house, whole-house rental only
Visitor services and activities
• Information about the region provided in
the houses.
• Activities such as historical itineraries,
speleology, archery, walking, orienteering,
climbing, canyoning, canoeing and horse
riding can be organised for guests via a
local active tourism company.
• Local honey, chestnut preserve and
traditional pastries on sale.
paths, itineraries and local gastronomy, which guests
may want to browse through to discover more about
the Natural Park.
In the same building the owners have a restaurant where guests can enjoy typical local food, as well
as a cafeteria-cum-cake shop where the most sweet-
• Restaurant offering traditional local
cuisine.
• Guests may opt for half-board or fullboard.
toothed will be able to taste the wonderful local pastries and desserts. The owners of El Campanario and
El Mirador aim to improve their energy efficiency in
the short term and are in the process of substituting
the current heating and hot-water system with another run on water heated by a biomass boiler.
Facilities
• Fully equipped kitchen
• TV
• Board games
• El Mirador is adapted for people with
reduced mobility
• Swimming pool nearby
• Cafe, restaurant and cake-shop on
premises
Open
All year round
Languages
English and French
Location
Alájar (Huelva)
C/ San Bartolomé, 6
Coordinates: 37º 52’26.47”N, 6º 39’56.52”W
Capacity
• CR El Campanario: sleeps 2-4
• CR El Mirador: sleeps 2-4
• Direct access from one house to the
other can be arranged if desired
38
ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
Official endorsements
Andalusia Natural Park Brand
Prices
Accommodation and breakfast: 70-80 €/day,
300 €/week (minimum stay two nights).
Guests can opt for half-board (30 € for two
people) or full board
Contact details
Tel.: 657 33 96 56
[email protected]
www.bozquezrural.com
LA POSADA DE ALÁJAR
La Posada is a small rural hotel located in the centre of
the charming village of Alájar — one of the most picturesque and best-preserved in the Sierra de Aracena.
Alájar lies at the foot of the renowned Peña de Arias
Montano, a vantage point that boasts an impressive
panorama of the whole mountain range, dotted with
white villages and hamlets.
The hotel is unique in that it belongs to the municipal government but is currently managed by Lucy
and Ángel. It occupies an eighteenth-century mansion, consisting of two buildings and a courtyard, and
was refurbished during the first half of the nineteenth
century for use as an inn. The oldest building, embellished with chestnut-wood carvings, houses the majority of the bedrooms, while the kitchen and a welcoming dining room are located in what was formerly
the stables and granary. The large entrance hall, complete with an open fireplace, armchairs, books, magazines and a wealth of information about the Natural
Park, is a tempting place to relax after a long day out
in the countryside.
One of the things that Lucy and Ángel are most
proud of is their ‘mountain breakfasts’. Along with
their morning tea or coffee, guests can sample organic bread, manteca colorá (spreadable spicy pig fat),
Iberian Black Pig paté, home-made jams and preserves, local honey and as many as ten different varieties of extra virgin olive oil, each with a subtly different flavour, all of which is included in the price of the
room. La Posada can provide guests with information
about walking trails close to the hotel, such as the
charming path that follows the river Alájar, along the
length of which many springs, water mills and irrigation channels can be seen, as well as enclosures full
of free-range Iberian Black Pigs foraging in the dehesa
(wood—pasture). In addition, the hotel can apprise
guests of the range of activities offered by local companies, designed to help them get to know and enjoy
the natural park.
Within the limitations imposed on the hotel by its
situation as a protected building, La Posada makes
every effort to ensure that its fittings and equipment
produce a minimal impact on the environment; good
examples are the solar panels that provide a large
proportion of the energy required to heat the water,
and the use of loose rather than packaged goods
(foodstuffs, cleaning products …) wherever possible.
One of the hotel’s primary projects for the future is to
produce a digital guidebook of the plants found in
the surrounding area that guests will be able to consult at will.
Accommodation type
One-star rural hotel
• Picnic lunches can be prepared for
guests.
Capacity
8 rooms and 1 attic room, sleeping 20
Visitor services and activities
• Information about activities in the
countryside (trekking, cycle-touring,
observation of flora and fauna …).
• The hotel can put guests in contact with
local companies offering adventure
activities.
• Traditional home cooking using local
ingredients.
• Guided visits to the Iberian Black Pigrearing country and a pork curing
establishment.
• La Posada is a member of the ‘Club de
Producto de la Ruta del Jamón Ibérico’, a
group devoted to the promotion of ham.
Languages
English
Facilities
• Cafeteria
• Coffee, tea and herbal infusions are
available for guests.
• Open fire
• Laundry service
• Wi-Fi
• Library
Location
Alájar (Huelva)
C/ Médico Emilio González, 2
Coordinates: 37º 52’27.30”N, 6º 39’58.75”W
Open
All year round
Official endorsements
• ‘Q’ quality tourism label
• Andalusia Natural Park Brand
• Park Information Point
Prices
• Room (with breakfast): 60 €/night
• Attic room (with breakfast): 120 €/night
Contact details
Tel.: 959 12 57 12
[email protected]
www.laposadadealajar.com
SIERRA DE ARACENA Y PICOS DE AROCHE NATURAL PARK
39
DOÑANA ARACENA AVENTURA
After more than 20 years leading groups to Doñana,
Joaquín Carrasco decided to set up his own company
in his native village of Aracena. Today, Doñana Aracena Aventura has four staff members, although they
also contract specialist guides in the high season. The
company works in the field of active, rural and wildlife
tourism, and was awarded the Best Wildlife Tourist
Product at FITUR, the international tourism fair, in
1998.
Hundreds of kilometres of signposted paths, running through diverse landscapes rich in dehesas
(wood pasture) and Mediterranean, riverine, oak and
Sweet Chestnut woodlands make the Aracena y Picos
de Aroche Natural Park one of the best hiking areas
in Andalusia. Doñana Aracena Aventura makes full
use of this potential during their excursions, which include such evocative options as the Ruta del Contrabando (Smugglers’ Route), formerly used by blackmarketeers moving between Portugal and Andalusia
visitor services and activities
• Hiking and field centres. For school
children and independent groups and
individuals. Although Doñana Aracena
Aventura has a general programme of
excursions, such as the ‘Water’, ‘Mountain’,
‘Sweet Chestnut’ and ‘Gallery Woodland’
walks, their routes and visits can be tailormade to request.
• Cultural and ethnographical visits. The
numerous villages of the sierra are all ideal
locations for learning about the park’s
historical and gastronomic culture.
40
in the years after the Spanish Civil War.
One of the most visited sites is the Gruta
de las Maravillas (a cave), over 1 km in
length and with the peculiarity that it
starts as the simple extension of one of
Aracena’s streets. In the same village, the
company also offers morning and afternoon trips on a 50-seater tourist train,
which runs on a daily basis. This vehicle is
specially designed to cope with the steep
slopes of many of the town’s narrow
streets.
Many of Doñana Aracena Aventura’s
clients also show considerable interest in the other
well-preserved mountain villages in the area and their
monumental castles. Curiosities include the ancient
public laundry in Linares de la Sierra, where washerwomen still do their laundry, and the mosque in Almonaster la Real, which contains the oldest mihrab
(equivalent to an altar) in the Iberian Peninsula.
Doñana Aracena Aventura supports the local economy and sustainable tourism in the natural park by
visiting local producers of serrano hams and other
cured meats, cheeses, pastries and the local bakers
who still use wood-burning ovens.
• Tourist train. A singular means of
transport, capable of negotiating the
steep slopes in Aracena, and a good way
of visiting its attractive streets.
Material/equipment provided
Explanatory leaflets covering the
company’s activities
• Gastronomic routes. Following a long
walk, typical local hams and cured meats
can be tasted, along with a diversity of
pastries and other sweet products.
• Equestrian tourism. Horse riding. The
surroundings of Doñana National Park,
also in Huelva Province, are mostly used
for this activity.
• Mountain biking. Mountain bikes are the
best means of covering the hundreds of
kilometres of specially maintained and
signposted trails in the Sierra de Aracena &
Picos de Aroche Natural Park.
Languages
English and Portuguese
ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
Open
All year round
Official endorsements
Park Information Point
Contact details
Polígono Industrial Cantalgallo C/I, nº 20
21200 Aracena (Huelva)
Tel.: 959 12 70 45 / 689 45 33 69
[email protected]
www.donana-aracena-aventura.com
HOTEL APARTAMENTO RURAL FINCA VALBONO
The Finca Valbono complex is situated on the road to
Carboneras, about a kilometre from the town of Aracena. Nearby lies a Natural Park trail that links the historical centre of Aracena (of considerable cultural interest) with the cobbled streets of Corteconcepción: a
5.5 km-route through a verdant valley of vegetable
gardens, orchards and Mediterranean forest.
In the town of Aracena — capital of this mountainous region — visitors can lose themselves in a
maze of narrow streets, littered with civil, religious and
military edifices dating from many different eras, between which are secreted numerous fountains and
stone wash-houses. Despite this abundance of historic
and cultural marvels, the town’s most emblematic
monument is undoubtedly the renowned Gruta de las
Maravillas, a natural limestone cavern complete with
stalagmites, stalactites, crystalline formations and even
a subterranean lake. The accommodation offered by
Finca Valbono consists of a traditional farmhouse reAccommodation type
Three-star country hotel and self-catering
accommodation
visitor services and activities
• Information about activities in the area.
• Contact with companies offering active
tourism (walking, cycle touring and horse
trekking).
• Pets are welcome (only in the selfcatering apartments).
• Restaurant offering traditional local
cuisine.
Languages
English
furbished as a small country hotel, with six bedrooms
and a restaurant offering cuisine typical of this mountain enclave, as well as 21 fully equipped self-catering
apartments. Among the facilities available to guests are
a swimming pool — in season — and various sports
courts. Both the centuries-old alquería (an Arab word,
Location
Aracena (Huelva)
Carboneras road, km 1.2
Coordinates: 37° 54’ 16’’ N, 6° 33’ 20’’W
Capacity
• Hotel Rural: 6 rooms, sleeping 12
• 21 apartments, sleeping from 2 to 5
70-cover restaurant
signifying a small farmhouse surrounded by agricultural land) and the apartments are attended to meticulously by the staff, while the restaurant offers a splendid selection of local dishes, albeit updated to suit
modern-day tastes. Guests may also consult a wide
range of books about this protected area in the library.
• TV in the apartments
• Telephone in the hotel rooms and
apartments
• Minibar in the hotel rooms
• Wi-Fi in the communal areas
• Swimming pool
• Sports courts (padel tennis, football, etc.)
• Kitchen in the apartments
• 1 apartment has been adapted for use by
people with limited mobility.
Open
All year round, except June
Facilities
• Restaurant, bar
• Lounge
• Terrace
• Library
• TV in the hotel communal areas and
rooms
Prices
• Hotel rural: 85 €/night
• Apartments: 89 €/night (for 2 people);
140 €/night (for 4 people)
Contact details
Tel.: 959 12 77 11
[email protected]
www.fincavalbono.com
SIERRA DE ARACENA Y PICOS DE AROCHE NATURAL PARK
41
ALMA NATURA
In autumn 2009, five hotels ‘with charm’ in the Sierra
de Aracena & Picos de Aroche Natural Park started to
offer their clients the possibility of participating for
free in a range of excursions and visits to this reserve.
This is the first time that this idea — christened the
Green Experience — has been put into practice in Andalusia. Credit must go to Alma Natura, which both
suggested the project to the hotels involved and
promised to run it.
This eagerness to innovate has accompanied
Alma Natura since it was set up at the end of the
1990s, growing from the seed of a socio-cultural association in Arroyomolinos de León, one of the almost
thirty municipalities in the Natural Park. At that time
they were pioneers, at least in Huelva Province, for developing a project which integrated different perspectives, such as active tourism, environmental education and socio-cultural dynamism.
Alma Natura now has ten staff plus a huge team
of collaborators who operate their varied offer of
tourist, educational, cultural and training activities
that include hiking, canoeing, mountain biking, horse
visitor services and activities
• Environmental education. Guided routes
and interpretation workshops, schoolgroup activities, observation of fauna and
flora, group camps and fungus forays.
• Active tourism. Hiking, aquatic sports,
treasure hunts, traditional games,
introduction to nature, mountain biking,
horse-riding routes, canoeing and archery.
riding, treasure hunts, traditional games and introduction to nature, as well as special programmes for
companies and schools.
Although the Sierra de Aracena is the principal
centre of these activities, other protected areas in Andalusia have also been included over the last few years.
This is the case in the Sierra Norte de Sevilla Natural
Park, where since 2006 the company has run the majority of the visits to witness the autumn Red Deer rut.
In parallel, Alma Natura has used its extensive
professional experience to set in motion a line of work
• Training. Tailor-made courses for
children, adults, specialists and company
executives.
• Activities for companies. Traditional
festivals, outdoor activities, country
breaks, etc.
• Cultural and entertainment activities.
Thematic routes, magic shows, theatre,
exhibitions, story-telling and workshops.
42
Material/equipment provided
Documentation and educational material
for schools. The aim is to provide all Green
Experience clients with walking sticks, an
idea that Alma Natura is developing in
collaboration with various hotels in the
Sierra de Aracena & Picos de Aroche
Natural Park.
ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
aimed at promoting the creation of new companies
offering tourist and cultural services in the Sierra de
Aracena area.
A good example of its commitment towards sustainable tourism is the provision of free bags for all
participants in the majority of the activities they organise. During the excursions, these are used by the
participants to collect the litter, thereby helping to improve the conservation status of the places visited on
the walks or where the activities are being undertaken.
Languages
English
Open
All year round
Official endorsements
• ISO 9001
• Andalusia Natural Park Brand
• Park Information Point
Contact details
Puente del Chorrero s/n
21280 Arroyomolinos de León (Huelva)
Tel.: 959 19 77 29 / 680 98 36 42
[email protected]
www.almanatura.es
CASA VENERA
Situated in the lee of the hill known as Picote, on the
banks of the River Jabugo, Casa Venera is part of a
farmstead, fed by the bubbling spring of El Venero,
from which it takes its name. Access to the estate is
via an evocative trail that climbs through a thick forest of Holm Oaks and Sweet Chestnuts into the heart
of the Sierra de Aracena. Casa Venera lies near the
small village of Castaño del Robledo, whose name is
indeed suggestive of the abundant Sweet Chestnuts
and oaks — Pyrenean, Holm and Cork — that clothe
the slopes here, forming one of the most extensive
and best-conserved forests in the region.
The whole ethos of both the farm (fruit, vegetables and livestock) and the casa rural has been developed according to strict ecological and bioclimatic
principles. The building that houses Casa Venera
blends into its surroundings perfectly, and has been
constructed in the traditional architectural style of the
region, using materials such as natural stone, lime and
adobe. In addition, its day-to-day operation is entirely
dependent on renewable energy sources (solar panels for electricity and hot water, and biomass bricks
Accommodation type
Simple self-catering accommodation
visitor services and activities
• Information about the region.
• The proprietors can put their guests in
contact with local companies offering
rural tourism and adventure activities
(trekking, fungal forays, horse-riding
routes, cycling itineraries …).
• Natural therapies (sessions offering reiki,
relaxation, meditation ...).
• Guided tours of the farm’s organic fruit
and vegetable plots.
for heating). Grey waters, previously sanitised by an ecological treatment plant, are
nowadays reused to water
shrubs and hedges around
the farm.
The house comprises a
ground floor and an upstairs
area known locally as a doblao.
The accommodation, consisting of four double bedrooms, a
lounge-dining room, kitchen
and two bathrooms, is located on the ground floor. Additional space is available in the doblao, where guests
can take part in the many courses and workshops offered by the farm, including yoga, relaxation, massage,
reiki, environmental studies and permaculture.
Casa Venera is one of several enterprises operated by the association Era Venera, which has also initiated a number of other interesting projects, such as
the restoration and promotion of the Ruta del Contrabando (Smugglers’ Route) with neighbouring Portu-
• Guided walks around the various
ecosystems of the farm (including
interpretation of the landscape,
observation of the flora and fauna …).
• Birdwatching excursions. A hide and a
bird feeding station have been set up in
the grounds to facilitate photography
(mainly passerines).
• Courses and workshops (alternative
therapies, organic agriculture,
environmental education …).
• Pets are welcome.
gal. It is also part of the Andalusian Seed Network. In
order to expand their facilities, and to better attend
to their foreign guests, the proprietors of Casa Venera
are currently learning English. In addition, they intend
to install a display cabinet, in which to exhibit and
market both local artisan goods and produce from
their own fruit and vegetable plots. In order that
guests can observe, learn about and photograph
birds on the farm without disturbing them, they are
also constructing a hide in the grounds.
• Bathing/swimming area
• Access for people with limited mobility
• Hide for bird observation and
photography
Open
All year round
Location
Castaño del Robledo (Huelva)
Finca El Venero, Camino Real from Castaño
del Robledo to Jabugo, km 0.8
Coordinates: 37º 53’57.97”N, 6º 42’50.80”W
Official endorsements
Park Information Point
Capacity
4 rooms, sleeping 8
Facilities
• Fully equipped kitchen
• Organic fruit and vegetable plots
• Gardens
Prices
• From Monday to Thursday, by the room:
30 €/person/day (minimum 2 days).
• Weekends: whole house rental: 70 €/
person (minimum 4 people).
Contact details
Tel.: 959 50 12 03 / 686 25 84 26
[email protected]
www.casavenera.com
SIERRA DE ARACENA Y PICOS DE AROCHE NATURAL PARK
43
FINCA MONTEFRÍO
Agrotourism might be the perfect word to define this
family farm, which rears Iberian Black Pigs in the traditional manner — by allowing them to roam free and
forage for acorns — and goats, chickens, ducks, rabbits
and a donkey or two. The farm is ideal for this purpose,
being located in the heart of an extensive wood-pasture of Holm and Cork Oaks (known as dehesa), near
the village of Cortegana, in the western sector of the
Sierra de Aracena, close to the Picos de Aroche.
The four houses available for rent at Finca Montefrío, each with its own personality, have been constructed using local building materials. Montefrío and
Misolete form part of the main structure of the original manor house, while La Morera and El Hornillo
— slightly detached, and thus more private — have
been adapted for use by people with limited mobility.
One of the features of the complex is a swimming
pool, much appreciated in the summer, especially by
guests who’ve been helping Lola and Armando on
Accommodation type
Superior selfcatering accommodation
the farm, making goats’-milk cheeses, collecting eggs
or harvesting organic vegetables from the allotment.
If guests prefer, however, they can just enjoy the
peace and quiet of the surrounding countryside, be
it by birdwatching, walking, admiring the scenery, cycling or simply absorbing a sense of wellbeing.
• Sale of organic produce from the farm.
• Pets are allowed, but please enquire
beforehand.
Finca Montefrío’s contribution to the development of sustainable respectful tourism is manifest in
the efforts made by its guests, whose very willingness
to learn about and join in with the work of the farm
engenders a special respect for, and appreciation of,
the countryside here.
Capacity
4 houses, sleeping 24
Facilities
• Organic farm
• Swimming pool
• Garden and barbeque
• Children’s playground
• Vegetable garden
• Two of the houses are provided with
access for people with limited mobility
• Open fire
visitor services and activities
• Guests can participate in on-site farm
activities such as milking the goats,
making cheese, collecting eggs, sowing
and harvesting vegetables, etc.
Languages
English and French
Open
All year round
Prices
According to the capacity of each house,
120-215 €/day (minimum stay 2 days)
• Study of the dehesa ecosystem, and the
extensive farming regime used to rear
Iberian Black Pigs.
• Ham-cutting courses.
• Information about the region, and the
various activities on offer (walking, cycle
touring, horse trekking, donkey rides,
culture, gastronomy …).
44
Official endorsements
• ‘Q’ quality tourism label
• Andalusia Natural Park Brand
Location
Cortegana (Huelva)
Finca Montefrío, Repilado to La Corte road,
km 3
Coordinates: 37º 56’ 30.83” N, 6º 48’ 0.70” W
ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
• Library dedicated to the Iberian Black
Pig, mycology (the study of fungi),
ornithology and walking in the region.
• TV
Contact details
Tel.: 959 50 32 51 / 666 75 68 75 /
670 79 15 79
[email protected]
www.fincamontefrio.com
PICADERO LA SUERTE
This horse-riding school is located in the La Suerte
estate in Galaroza, one of the most attractive villages
in the Sierra de Aracena & Picos de Aroche Natural
Park. It is a family-run business traditionally dedicated to the breeding and breaking-in of horses, but
now centres its activities on organising horse-riding
routes in the park led by guides accredited and
recognised by the International Federation of Equestrian Tourism.
The idea of the horse riding school was conceived
and then started up in the mid-1990s by Iluminado
Tristancho, and now it is his sons, Julio and Iluminado,
who currently run the business. Twenty horses are
available and the moderate altitudes of the Sierra de
Aracena are ideal for riding. Horses offer the opportunity to visit secret valleys or to ride along gentle
ridges giving stunning views of these mountains.
visitor services and activities
• Horse-riding routes. Group excursions in
the Sierra de Aracena & Picos de Aroche
Natural Park with horses specifically
trained and equipped for the activity and
terrain.
• Horse-riding classes. Year-round courses
given in a covered arena of 24 x 12 m and
in an open-air arena of 40 x 20 m.
• Professional training. Via contracts with
the Andalusian Ministry of Employment,
La Suerte offers numerous specialised
courses oriented towards professional
recruitment, for example, as an Equestrian
Tourism Assistant or blacksmith.
The family Tristancho also owns two rural guesthouses: La Suerte, located in the same estate as the
riding school, and Los Llanos, in the nearby village of
Valdelarco, one of just ten establishments with accommodation in the park that have received the Andalusia Natural Park Brand.
One of the keys of the success and prestige of
La Suerte in Andalusia is its eagerness to diversify.
Equestrian tourism is one example, but other activities include a programme of courses covering differing aspects of horse riding such as the training of
blacksmiths. Horses are also used as a means of therapy for people with special needs, both children and
adults. Collaboration with the cultural association
Lieva, also based in Galaroza, is based around the
conservation of local donkeys, including their daily
feeding and care.
• Specialised guides. Guides qualified and
recognised by the International Federation
of Equestrian Tourism (IFET), the British
Horse Society (BHS) and the Andalusian
Government.
Languages
English and French
Open
All year round
Contact details
Carril Cuesta Palero, s/n
21291 Galaroza (Huelva)
Tel.: 655 66 47 97 / 618 54 89 29
[email protected]
www.fincalasuerte.com
• Working with people with special needs.
Application of therapeutic techniques
based on the proximity and contact with
horses, for both children and adults.
Official endorsements
• Park Information Point
• Andalusia Quality Destination (Andalucía
Destino Calidad)
• Andalusia Natural Park Brand (for the
casa rural Los Llanos, in Valdelarco, Huelva
Province)
SIERRA DE ARACENA Y PICOS DE AROCHE NATURAL PARK
45
HOSTAL SIERRA TÓRTOLA
The Hostal Sierra Tórtola is situated in one of the least
known but most beautiful corners of the northern
sector of the Sierra de Aracena: the small and tranquil
settlement of Hinojales, close to the border of the
province of Badajoz and home to just 400 inhabitants.
Magnificent free-range cattle and Iberian Black
Pigs are reared in this land of Cork, Holm and Lusitanian Oak wood-pasture (dehesa), while many of
the olive groves of the region are managed in an
ecological fashion. Thanks to the extensive network
of public footpaths that criss-cross the area around
Hinojales, both these agricultural landscapes and
the thickly forested margins of the Ribera de Hinojales can be explored on foot, by bicycle or on
horseback.
Sierra Tórtola is located right in the centre of Hinojales, close to the fifteenth-century church of
Nuestra Señora de la Consolación. As well as accommodation, it has a bar and restaurant, where visitors can sample the exquisite cuisine of these
mountains: mouth-watering tapas of tentullos (as
boletus are called round here) or chanterelles,
picked in the wild by José Antonio, proprietor of
Accommodation type
Two-star rural hotel
visitor services and activities
• Information about the region (regional
festivals, gastronomy, heritage).
Sierra Tórtola, and idiosyncratically named cuts
— presa, secreto, carrillera or pluma — of delicious
pork from the Black Iberian Pigs of the region,
cooked to perfection by Mª Luisa.
At the right time of year, visitors can assist the
proprietors with their daily farm work in the surrounding countryside, and even participate in the
traditional pig-killing ceremonies. As an accredited
Natural Park Information Point, the hotel can also
provide detailed advice about visiting the Aracena
protected area and the province of Huelva in general.
The fact that the proprietors live just next door and
are always available to attend to their guests’ needs
adds to the charm of Sierra Tórtola; they have also
made every effort to provide access for people with
limited mobility.
Among the future projects of the Hostal are plans
to install a small shop, where visitors will be able to
purchase some of the tasty gastronomic delicacies of
the region — for example, a range of pork products,
or goats’-milk cheeses flavoured with rosemary —
and thus take a small piece of the Sierra de Aracena
home with them.
• Information about active tourism in the
areas (walking, cycle-touring).
• Help with the farm work.
• Traditional cuisine using typical local
produce.
Languages
English
Location
Hinojales (Huelva)
C/ Arriba, 6
Coordinates: 38º 0’ 30.17” N, 6º 35’ 17.81” W
Capacity
• 5 rooms, sleeping 10
• 40-cover restaurant
Open
All year round
Prices
Room: 42.80 €/night
Facilities
• Restaurant
• TV in rooms
• Internet in rooms
• One room has been adapted for use by
people with limited mobility.
46
ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
Official endorsements
Natural Park Information Point
Contact details
Tel.: 959 72 27 31
[email protected]
www.sierratortola.com
FINCA LA MEDIA LEGUA
A legua (league) is defined as the distance that a person or horse can travel, walking slowly, in the course
of one hour; in Spain this was fixed at twenty thousand pies, which is equivalent to 5,572.7 m. The
tourist apartments attached to Finca La Media Legua
are thus called because they lie at a point equidistant
between the settlement of Los Marines and the regional capital, Aracena, precisely half a league from
each.
Renowned for its silver mines, cured pork products, tanneries and prosperous cork industry, Aracena
— market town and livestock fair — is a thriving settlement with a detailed historical past. Los Marines is
tiny by contrast: a little-known cluster of dwellings
surrounded by a mosaic of terraced vegetable plots,
scaling the surrounding hillsides. The wines produced
from the vines grown in the north of Los Marines are
of certified organic origin, while at the southern margin
of the municipality, precipitous ridges rise to almost a
thousand metres, from where tumble numerous
streams (Buen Vino, El Membrillo, Fuente el Pero …)
whose waters irrigate this attractive agricultural landscape. During the fourteenth century, these lands
Accommodation type
Rural apartments, 2 keys
visitor services and activities
• Information about the region.
• Information about activities (walking,
horse trekking, fungus forays …) offered
by local companies.
were repopulated by people from Galicia and León
under the tutelage of the Marín brothers, after whom
this settlement is named.
The apartments of La Media Legua are set in a forest enclave, amid centuries-old Sweet Chestnuts, and
each is named after one of the many mountain
springs of the Sierra de Aracena. The complex is also
endowed with a spacious lounge, complete with an
open fire. In the communal area outside, guests can
make use of a wood-fired oven and barbeque, as well
as the swimming pool in summer; there is also a children’s playground, making the finca ideal for families.
Bicycles are available for hire on the estate, providing
• Bicycle hire.
• In autumn, guests can witness the
chestnut harvest.
• Sale of local organic produce.
• Pets are welcome.
the perfect means of transport for exploring the network of trails that leads into the surrounding countryside.
On show in the reception area of the complex are
a selection of delicious jams, honeys and other local
produce, all of which have been awarded the Andalusia Natural Park Brand, as well as a number of
other organic certifications and denominations of origin. Finca La Media Legua is also committed to the
study and conservation of the Sweet Chestnut groves
that have bequeathed their fruit, colour and cool
shade to the estate for so long, but which are now
threatened by modern agricultural practices.
Capacity
12 apartments (9 apartments with 1 double
room; 2 apartments with 2 double rooms,
and 1 studio apartment for 2 people): in all,
sleeps 28 (with supplementary beds
available for 12 more)
Facilities
• Each apartment has a fully equipped
kitchen
• Self-service washing machine and
tumble-drier in the office
• TV and Internet connection
• Swimming pool
• Garden with barbeque
• Wood-fired oven
• Children’s playground
Languages
English and Portuguese
Location
Los Marines (Huelva)
Finca la Media Legua
N-433 road, km 91.200
Coordinates: 37º 54’ 2.21” N, 6º 37’ 0.70” W
• One of the apartments is suitable for
people with limited mobility
Open
All year round
Prices
• Studio apartment: 75 €/night
• Two-person apartment: 97 €/night
• Four-person apartment: 140 €/night
Official endorsements
Park Information Point
Contact details
Tel.: 669 49 06 48 / 676 85 75 16
[email protected]
www.fincalamedialegua.es
SIERRA DE ARACENA Y PICOS DE AROCHE NATURAL PARK
47
View over the marshes and the vera near
the Palacio de Doñana in the heart of the National Park.
DOÑANA NATURAL SPACE
From the origins of conservation to a model of sustainable development
The marshes that accompany the final reaches of the great river Guadalquivir have long been known as one of Europe’s great havens for
wildlife. It should thus come as no surprise that the seeds of both the conservationist movement and zoological research in Spain were first
sown here. Since the day that the naturalist José Antonio Valverde first came to Doñana in 1952 and set in motion a campaign to save this
vast wilderness, Doñana has become one of the most actively protected areas in the whole of Spain. However, it has also been the scene of
an on-going struggle to evolve a model of sustainable development capable of resisting the threats to its integrity that emanate from its intensely humanised surroundings.
he lure of Doñana and its fauna dates back to the thirteenth century and the reign of King Alfonso X the Wise, who declared the
marshlands of Las Rocinas, a royal hunting estate. Thus, began the
history of protection of one of Europe’s most valuable natural areas,
an oasis of vital importance on the invisible corridor for fauna that
links Europe and Africa. The biodiversity of this enormous area is exceptional and reveals itself to even the casual visitor, above all, in its
impressive abundance of aquatic birds.
T
Where the Guadalquivir meets the Atlantic
Although it might be tempting to think that the origin of this wonderful region is lost in the mists of time, the Doñana we know today,
give or take a certain amount of human interference, is little different from the Doñana for which historical references exist. It was born
out of a natural process and sculpted by the winds, the sea and the
rivers, of all which have been at work here for little more than two
thousand years.
In the fourth century AC, Avieno described in his Ora maritima
how the river Tartessos flowed into the Gulf of Tartesico, a vast sealagoon that once reached as far as the modern-day town of La Puebla
del Río (Seville). The sands and other sediments brought down by
the rivers Tinto, Odiel, Piedras and Guadiana gradually silted up this
immense lagoon and formed a large tombolo, which eventually
closed off the estuary. From this point onwards, the silts and muds
carried by these rivers began to form the great marshlands, the natural foundation of Doñana.
Avieno and other classical writers popularised the legend of the
mysterious civilisation of Tartessos, which, according to the German
hispanist Adolph Schulten, was the first city-state to exist in Western
Europe. At the beginning of the twentieth century Schulten instigated
the famous excavations at El Cerro del Trigo, situated in the heart of
Doñana, that uncovered the remains of a Roman settlement he
claimed was built on the site of the mythical Tartessos. The debate
has been reopened recently in light of a series of fascinating satellite
images analysed by German scientists in 2003 and 2004 that show
a number of curious circular structures in La Marisma de Hinojos
(Huelva). The legend is thus now being re-evaluated given that recent evidence has forced scientists to reconsider the whole process
of formation of this sector of the Andalusian coastline. It now seems
possible that Doñana might not simply have succumbed to floods in
the past; rather, a succession of periods of floods followed by retreats in water levels may have been the general tonic, which would
have made these primitive settlements that have so captured our
imagination much more of a possibility.
The birth of the National Park
In 1952 the biologist José Antonio Valverde, the first to recognise
the importance of Doñana and to advocate its protection, set foot
for the first time in what was then, he recalled a few years later, a
“totally lost region”. Doñana and the Guadalquivir marshes were by
the mid-1950s a collection of large estates associated with the some
of the owners of the famous wine bodegas in Jerez de la Frontera. A
DOÑANA NATURAL SPACE
49
Aerial view of the dune front and a corral of Umbrella Pines.
visit to what was to become the Doñana Biological Reserve in the
heart of the future National Park meant travelling to Sanlúcar de
Barrameda, crossing the river and then travelling by mule around
40 kilometres to El Palacio, a seventeenth-century building built by
the Dukes of Medina Sidonia and centre of operations of the estate
owners.
The spark that was to set in motion the complex operation that
culminated in 1969 with the declaration of the Doñana National Park
was a visit to Valverde by the owner of one of the large marshland estates who was horrified at the Ministry of Agriculture’s plans to drain
and put the marshes under the plough. This was nothing new as in
the past projects had been mooted to, variously, introduce grazing
goats, use the marshes for military manoeuvres, cultivate rubber and
plant eucalyptus trees.
Thus begun a long campaign to collect funds and convince governments and institutions the world over of the need to save Doñana.
A European movement set up by naturalists linked to the WWF and
IUCN worked unceasingly until the Spanish Cabinet approved the
creation of the Doñana National Park, with an initial surface area of
35,000 ha, in August 1969.
The efforts of those involved was well worth it and what had once
been a hostile and an all-but forgotten region became in just a few
years one the most-admired natural protected areas in the whole of
Europe; its catalogue of 28 species of breeding mammal, 125 birds,
17 reptiles, 9 amphibians and 8 fishes were to be the new park’s best
asset and its principal allure.
50
ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
A landscape in motion
Two Doñanas co-exist: if the dry, sandy wastes are Atlantic in origin,
the marshes and muddy bottoms are the progeny of the great river
Guadalquivir. This duality has given birth to three characteristic but
ever-changing ecosystems at the mercy of the seasons, the marshes,
the dunes and the stabilised sands.
By the end of summer the cracked sun-parched soils of the saltcrusted wetlands shine brilliant white as they wait for the first autumn rains to transform this desert into a vast shallow lake, which
soon greens up as the first bulrushes and sedges begin to emerge.
In spring the browns of the exposed mud begin to appear again and
the full annual cycle is complete as summer imposes itself.
In the space between the seashore and the edge of the marshes,
the wind moves and moulds the dunes, only colonised by a few tufts
of Marram Grass, and buries the Umbrella Pines and junipers standing in the depressions at the leading edge of the advancing dunes.
These patches of vegetation, known as corrales, disappear and then
reappear as the dunes advance, leaving behind them the dead trunks
of the trees — known expressively as ‘crosses’ — that have fallen
victim to this ceaseless fluctuation.
The stabilised dunes and sands are the least changing landscape in Doñana, although the composition of the scrub that flowers there depends on the degree of environmental humidity. Lowlying areas known as the monte negro are dominated by
impenetrable masses of gorse and heather, while drier areas or
monte blanco are covered by swathes of rock-roses and Rosemary.
The contact zone between the scrub and marshes — the vera — is
a highly productive area of pastures frequented by Red and Fallow
Deer, domestic cattle and the Rabbits that are such a vital part of
the diet of the threatened Iberian Lynx and Spanish Imperial Eagle.
The majestic cork oaks that grow in this strip of great biodiversity
harbour Doñana’s renowned colonies or pajareras of European
Spoonbill, White Stork, Grey, Night and Squacco Herons and Little
and Cattle Egrets.
Doñana teems with life and there is no need to visit the strictly
protected Biological Reserve in the heart of Doñana, dedicated to research, to be able to appreciate its vast natural riches. In the Bonanza marshes near Sanlúcar de Barrameda (Cádiz), for example, it
is possible to get excellent views of the Greater Flamingos and Avocets that come to feed in these traditional salt-pans. Another option
is to cross the river from here and enter the pine woods of El Coto
del Rey where the provinces of Huelva and Seville meet to watch the
raptors that fill the skies; and here, a very lucky and patient visitor
just might get a quick glimpse of the elusive Iberian Lynx deep in the
thick scrub.
For those who prefer seascapes, the coastal zone between
Matalascañas and Mazagón (Huelva) boasts the dunes of El Asperillo, one of the most fragile and beautiful dune systems in the
(Left, top) Group of Greater Flamingos (Left, bottom) Glossy Ibis; this ibis’ best western European populations are in Doñana. (Centre) Purple Swamphen. (Right, top) Squacco
Heron, one of Doñana’s rarest herons. (Right, bottom) Iberian Lynx, the animal symbol of Doñana, despite being seriously threatened in the protected area.
whole of Andalusia. Declared a natural monument, these dunes
consist of accumulations of sand that in some places reach 100 m
above sea level. The Cuesta Maneli path, well-signposted and
equipped with steps and boardwalks that blend into the landscape,
allows visitors to visit the very edge of the dune cliffs and enjoy
this wonderful dune system without excessive effort. Not far inland
lie the Abalario lagoons, excellent examples of the small wetlands
that characterise this part of Doñana, which are visited, as is logical, by many aquatic birds.
Even those areas that have been transformed by human activity
still have a certain attraction. The rice paddies, for example, which
began to appear on the right bank of the Guadalquivir from the
1920s onwards and which today occupy 35,000 ha, have become
one of Doñana’s most important feeding sites for birds in summer
and dry winters. Another good example of this curious symbiosis is
the Veta la Palma estate, whose 11,000 plus ha occupy a sixth of the
surface area of the Natural Space. Although partly given over to agriculture and animal husbandry, Veta la Palma in the municipality of
La Puebla del Río (Seville) is famous for its aquacultural installations and few other places in the world can boast 3,200 ha of water
surface area devoted to fish and shellfish production. This permanent wetland is visited annually by thousands of birds, some such
as the Marbled Duck and Osprey in danger of extinction in Spain.
Winter bird censuses in wet years have thrown up figures of around
300,000 birds, a wonderful resource for the ornithological tourism
that in recent years has become another source of income for this
rather special estate.
A myriad of aquatic birds and refuge for threatened species
Even when there are many other things to see and do, the highlight
for visitors to natural protected areas is undoubtedly the fauna.
The Guadalquivir marshes are the most important wintering
grounds for aquatic birds in Europe. In good years such as the winter of 1988-1989, almost 700,000 birds are counted, although in recent years the average figure has remained around 370,000. Teal,
Wigeon, Mallard, Northern Shoveler, Great Flamingo and Greylag
Geese are the commonest birds in winter, whilst in spring many other
species such as Coot, Collared Pratincole, Lapwing, Black-winged
Stilt, Avocet, European Spoonbill, Purple Heron, numerous terns and
Cattle Egrets are all attracted by the abundance of food.
It is impossible to talk of the rarities that inhabit Doñana without
referring to two top predators of the Mediterranean landscape, the
Spanish Imperial Eagle and the Iberian Lynx, two of the most threatened vertebrates in the world and both endemic to the Iberian Peninsula.
An average of 15-16 pairs of Spanish Imperial Eagle bred in the
Doñana region up to the mid-twentieth century. However, from 1992
onwards the mortality rates of the species shot up quickly, above all
DOÑANA NATURAL SPACE
51
PRACTICAL INFORMATION AND PUBLIC FACILITIES
Doñana Natural Space
• Date declared. National Park: 28 October
1969; Natural Park: 28 July 1989. Doñana Natural Space (administrative structure that comprises the National and Natural Parks): 27 October 1999.
• Surface area. National Park: 54,252 ha; Natural Park: 53,835 ha.
• Provinces. National Park: Huelva and Seville;
Natural park: Huelva, Seville and Cádiz.
• Municipalities. National Park, HUELVA: Almonte, Hinojos; SEVILLE: Aznalcázar, La Puebla
del Rio.
Natural Park, CÁDIZ: Sanlúcar de Barrameda;
HUELVA: Almonte, Hinojos, Lucena del Puerto,
Moguer, Palos de la Frontera; SEVILLE: Aznalcázar, Isla Mayor, Pilas, La Puebla del Río, Villamanrique de la Condesa.
• ECST accreditation. 2006
• Other types of protection. National Park:
Biosphere Reserve, Ramsar Site, Special Protection Area for Birds, Site of Community Importance and World Heritage Site.
Natural Park: Biosphere Reserve, Ramsar Site,
Special Protection Area for Birds, Site of Community Importance.
• Contact details
Natural Space offices:
– El Acebuche
21760 Matalascañas (Huelva)
Tel.: 959 43 96 27
– C/Sevilla, 33, 1º
21730 Almonte (Huelva)
Tel.: 959 43 95 67
– Bajo de Guía Centre
Avda. de Bajo de Guía, s/n
11540 Sanlúcar de Barrameda (Cádiz)
Tel.: 956 38 64 10
[email protected]
Go to Ventana del Visitante at: www.juntadeandalucia.es/medioambiente/
http://reddeparquesnacionales.mma.es/parques/donana/index.htm
vISITOR FACILITIES
FÁBRICA DE HIELO VISITOR CENTRE
This centre is located in the fisherman’s quarter
of Bajo de Guía in Sanlúcar de Barrameda in a
restored building that was once headquarters
of the local fisherman’s guild and a factory for
making ice. On the first floor there is an exhibition on the significance of the Doñana Natural
Space and on the second floor an exhibition on
the history of the protected area and the lower
52
reaches of the Guadalquivir valley, with details
of the traditional uses and products of the
Doñana region and a chronological tour of its
history and territory.
• Location and contact details. Avda. de Bajo
de Guía, s/n. Sanlúcar de Barrameda (Cádiz).
Tel.: 956 38 65 77
• Services. Exhibition, audiovisual presentations, shop and terrace-viewpoint.
• Opening times. All year round. NovemberApril: 09-19; May, June, September and October: 09-20; July and August: 09-21.
• Access for people with reduced mobility
JOSÉ ANTONIO VALVERDE VISITOR CENTRE
Located in the heart of the marshes in the municipality of Aznalcázar, this visitor centre has
been designed to resemble one of the typical
chozas or huts that were once common in the
marshes. It is far from any of the local villages
and overlooks a restored lake and can only be
reached along dirt tracks, such that at certain
times of years visitors should check that the
tracks are passable. Nevertheless, it is a magnificent spot for observing water birds and
also boasts a large exhibition about the
ecosystem of the marshes and the way in
park and the how local people have traditionally
exploited the natural resources of the area.
• Location and contact details. El Rocío-Matalascañas road, km 12. Almonte (Huelva).
Tel.: 959 43 96 29
• Services. Exhibition, audiovisual and conference rooms, rest-room, waymarked paths, interpretation routes, guided visits, reservation
of activities, shop, café and picnic spot.
• Opening times. All year round. Winter: 08-15
and 16-19; summer: 08-15 and 16-21.
• Access for people with reduced mobility
LA ROCINA VISITOR CENTRE
This centre is close to the road linking the village of El Rocío with the town of Matalascañas
and its exhibitions illustrate the chozas, the traditional huts of the marshes, and the story behind the famous El Rocío pilgrimage. As well,
visitors will find information about the flora and
fauna of the protected area.
• Location and contact details. El Rocío-Matalascañas road, 1 km from El Rocío). Almonte
(Huelva). Tel.: 959 43 95 69
• Services. Audiovisual room, waymarked path,
car park.
• Opening times. All year round. 09-15 and 1619; 16 June to 15 September: 09-15.
BAJO DE GUÍA VISITOR CENTRE
Located in the Bajo de Guía quarter of Sanlúcar
de Barrameda, this centre offers visitors a broad
range of educational material about wetlands
in general and the wetlands of the province of
Cádiz in particular. In the top floor of the building there is an exhibition about the town of
Sanlúcar de Barrameda itself.
• Location and contact details. Avda. de Bajo
de Guía, s/n. Sanlúcar de Barrameda (Cádiz).
Tel.: 956 38 09 22
• Services. Exhibition, audiovisual presentations, shop.
• Opening times. All year round. October-May:
10-14; Easter week, public holidays and the eve
of public holidays, also open in the afternoon
16-18; June-September: 10-14 and 18-20. Mondays closed.
• Access for people with reduced mobility
ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
which the territory has been transformed by
human activity.
• Location and contact details. Aznalcázar
(Seville). Tel.: 671 56 41 45
• Services. Exhibition, audiovisual and conference room, bird observation points, shop and
cafe.
• Opening times. All year round. October-May:
10-18; June-September: 10-20.
• Access for people with reduced mobility
EL ACEBUCHE VISITOR CENTRE
Visitors to this visitor centre (municipality of Almonte) can watch live video feeds of the Iberian
Lynx from the nearby captive breeding centre.
As well, El Acebuche also has an exhibition on
the importance of the marshes in the conservation of migratory birds, and provides an introduction to the many ecosystems present in the
PALACIO DEL ACEBRÓN VISITOR CENTRE
Located in the heart of the Doñana Natural
Space, this visitor centre has been installed in a
mansion-palace dating from the mid-twentieth
century. Its exhibition Doñana and Man offers
visitors the chance to find out more about various aspects of the relationship between the inhabitants of the marshes and their environment. This exhibition also touches on the
evolution of other aspects of the territory such
as the new agricultural practices and tourism,
as well as cultural and religious traditions.
• Location and contact details. El Rocío-Matalascañas road (around 7 km from El Rocío). Almonte (Huelva). Tel.: 671 59 31 38
• Services. Exhibition and audiovisual rooms.
• Opening times. All year round. 09-15 and 1619; 16 June to 15 September: 09-15.
• Access for people with reduced mobility
LOS CENTENALES VISITOR CENTRE
Located on the outskirts of the town of Hinojos, next to the town park of Los Centenales,
this centre provides an overview of the forest
landscapes of Doñana — the pine forests and
the wood pastures — and the ecosystems of
the marshlands.
• Location and contact details. Hinojos-Almonte road (A-484), Hinojos (Huelva).
Tel.: 959 439 620
• Services. Exhibition rooms, audiovisual display.
• Opening times. All year round. OctoberMarch: 10-15 and 16-19; April-September: 1015 and 16-20.
• Access for people with reduced mobility
RECREATIONAL FACILITIES
PICNIC SITES
• El Arrayán, in Hinojos (Huelva). Access for
people with reduced mobility.
• Mazagón, in Moguer (Huelva). Access for
people with reduced mobility.
• Pinar de la Algaida, in Sanlúcar de Barrameda
(Cádiz).
PAThS AND TRAILS
A 25-km network of waymarked paths exists in
the protected area, of which the following are
some of the best for exploring the area:
• Cerro del Águila. This path begins around 10
km from Sanlúcar de Barrameda on the road towards agricultural colony of La Algaida. The
path runs through a forest whose pines and interesting understorey of Lentiscs, Savins and
other Mediterranean shrubs help stabilise the
coastal dunes. It begins next to the hide overlooking La Laguna de Tarelo. Length: 5.6 km.
Time: 2 h 30 min.
• Charco de la Boca. A route along the right
bank of a stream (Arroyo de La Rocina), where
there are four hides for birdwatchers. It begins
at La Rocina Visitor Centre. Length: 3.5 km.
Time: 1 h 30 min-2 h. Access for people with reduced mobility.
• Charco del Acebrón. This path circumnavigates an area where the Arroyo de La Rocina
widens out and walkers will be able to appreciate the great biological diversity of the gallery
woodland. The path also passes through pine
and Cork Oak woodland. Length: 1.5 km. Time:
1 h-1 h 30 min. Access for people with reduced
mobility.
• Laguna del Acebuche. A walk along the
southern shore of a lagoon that was restored in
the 1980s and which passes by seven hides giving excellent views of the water birds present.
This lagoon is an important breeding and resting point for birds. The path starts at El Acebuche Visitor Centre. Length: 1.5 km. Time: 1-2
h. Access for people with reduced mobility.
• Dune path. At the edge of the National Park
next to the tourist enclave of Matalascañas, this
path runs through the first embryonic line of
dunes and the main dune front, before heading for a corral where stands of Umbrella Pine
and Mediterranean scrub grow. It also reaches
an excellent vantage point over the beach and
dunes. This circuit can also be used to reach the
beach. Length: 1.5 km. Time: 1h-1 h 30 min.
OThER FACILITIES
HIDES
Aside from the hides and observation points already mentioned that visitors will come across
along the walks and the visitor centres, it is
worth highlighting the hide overlooking the la-
goon of Tarelo at the entrance to the La Algaida
pinewoods in Sanlúcar de Barrameda (Cádiz).
CYCLE-PATHS
There are currently two cycle paths in the
Doñana Natural Space and a further two are
planned for the near future. Cyclists can use
them to ride from Matalascañas to Mazagón,
through La Algaida pine forest (Sanlúcar de
Barrameda) or through the Hinojos pinewoods.
GUIDED vISIT SERvICES
• Route through the interior of the protected
area (Acebuche-La Plancha-Acebuche).
This 79-km route in 4WD is run by the Sociedad
Cooperativa Andaluza Marismas del Rocío.
Moguer
Tel.: 959 43 04 32 / 959 43 04 51
www.donanavisitas.es
• River trip from Sanlúcar de BarramedaGuadalquivir-Doñana.
Cruise along the Guadalquivir starting in Bajo
de Guía (Sanlúcar de Barrameda), organised by
the company Cristóbal Anillo, S. L.
Tel.: 956 36 38 13
www.visitasdonana.com
• As well, guided routes can be organised by
any of the private companies working in
Doñana, many of which are included in this
guide book. Possible visits include excursions
to Coto del Rey-Marismas, the Moguer trail and
the protected areas of Arroyo de La Rocina, El
Abalario-Asperillo and La Algaida.
Hinojos
7
Almonte
Villamanrique
de la Condesa
6
El Rocío
5
Isla Mayor
A-494
3
4
A-483
Matalascañas
1
Fábrica de Hielo Visitor Centre
2
Bajo de Guía Visitor Centre
3
José Antonio Valverde Visitor Centre
4
El Acebuche Visitor Centre
5
La Rocina Visitor Centre
6
Palacio del Acebrón Visitor Centre
7
Los Centenales Visitor Centre
Trebujena
Hides
0
5
10
15
km
1
Sanlúcar de Barrameda
2
1
47
A-
A-471
DOÑANA NATURAL SPACE
53
From left to right: marshes and town of El Rocío; aerial view of the mouth of the river Guadalquivir at Sanlúcar de Barrameda; dawn in Umbrella Pine woodland.
due to adults being killed by poisoning. The number of pairs fell to
just half and scientists raised the alarm, voicing their fears that the
species was in danger of becoming extinct. Fortunately, since then
the recovery plan set up in 2006 has helped halt this decline and the
number of chicks born in Doñana has increased substantially; as
well, the number of adult breeding pairs is once again set to reach a
minimum of 10-12 pairs.
The situation of the Iberian Lynx is somewhat more complex. At
the beginning of the century in Doñana this carnivore was systematically hunted, with up to seven lynx being shot on occasions in just
one day! Furthermore, the alteration of this feline’s main habitat in recent decades and, above all, the fall in rabbit numbers due to disease has reduced the world population of this lynx — the most
threatened feline in the world — to less than 300 animals, shared
between Doñana and the eastern Sierra Morena. According to estimates Doñana is home to less than 40 wild lynx, but in a captive
breeding centre kittens are being born that will be reintroduced into
the former territories of the species.
The new Doñana
Whilst the ecological framework of Doñana is more or less secure
under the umbrella of the protected areas, pressure from the outside is not diminishing and every now and again questionable projects, for example the coastal road from Huelva to Cádiz cutting
through protected landscapes and the Costa Doñana tourist complex of 20,000 hotel beds on top of the park’s main aquifer, raise
their heads. In 1992 the Andalusian autonomous government, with
the help of an international committee of experts, helped resolve
these tensions by creating a sustainable development plan for the
Doñana region, an initiative that to date has led to many millions of
euros of new investment aimed at improving infrastructures and laying the basis for a new type of progress.
This is the origin of the new Doñana, which will involve necessarily the creation of a new local identity since Doñana is shared between three provinces — Huelva, Seville and Cádiz — and the towns
54
ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
of the area have always been somewhat awkwardly interconnected.
Today, the Doñana comarca or region as such is still emerging and to
date agglutinates in a surface area of close on 300,000 ha a total of
14 municipalities inhabited by just over 165,000 people.
In light of the mining accident at Aznalcóllar in 1998 that threatened some of Doñana’s most ecologically important areas, a largescale hydrological restructuring is being carried out that aims to restore the former natural dynamics of the marshlands. Above all, the
idea is to remove all the physical barriers that have been constructed
over the years and thus guarantee that the streams and main
branches of the rivers will once again flood the Doñana marshes with
good-quality water.
It seems that a formula has been found that ensures both the
preservation of Doñana’s unique natural sites and species and the
economic growth of the villages and towns of the region. Otherwise, for there is nowhere else in the whole of Spain where this
has occurred, there is no way to explain how, despite all the accumulated tensions, almost 50 kilometres of virgin coastline have
been preserved intact. This vast stretch of coast includes areas
that lie outside the protected areas, for example around the beach
enclave of Matalascañas, where today only low impact alternative
tourist facilities such as the Parque Dunar, the Marine World Museum and an ecological golf course are being contemplated. At the
same time, the intensive farming that requires vast amounts of
water and chemical fertilisers are gradually giving way to burgeoning ecological agriculture. Nature tourism is also gaining
ground, not only inside the protected areas (which receive
400,000 visitors annually), but also in many interesting sites in
the area surrounding Doñana.
The threats hanging over Doñana have not disappeared, although the impact of global climate change is now more of a worry
than the possible construction of a road or an unsustainable holiday
complex; today the hope exits that the some of the characteristic elements of the ‘new’ Doñana will bring back a spirit of optimism to
the region. HACIENDA OLONTIGI
The town of Aznalcázar lies about 27 km from Seville,
in the southern sector of the region of El Aljarafe, a
goodly part of which lies within the freshwater wetlands of the lower reaches of the river Guadalquivir,
and encompasses some of Doñana’s most emblematic landscapes. Located in the heart of this evocative
marshland ecosystem, Hacienda Olontigi is a complex
of self-catering rural accommodation that takes its
name from the Celtiberian epithet for Aznalcázar,
which was later adopted by the Romans. The long and
complex history of the region is also evidenced by the
logo of the establishment — an elephant depicted on
a Cathaginian coin, which was found in the vicinity of
the village.
Hacienda Olontigi was originally a series of livestock corrals, which have been converted to provide
five self-contained cottages, containing a total of 15
bedrooms; guests can rent either a room or a whole
house. Each house possesses a fully equipped kitchen
Accommodation type
Superior self-catering accommodation
Visitor services and activities
• Information about the Doñana protected
area.
• Contact with companies offering activity
tourism in the area (mountain biking,
walking, guided 4WD routes, horse
trekking, birdwatching itineraries, etc.).
• Sale of local produce and craftwork.
• Guide dogs are welcome.
and a lounge with an fireplace, and is decorated in
typical Andalusian fashion. The five houses are
Location
Aznalcázar (Seville)
C/ Ventorro, 23
Coordinates: 6º 14’ 49’’ N, 37º 18’ 19’’W
arranged around a central courtyard containing a
swimming pool and gardens, for the sole use of
guests, as well as a multi-purpose room that also
serves as a restaurant, where guests can sample
dishes typical of the region.
Guests are provided with a wide range of information about the surrounding area, including maps,
as well as details of companies that offer activity
tourism in the region.
Among a number of quality accreditations, Hacienda Olontigi has been awarded the Doñana 21
Brand, indicating the commitment of the company
both to the protected area and to responsible environmental practices in the day-to-day running of the
establishment.
Future plans include the creation of a library dedicated to the Doñana protected area, and the promotion and sale of local gastronomic and artisan products.
• Communal multi-purpose room
• Library
• Wi-Fi
• Each house comprises 3 separate ensuite bedrooms, lounge with a fireplace,
fully equipped kitchen and TV in the
rooms
• Access to the communal areas and one
of the houses is provided for people with
limited mobility
Official endorsements
• ISO 9001
• ISO 14001
• Doñana 21 Brand
• Park Information Point
Contact details
Tel.: 955 75 19 76
[email protected]
www.olont.com
Capacity
5 houses, 15 rooms in total, sleeping 33
Languages
English and French
Facilities
• Swimming pool
• Landscaped central courtyard
Open
All year round
Prices
Double room (with breakfast): 70 €/night
DOÑANA NATURAL SPACE
55
CÁMPING LA ALDEA
This state-of-the-art campsite, covering more than
58,000 square metres, is located just outside the village of El Rocío — the acknowledged nerve centre of
the Doñana Protected Area. Both plots for camping
and free-standing cabins are available, with the communal services including a swimming pool, cafeteriacum-bar, restaurant, a function room and a small supermarket. During the popular religious festival of El
Rocío, the campsite also offers stabling for the many
horses involved.
In addition to the 246 plots suitable for tents,
motor homes and caravans, a selection of cabins of
different types and capacities is also available, some
of which have been adapted for use by people with
limited mobility. Some of these are small wooden
chalets, while others are faithful reproductions of the
typical chozas (shepherds’ huts) of the Doñana
marshes, complete with white walls and roofs
thatched with heather.
Accommodation type
Class 1 campsite
visitor services and activities
• Information about the region.
• The campsite can put guests in contact
with companies offering activity tourism
(walking, horse trekking, 4WD routes, etc.).
• Sale of local produce and artisan goods.
• Pets are welcome, but only on the plots,
not in the cabins.
All, however, are equipped with everything you
might need to enjoy a comfortable stay in the country. On arrival, Cámping La Aldea provides guests
with a comprehensive dossier of practical informa-
Location
El Rocío (Huelva)
El Rocío road, km 25
Coordinates: 37º 14’ 28’’ N, 6º 49’ 11.64’’ W
Capacity
• 69 cabins, sleeps 300
• 246 plots, sleeps 740
• 61-cover restaurant
• 93-cover bar-cafeteria
• Function room, 274 people
Facilities
• Cafeteria, restaurant
• Swimming pool
• Function room
tion about the region (public amenities, sites of interest, opening times, maps, etc.), a leaflet about
good environmental practice and a plan of the
campsite itself.
• Supermarket
• Cloakrooms, washrooms, washing
machines and tumble-dryers
• Wi-Fi (must be paid for) available
throughout the site
• Cabins with TV, veranda and parking;
some with fully equipped kitchens
• 2 cabins modified so as to be suitable for
people with limited mobility
Open
All year round
Prices
• Camping plot (2 adults + tent/caravan +
car + electricity): 32 €/night
• Cabin (sleeps 2): 64 €/night
• Choza (sleeps 5): 150 €/night
Official endorsements
• ISO 9001
• ISO 14001
• Doñana 21 Brand
• Park Information Point
Contact details
Tel.: 959 44 26 77
[email protected]
www.campinglaaldea.com
Languages
English and French
56
• Sports court
• Stables
• Children’s playground
ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
DISCOVERING DOÑANA
In the 1990s the wildlife enthusiasts Marina and Claudio Manetti were captivated by Andalusia, particularly
Doñana, and so decided to leave their lives in Italy
and move to the village of El Rocío. Because they
wanted to share with others their fascination for the
park, they founded Discovering Doñana, with the intention of helping visitors to get to know Doñana
‘from the inside out’
Today José Antonio Sánchez has taken up the
reins of the company and with the assistance of a
group of specialist guides offers his experience to
travellers attracted by the natural wealth of Doñana.
Whether visitors simply wish to spend a few days enjoying the park’s wildlife or have more specialised requirements, such as birdwatching, photography or
botany, Discovering Doñana will provide both a guide
and an activity to meet their needs.
Each client, either individually or in a small group,
will have at their disposal both a vehicle and a drivervisitor services and activities
• Tailor-made tours. Discovering Doñana
designs each route according to the needs
of its clients: either general interpretation
of Doñana’s heritage or specialised
itineraries for the observation of birds,
plants and insects, for photography, etc.
All tours take place in a 4WD vehicle, with
the provision of high-quality binoculars,
telescopes and field guides, taking as
much time as is necessary for each activity.
cum-guide for as long as they need. Equipped with
the best field guides, binoculars and telescopes, visitors will have the opportunity to get to know Doñana
in the company of the best possible guide. In addition, the company can arrange transfers for visitors
from airports or hotels, and can provide advice as to
suitable accommodation in the area. With the desire
Discovering Doñana will carry out an
assessment of the accommodation and
activity options available in the area, as
well as devising tailor-made itineraries,
free of charge.
Open
All year round
Official endorsements
Park Information Point
to develop a truly sustainable form of tourism, Discovering Doñana conducts all its activities with a conscientious respect for the environment.
In addition to its customary routes, the company
will shortly start to organise other activities, specifically tailored to persons with special needs and learning disorders.
Contact details
C/ Águila imperial, 150 (postal address
only)
21750 El Rocío (Huelva)
Tel.: 959 44 24 66 / 620 96 43 69
[email protected]
www.discoveringdonana.com
Material/equipment provided
• Binoculars for each participant
• Telescopes
• Field guides
• Maps
• Holidays in El Rocío. The company
also offers its services to anyone who
wishes to spend a few days in El Rocío.
Languages
English and German
DOÑANA NATURAL SPACE
57
DOÑANA NATURE
One of the best ways of enjoying all of the many seasonally changing nuances of Doñana Natural Space
and its surroundings is to contact Doñana Nature and
ask them to organise a tailor-made excursion in the
north of this fabulous protected area. The company’s
philosophy ensures that organised groups are small,
thereby guaranteeing plenty of personal attention
and that each outing becomes a true adventure. It is
the group who decides whether it wants to visit and
study Doñana’s varied ecosystems, or whether it
wants to concentrate on birdwatching.
The equipment the company’s guides have with
them at all times guarantees that no one misses out
on the least detail of the wildlife that groups come
across. The specialist guides help visitors to identify
some of the region’s most typical birds by their song
or interpret mammal tracks left in the mud and sand.
These small-group guided walks are an excellent way
of discovering local wildlife, in particular the true stars
visitor services and activities
• 4WD routes. Visitors can choose between
half-day or whole-day excursions, or even
trips lasting a number of days, in a 4WD
with a capacity of up to four people. This
service is also provided for people on their
own. The departure point is always El
Rocío.
of Doñana, the birds. Visitors will get
the chance to see eye-catching birds
such as Greater Flamingoes, Eurasian
Spoonbills, Purple Swamphen,
herons and many other wetland
species.
For those who also want to immortalise their visits on film, photographic walks are the best option.
Guides will take visitors to the best
places in Doñana for photographing
wildlife and, above all, its wetland
birds. And for those who are just beginners, Doñana Nature offers its
clients photographic courses run by
a specialist company right in the heart of the park.
Doñana Nature also caters for larger groups simply looking to spend a relaxing day in the countryside
and offers the possibility of being taken around all the
• Photographic courses. Doñana Nature
also offers visitors the chance to learn how
to photograph flora and fauna in the wild.
Using a camera in such a diverse and
spectacular area is a real treat!
best known parts of the park, with a stop at a former
ranger’s house near Palacio del Rey and a open-air
brunch prepared by a local caterer’s included in the
price.
Languages
English
Open
All year round
Contact details
C/ Las Carretas, 10
El Rocío (Huelva)
Tel.: 959 44 21 60 / 630 97 82 16
[email protected]
www.donana-nature.com
• Excursion with brunch included. For
groups of 12 or more, Doñana Nature
offers a combination of wildlife and
gastronomy. The brunch is organised by a
caterer’s and is served in a former ranger’s
house near Palacio del Rey.
58
Material/equipment provided
• Binoculars (one pair between two)
• Telescope (one between seven)
• Educational material for schools
ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
Official endorsements
• Andalusia Natural Park Brand
• Doñana 21 Brand
DOÑANA RESERVAS
In 2007 two companies, Doñana Ecuestre and Marismas de Doñana, each with almost 20 years of experience in nature tourism in the Doñana Natural Space,
decided to join forces and create a new company,
Doñana Reservas, that would offer improved services
to their clients. Their main activity consists of organising guided visits within the Doñana Natural Space
that provide visitors with chance to get to know two
of Doñana’s most important ecosystems, the Mediterranean forest and the marshes, during excursions into
El Coto del Rey and La Marisma Norte, two of the best
loved areas of Doñana.
Visitors are driven in 4WD vehicles through areas
of the Natural Space alive with large mammals such
as Red and Fallow Deer and Wild Boar, which share
habitat with the almost 200 species of bird that at one
time or another in the year — but above all on passage and in winter — stop in at the marshes. The
guided routes also pass through the habitat of the
visitor services and activities
• 4WD routes. These routes visit the
northern part of Doñana in a trip that
lasts fours hours and covers almost 40 km
of terrain, passing through some of the
park’s principal habitats and offering the
chance to enjoy activities such as
birdwatching.
Iberian Lynx, the mammalian jewel in Doñana’s crown
that the occasional lucky group guided by Doñana
Reservas has actually managed to spot.
The main stop on the tour, lasting around 20 minutes, is at the José Antonio Valverde Visitor Centre, one
of the Natural Space’s reception centres, and named
after the naturalist whose efforts were of such vital importance in the protection of Doñana. This centre provides one of the best views over the marshes and a
good opportunity to indulge in a spot of birdwatching. With advice from the specialist guide, as well as a
little help from a pair of binoculars, a telescope or a series of illustrations, visitors will be able to identify some
of Doñana’s most characteristic species of birds.
Visitors looking for a more restful activity might
choose the option offered by Doñana Reservas that
combines a shorter route in vehicle and a ride in a
horse-drawn carriage, during which visitors are offered a selection of typical local tapas.
• Horse-riding routes. This is the speciality of
Doñana Ecuestre, one of the two companies
that merged to form Doñana Reservas. This
activity can be booked for just an hour or for
a whole day, during which riders visit the
area surrounding the Natural Space.
Besides aiming to raise awareness amongst
clients regarding the importance of preserving natural areas such as Doñana, the company is also actively
involved in the defence of the environment and provides information on how to collaborate with NGOs
such as the World Wildlife Fund and BirdLife International that are involved in the protection of the Natural Space and its birds.
small exhibition about the park and also
sells local rice, honey, oil and horse-riding
equipment, amongst other products.
• Litoral de Doñana-Torre Almenara
Museum. It is well-worth visiting this
fascinating museum that is located right
Material/equipment provided
• Six large 4WD vehicles with seats for over
100
• Binoculars (one pair between two)
• Telescope (one in each vehicle)
• Guides to the local fauna in English,
French, German and Portuguese
Languages
English
Open
All year round
Official endorsements
• Andalusia Natural Park Brand
• Park Information Point
• Horse-drawn carriages. Those who are
looking for a more relaxing way of
spending their time can opt for this
traditional form of transport, which can
also be combined with a trip in a 4WD.
• Exhibition and shop. In their reception
point in El Rocío, the company has set up a
on the beach in the holiday enclave of
Matalascañas; displays show how the
dunes and beaches were formed and
describe the animals and plants that live
there. As well, there is also a small
enclosure with a number of Spur-thighed
Tortoises in captivity.
Contact details
Avda. de La Canaliega s/n
21750 El Rocío (Huelva)
Tel.: 959 44 24 74
[email protected]
www.donanareservas.com
DOÑANA NATURAL SPACE
59
SOCIEDAD COOPERATIVA MARISMAS DEL ROCÍO
Doñana was officially declared a National Park in 1969
and several local people, who were already working in
the reserve in various guises such as collecting pine
nuts, bee-keeping or in forestry, decided to form a
business to provide services for the visitors who
started to arrive. In 1980, seven of these workers
formed the Sociedad Cooperativa Marismas del Rocío
(El Rocío Marshes Cooperative Society) with the help
of and in consultation with Icona (the Spanish equivalent of the Forestry Commission and the reserve
managers at that time) and Almonte Town Hall
(Huelva). Following a recruitment programme, they
then became the first park guides.
Few visitors came at first, particularly since
Doñana was only really known among birdwatchers,
many of whom were foreigners. The cooperative’s
founders persisted, however, despite having to mortgage their homes to raise funds for the first tourist vehicles! Time has passed and today some 50,000 visivisitor services and activities
• Guided 4WD routes. The Sociedad
Cooperativa Marismas del Rocío vehicles,
the only ones permitted into the heart of
Doñana, leave from the visitors’ centre at
El Acebuche. Twice-daily departures leave
morning and afternoon and follow a
single, almost circular 70-km route for four
hours, with the most spectacular part
being the run down the largest remaining
untouched beach in Spain.
tors now visit the National Park every year with Marismas del Rocío, and this growth in demand has logically also obliged the cooperative to grow and increase its numbers accordingly. Today’s guides are
now specialised to provide better service to both
Spanish and foreign visitors (the latter forming almost
10 % of the total).
• Gifts and bookshop. Local crafts from the
Doñana area and books relating to the
National Park and wildlife in general are
available.
Currently, among the many companies dedicated
to wildlife tourism in the Doñana area, Marismas del
Rocío is the only one which has an administrative concession to undertake vehicular routes within the National Park. The company boasts a fleet of 11 special
4WD vehicles — robust, converted buses — which
have now become part of the Doñana landscape.
Each is driven by an expert guide who explains the
principal characteristics of the different ecosystems
traversed by the route: dunes, beach, riverbank,
woodland, scrub and marshland.
A wide variety of animals such as Red and Fallow
Deer, Wild Boar, Spanish Imperial Eagle and other raptors, and a large variety of waterbirds, may be encountered during the visits, either while on the move
or during the periodic stops. The start and finish of
these trips is El Acebuche, Doñana Natural Space’s
main visitor centre, located 13 km south of El Rocío, in
the Matalascañas direction.
Material/equipment provided
• Eleven 4WD vehicles (with four kept in
reserve), with capacity for up to 20
passengers per vehicle
Languages
English and Dutch (routes)
English, Dutch, German and Portuguese
(information)
Open
All year round, except during the El Rocío
festival
Official endorsements
• ISO 9001
• ISO 14001
• Doñana 21 Brand
• Andalusia Natural Park Brand
• Park Information point
Contact details
Centro de Visitantes El Acebuche
Road A-483, km 37.5 (between El Rocío
and Matalascañas)
Tel.: 959 43 04 32
[email protected]
www.donanavisitas.es
• Visit to El Acebuche Visitor Centre. In
addition to the series of bird hides in the
centre’s surroundings, live images from
the nearby Iberian Lynx captive breeding
programme can be watched on screens.
60
• Ecological produce sales. The café of El
Acebuche offers seasonal ecologically
produced goods, such as asparagus,
strawberries or honey, as well as typical
local dishes.
ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
• Information leaflet, with
recommendations for the visit and
silhouettes of the most frequently
observed fauna in the park
• Binoculars (available for hire)
INCENTIVOS DOÑANA
More companies than ever are offering their workers
motivation courses based around leisure activities,
and Incentivos Doñana was started by Miguel Campos in the early 1990s to attend to this growing demand. Located in the town of El Rocío in Doñana Natural Space, the surroundings clearly offer the
potential for a highly varied and attractive range of
activities in a superb natural setting.
Although companies may be its principal clients,
Incentivos Doñana also organise tailor-made routes
for groups. The experience gaining during years of
work with companies is their greatest strength as the
around 50 companies who have had the pleasure can
testify. Indeed, most come back for more. A minimum
group size of twenty is required, with transfers in
coaches to and from hotels after the day’s excursions.
Apart from the pre-designed activities, groups
also have the option to create their own activities.
Four-wheel drive routes across the Guadalquivir
marshes, routes along the Doñana beach or even hotair balloon trips are some examples of the activities
requested, although other more curious demands
have been made. In one such case, Miguel Campos
had to contact the owner of some strawberry fields
to give a talk to visitors before a strawberry-picking
session. This type of activity is more typical of foreign
visitors who want to ‘get their hands dirty’.
Incentivos Doñana has recently started up a new
speciality: the organisation of activities for people
with reduced mobility. The first trip involved a group
of blind children, who were led through the countryside on a horse-drawn carriage and then rode horses
on one of the estates in El Rocío. Following the success of this initiative, many more are sure to be
planned.
Visitor services and activities
• 4WD routes. These routes are made
through various parts of the Doñana area,
but particularly aim to explore the park’s
ecosystems including the Guadalquivir
marshes and Doñana beach. Some of the
itineraries finish in Sanlúcar de Barrameda,
an ancient city and key sea port for
Christopher Columbus’ journeys.
• Agrotourism. Visits to a strawberry
farm.
• Activities for people with mobility or
learning difficulties. This is a new product
aimed at both adults and children who
have mobility or learning difficulties.
Open
All year round (except during the El Rocío
festival week)
• Tailor-made routes. Routes can be
designed around what the group wants to
see and where it wants to go.
• El Camino de El Rocío. This activity aims to
recreate the El Rocío romería (pilgrimage
across the park) at any time of the year: it
is thus not necessary to wait until May to
experience this pilgrimage.
Material/equipment provided
• Coaches
• Binoculars (for hire in the National Park)
Contact details
C/ Mesón, 25 (postal address only; no
office)
21870 Escacena del Campo (Huelva)
Tel.: 959 42 35 11 / 959 42 30 20 /
608 50 83 21
[email protected]
www.incentivosdonana.net
Languages
A translator can be provided for every
group
Official endorsements
Park Information Point (in progress)
DOÑANA NATURAL SPACE
61
CASA RURAL LOS PINOS
The self-contained apartments of Los Pinos are located in Hinojos, in the El Condado region of Huelva.
A good part of this municipality lies within the
Doñana protected area and the people of these seasonally flooded lands pride themselves on their deeprooted marshland customs and traditional way of life.
At the moment, the accommodation offered by
Los Pinos consists of four newly built two-storey
apartments, each of which contains two bedrooms, a
fully equipped kitchen and air conditioning, and is
able to sleep a maximum of five people. As the complex is in the process of expansion, more units will be
available shortly.
The establishment provides its guests with information about Doñana and can also acquaint them
with the full range of active tourism companies operating in the region. In addition, Los Pinos offers a variety of equestrian activities, such as excursions
through the park in horse-drawn carriages.
Accommodation type
Simple self-catering accommodation
visitor services and activities
• Information about the protected area.
• Contact with companies offering activity
tourism in the area (4WD itineraries,
birdwatching routes).
• Mountain-bike hire.
• Excursions in horse-drawn carriages
around Doñana.
• Picnics.
• Pets are welcome.
Because Los Pinos has received the Andalusia Natural Park Brand accreditation, it is committed to continually improving its performance, both socially and
environmentally. It has already been fitted with solar
panels, which heat the water, and imminent improvements include the modification of all existing and fu-
Location
Hinojos (Huelva)
Hinojos to Almonte road, km 1
Coordinates: 37º 17’ 13’’ N, 6º 23’ 03’’W
Capacity
4 apartments, sleeping 16
Languages
English and Portuguese
ture apartments so as to provide access for people
with limited mobility, as well as adopting measures to
increase their energy efficiency. Los Pinos is also trying to develop new forms of equestrian tourism, as
well as promoting the sale of locally produced merchandise — principally saddlery and olive oils.
Facilities
• Dining room for guests
• Wi-Fi
• Each apartment contains two double
rooms, a fully equipped kitchen
and TV
• Horses can be stabled in the grounds
• The ground floor of one of the
apartments is suitable for people with
limited mobility
• One of the horse-drawn carriages has
been modified for use by people with
limited mobility
Open
All year round
Prices
30 €/person/day
Official endorsements
Andalusia Natural Park Brand
Park Information Point
Contact details
Tel.: 959 45 95 00 / 629 84 60 94 /
615 74 47 53
[email protected]
www.casaslospinos.es
62
ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
PLATALEA
After several years working in environmental and
cultural education, in 2006 Manuel Mojarro and
Diego Vázquez decided to start their own business.
Their company — Platalea — is named after one of
the most eye-catching and characteristic birds of
Doñana, the Eurasian Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia).
Their broad experience in the environmental sector has allowed these partners to design a very interesting range of activities, aimed at anyone keen to
discover more about the natural heritage of Doñana.
Schools make up a large part of their clientele, and
with the objective of making activities more interesting to children, guides ensure that their explanations
are entertaining, but also encourage students to discover the answers to the questions that arise for
themselves. All of the various itineraries they offer are
carried out on foot, in groups of no more than 25 children per guide.
visitor services and activities
• Itineraries for schools. Visits to the coastal
area of El Asperillo, the Interpretation
Centres of La Rocina and El Acebrón, the
lagoons of Ribetehilos, the pinewoods of
Hinojos and the village of El Rocío, all in
the Doñana protected area. Maximum 25
children per guide.
Recently Platalea has successfully inaugurated
two projects. One is the foundation of Huelva’s first
nature-lovers’ shop, which is located in their head-
• Environmental education workshops.
These are aimed at school groups and
teach students about the habitats and
wildlife present in the various protected
areas in the province of Huelva, as well as
the environmental problems that affect
the region.
quarters in the provincial capital. Among the merchandise on offer are books, equipment for field naturalists, organic produce and fair-trade goods. The
second new development is a portable digital planetarium, which can be transported to wherever it is
needed. Their most unusual job to date was a lecture in which they explained how birds orient themselves during migration by ‘reading’ the heavens
given at El Acebuche Visitor Centre in the Doñana
Natural Space in October 2009 to celebrate World
Bird Day.
Platalea also has two other projects planned. The
first consists of organising a series of talks and presentations of books about wildlife at their headquarters, in association with the ‘Club de Amigos de la Naturaleza y el Patrimonio’ (Friends of Wildlife and
Heritage). The second is the installation of recycling
points for used batteries and domestic oils in their
shop in Huelva.
• Literary workshops and animated
activities. Participants in these workshops
will step into the shoes of the characters of
the adventure tales and stories that they
perform.
Material/equipment provided
• Binoculars
• Telescopes
• Leaflets about the Doñana protected area
• For the educational programmes,
material provided by local authorities
Languages
English and German
Open
All year round
Official endorsements
• ISO 9001
• ISO 14001
• Park Information Point
• Birdwatching itineraries. Several different
itineraries led by an expert guide
designed to acquaint visitors with the
diverse bird communities that are present
in the region at different times of year.
• Guided routes to learn about the historic
and cultural heritage of the region. In
addition to its wildlife interest, the
province of Huelva possesses many
historical attractions that are worth a visit.
Contact details
C/ Pinta, 4
21003 Huelva
Tel.: 959 26 07 08 / 676 89 46 74
[email protected]
www.platalea.com
DOÑANA NATURAL SPACE
63
GRAN HOTEL DEL COTO
Gran Hotel del Coto is a modern building located in
Matalascañas, a well-known tourist enclave situated
in the coastal zone of the Doñana protected area. The
466-room complex can accommodate around a thousand guests, with on-site services ranging from shops
and a hairdressing salon to meeting rooms, sports facilities, swimming pools and a solarium, as well as extensive gardens overlooking the coast and a restaurant where guests can sample a wide range of local
dishes.
Rooms are furnished in a simple, functional manner, using pale colours and a minimalist style, in keeping with the light-filled environs of this hotel, designed make guests feel relaxed and at ease. The
décor of both the rooms and the communal areas celebrates the diverse flora and fauna of Doñana, a
theme that is omnipresent in the promotional material of the establishment, as well as in the information
provided about the protected area.
Accommodation type
Four-star hotel
visitor services and activities
• Information about the park (leaflets,
maps, etc.).
• Contact with companies offering active
tourism in the area.
• Sale of local merchandise.
• Traditional cuisine.
The hotel collaborates in the sustainable development of the region by providing employment for
local people and by making some of its facilities available to neighbourhood associations, as well as to volunteers carrying out conservation tasks in the park.
In the future the Gran Hotel del Coto intends to
adapt more of its rooms for use by people with limited
Location
Matalascañas (Huelva)
Sector D, Segunda Fase
Coordinates: 36º 59’ N, 6º 31’W
mobility, and hopes to set up an exhibit dedicated to
Doñana, attain the official Park Information Point accreditation and increase its level of sustainability by
installing equipment to conserve both water and energy. There are also plans afoot to devote more space
to the promotion and sale of organic produce and traditional artisan goods from the region.
• 3 swimming pools (one of which is
suitable for small children)
• Tennis courts
• Solarium
Languages
English, French, German, Swedish and
Catalan
• Communal areas and some rooms
adapted for people with limited mobility
• TV, telephone, minibar, safe deposit box
and internet connection in the rooms
Open
All year round (but closed from the
beginning of January to mid-February)
Capacity
• 466 rooms, sleeping 932
• 800-cover restaurant
Facilities
• Restaurant, bar and cafeteria
• Gym
64
ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
• Conference and meeting rooms
• Wi-Fi
• Laundry service
• Shops
• Hairdressing salon
• Garden
• Car park
Prices
Double room (with breakfast): 90 €/night
Contact details
Tel.: 959 44 00 17
direcció[email protected]
www.granhoteldelcoto.com
CAÑADA DE LOS PÁJAROS
Almost 25 years ago, a biologist couple, Plácido and
Maribel, decided to fulfil their dream of living in the
countryside and enjoying their passion: birds. A few
kilometres from La Puebla del Río in Seville Province
they found some land — in reality just an old gravel
pit — with a few water-filled hollows surrounded by
marsh vegetation — and lots of rubbish.
From the very first it was clear what they had to
do, since the estate, located in the environs of the
Doñana National Park, offered many possibilities.
After intensive clean-up work and restoration of the
vegetation, they were able to create a perfect wetland
for aquatic birds, above all for those wintering or migrant species which sheltered in the area or passed
through it annually.
Today, the Cañada de los Pájaros is a site boasting
high biodiversity and in which visitors can enjoy the
sight of flamingos, ducks, Purple Swamphens, coots,
waders, gulls and countless other bird species. Sevvisitor services and activities
• Guided or unaccompanied visits. Routes
through the reserve’s natural and seminatural environments, with the option of
being accompanied by an expert guide.
• Birdwatching. Many of the almost 200
species that have been recorded on the
site, which lies on the main migratory
route to and through Doñana, may be
seen on the reserve.
eral of these, such as the herons and
egrets, breed naturally within the estate boundaries. In 1991 it was declared a Natural Reserve by the Andalusia Ministry of the Environment.
This was the first time in Spain that
this legal status, which had been specially created to protect private land,
was awarded.
Those who visit will enjoy the
walk around its main lake while observing its abundant and varied bird life, either
guided or unaccompanied. The information boards
along the walk help visitors to both identify and learn
about all the species present. But the key feature of
the site is the close proximity of these free-flying birds
in their natural habitat. Without doubt, it is a great
place for children, who can marvel at numerous attractive species almost at arm’s length.
• Environmental education. Specially
designed visits for schools. Environmental
awareness is taught to school children
through the observation of aquatic birds.
The Cañada de los Pájaros also undertakes intensive research work, through collaboration with universities and other bodies, ringing campaigns and
even captive breeding of threatened species such as
Marbled Duck and Red-knobbed Coot. Its work also
includes instilling respect for the environment in
young children, e.g. through organising guided visits
for school groups.
• Accommodation and catering. A rural
guesthouse for 2-4 people, and a bar with
home-made food and fine views over the
wetland through its large glass windows.
Languages
English
Open
All year round, from 10 a.m. to sunset
Official endorsements
Park Information Point
• Photography. The reserve offers excellent
conditions for wildlife photography. For
professionals, pre-established fees exist
and prior authorisation is required at the
reception centre.
• Training. Short training courses are
offered, e.g. for students at universities
and other educational centres.
• Specialist guides. A large proportion of
the activities on offer can be enjoyed with
monitors specialised in birds and wildlife.
• Shop. Posters, postcards, T-shorts and
typical handicrafts are available.
Material/equipment provided
Information boards along the self-guided
routes in the reserve
Contact details
Puebla del Río to Isla Mayor road, km 8
Puebla del Río (Sevilla)
Tel.: Reserve: 955 77 21 84
Tel.: Casa Rural: 955 77 24 58
Tel.: Bar: 955 77 19 93
can[email protected]
www.canadadelospajaros.com
DOÑANA NATURAL SPACE
65
DANAT
This company, which offers a wide range of services
relating to the outdoors, is the result of the endeavours of a group of classmates who wanted to put
into practice what they had leant back in 1998 during a specialised and innovative course dealing with
physical activities and sports in the countryside.
Their initial idea, focussed principally on a sporting
theme, has slowly broadened its horizons so that
today they offer a wide range of activities on many
subjects to all kinds of people, with a special emphasis on school-children, businesses and associations.
Danat is based in Sanlúcar de Barrameda (Cádiz),
on the left bank of the river Guadalquivir, just opposite the Doñana National Park. This is an absolutely
marvellous location from which to practise surfing,
wind-surfing, canoeing, sailing and horse riding, but
at the same time is ideally placed for a series of more
gentle activities, such as cycling through the
visitor services and activities
• Cycling routes. These take place in
La Algaida, where Umbrella Pines and
Phoenician Junipers have colonised
an ancient dune system.
On the seaward side lies an area of salt
marsh and salt-pans, harbouring a diverse
flora and fauna.
pinewoods of La Algaida, or strolling along the trails
of the Cerro del Águila. For Danat’s birdwatching activities, the salt-pans and saline marshes of Bonanza
are also close at hand.
The programmes designed for school-children
take place either in the countryside or in the school
itself. Danat’s monitors are trained to teach children
about nature using a series of games and environmental workshops. In collaboration with the Cádiz regional government, Danat participates in several
• Canoeing. For this activity, Danat makes
use of the river Guadalquivir and its
estuary.
unique programmes aimed at children in the area,
such as ‘Sports in School’ and a play programme
Jugueteando.
One of the innovations that the team wishes to
add to its programme is 4WD itineraries in the Sanlúcar de Barrameda area, where no such activity is currently available. In addition, by taking advantage of
the cycle path that is being built in the pinewoods of
La Algaida, Danat is hoping to be able to offer pedalcar excursions to its clients in the near future.
• Horse trekking. Visitors can explore some
of Doñana’s most emblematic countryside
on horseback, either in groups or alone
• Sports courses. Among those offered by
the company are sailing, surfing,
windsurfing, archery, horse riding or
beginners’ canoeing.
bouncy castles, trampolines and other
games equipment
• Activities for school-children. Treasurehunts, archery and orienteering courses
are just some of the many sports that
children can participate in with Danat.
Languages
The company will employ a translator to
accompany their guide if necessary
• Complementary services. Danat also offers
a life-guard service, catering (for its own
excursions) and the design and
construction of climbing walls.
• Walking and birdwatching. The Cerro del
Águila (walking) and the wetlands and
salt-pans (birdwatching) are the localities
chosen by Danat to carry out these
activities.
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ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
Material/equipment provided
• Binoculars, bird field-guides, field
notebooks
• The equipment necessary for each
activity (wetsuits, bicycles, helmets, etc.)
• Hire of horses, bicycles, canoes, portable
climbing walls, flying foxes, rope bridges,
Tibetan traverses, pedal cars, surfboards,
Open
All year round
Official endorsements
Park Information Point
Contact details
C/ Calzada del Ejército
11540 Sanlúcar de Barrameda (Cádiz)
Tel.: 685 90 55 21 /22
[email protected]
www.danat.es
EQUIBERIA
In 1987, following in the family footsteps, Alfonso
Gonzalo de Bustos founded Equiberia, through which
he is able to offer horse lovers the benefit of his extensive experience in equestrian matters. The company specialises in all types of tourism involving
horses, as well as offering courses dedicated to riding,
equine management, etc. Equiberia is based on the
estate of La Corbera, near Utrera, which lies between
Seville and Jerez de la Frontera.
In Andalusia it is still possible to explore large tracts
of the countryside on horseback, to follow ancient trails
that wend their way through orange and olive groves,
or forests of pines and eucalypts. Among the excursions
offered by Equiberia are those that trace the pilgrims’
route to El Rocío as it crosses the Doñana National Park,
or traverse the grasslands and wood-pastures (dehesas)
of the Aracena Natural Park, in Huelva.
In order to accommodate its clients as they ride
along these scenic trails, Equiberia has taken ad-
vantage of its excellent relations with the many
farmsteads and traditional country estates along
the way. Closer to home, the company can offer
clients a complex of seven high-quality apartments
right next to the equestrian centre. Equiberia is a
member of the Pegasus Project: a European initia-
tive designed to encourage equestrian tourism. The
Equiberia equestrian centre is also home to the Association of Therapeutic Equitation, whose personnel offer expertise in horse riding, breeding and
training, psychotherapy, psychology and special educational needs.
visitor services and activities
• Horse trekking routes. These take place
both in the environs of La Corbera and in
the countryside a little further afield,
including the Doñana Protected Area.
Routes can be tailored to suit clients’
individual needs.
Open
All year round
• Training courses. Equiberia offers all
manner of courses related to the world of
horses: for example, riding lessons, both
for beginners and more advanced pupils,
stable management, farriery and equine
veterinary studies, as well as tuition in
equitherapy and equestrian tourism. The
school is registered with the Royal Spanish
Equestrian Federation (RFHE), and is thus
entitled to issue official qualifications to its
students.
• School activities. Equiberia is also a
member of the Foundation for
Grass-roots Equestrianism, which
promotes horse riding and stable
management as extracurricular activities
in schools. It is equipped with an
educational stables for primary school
children.
• Activities for people with limited mobility.
Mixed-group riding activities are
encouraged, with both people with
limited mobility.
Material/equipment provided
Equiberia has a show-jumping arena, an
area for equitherapy, a covered riding
school, dressage arena, cross-country
course, and enclosures where horses can
run free. There are also 26 loose-boxes and
accommodation for 40 horses. Equiberia
offers seven self-catering apartments, and
the complex is also appointed with a barrestaurant and a recreation area.
Languages
English and French
Official endorsements
• ISO 9001
• ISO 14001
• Andalusia Natural Park Brand
• Park Information Point
Contact details
Carretera de la estación de Don Rodrigo
(A-8029), km 3.4
41710 Utrera (Sevilla)
Tel.: 954 28 53 19 / 607 75 15 45
[email protected]
www.lacorbera.es
DOÑANA NATURAL SPACE
67
ARDEA PURPUREA
The attractive village of Villamanrique de la Condesa,
in the province of Seville, is a typical settlement in the
region of El Aljarafe lying right on the edge of the
Doñana protected area, effectively constituting the
northern gateway into this extraordinary wetland at
the mouth of the Guadalquivir.
Just a stone’s throw from the centre of town lies
an interesting tourist complex, inaugurated only in
May 2009, which is named after one of the most graceful and stylish birds of Doñana’s marshes, the Purple
Heron, whose scientific name is Ardea purpurea.
The complex is located on the periphery of the
marshes, where the terrain is dry enough to support
Mediterranean forest and scrub of enormous ecological significance. The architecture of the various
buildings in the complex is clearly inspired by the
typical choza marismeña (marshland shepherd’s hut)
— characterised by white walls and heatherthatched roof — and blends in perfectly with its surroundings, while the interior décor is based on natural themes, in particular the bird life of Doñana.
The Ardea Purpurea estate comprises some nine
hectares, including extensive areas where guests can
enjoy the countryside, an artificial lake, which attracts
all manner of wild birds, a central building where the
rooms are found, and two independent chozas — in
the same architectural style as the main building —
each of which is fully equipped and sleeps six.
Both the communal areas (which are accessible
to persons with limited mobility) and the rooms are
spacious, wooden-beamed structures with tiled
floors, filled with light yet with a cosy atmosphere.
Accommodation type
High-class rural accommodation complex
Languages
English, French and German
visitor services and activities
• Information about the park.
• A wide range of activities
(birdwatching routes, scenic excursions
in horse-drawn carriages or wagons
drawn by yoked oxen, cultural itineraries,
4WD tours, etc.) is available from
Ardea Purpurea’s sister company,
Viturevent.
• Jogging circuit.
• Mediterranean cuisine.
Location
Villamanrique de la Condesa (Seville)
Vereda de los Labrados, s/n
Coordinates: 37º 14’28.54”N, 6º 17’37.97”W
The ten light and airy rooms overlook the lagoon and
surrounding woodlands, giving guests the opportunity to absorb the unique atmosphere of this realm.
With the aim of reducing its water consumption,
Ardea Purpurea uses rainwater to irrigate the gardens
and maintain the level of the artificial lake. The company also participates actively in the development of
sustainable tourism initiatives in the region, promoting the sale of traditional produce and craftwork, and
it has also started to reforest the grounds of the hotel
with native species of trees and shrubs.
• Internet
• Each room is equipped with TV, DVD, WiFi, safe deposit box, mini-bar and terrace
• Each choza has three bedrooms, lounge,
fully equipped kitchen, bathroom, TV,
DVD, Wi-Fi, terrace and garden
• Access for persons with limited mobility
to the communal areas.
Open
All year round
Capacity
• Hotel: 10 rooms, sleeping 20
• 2 chozas marismeñas, sleeping 12
• 140-cover restaurant
Facilities
• Restaurant, cafeteria
• Private car park
• Laundry service
• Meeting room
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ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
Official endorsements
Park Information Point
Prices
• Double room (with breakfast): 85 €/night
• Choza (with breakfast): 200 €/night
Contact details
Tel.: 955 75 54 79
[email protected]
www.ardeapurpureaturismo.com
VITUREVENT
The López Hernández brothers are the proprietors of
the Ardea purpurea country-hotel complex in Villamanrique de la Condesa (Seville). Less than two years
ago they founded Viturevent, through which they
offer guests routes around Doñana. With an innovative approach, the itineraries of this new company
combine wildlife observation with an insight into the
traditions of the region.
One example of this is the way they use draught
animals for some of their routes. This form of transport was a quintessential feature of the daily life of
the inhabitants of Doñana in the past and still is today,
as is illustrated by the popular races involving oxdrawn carts that are celebrated every year in Villamanrique. Years ago, wagons pulled by yoked oxen
were utilised for many country labours and today Viturevent has modified some of these vehicles to carry
their clients through the reserve. Those wishing to experience this age-old form of transport can join a
short trip around the village of Villamanrique and, if
they are feeling more adventurous, can opt to join the
visitor services and activities
• 4WD itinerary. Access to the principal
ecosystems of the Doñana Natural Space
(dunes, beach, marshes and woodlands), a
visit to a wine cellar and brunch in
Sanlúcar de Barrameda, from where
guests travel by boat to the mouth of the
Guadalquivir.
• Oxen and drums trail. From Villamanrique
de la Condesa, with spectacular views over
the Doñana marshes. Brunch and an
open-air picnic are included.
route along the Raya Real, during which they can
enjoy some of Doñana’s most splendid scenery, at a
leisurely pace and with frequent pauses to admire the
view.
The López brothers also offer routes that focus
on the bull-fighting traditions of the region, including a fascinating visit to the ranch of Pablo Romero,
close to the town of Villamanrique. Here clients have
the opportunity to examine the world of the fighting
bull at close quarters, with the excursion brought to
a close by a typical open-air aperitivo (pre-dinner appetiser).
It must not be forgotten, however, that Doñana
is a Mecca for European birdwatchers. Viturevent can
put anyone with an interest in ornithology, be they
Spanish or from overseas, in touch with an expert
guide. These guides will take their clients to some of
the best birdwatching sites in Doñana, including the
estate of Dehesa de Abajo, whose wild olive groves
harbour a colony of hundreds of pairs of White Storks,
while a sizeable lagoon nearby attracts a wealth of
• Horses and bulls itinerary.
Minibus excursions around the environs
of Doñana, including visits to horseand bull-rearing ranches. Brunch and
a sampling of local sweetmeats
included.
• Birdwatching routes. According to the
expertise of each client, our guides will take
visitors to the best birdwatching localities in
Doñana: for example, La Dehesa de Abajo.
• Interpretation of the flora and fauna. The
aim of this activity is to acquaint visitors
with the biodiversity of Doñana and
surrounding area, and can be adapted to
the interests and expertise of each client.
waterbirds, including Glossy Ibises, Greater Flamingos
and Eurasian Spoonbills.
Other tempting activities offered by Viturevent
include botanical itineraries, cultural visits to the villages of the region, and the possibility of walking the
trail of El Rocío accompanied by a band of drummers.
Material/equipment provided
• Binoculars and telescope
• Field guides and leaflets about the park
Languages
English, French and German
Open
All year round
Official endorsements
• Park Information Point (applied for)
• Doñana 21 Brand
Contact details
C/ Juan López Sánchez, 15
Vereda de los Labradores, s/n (the address
of the Ardea Purpurea hotel)
41850 Villamanrique de la Condesa
(Seville)
Tel.: 95 575 54 79
[email protected]
www.viturevent.com
DOÑANA NATURAL SPACE
69
Inside a leafy Cork Oak forest.
LOS ALCORNOCALES NATURAL PARK
The final vestiges of a Mediterranean jungle
At the southernmost tip of Europe as the continent approaches the Strait of Gibraltar lies a land of thick forests, deeply green and silent, which
is often shrouded in damp life-giving mists that pour in off the sea. In this extremity of Europe, nearby Africa is ever present and a junglelike forest thrives; here the thud of the axes the cork-strippers use to remove the rough bark of the cork oak is commonplace, and the brilliant pink flowers of the local endemic rhododendron shine out from beneath the giant twisted trunks of trees entwined in a mesh of lianas.
This unique site, whose verdant vegetation comes as a real surprise in dry Mediterranean Spain, is protected by Los Alcornocales Natural
Park, a humid land of forests illuminated by the splendid sun of the Cádiz coast.
os Alcornocales Natural Park consists of the western-most ridges
of the Sierras Béticas, a complex series of mountain ranges of differing heights that include some of the most rugged and abrupt
mountains in the whole of the Iberian Peninsula. These north-southrunning mountains lose height as they approach the Strait of Gibraltar and are not excessively high: summits range from a few hundred
metres above sea level near Tarifa to the 1,091 metres of Aljibe, the
highest point of this protected area.
Together, the Sierra del Aljibe and other nearby ranges such as the
Sierra de Blanquilla are known as the Aljibe Unit, an area dominated
by sandstones and, to a lesser extent, by marls. When the waters of the
primeval seas retreated, the exposed sediments were revealed as what
we now refer to as the Aljibe sandstones, siliceous and red-brown in
colour and flanked by softer mudstones, clays and marls. Subsequent
folding has left the sandstones in many places forming vertical strata
with exposed rocky crests and sheer cliffs that stand out clearly
against the more homogenous backdrop of the verdant forests.
One of the most singular geological formations of the park is
the curious Montera del Torero near Los Barrios, a rocky outcrop
eroded into the shape of a bullfighter’s hat. This sandstone rock
stands 15-m high and 12-m wide and its centre has been hollowed
out by the forces of nature in a type of erosion that is more reminiscent of the sandstones along the coast.
L
Like an island in the siliceous sea of the Sierra de Aljibe, the
karstic landscape of Motillas is one of the most interesting and
largest such formations in Andalusia. These caves and cavities have
various openings — the best known being the Motillas Cave — that
act as springs and sources of streams during wet periods, as well as
being known as important refuge sites for a variety of bat species.
Other calcareous outcrops that break up the dominance of the region’s siliceous rocks include the sierras of Las Cabras and La Sal,
surrounded by marls and gypsums, whose network of caves completes the list of the appealing but little-known subterranean sites in
this Natural Park.
The influence of the climate
A typical Mediterranean climate of hot dry summers and much wetter springs and autumns is the tonic in Los Alcornocales. Nevertheless, this is a simplification and there are a number of local variants
that decisively affect the region’s singular vegetation. The relatively
low altitude of most of the area and its proximity to the coast mean
that temperatures are mild — monthly averages oscillate from 7°C to
25°C — and so neither cold snaps nor the extreme heat of inland
areas are wont to occur. Another of the singularities of this region is
its position between two seas, a fact that leads to an almost constant buffeting by two opposing and very temperamental winds, the
LOS ALCORNOCALES NATURAL PARK
71
Rain falls particularly generously in the north and east of the park
on the highest mountains. The north-south orientation of the mountains means that these ridges act as barriers to the humid air masses
that rush in from both sides and as excellent cloud and mist traps;
yearly rainfall can reach 2,000 mm/m2, more than in many areas of
northern Spain and similar to certain tropical forests, although rainfall is concentrated in specific periods of the year. By contrast, there
are areas in the park which receive relatively little rain (around 500
mm a year), thereby provoking notable environmental contrasts
— and thus biological diversity — with the more humid parts of the
Natural Park.
The abundant rainfall that falls over much of these coastal mountains has created an intricate network of rivers and streams flowing
into both the Atlantic and Mediterranean. The former receives water
from the rivers Guadalete and its tributary the Majaceite and the Barbate (with its tributaries the Fraja, Celemín, Almodóvar, Alberite and
Álamo), whilst the Mediterranean embraces the waters of the rivers
Guadarranque, Guadacortes, Palmones, Guadalmesí, Guadiaro and
the latter’s tributary, the Hozgarganta, probably the most charming
of all water courses in Los Alcornocales. All these water courses have
very seasonal regimes, with rapid rises in level during rainy periods
and then prolonged dry periods, and are characterised by abundant
bank-side vegetation and deep gorges carved out of the surrounding
mountains.
Cork Oaks with their trunks and main branches recently stripped. Immediately after
being stripped, the exposed bark turns orange, but then becomes gradually redder
and darker as time passes.
poniente and levante. The westerly poniente blows from the Atlantic
and is cooler and damper than the hot dry easterly levante that originates from the Mediterranean. Nevertheless, the funnel effect of the
Strait of Gibraltar and the temperature differences between the
winds tend to mean that both winds persist and blow hard, above all
in the south of the Natural Park. In particular during the hottest
months of the year, these winds create a more humid, frequently
misty microclimate that is the main explanation for the presence of
so many ecological treasures in this part of the province of Cádiz.
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ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
The kingdom of the Mediterranean oaks
The vegetation of this protected area — as the name alcornocal
(Cork Oak) indicates — is dominated by Cork Oaks in dense forest
masses known as mojeas or mohedas. Old oaks are accompanied by
Strawberry-trees, Phillyrea, Mediterranean Buckthorns and, where
the primitive forest has been degraded, by various species of
heather. Dwarf Fan Palms, Myrtles, Holly Oaks and Wild Olives accompany the trees and shrubs in the warmer parts of the park, usually below 200 m.
In the most shady parts, or on north faces and areas of deeper
and more humid soils, stands of other Mediterranean oaks such as
the magnificent Algerian Oak (Quercus canariensis) appear, upon
whose boughs grow many epiphytic plants and lianas, along with
dense shrublands composed of Bays, Holly, Wayfaring Tree, Myrtle,
Rhododendron ponticum and the omnipresent Cork Oak. These dank
forests represent one of the best and most extensive examples of
the primitive Mediterranean forest still in existence.
The magnificent rhododendrons, with eye-catching pink flowers,
form pure stands or relict communities mixed in with other species
in the narrow gullies — the famous canutos — that trap the abundant precipitation and summer mists, thereby maintaining the humidity these plants need. Nothing else in Europe resembles the canutos; a walk through their intricate depths is a trip into a jungle-like
Mixed stands of Algerian and Cork Oaks are the most typical woodland in the park.
Flowers of Rhododendron ponticum, at home in the park’s many humid gullies.
environment, full of huge trees covered in mosses and rare ferns with
branches entwined in lianas and trailing with lichens … and all without need to set foot outside of Europe.
After this walk, botanists should head for another of the park’s
most interesting plant communities, the Quercus lusitanica stands
in the Llanos del Juncal. This shrub-like oak is present in the sierras
de Luna and Ojén; it is similar to but much smaller than the confusingly named Lusitanian Oak (Q. faginea), the third of the deciduous
oaks found in the Natural Park. This latter species appears mainly
on the calcareous soils in the north of the park and often hybridises
with the Algerian Oak, giving rise to intermediate forms known to
botanical science as Quercus x marianica. In the driest areas the Lusitanian Oak woodland is replaced by stands of Holm Oaks.
In some of the high west-facing parts of these mountains
(above 700 m) there are also small stands of another confusingly
named oak, Pyrenean Oak (Q. pyrenaica), whose presence reveals
that in times past environmental conditions here were much colder.
The best examples of Pyrenean Oak — indeed, the most southerly
such trees in Europe — can be admired in the Sierra del Aljibe (near
Pilita de la Reina), La Loma del Castillo and the mountains of Algeciras.
The commonest scrub formations in the Natural Park are composed of heathers and rock-roses, although in some areas on particularly poor soils the gorse-like Calicotome villosa growing up to
two metres in height and replete with wicked spines dominates.
Other shrub formations are dominated by Lentisc, brooms and Straw-
berry-trees and under extreme conditions (for example, on the herrizas or crests of the sandstone ridges castigated by the easterly
winds) give way a very particular stunted plant community of
heathers containing many endemic species such as the rare carnivorous Portuguese Sundew (Drosophyllum lusitanicum).
In lower areas the Wild Olive is characteristic and is found in both
dense stands and on semi-cleared land. Where this shrub is absent,
rich pastures or bujeos, much frequented by both wild and domestic herbivores, appear.
Earth’s best preserved Cork Oak forest
There can be no doubt, though, that the Cork Oak is the most dominant plant in the life and landscape of the Natural Park. It is a magnificent tree, long-lived and irregular in shape, but with very dense
wood. It grows in compact stands, but in places has been managed
for stock-rearing, and dehesas (wood pastures) of varying densities
of trees have been created where animals graze and glean fallen
acorns. It does not withstand the cold or droughts as well as its near
relative the Holm Oak and requires a certain amount of precipitation;
neither will it grow on limestone soils, being instead all but confined
to siliceous soils, sandstones or, in their absence, leached decarbonated soils. It develops a thick spongy bark — the cork — that
protects the tree from fire and infestations, although it is no defence
against a disease known as la seca, one of the principal threats to
this singular species. It is found in the western Mediterranean, with
its greatest surface area being in Portugal, today the world’s most
LOS ALCORNOCALES NATURAL PARK
73
important producer of cork. Spain comes second in terms of the
amount of forest cover, with almost 5,000 km2 of Cork Oak forests or
dehesas.
The largest Cork Oak forest in the world is in La Mamora in Morocco, whilst the largest in Spain is found in the dehesas of Jerez de
los Caballeros (Badajoz). But, the forests in Los Alcornocales Natural Park are the best preserved anywhere and represent one of the
most diverse and verdant forests in the whole of Europe.
The cork forest
The descorche or stripping of the cork — one of the oldest traditional
practices still alive in Mediterranean forests — takes place every nine
years in Los Alcornocales and in all the other mountains and dehesas where the cork oak thrives. This is probably the most economically significant activity in the Cork Oak forests and has provided
these trees with a life insurance that has saved them from the axe,
unlike thousands of other oaks that were sacrificed in the past for
wood for building, firewood and to make charcoal.
The laborious process of the descorche requires expert hands
and has been carried out in the same fashion for many centuries.
The cork-strippers — the corcheros — use long pointed lances
— burjas — and special axes to split and strip portions of the tree’s
outer bark — the corcho — which exposes the second, bright-orange
layer of bark — the casca. It is tough work, not only because of the
effort needed to reach and then work the trees, but because the descorche has to be performed at the height of the summer when the
cork is easiest to peel off and the tree suffers least from losing its
outer bark. In addition, the corcheros have to contend with the
painful bites of the feared morito, an ant (Crematogaster scutellaris)
that builds galleries in the cork and in doing so lowers considerably
the price at which the cork can be sold.
The corcheros take care not to damage the living part of the trees
as they strip off the panas, the large sheets of cork they pile up next
to the trees, which the mule-drivers then take to the patios to be
weighed in quintals (100 kg). The first time a Cork Oak is stripped
the cork or bornizo is of little value and it is not until the third descorche that thick, well formed cork of good quality, which is such a
vital source of income in the rural economy of many parts of the Iberian Peninsula, is obtained. As visitors will quickly appreciate, this
traditional sustainable activity, which from the Natural Park alone
accounts for 30% of all Spanish cork production, is a veritable cornucopia of singular implements, words and rural traditions that must
not be lost.
Forest fauna and a corridor migratory birds
Typically, the existence of a well-conserved area of vegetation harbouring a number of different types of habitats guarantees the presence of a variety of faunal communities that occupy all the different
niches that such environments have to offer. This is most certainly
the case of Los Alcornocales Natural Park, where 250 different
species of vertebrate have been recorded in its forests, wood pastures, grazing land, rock outcrops and well-preserved rivers. The importance of this southern Spanish site becomes even more obvious
if we bear in mind its strategic position, foursquare on the migration
route used by myriads of birds that cross into Africa via the Strait of
Gibraltar at the end of the breeding season and then pour back
northwards to their European breeding sites in spring. In this season and autumn this migration corridor, one of the most important in
The cork is stripped in July and August, always by hand and with the help of mules, just as it has been for centuries.
74
ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
Short-toed Eagle, a woodland raptor that is typical of Mediterranean forests. Known as
the ‘snake eagle’ in Spain, the vast majority of its prey consists of lizards and snakes.
Los Alcornocales is home to one of Europe’s most important populations of Egyptian Mongooses.
the world, funnels tens of thousands storks (mainly White, but also
a certain number of Black Storks) and numerous raptors, above all
kites, Honey Buzzards, Short-toed and Booted Eagles, Egyptian Vultures, Sparrowhawks and harriers, as well as countless passerines
and other smaller birds, into and across the Natural Park.
Over the period of a year the park is home to up to 165 species
of birds, 49 mammals, 21 reptiles, 11 amphibians and seven fishes.
Of the amphibians, there are several notable taxa that are endemic
to the Iberian Peninsula: Southern Marbled Newt, the Iberian Painted
Frog, Iberian Parsley Frog and a form of the Fire Salamander that recent studies seem to indicate is different from the other such salamanders living in the Iberian Peninsula.
Some of the park’s most interesting birds are linked to forest and
cliff habitats and include a good selection of daytime and nocturnal
raptors (Griffon and Egyptian Vultures, Bonelli’s and Short-toed Eagles, Sparrowhawk, Peregrine Falcon and Tawny Owl and Eagle Owl)
and abundant passerines (over 80 species), some of which are found
at their southernmost points in their European distributions in Los Alcornocales.
The most singular of the park’s mammals is a subspecies of Roe
Deer, surviving in the mountains of Cádiz and Málaga in an isolated
breeding population that is also the southernmost in Europe. The
other large herbivores present in the park are Red and Fallow Deer
and Mouflon, the latter two introduced for hunting, and the Iberian
Ibex, which has recently colonised the highest rocky crags of the
area. The park also boasts notable communities of bats (17 species)
and small and medium-sized carnivores, which include Otters and
Egyptian Mongoose, the only European mongoose and here in one of
its strongest Iberian populations.
New times, old ways
Despite being shared between 17 municipalities and lying within the
relatively densely populated province of Cádiz, there is, surprisingly, no
built-up area inside the over 167,000 ha of the Natural Park. Only four
small hamlets, with a combined population of barely 1,000 souls, lie
actually within the park’s boundaries, a fact that only serves to highlight
the extreme ruggedness of these untamed sierras. The park periphery
is another story, however, and is well equipped with picturesque ‘white
towns’ such as Ubrique, Cortes de La Frontera, Los Barrios, Alcalá de los
Gazules and Algar, so characteristic of the Campo de Gibraltar and the
mountains of Cádiz and Málaga, which with their well-preserved buildings steeped in history contribute so much to the beauty of this area.
The local territorial model is based on large public or private estates, which have prevented the development of large human settlements within the park. Nevertheless, this by no means implies that
its forests have never been fully exploited — quite to the contrary, in
fact, for these Mediterranean forests have historically always been
home to a diverse range of farm and rural enterprises whose rational
management has ensured that we can still enjoy much of the area’s
significant natural heritage. Today, cork is the main forest resource,
although just a few decades ago the local forest economy was much
more important; some areas were cultivated, while in others wood
was cut for home use and making charcoal, and pine-nuts, wild
mushrooms, prickly pears, wild asparagus, honey, wild herbs, palm
hearts and even the knotty roots of heathers to make pipes were all
gathered or harvested. Today, albeit to a lesser extent and subject
to strict regulations, the forests are still exploited.
It is common in the park to see cows (above all, the local retinta
race), sheep, goats, Iberian pigs and horses and mules, the latter esLOS ALCORNOCALES NATURAL PARK
75
PRACTICAL INFORMATION AND PUBLIC FACILITIES
Los Alcornocales Natural Park
• Date declared. 28 July 1989
• Surface area. 167,767 ha
• Provinces. Cádiz and Málaga
• Municipalities. CÁDIZ: Alcalá de Los Gazules,
Algar, Algeciras, Arcos de la Frontera, Los Barrios, Benalup-Casas Viejas, Benaocaz, El Bosque,
Castellar de la Frontera, Jerez de la Frontera, Jimena de la Frontera, Medina-Sidonia, Prado del
Rey, San José del Valle, Tarifa, Ubrique.
MÁLAGA: Cortes de la Frontera.
• ECST accreditation. 2004
• Other types of protection. Special Protection
Area for Birds, Site of Community Importance
• Contact details
Plaza de San Jorge, 1 (Casa del Cabildo)
11180 Alcalá de los Gazules (Cádiz)
Tel.: 956 41 86 01 / Fax: 956 41 86 10
[email protected]
Go to Ventana del Visitante at:
www.juntadeandalucia.es/medioambiente
vISITOR FACILITIES
CORTES DE LA FRONTERA VISITOR CENTRE
The town of Cortes de la Frontera is strategically very well situated at the point that three
protected areas — Los Alcornocales, Sierra de
Grazalema and Sierra de Las Nieves — meet.
The visitor centre in this town provides an excellent opportunity to study not only the different environments found in these three protected areas, but also how humans have
influenced the landscape and the decisive role
played by water in moulding the main geomorphologic features of the area and its principal vegetation types. Special attention is paid
to the Spanish Fir forests in the sierras of Grazalema and Las Nieves.
• Location and contact details. c/ Jacaranda, 1,
on the corner of Avda. de la Democracia. Cortes
de la Frontera (Málaga). Tel.: 952 15 45 99
• Services. Audiovisual, projection and multiuse rooms, shop.
• Opening times. All year round. Thursday: 1014; Friday: 16-18 (July-September, 19-21); Saturday and Sunday: 10-14 and 16-18 (July-September, also 19-21)
• Suitable for people with hearing difficulties
EL ALJIBE VISITOR CENTRE
The mountains of El Aljibe harbour some of the
main peaks of Los Alcornocales Natural Park.
The local visitor centre has various exhibition
areas where visitors can find out about the
76
ecosystems present in this part of the park,
how they have been influenced by human activity and the traditional ways local people
have exploited their natural surroundings.
Nearby, El Aljibe Botanical Garden is also open
to visitors.
• Location and contact details. Alcalá de los
Gazules to Benalup-Casas Viejas road (A-2228),
km 1. Alcalá de los Gazules (Cádiz).
Tel.: 956 42 05 29 / 677 90 58 76
• Services. Thematic exhibition rooms, projection and multi-use rooms, botanical garden,
shop and cafe.
• Opening times. All year round. 1 July to 15 September:Tuesday-Sunday: 09.00-15.00.The rest of
the year: 10.00-14.00; and alsoTuesday-Thursday:
15.00-17.00; Friday-Sunday: 16.00-18.00.
• Access for people with reduced mobility
EL ALJIBE BOTANICAL GARDEN
This botanical garden contains a representation of the most characteristic plants of the
Aljibic Biogeographical Sector (cloud forests,
deciduous oaks, Cork Oaks, Wild Olive formations and bujeos), which more or less coincides
with the limits of the Natural Park. The gardens
also boast botanical rarities such as Rhododendron ponticum and a number of rare and threatened species.
• Location and contact details. Alcalá de los
Gazules to Benalup-Casas Viejas road (A-2228),
km 1. Alcalá de los Gazules (Cádiz).
• Opening times. 10-14. Afternoons: May-September: 18-20; October-April: 16-18.
HUERTA GRANDE VISITOR CENTRE
This centre is currently being refurbished (provisional reopening in January 2010) and will in-
clude an exhibition on the migration of soaring
birds across the Strait of Gibraltar, as well as on
the seabirds and cetaceans of the Strait. The
centre will operate as part of both Los Alcornocales and the Strait of Gibraltar Natural
Parks.
• Location and contact details. Algeciras-Tarifa
road (N-340), km 96. Tel.: 956 67 91 61
• Services. Audiovisual display, guided visit to
exhibition, interpretation panels, bar and
restaurant, shop (books and products from Andalusian protected areas), car park.
OThER INFORMATION POINTS
Name
Location
Address
Telephone
Access
Alcalá de los Gazules
Alcalá de los Gazules
P.º de la Playa
956 42 04 51
Benalup-Casas Viejas
Benalup-Casas Viejas
c/ Paterna, 4
956 42 40 09 / Yes
600 59 01 42
Castillo de Castellar
Castellar de la Frontera Viejo
Castillo de Castellar, s/n.
956 23 68 87
No
Centro Artesanal
Medina-Sidonia
c/ San Juan, s/n.
(near market)
956 41 24 04
Yes
Jimena de la Frontera.
Also Mycological
Jimena de la Frontera
Iglesia de la Misericordia
(next to castle)
956 64 05 69
No
Los Barrios
Los Barrios
Avda. Defensor del Pueblo, s/n. 956 62 8013 / No
(Chamizo de la Rubia)
956 62 80 06
ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
No
• Opening times. To be confirmed.
• Access for people with reduced mobility
RECREATIONAL FACILITIES
PICNIC SITES
The natural park has 10 picnic sites, of which
some of the most interesting are:
• El Cerro del Moro, Castellar de la Frontera
(Cádiz).
• El Bujeo, Tarifa (Cádiz).
• El Picacho, Alcalá de los Gazules (Cádiz). Access for people with reduced mobility.
• Garganta Barrida, Ubrique (Cádiz).
• La Sauceda, Cortes de la Frontera (Málaga).
• Los Acebuches, Jimena de la Frontera (Cádiz).
• LosTornos, Tarifa (Cádiz). Located near the GR7 long-distance footpath, which crosses the Natural Park from Tarifa to Ubrique, and then continues on into Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park.
• Montera del Torero, Los Barrios (Cádiz). Situated in the Dos Bahías Green Corridor, an itinerary that follows the drovers’-roads that link
two bays, the Bahía de Cádiz and Bahía de Algeciras.
VIEwPOINTS
• Cabecera del Río de la Miel, Algeciras (Cádiz).
Access for people with reduced mobility.
• Hoyo de Don Pedro, Los Barrios (Cádiz).
• La Calzada, Castellar de la Frontera (Cádiz).
• El Mojón de la Víbora, Ubrique (Cádiz). Access
for people with reduced mobility.
• Puerto de las Asomadillas, Jimena de la Frontera (Cádiz).
• Puerto de las Palomas, Alcalá de los Gazules
(Cádiz). Access for people with reduced mobility.
• Puerto de Ojén, Los Barrios (Cádiz).
• Las Corzas, Los Barrios (Cádiz).
FOOTPAThS AND TRAILS
A network of 19 waymarked paths totalling
around 80 km exists in the park, of which the
following are some of the best for exploring the
Natural Park:
• La Sauceda. Coinciding with the border between the provinces of Cádiz and Málaga, this
route runs along a number of the canutos, the
humid gullies that are so characteristic of this
park. As an area of restricted access, visitors
must first apply for a permit from the park offices. Length: 4.2 Km. Time: 3 h-3 h 30 min.
• Climb to summit of Picacho. This route begins in the Picacho picnic spot and climbs to
the summit of Picacho (882 m), an ascent
whose difficulty is more than repaid by the
magnificent views of a large part of the
province of Cádiz and the neighbouring Sierra
de Grazalema. As an area of restricted access,
visitors must first apply for a permit from the
park offices. Length: 3.2 km. Time: 2-3 h.
• San Carlos del Tiradero. This route runs
through stands of old Lusitanian Oaks, whose
candelabra-like forms are due to the continual
cutting back for wood for making charcoal that
they were once subject to. It also visits a stream
with verdant gallery vegetation. Length: 2.6
km. Time: 1 h-1 h 30 min.
• Sendero de Valdeinfierno. Along this path
visitors will be able to contemplate the spectacular flora of the canutos; 630 m of the route
is accessible to people with reduced mobility.
Length: 6 km. Time: 3 h-3 h 30 min.
BIkE LANES
The Natural Park also has nine itineraries that
have been specially designed with cycle-touring in mind:
• Berrueco-Cañillas. 21 km. Cortes de la Frontera (Cádiz).
• La Sauceda. 12 km. Cortes de la Frontera
(Cádiz).
• El Cabrito-Puerto del Bujeo. 9 km. Tarifa
(Cádiz).
• El Picacho-Peguera. 42.5 km. Alcalá de los
Gazules (Cádiz).
• Puerto del Bujeo-Hoyo de Don Pedro. 21 km.
Los Barrios and Algeciras (Cádiz).
• Sierra de Montecoche. 19 km. Los Barrios
(Cádiz).
• Valle de Ojén. 21 km. Los Barrios and Tarifa
(Cádiz).
• Lomo del Judío. 5 km. Alcalá de los Gazules
(Cádiz).
• Ruta de los Alcornocales. 43 km. Alcalá de los
Gazules and Los Barrios (Cádiz).
OThER FACILITIES
EL PICACHO FIELD CENTRE
Located on the slopes of El Picacho in a very attractive setting.
Alcalá de los Gazules (Cádiz).
Tel.: 615 51 50 88 / 686 87 34 58 / 956 07 14 16
[email protected]
ETHNOGRAPHICAL INTERPRETATION CENTRE
Displays and exhibitions pertaining to the typical customs of the area.
Alcalá de los Gazules (Cádiz). Tel.: 956 42 03 30
www.turismodelosgazules.com
• El Cabrito ornithological observation point,
Tarifa (Cádiz). Accessible for people with reduced mobility.
• El Algarrobo ornithological observation
point, Algeciras (Cádiz). Accessible for people
with reduced mobility.
• Santuario ornithological observation point,
Tarifa (Cádiz). Accessible for people with reduced mobility.
• Facinas ornithological observation point,
Tarifa (Cádiz).
The last three observation points are actually
EL RISCO ETHNOBOTANICAL GARDEN
A municipally owned botanical garden with exhibits of local flora and how local people make
use of local plants.
Jimena de la Frontera (Cádiz). Tel.: 956 64 00 64
www.jimenadelafrontera.es
ORNIThOLOGICAL OBSERvATION POINTS
Besides the viewpoints located along the footpaths and trails, and at the visitor centres, the
following ornithological observation points are
also worth visiting:
A-4
A-372
A-382
AP-4
just outside the Natural Park and are excellent
spots for observing the migration of soaring
birds across the Strait of Gibraltar.
FURThER INFORMATION
The sustainable tourism association ‘Los Alcornocales’, which is currently putting into
practice the ECST action plan, works in close
contact with the Natural Park and has set up a
webpage with abundant information for visitors to this protected area: Tel.: 956 41 32 52.
www.alcornocales.org
Grazalema
El Bosque
Arcos de la Frontera
Benaoján
Benaocaz
E-5
Embalse de
los Hurones
Embalse de
Guadalcacín
A-2003
A-381
Montejaque
Villaluenga del Rosario
Ubrique
Jimera de Líbar
A-369
Cortes de la Frontera
1
Benadalid
A-389
San José del Valle
A-2304
Algatocín
A-408
Paterna de Rivera
Alcalá de los Gazules
A-381
A-390
Gaucín
A-2304
A-405
C-3311
2
Medina-Sidonia
Casares
JB
BenalupCasas Viejas
Embalse de
Barbate
A-377
Jimena de la Frontera
Manilva
A-405
A-381
A-48
Embalse de
Guadarranque
A-396
Embalse de
Celemín
Vejer de la Frontera
Castellar de la Frontera
Embalse de
Palmones
A-314
A-7
San Roque
N-340
A-383
Barbate
1
Cortes de la Frontera Visitor Centre
2
El Aljibe Visitor Centre
3
Huerta Grande Visitor Centre
JB
El Aljibe Botanical Garden
Information Point
A-7
Los Barrios
CA-34
Algeciras
La Línea de la
Concepción
Gibraltar
3
0
Tarifa
5
10
15
km
LOS ALCORNOCALES NATURAL PARK
77
(Left) View of river Hozgarganta, flowing between evergreen and deciduous oaks. (Top) Panorama of the neighbouring Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park from Los Alcornocales.
(Bottom) Canuto of the river De la Miel.
sential for getting the cork out of the forests, grazing freely. Hunting
is the other major way of exploiting these mountains and big-game
hunting for Red and Fallow Deer and Mouflon is popular, although
the most-prized trophy is the Roe Deer.
A place to respire the heart of the forest
Visitors to Los Alcornocales have the option of contemplating the
park’s interminable forests from a peak or from one of the many
small saddles and passes on the sinuous back roads that cross the
park; or of noting the freshness of a canuto surrounded by lianas and
ferns; or even of walking a remote forest trail to the sound of the
grunts of rutting Roe Deer stags. A glance upwards may reveal the
78
ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
presence of groups of hundreds of migrating birds, while a giant oak
may provide a welcome shady spot under which to rest.
The best way to discover one of the most fascinating forests in
the Iberian Peninsula is to walk the park’s network of signposted
footpaths, for example, up to the peak of El Aljibe, or along the unforgettable itineraries of San Carlos del Tiradero, El Palancar and river
Miel. As well, visitors should bear in mind the possibilities offered
by the 12 drover’s roads that together form the Two Bays Green Corridor (Corredor Verde Dos Bahías), a natural corridor promoted by
the Andalusian Ministry of the Environment and a number of local
environmental groups, which crosses Los Alcornocales from Celemín
to La Montera del Torero. CASA DE BÁRBARA
The‘Noble, Loyal and Illustrious’town of Alcalá de los
Gazules — in fact, a city despite its small size —
makes no effort to hide its status as one of Andalusia’s
famous ‘white towns’ and its whitewashed walls rise
proudly in a cluster around the dominant tower of the
church of San Jorge. Situated on an old smuggler’s
route and once safe haven for local bandits, today Alcalá de los Gazules — declared a historical-artistic site
— is still steeped in history, as the nearby cave paintings and the pottery remains found in the area testify.
Romans, Visigoths, Arabs and other peoples and cultures have left their mark here, in the shape of a vast
architectural and ethnographical heritage that runs
from medicinal springs to the old town walls, from
manor houses to convents.
The town lies in the centre of Cádiz province,
close to the A-381 dual-carriageway, and is thus in an
ideal position for those who wish to get to know this
bountiful land, with its rugged mountains, excellent
beaches and cities such as Algeciras, Jerez de la Fron-
Accommodation type
Superior independent self-catering house,
whole-house rental only
visitor services and activities
• Information about the region and Los
Alcornocales Natural Park.
tera and Cádiz. Casa de Bárbara is split between two
floors and exudes a rustic air in all its architecture and
décor, from its wood through to its adobe and stone
walls. Visitors that choose to spend a few days within
its robust walls will find all the warmth and naturalness they need in a atmosphere that is both relaxed
and welcoming.
From the moment María de los Santos, the owner,
accepts the reservation, she guarantees that visitors’
stays are fruitful and productive, and makes sure that
her guests are fully aware of all the possibilities that
the region has to offer. She will arrange for permits for
the Natural Park and has a wealth of information regarding this protected area that she loves so much at
her fingertips.
Casa de Bárbara also takes the trouble to welcome clients with a gift of local cured meat, cheese or
pastry. The house has a library in which guests will
find a plenty of information about the Natural Park
and local wildlife. As well, the house is adorned with
• The owners of the house will apply for
permits for the areas of the park that are of
restricted access.
• Pets welcomed.
a selection of well-labelled local flowers in pots that
will satisfy guests’ sense of smell as much as their curiosity about the local flora.
Capacity
1 house, sleeping 4
Languages
French
Official endorsements
• Andalusia Natural Park Brand
• Park Information Point
Facilities
• Fully equipped kitchen
• TV
• Library of books on the local area
Location
Alcalá de los Gazules (Cádiz)
C/ San Sebastián, 12
Coordinates: 36º 27’ 52.85” N, 5º 43’ 7.66” W
Contact details
Tel.: 956 41 32 13 / 610 72 71 85
[email protected]
www.casadebarbara.com
Open
All year round
Prices
Whole house: 70 €/day
LOS ALCORNOCALES NATURAL PARK
79
NATURE EXPLORER
Based in Barbate (Cádiz), Nature Explorer was set up in
2004, although the current management team has
only been operating since 2009. Their principal activities in Los Alcornocales Park are hiking, mountain
biking, mountain multi-adventure and 4WD routes,
although in neighbouring parks they also offer diving, canoeing, horse riding, whale-watching and
multi-adventure beach activities. These are designed
for different levels of experience and physical ability
and cater for a wide variety of clients. In addition, they
are also working more and more with school groups
using a programme of environmental education activities.
The majority of Nature Explorer’s activities take
place in Los Alcornocales Natural Park, with visits concentrating on the high diversity of mountain landscapes, including the canutos del Risco Blanco, the
San Carlos del Tiradero stream and the rivers La Miel
and Guadalmesí are just some of the sites visited, and
are ideal for birdwatching, with excellent possibilities
of seeing a high diversity of woodland raptors
visitor services and activities
• Hiking. The company uses various trails in
Los Alcornocales Natural Park, many of
which are ideal for birdwatching, above
all, in forested habitats.
(Booted and Short-toed Eagles, Northern Goshawk
and Eurasian Sparrowhawk). Cork harvesting, one of
the most traditional rural ways of exploiting the park’s
forests, can be witnessed by visitors who visit at the
right moment of the year.
From its base in Barbate one of the company’s
most visited sites is the nearby La Breña & Marismas
del Barbate Natural Park, where sea cliffs up to 100 m
in height afford spectacular views across the Strait of
Gibraltar. A wide range of activities can be undertaken in these surroundings including diving, canoeing, hiking and horse riding in this area of mixed marine and terrestrial environments.
One of the immediate objectives of Nature Explorer is the production of a guide to sustainable
tourism in both Los Alcornocales and La Breña &
Marismas del Barbate Natural Parks. It also plans to
become more involved with local NGOs whose volunteers work on projects in the park that include
raptor censuses and the replanting of native tree
species.
• Mountain biking. Various routes crossing
Los Alcornocales Natural Park and
surrounding areas, such as the Camino de
Picacho-Peguera and the Ruta de Los
Molinos, which give views across the Strait
of Gibraltar to the African coast.
The philosophy behind Nature Explorer is a combination of knowledge and respect for wildlife, together with extensive experience in the development
of activity tourism in the outdoors.
diving of all types and levels, including
night dives and visits to sunken ships, plus
recreational diving training courses,
kayaking and whale-watching in the Strait
of Gibraltar. Also, large-group 4WD trips to
various areas of Cádiz Province.
Languages
English and French
Open
All year round
• Multi-adventure programmes. Aimed at
groups from schools and companies.
Tailor-made for each group, based on
group size, ages and time available. These
include activities such as archery, rockclimbing, death slides …
• Other activities. Outside the park, scuba80
ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
Material/equipment provided
• Binoculars (upon request)
• Information leaflets for the park and each
route
• Mountain bike hire
• Vehicular transport (4WD routes)
• Technical material for scuba-diving
Contact details
Puerto Deportivo de Barbate, local A2
11160 Barbate (Cádiz)
Tel.: 956 45 14 00 / 607 44 65 11
[email protected]
www.naturexplorer.com
CASA CONVENTO LA ALMORAIMA
At the beginning of the seventeenth century, the
Countess of Castellar stipulated that the convent of
La Almoraima be built to house the Order of the
Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy (Orden de la Merced),
donating for the purpose a magnificent estate surrounded by thick Cork Oak forests. Two centuries later,
the Duke of Medinaceli — who also held the title of
Count of Castellar — initiated a project whereby this
enormous property was converted into a hunting
preserve. The estate has been employed as such ever
since, at the same time being utilised to produce cork
and firewood, for rearing free-range Iberian Black
Pigs, and for other sundry agricultural activities. After
changing hands several times, La Almoraima — at
16,000 hectares, one of the largest estates in sole
ownership in Europe — passed into the hands of the
Spanish Wildlife Conservation Institute in 1987, although nowadays it belongs to the National Parks Organisation.
The hotel that today occupies the convent of La
Almoraima is undoubtedly one of the most unique
Accommodation type
Four-star hotel
visitor services and activities
• Information about the region.
• Guided excursions around the estate (in
4WD vehicles, on foot, on horseback or by
mountain bike).
rural accommodation complexes in Andalusia, as
much for its location — in the heart of Los Alcornocales Natural Park — as for its amenities.
Access to the rooms is by means of a large, landscaped courtyard, resembling a cloister, enlivened by
birdsong and a murmuring fountain. Once inside the
building, the décor of both the communal areas and
the rooms fulfils every expectation, characterised by
traditional furnishings in keeping with the antiquity
of the edifice. As such, the rooms, some of which have
open fires, convey a sensation of warmth and wellbeing. The establishment is also equipped with sports
facilities, a swimming pool and several conference
rooms.
The hotel has an excellent restaurant, where
guests can sample many dishes typical of the regional
cuisine, ranging from a stew of tagarninas (cardoonlike plant) to wild boar in sweet-chestnut sauce, and
from salmorejo (gazpacho-like cold tomato soup) to
venison‘à la Almoraima’. Many active pursuits are also
available at La Almoraima: excursions in 4WD vehi-
• Horse riding.
• Organisation of mountain-bike routes.
• Traditional gastronomy.
• Sale of local produce (honey,
preserves and artisan craftwork
made from cork).
cles, horse trekking, mountain biking, guided walks,
birdwatching or even helping out with farming activities on the estate, such as harvesting cork. It is also
possible to hunt, observe the Red Deer rut, or visit the
coast, which is only 15 km from the hotel.
Capacity
• 23 rooms, sleeping 54
• 90-cover restaurant
Languages
English and German
Location
Castellar de la Frontera (Cádiz)
Finca La Almoraima, on the road between
Algeciras and Ronda.
Coordinates: 36º 17’22.02’’N, 5º 25’51.16’’W
Facilities
• Restaurant, bar
• All types of functions catered for
• Conference room
• 2 lounges with open fires
• Car park
• Swimming pool
• Sports facilities
• All rooms are equipped with telephone,
mini-bar, safe deposit box and TV; some
have open fires
• One room adapted for people with
limited mobility
Open
All year round, although at present it is
undergoing major renovation and
improvements, and will re-open in April
2010.
Prices
Double room: from 80 €/night
Official endorsements
ISO 14001
Contact details
Tel.: 956 69 30 02 / 956 69 30 50
[email protected]
www.laalmoraimahotel.com
LOS ALCORNOCALES NATURAL PARK
81
GENATUR
Versatility is one of the main tendencies apparent in
companies working in nature reserves. Genatur, active since 1996, fits this pattern, having worked on a
wide range of subjects, from environmental education to active tourism, from socio-cultural animation
to specialised consultation.
Schools, families and groups are their principal
clients, although other groups such as companies
looking for enjoyable and stimulating activities in a
natural environment are slowly being incorporated
into their clientele. It is no accident that Genatur
works in the nature reserves in Cádiz Province, in
other words the very best wildlife areas in one of the
most biodiverse provinces in Andalusia.
A large part of Genatur’s educational and tourism
work is undertaken in Los Alcornocales Natural Park,
thereby allowing their clients access to some of the
most spectacular Mediterranean and riparian woodlands in Spain. The combination of routes such as La
visitor services and activities
• Hiking. Genatur leads walks of different
lengths and degree of difficulty within the
different natural parks in Cádiz Province
— Los Alcornocales, Sierra de Grazalema,
La Breña & Marismas del Barbate, Doñana
and the Strait of Gibraltar — and
unprotected sites in other rural areas, such
as the Vía Verde de la Sierra and the Jerez
countryside
• Multi-adventure. Beginner’s courses in
rock climbing and abseiling, archery,
mountain biking, orientation and
canoeing in various Cádiz reservoirs such
as Guadalcacín, Barbate, Zahara and Arcos.
Sauceda, which follows the Hozgarganta river, and
other less well known options, for example a trek in
the mountains of Jerez de la Frontera (where the company is based) are typical. Although outside Los Alcornocales, Genatur regularly visit the Laguna de
birdwatching routes, particularly at the
Laguna de Medina and La Esperanza
saltpans, where large numbers of aquatic
birds can be seen.
• Socio-cultural activities. Various leisure
activities for both children and adults
orientated towards learning and the
assimilation of personal values, including
puppet shows, passacaglias and children’s
themed parties.
Medina. This large wetland close to Jerez is one of the
best reserves in Cádiz for birdwatching, particularly
for ducks, flamingos, gulls, grebes and small wetland
birds. The threatened Red-knobbed Coot, which
breeds here, is one of the jewels of this reserve.
resource inventories, design and
signposting of trails and the
preparation of field guides and
educational materials.
Material/equipment provided
• Workbooks for school children
• All other material necessary for the
relevant activities: sports equipment,
binoculars, etc.
• Information leaflets
Languages
English
Open
All year round, except summer in the
mountains of Jerez de la Frontera
• Environmental education. Principally
workshops for school children and
82
• Company activities. As part of its worker
incentive programme, Genatur offers
multi-adventure, sport and wildlife,
motivation games, relaxation techniques
and workshops.
• Environmental consultancy.
Environmental projects, environmental
impact assessments, natural and cultural
ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
Official endorsements
• ISO 9001
• ISO 14000
• Andalusia Natural Park Brand
Contact details
Turismo Rural Genatur SCA
Polígono Industrial Guadalquivir, nave 36
11408 Jerez de la Frontera (Cádiz)
Tel.: 956 31 60 00 / 630 91 45 45
[email protected]
[email protected]
www.genatur.com
CASA RURAL LA TAGARNINA
Medina Sidonia, one of the oldest settlements in
southern Andalusia, was founded by Pheonician
colonists arriving from the distant Mediterranean city
of Sidon. It overlooks the Bay of Cádiz and since its
foundation has been a veritable melting-pot of cultures, from the Phoenicians, Arabs and Romans, right
down to the Visigoths, all of whom left still-discernable traces of their presence on the towns’ architecture and cultural heritage.
The strategic position of Medina Sidonia permits
the traveller to enjoy not only the mountains that form
a fine backdrop, but also to sunbathe on the wonderful local beaches of El Palmar, Los Caños de Meca and
Bolonia, blessed by crystal-clear waters and fine sand,
and only short car-ride away. For those wishing to venture a little further afield, the beaches of Tarifa, Rota
and Chipiona, as well as the towns of Jerez and Sanlúcar de Barrameda, are also within striking distance.
Nevertheless, even without leaving the municipality it
Accommodation type
Class 1 rural guesthouse, shared
accommodation
is still easy to enjoy the wildlife of the nearby mountains by walking, cycling or riding any one of the
drover’s-roads, paths and trails that criss-cross the area.
The restoration of the house — a former flour mill
— carried out in 2002 was respectful of its original
thick walls, wooden beams and courtyard with well,
and also revealed a number of features such as brick
arches hidden by previous reforms that were incorporated into the house’s décor.
The dining room — room used also for socialising and relaxing — and the pleasant courtyard are
spaces where guests can rest, talk or broaden their
knowledge of the Natural Park by reading any of the
publications that are available. Access to seven of the
nine rooms is from the stairs leading up from the
courtyard, while the other two open directly on to the
patio.
La Tagarnina takes its name from a thistle that,
when in season, can be picked and stripped of its
Languages
English, German and French
visitor services and activities
• Information and publications about the
Natural Park and local region.
• Library.
• Local products on sale.
prickles and other tough fibres, and then cooked with
eggs in a revuelto or used as an ingredient in a stew.
These and other succulent local dishes can be tasted
in the many restaurants in the town.
Breakfast at La Tagarnina is the time to taste the
rich organic olive oil from the Cádiz mountains, and
the owners also offer guests the possibility of buying
hand-made products from the Natural Park.
Facilities
• Bar service
• Good access for people with reduced
mobility to communal areas and one of
the bedrooms
• Wi-Fi
• TV in rooms
• Courtyard
Open
All year round
Price
Double room (with breakfast): 85 €
Location
Medina Sidonia (Cádiz)
C/Moritos, 10
Coordinates: 36º 27’38.90”N, 5º 55’45.07”W
Capacity
9 rooms, sleeping 18
Official endorsements
• Andalusia Natural Park Brand
• Park Information Point
Contact details
Tel.: 956 42 30 67
[email protected],
[email protected]
www.latagarnina.com
LOS ALCORNOCALES NATURAL PARK
83
View of the Sierra de Ubrique.
SIERRA DE GRAZALEMA NATURAL PARK
Spanish firs, gorges and caves in a limestone labyrinth
The mountains of Grazalema are the first barrier that the wet-weather systems that rush in off the Atlantic meet as they advance into the Iberian Peninsula; as they are forced to rise and become trapped by the peaks of the Natural Park, the rain-laden clouds release sufficient rainfall to make this area one of the wettest in the whole of Spain. As a result, the limestone rock of this range has been sculpted into one of the
most spectacular karst landscapes in the whole of Spain, replete with plunging gorges and one of the most extensive cave and underground
river systems in Andalusia. Alongside this rugged karstified landscape the other great attractions of this Natural Park are the Spanish Fir forest in the Sierra del Pinar, the area’s hugely diverse flora and the numerous white towns and villages steeped in Moorish tradition.
n the eastern-most sector of the Sierras Béticas, straddling the border between the provinces of Cádiz and Málaga, lies the Sierra de
Grazalema Natural Park, an area of stark rugged relief littered with
spectacular limestone peaks.
The travellers who venture into these mountains often get the
impression that the peaks that surround them are much loftier than
they really are. The high point, Pico Torreón, reaches only a relatively
modest 1,654 m, but the Sierra del Pinar to which it belongs has all
the trappings of a truly imposing mountain chain. This false impression is engendered above all by the abrupt nature of the terrain, with
an altitudinal difference of over 1,300 m separating Torreón and the
lowest point of the Natural Park, the town of El Bosque, situated at
just 290 m.
Even so, this complex web of ridges is not the main claim to fame
of the park, since it is much better known as the wettest part of the
whole of Spain. The first obstacle that the wet-weather systems that
sweep in off the Atlantic and Gulf of Cádiz meet is none other than
this mass of mountains, which forces the clouds to rise, thus provoking what are often incredibly violent storms. In the wettest part
of these sierras the average annual rainfall is over 2,200 mm/m2, although this figure may double in the wettest years such as 1963,
when over 4,300 mm/m2 fell on the town of Grazalema.
Nevertheless, despite such rain, the Sierra de Grazalema has
no major rivers and most of the rivers that do flow through these
mountains only do so for part of the year. The explanation of this
I
paradox lies underground, where veritable subterranean rivers flow
fed by the rainwater that filters through the highly karstified terrain, which is also dotted with numerous springs and natural fountains.
Back on the surface, the northern and western sectors of the park
belong to the basin of the river Guadalete, which rises near the town
of Grazalema, and then flows through the Zahara-El Gastor reservoir
before entering the Atlantic near El Puerto de Santa María (Cádiz).
The three rivers of the western sector — El Bosque, Tavizna and
Ubrique — flow into the reservoir of Los Hurones, from where the
river Majaceite continues on to join the Guadalete, albeit beyond the
limits of the Natural Park.
Sierra del Pinar and Garganta Verde: at the heart of the park
At the very heart of the Grazalema Natural Park lie the Sierras del
Pinar, Zafalgar, Labradillo and Monte Prieto. The peaks, flanks and
gullies of these mountains conform a vast north-facing cirque and
are the most valuable natural area of the park, and as such have
been accorded the highest level of protection.
The steep slopes — known locally as Las Caídas — of the north
face of the Sierra del Pinar are covered by the famous Spanish Fir
forest and the tongues of long scree slopes, which tower over two
deep canyons, La Garganta Seca and La Garganta Verde. The latter of
the two is the more accessible and has been carved out by a torrential stream — Arroyo Bocaleones — that has created a gorge with
SIERRA DE GRAZALEMA NATURAL PARK
85
sheer walls of over 400 m in height. When this stream only carries a
little water (most flows underground), the canyon can be walked, although this is somewhat less advisable in rainy periods. A path begins at the col of El Acebuche, on the road between the towns of
Grazalema and Zahara de la Sierra, and then plunges down into the
depths of this enormous scar towards a hidden, but still large, cave
known as La Ermita. Limestone rock formations and walls decorated
with an implausible mix of colours (due to the dissolution of the salts
in the rocks) await the walker; from here, however, only those well
versed in canyoning can progress any further.
Amongst caves, caverns and canyons
The geological importance of this Natural Park is beyond doubt. With
almost 8 km of galleries and 200 m of descent, the Hundidero-Gato
cave-system, north-east of the town of Montejaque (Málaga), is the
most extensive in the whole of Andalusia, and is home to the underground section of the river Gaduares. Nearby stands the dam of the
Montejaque reservoir, built in 1925 and then one of the first large
dams ever to be built in Spain. Unfortunately it never ever filled up
since the water filtered through the limestone rocks towards the
enormous mouth of the Hundidero cave, inside which the remains
of the structures constructed to try and prevent the filtration can still
be seen. After 4.5 subterranean kilometres, the river flows out of the
Cueva de Gato, another cave, and then soon after merges with the
river Guadiaro.
Inside the gorge of La Garganta Verde.
86
ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
View of the Sierra del Pinar, home to Grazalema’s Spanish Fir forest.
One of the most evocative landscapes in the park is the Sierra
del Endrinal, south of the town of Grazalema. This mountainscape
consists of a circular tabular relief, heavily karstified, but with relatively gentle slopes and surrounded by steep cliffs of up to 200 m in
height. In this landscape, the exposed patches of still actively eroding limestone pavements alternate with areas of pasture, and visitors
will delight in the many weird and wonderful karstic forms and features that dot this landscape.
Like the Sierra del Endrinal, the Sierras del Caíllo and Ubrique
can also proudly boast towering cliff-faces and deep gorges. The best
known are El Salto del Cabrero (‘Goat-herd’s Leap’), north of Benaocaz, and El Saltadero, east of Ubrique. South of the Sierra del Caíllo
extends a long depression known as La Manga de Villaluenga (literally ‘the sleeve’), adorned with suggestive landscapes that can be
easily admired from the road from Villaluenga del Rosario to Benaocaz, which passes through its midst.
Dolines — depression produced when the roof of an underground cavern collapses due to continuous erosion — are another
typical karstic formation. They are very common in this area and in
some cases over the centuries have joined to form depressions of
much greater dimensions, known as poljes. The best such example in the Natural Park is the polje of Líbar, the largest in the park
(4.3 x 1.5 km) and site of the cave of the same name. On a trail that
leads from near the village of Villaluenga del Rosario, walkers can
appreciate the peace and quiet of the polje of Los Llanos del Republicano.
such forests in the world are in the nearby Serranía de Ronda and
Sierra Bermeja, both in the province of Málaga, and the Rif mountains in Morocco.
Despite being well adapted to a Mediterranean climate, the pinsapo requires high rainfall and a certain degree of humidity to survive, and only finds these conditions above 1,000 m on shady northor west-facing slopes. Aside from the Sierra del Pinar, in the Natural
Park there are a few other stands of these singular firs in the sierras
of Zafalgar, Endrinal and Margarita, as well as single trees scattered
here and there throughout much of the park.
The Spanish Fir forest in the Sierra del Pinar.
The pinsapo, the Spanish Fir
The pinsapar or Spanish Fir forest is the most significant woodland
in the park, as much due to its status as a relict of the former forests
of the area, as for its excellent state of conservation. Moreover, the
sharp contrast between the dark green foliage of the pinsapos and
the pale colour of the jagged limestone rocks produces a highly photogenic effect.
The name pinsapo comes from the Latin pinus-sapinus meaning
‘pine-fir’. Although scientifically it is classified as a fir, local people
refer to it as a pine, hence the name Sierra del Pinar of the ridge
where it grows. Aside from the Grazalema pinsapar, the only other
Holm and Cork Oaks, and Wild Olives
The Spanish Fir forest may be the best known forest in the Grazalema area, but they are not the most abundant: this distinction belongs to the Holm Oak forest. On the most inaccessible slopes the
Holm Oaks have generally managed to preserve their original
shapes, forming dense forests of characteristically shaped trees accompanied by Lentiscs, Hawthorns and genistas. Nonetheless, centuries of traditional forest uses have left the Holm Oak forests reduced to dehesas (wood pastures) in many areas: on north-facing
slopes they mix in with Lusitanian Oaks, and even appear above the
pinsapar wherever this fir is unable to cope with the drying effects of
the easterly winds that blow for much of the summer.
In some areas of the park, sandy soils substitute the limestone
soils and here appear the Cork Oaks that can only thrive on acidic
soils. The undergrowth is dominated by various species of heather,
rock-rose, as well as Myrtles and diverse ferns. Here too grow extensions of Wild Olive, Carob, Lentisc and Dwarf Fan Palms, amongst
other tree and shrub species.
The floral variety of these sierras is enormous and over 1,300 species
of plant have been recorded. Of these, seven are endemic to the park
and almost 50 are Iberian endemics. The entire world population of the
Grazalema Poppy (Papaver rupifragum) is restricted to the Sierras del
Examples of the flora and fauna of the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park. From left to right: Lentisc, Grazalema Poppy, Bonelli’s Eagle and Griffon Vultures.
SIERRA DE GRAZALEMA NATURAL PARK
87
PRACTICAL INFORMATION AND PUBLIC FACILITIES
Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park
• Date declared. 12 February 1985
• Surface area. 53,411 ha
• Provinces. Cádiz and Málaga
• Municipalities. CÁDIZ: Algodonales, Benaocaz, El Bosque, El Gastor, Grazalema, Prado del
Rey, Ubrique, Villaluenga del Rosario, Zahara de
la Sierra. MÁLAGA: Benaoján, Cortes de la Frontera, Jimera de Líbar, Montejaque, Ronda
• ECST accreditation. 2004
• Other types of protection. Biosphere Reserve, Special Protection Area for Birds, Site of
Community Importance
• Contact details
Avda. de la Diputación, s/n, 11670 El Bosque
(Cádiz). Tel.: 956 70 97 03
[email protected]
Go to Ventana del Visitante at
www.juntadeandalucia.es/medioambiente
vISITOR FACILITIES
CORTES DE LA FRONTERA VISITOR CENTRE
The town of Cortes de la Frontera (Málaga
province) is situated strategically right where the
natural parks of Sierra de Grazalema and Los Alcornocales meet. The town’s visitor centre provides information on the natural values of both
these parks and of the nearby Sierra de las
Nieves. As well, it describes the impact of human
society on the landscape and the role played by
water in modelling the geomorphological structures and vegetation of these mountains.
• Location and contact details. C/ Jacaranda,
1, on corner of Avda. de la Democracia, Cortes
de la Frontera (Málaga). Tel.: 952 15 45 99
• Services. Audiovisual room, shop selling publications, fair-trade goods and products with
the Andalusia Natural Park Brand.
• Opening times. All year round. Thursday: 1014; Friday: 16-18 (July-September, also 19-21);
Saturday and Sunday: 10-14 and 16-18 (JulySeptember, 19-21)
• Access for people with reduced mobility
EL BOSQUE VISITOR CENTRE
Situated in the town of El Bosque (province of
Cádiz), this centre provides an introduction to
the wonderful landscapes of Sierra de Grazalema, with its Mediterranean landscapes and
unique Spanish Fir forests. Likewise, the centre
also provides a view of the role humans have
played in moulding the landscape and the importance of rivers and streams in the dynamics
of local ecosystems.
88
• Location and contact details. C/ Federico
García Lorca, 1, El Bosque (Cádiz).
Tel.: 956 72 70 29
• Services. Exhibition and audiovisual rooms,
shop selling publications, fair-trade goods and
products with the Andalusia Natural Park
Brand.
• Opening times. All year round. Monday-Friday: 10-14 and 17-19; Saturdays: 09-14 and 1719; Sundays: 09-14.
• Access for people with reduced mobility
wATER ECOMUSEUM (BENAMAHOMA MILL)
Located in one of the numerous flour mills that
once existed in this region, this centre illustrates the importance of water in the Natural
Park and the use that historically it has been
put to (flour and fullling mills, etc.).
• Location and contact details. Benamahoma
(Cádiz). Tel.: 956 72 71 05.
• Opening times. All year round. WednesdaySaturday and public holidays: 10-14 and 16-18
(in summer, 18-20); Sundays: 10-14.
• Access for people with reduced mobility
ZAHARA DE LA SIERRA INFORMATION POINT
Situated in the old centre of the town of Zahara
de la Sierra, most of this centre is devoted to
the flora of the Natural Park and the Spanish Fir
forest.
• Location and contact details. Pza. del Rey
nº 3, Zahara de la Sierra. Tel.: 956 12 31 14
• Opening times. All year round: 09-14 and 1619 (in summer: 17-20).
ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
EL CASTILLEJO BOTANICAL GARDEN
This botanical garden is home to many of the
species of the most characteristic plant communities of the Ronda Biogeographical Region,
which stretches from the Sierra de Grazalema
as far as Sierra de Loja (Granada), and also includes the whole of the Serranía de Ronda and
Sierra Bermeja. Many endemic plants are on
display, including the Spanish Fir.
• Location and contact details. El Bosque
(Cádiz). Tel.: 956 71 61 34
• Opening times. All year round. April-May and
September-October: 10-14 and 17-20; JuneAugust: 10-14 and 18-21; rest of year: 10-14 and
15.30-18.30.
• Access for people with reduced mobility
RECREATIONAL FACILITIES
PICNIC SITES
• Cintillo and Aguas Nuevas, in Benaocaz
(Cádiz). Access for people with reduced mobility.
• Las Covezuelas, in Villaluenga del Rosario
(Cádiz). Access for people with reduced mobility.
• Los Cañitos, in El Bosque (Cádiz). Access for
people with reduced mobility.
• Los Llanos del Campo, in Grazalema (Cádiz).
Access for people with reduced mobility.
VIEwPOINTS
• Cintillo and Aguas Nuevas, in Benaocaz
(Cádiz). Access for people with reduced mobility.
• Puerto de las Palomas, in Grazalema (Cádiz).
• Puerto de los Acebuches, in Grazalema
(Cádiz). Access for people with reduced mobility.
• Puerto del Boyar, in Grazalema (Cádiz). Access for people with reduced mobility.
PAThS AND TRAILS
A network of 20 waymarked paths totalling
over 90 km exists in the park, of which the following are some of the best for those wishing
to explore this protected area:
• The Pinsapar (Spanish Fir forest). This path
coincides with the old trail that ran from Grazalema and Benamahoma, and climbs up the
north side of the Sierra del Pinar, from where
there are spectacular views of the towns of
Grazalema and Ronda, and the mountains of
Sierra de las Nieves and Sierra Nevada. Nevertheless, the main attraction of this path is the
fact that it enters into the heart of the pinsapar,
the Spanish Fir forest, here mixed in with numerous ancient Lusitanian Oaks. Permits available in advance from the park offices are
needed to walk this path, since it passes
through the most strictly protected part of the
Natural Park. Length: 16 km. Time: 7-8 h.
• La Garganta Verde. La Garganta Verde (literally, the ‘Green Throat’!) is a spectacular gorge,
carved out by the waters of a stream, Arroyo
Bocaleones, which ends in a cave known as La
Ermita. Its walls are used by numerous Griffon
Vultures as a breeding site; permits available in
advance from the park offices are needed to
walk this path, since it passes through the most
strictly protected part of the Natural Park.
Length: 2.3 km. Time: 4 h. A very difficult path
due to the long climb involved.
• Río Majaceite. A path that connects the
towns of Benamahoma and El Bosque along
the banks of the river Majaceite. The whole
walk benefits from the cooling effect of the waters of the river and the shade offered by the
verdant gallery vegetation. Length: 4.2 km.
Time: 2 h.
• Llanos de Líbar. This trail passes through a
spectacular karstified landscape dotted with
Holm Oaks, where cattle graze all year round. It
eventually reaches the large plain known as the
Llanos de Líbar, which is surrounded by tall
limestone peaks. Length: 10 km. Time 5-6 h.
OThER FACILITIES
MONTEJAQUE INFORMATION POINT AND
SPELEOLOGY INTERPRETATION CENTRE
This centre illustrates the importance of karstic
processes in the landscapes, the relationship
between humans and the caves and the techniques used in speleological explorations.
Montejaque (Málaga).
HIGUERÓN DE TAVIZNA FIELD
STUDY CENTRE
Environmental education and other activities
are carried out in this centre, which also has accommodation (see data sheet in this guide).
El Bosque to Ubrique road, km 7, Benaocaz
(Cádiz). Tel.: 956 72 59 50
Tel.: 952 16 71 96 / 952 16 75 51
www.montejaque.es
LOS PINSAPOS BOTANICAL GARDEN
Municipal-owned space devoted to the flora of
the Sierra de Grazalema.
Zahara de la Sierra (Cádiz). Tel.: 956 12 30 04
www.zaharadelasierra.es
El Gastor
3
Zahara de la Sierra
Embalse
de Zahara
1
Cortes de la Frontera Visitor Centre
2
El Bosque Visitor Centre
JB
A-374
El Castillejo Botanical Garden
3
Zahara de la Sierra Information Point
4
Water Ecomuseum
A-373
Prado del Rey
4
JB
2
Grazalema
Benamahoma
El Bosque
A-372
A-372
Ronda
Montejaque
A-373
A-2302
Benaoján
Benaocaz
Embalse
de los Hurones
Villaluenga
del Rosario
Ubrique
Jimera
de Líbar
Atajate
A-373
1
Cortes de la Frontera
A-369
Benadalid
0
5
A-2304
Benalauria
10
15
km
SIERRA DE GRAZALEMA NATURAL PARK
89
View of the cliffs at Salto del Cabrero from the Puerto del Boyar.
View of Zahara de la Sierra; in the background, Peñón del Gastor.
Pinar, El Endrinal and El Caíllo, and the Rif mountains in Morocco. This
species grows in the cracks in the limestone rocks and, despite having
very attractive — but fragile — deep orange petals, is hard to find since
it only flowers for a very brief period of time. Another endemic species
is Recoder’s Geranium (Erodium recoderi), only found on Cerro de
Tavizna near Montejaque and Puerto de las Palomas in Grazalema. The
park also has a very rich and varied population of orchids.
The attraction of the ‘white villages’
Evidence of human settlement in the area dates back to the Palaeolithic Era and one of the most significant of all Iberian cave art sites
is that of La Pileta, in which, aside from important Palaeolithic and
Neolithic archaeological remains, over 3,000 cave paintings have
been found.
The Romans built their villas, fortresses and aqueducts here,
and some of their remains — for example, the walls, houses,
necropolis, roads and baths of Ocuri (near Ubrique at a site known
as El Salto de la Mora) — have survived to the present day. The
Moors also left behind a vast number of buildings, generally defensive towers and castles, of which the Nasrid castle of Aznalmara,
conquered by the Christians in the fifteen century, stands out — literally — from its perch on top of the crag overlooking the river
Tavizna. From the same period dates the castle of Zahara, with a
look-out tower that presides over the village of the same name. One
of the most patent of all legacies of the Moorish period are the toponyms of the towns, rivers and places that dot the maps of this
corner of the province of Cádiz: Benaocaz, Benaoján, Benamahoma,
Zahara, Grazalema, Guadalete, Guadalcacín, Guadiaro and Zafalgar
are all names of Moorish origin.
In all, 14 municipalities belonging to the provinces of Cádiz and
Málaga form part of the Natural Park. Ronda and Ubrique are the
largest, although their actual town centres are outside the park limits. Within the park boundaries, Grazalema, with over 2,000 inhabitants, is the largest settlement and an excellent example of the nature of the ‘white towns’ that are scattered around these mountains,
splashes of white standing out from the dark green of the vegetation and the grey of the limestone rock that surrounds them. Bats in the caves and raptors on the rocks
Around 180 species of vertebrate breed in the park and, along with
Los Alcornocales Natural Park, this park harbours the greatest diversity of mammals in Andalusia (42 species). Of great interest is the
abundance of small and medium-sized carnivores such as, Egyptian
Mongoose, Beech Marten and Genet; Otters, Weasels and Badgers
are also present but are somewhat less common. Larger mammals
include Iberian Ibex and Roe Deer, at home, respectively, on the
park’s rocky crags and wooded hillsides.
The park can also boast a significant diversity of bat species,
amongst which stand out the horseshoe bats (genus Rhinolophus),
which find the park’s many caves perfect spots to breed and to hibernate. In the Hundidero-Gato cave system, over 100,000 Schreiber’s
Bats (Miniopterus schreibersii) have been found to hibernate, which
is possibly the largest colony of the species in Spain.
Around 100 bird species of bird breed in the park, of which the
cliff-breeding raptors are probably the most eye-catching. With 50
or so known breeding sites, the Grazalema mountains contain one of
the best populations of Griffon Vultures in Europe. Equally significant, but more due to the negative tendencies in their populations,
are the park’s breeding pairs of Egyptian Vulture and Bonelli’s Eagle.
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AULA DE LA NATURALEZA HIGUERÓN DE TAVIZNA
The Higuerón de Tavizna Nature Study Centre is an
project run by the Buenavista Andalusian Co-operative, which also runs an educational farm near Arcos
de la Frontera and a shop selling organic produce in
Jerez de la Frontera. Higuerón de Tavizna is situated in
the heart of the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park, between the towns of El Bosque and Ubrique, and is primarily a centre for environmental education, focussing principally on extracurricular activities for
children, although it also works with families and
groups of adults.
The recently constructed buildings that comprise
the centre are equipped with facilities to accommodate 60 people, full board, with plenty of room left over
in which to run the educational programmes on offer.
During term time, Higuerón de Tavizna organises
activity programmes of one or two days’duration, but
during the school holidays the centre opens its doors
to children for longer periods, by way of summer
camps. Apart from getting to know the environment,
enjoying the countryside and having fun, the children
visitor services and activities
• School-children. The Higuerón de Tavizna
Nature Study Centre organises residential
programmes of one or more days’duration
during term time, as well as summer camps
in the holidays, both of which provide a
range of environmental education and
multi-adventure courses and games.
• Programmes for adults. Group activities for
families, businesses and associations
combine learning about the environment
with enjoying the countryside and cultural
heritage of the Sierra de Grazalema Natural
Park. Games and workshops are adapted
to the requirements of each group.
will learn about Grazalema’s greatest natural treasure
— the Spanish Fir (pinsapo) — because a small copse
of around 30 trees was planted near the centre by volunteers some years back. They will also learn at first
hand about the problems facing one of the park’s
commonest birds of prey, the Griffon Vulture. A small
aviary on site harbours several individuals of this
magnificent carrion-eater, donated by various wildlife
recuperation centres, none of which is fit to be returned to the wild.
Among the remarkable artefacts that can be seen
at the nature study centre are a renovated lime-kiln
and an old adobe bread oven, which is occasionally
still put to good use. Of even greater interest is the
fact that families visiting Higuerón de Tavizna at
weekends can participate in one of the many thematic courses that are organised ever year. Popular
courses include autumn fruits, in which participants
can make their own preserves and drinks, and another about typical foodstuffs of these mountains,
with practical sessions in which participants make
• Thematic courses. These generally take
place in the autumn, and consist of
practical workshops in which participants
can, for example, make jams, drinks,
cheeses, etc., be trained in basic
astronomy or wildlife photography, or
explore one of the villages of the region to
learn about its cultural heritage.
Material/equipment provided
• Sleeps 65
• Dining room
• Workshops
• Recreation room (with open fire)
• Swimming pool
• Shop selling organic produce
• Fixed flying fox
• Climbing wall for beginners
• Abseiling wall
• Autumn workshop. This programme,
promoted by the Andalusian
Government’s Department of the
Environment, is aimed at professionals
and others who work in the field of
environmental education.
cheeses and sausages. Astronomy, wildlife photography and courses about aromatic and medicinal plants
are other topics of interest.
Languages
English and German
Official endorsements
• ISO 9001
• ISO 14001
• Park Information Point
Contact details
El Bosque to Ubrique road (A-373), km 24
11612 Benaocaz (Cádiz)
Tel.: 956 72 58 49 / 956 72 59 50 /
648 04 28 77
[email protected]
www.granjaescuela.net
Open
All year round
SIERRA DE GRAZALEMA NATURAL PARK
91
HOTEL MOLINO DEL SANTO
Since time immemorial, one of the principal claims to
fame of the mountain ranges of western Málaga has
been their ability to yield olive oil of superlative quality. Witness to this oil-producing tradition are the numerous oil mills that are scattered across these
ranges, many of which are no longer in use, but which
confer an undoubted charm and cultural value on the
region. After 150 years in production, and following
a painstaking renovation project, one of these old oil
mills — also used for grinding cereals — was converted into the country hotel of El Molino del Santo,
which opened its doors in 1987.
Because the renovators took pains to conserve
many of the original structural components of the
building, each and every part of the hotel pays homage to the memory of the mill. The ancient millstones
have been retained as decorative elements, hidden
alcoves — where the millers secreted oil for sale on
the black market — have been adapted as store
rooms, the old oil-press has been converted for use
as a kitchen, and the former oil storage area is today
Accommodation type
Two-star rural hotel
visitor services and activities
• Information about the area.
• Organisation of courses (ornithology,
wine tasting, etc.).
• Sale of locally produced honey, cheeses,
sausages, etc.
part of the restaurant. Even the old bread oven has
been converted into a comfortable hotel room.
The grounds of the hotel also reveal the proprietors’ desire to attend to their guests’every need, harbouring gardens full of charming nooks and crannies,
in which to read or peacefully contemplate the delightful scenery that surrounds the hotel, soothed by
the murmur of Los Cascajales, a spring that — after
rising in the heart of the mountains — cascades down
the terraces of the property.
The kitchens of El Molino del Santo are another
constant source of pleasure for the visitor, with offerings ranging from the most delicious local sausages
to sophisticated desserts, such as crème brulée. Almost all the foodstuffs employed in the kitchens are
derived from fair-trade commerce in the local area.
The company has made an undeniable commitment to both quality and sustainability, which can be
seen not only in the official endorsements that it has
received, but also in the fact that no less than 70% of
waste materials produced are recycled, and because
Capacity
• 18 double rooms, sleeping 36
• 50-cover restaurant (100 covers if the
terraces are included)
it uses solar energy to heat its water. These efforts
have been recognised by numerous awards, both national and international, for tourism excellence and
the best correlation between price and quality.
El Molino del Santo also offers its guests the opportunity to participate in weekly birdwatching excursions (between March and November).
• Access for people with limited mobility
to the communal areas, restaurant and
one adapted room.
Languages
English, German and French
Location
Benaoján (Málaga)
Barriada de la Estación, s/n
Coordinates: 36º 42’46.80”N, 5º 14’59.96”W
Open
From the end of February to November
Facilities
• Bar-cafeteria
• Restaurant
• Garden with heated swimming pool and
terrace
• Conference room
• Library
• Laundry service
• Free Wi-Fi in the rooms and public areas
• Terraces in the rooms
• Car park
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ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
Prices
Double room with breakfast (three types
of rooms): 120, 170 y 190 €/night.
Official endorsements
• ISO 9001
• ISO 14001
• Park Information Point
Contact details
Tel.: 952 16 71 51 / 952 16 72 16
[email protected]
www.molinodelsanto.com
HOTEL RURAL ENRIQUE CALVILLO & CR CASA DEL HUERTO, RANCHO CALVILLO, LA ESTANCIA & LA CASITA
The original name of this establishment was Pensión
Las Siete Villas Hermanas, a homage to the seven villages of the mountains of Cádiz, although nowadays
it is called after its founder, Enrique Calvillo. Built in
the 1970s, it was the first establishment to offer
tourist accommodation in El Bosque.
A quiet mountain village of whitewashed houses,
El Bosque is surrounded by magnificent scenery and
is an ideal starting point from which to explore the
Grazalema Natural Park. Located in the heart of the
village, the hotel is divided into two levels, the ground
floor housing the bar and three dining rooms, where
the traveller can enjoy the finest culinary treats that
these mountains have to offer: trout from the river
Majaceite, game, and frangollo (a time-honoured
recipe based on maize meal). To support the local
economy, home-produced artisan and gastronomic
merchandise such as cheeses and cured pork products is on sale in the bar, soon to be accompanied by
a range of organic produce awarded the Andalusia
Natural Park Brand.
Accommodation type
One-star rural hotel
Simple self-catering
accommodation (4 houses)
visitor services and activities
• Information about the park in the hotel
and in the self-catering accommodation.
This also includes details of the companies
that offer activities in the region.
• The company liaises with the Natural
Park’s reservations centre in order to
obtain the permits required to gain access
to certain routes.
• Pets are welcome.
Languages
English
The bedrooms are located on the first floor, as is
the lounge-library, which contains a good deal of information about the Natural Park.
Travellers who favour a more intimate atmosphere in direct contact with nature may prefer to stay
in one of the four self-catering casas rurales, all of
which are easily accessible from El Bosque. The building that houses the Rancho Calvillo Casa Rural is more
than a hundred years old and, although little of the
Location
• Hotel Rural: Avda. de la Diputación, 5
El Bosque (Cádiz)
• CR La Casita, CR La Estancia, CR Casa del
Huerto: just outside the village of El
Bosque
Coordinates: 36º 45’47.11”N, 5º 31’53.66”W
• CR Rancho Calvillo: 6 km from El Bosque,
on the road between Prado del Rey and
Zahara de la Sierra
Coordinates: 36º 48’51.16”N, 5º 31’53.66”W
Capacity
• Hotel: 22 rooms, sleeping 44
• CR Casa del Huerto: 4 rooms, sleeping 9
• CR Rancho Calvillo: 2 rooms, sleeping 4
• CR La Casita: 2 rooms, sleeping 4
• CR La Estancia: 1 room, sleeping 2
• 150-cover restaurant
Facilities
Hotel Rural
• Bar and restaurant, offering gastronomy
typical of the region
• Lounge with open fire and library
• Two computers in the library, connected
to the internet
• Wi-Fi in rooms
original structure remains, the enormously thick walls
were preserved during its restoration. El Huerto and
La Estancia are the result of the refurbishment of an
old country dwelling whose original livestock quarters
now comprise one of the self-catering cottages for let.
The authentic flagstone floors are complemented by
many decorative elements that have been inherited
from the original owners or acquired in antique shops,
thus creating a traditional and welcoming ambience.
Although La Casita was built recently, its design closely
follows the traditional architectural style of the region.
Before guests arrive, they will be contacted by the
company to sound out their preferences and interests, on the basis of which they will be sent (by email)
a selection of information about thematic routes,
monuments, walking trails, wildlife and scenery, as
well as maps: in short, anything that might serve to
enhance their stay. The company is also able to organise the permits for certain trails in the Natural Park
that require prior authorisation, providing guests let
the company know well in advance.
• Access for people with limited mobility
to the communal areas of the hotel, the
restaurant and to some specially adapted
rooms
• TV in rooms
Open
All year round
Prices
• Hotel Rural: double room (with
breakfast): 50 €
• CR La Estancia: 58 €
• CR Casa del Huerto: 125 €
• CR Rancho Calvillo: 125 €
• CR La Casita: 80 €
Official endorsements
Hotel Rural
• Andalusia Natural Park Brand
• Park Information Point
CR La Estancia & CR Casa del Huerto
• ‘Q’ quality tourism label
• Park Information Point
CR La Casita
• Park Information Point
CR Rancho Calvillo
• ‘Q’ quality tourism label
• Andalusia Natural Park Brand
• Park Information Point
Contact details
Tel.: 956 71 61 05 / 678 65 69 48
[email protected]
www.hotelenriquecalvillo.com
SIERRA DE GRAZALEMA NATURAL PARK
93
MOLINO DE ABAJO
The town of El Bosque, in the north-east of the
province of Cádiz, is home to a small architectural
gem: an eighteenth-century mill, with its original
structure in a perfect state of repair, which still works
in just the same way as it did hundreds of years ago.
The inhabitants of the municipality of El Bosque have
always been farmers or foresters and today a goodly
part of this region lies within the Sierra de Grazalema
and Los Alcornocales Natural Parks. In times past, the
countless springs and streams that rise in the mountains hereabouts were harnessed to drive the numerous flour mills of the area.
The practice of milling has long been a distinctive feature of this region. Until the 1960s, many were
the folk who turned up at the mill, from the nearby
farmhouses and villages, to exchange news while the
mill did its work. The mill was an important gathering
place, where many stories were recounted, including
one that the old folks still delight in telling today: it
seems that during the rationing that followed the
Civil War, the mill was dismantled and was only alvisitor services and activities
• Interpretative visit. As this is a working
mill, visitors have the opportunity to
observe how each part of the machinery
operates. A guide will accompany the
group throughout the visit.
lowed to be used by officials of the National Wheat Service (Servicio Nacional
del Trigo). In defiance of this rule, the
most daring villagers, however, set up
the millstones at night to mill small
quantities of wheat and then dismantled them before sunrise.
El Molino de Abajo has been converted into a living museum, and can
be visited while it is in operation. After
watching the enormous stones grind
the wheat, visitors are able to make
their own bread from the resultant
flour. While the dough is rising and the
bread is cooked, there is time to take a stroll through
the Botanic Garden of El Castillejo and to visit the Interpretation Centre of the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park. At the end of this workshop, visitors might
also enjoy walking the 5-km trail — known as the
Camino del Río — that runs between El Bosque and
Benamahoma. Visits to El Molino de Abajo should be
• Workshop. Aside from inspecting the mill,
visitors can also make their own bread,
starting with the grinding of the wheat
and continuing right through to the
baking of the dough.
arranged in advance because the workshop will only
run with a minimum of 15 people,
Before leaving El Bosque, its flour mill and its river,
be sure to visit the shop at El Molino de Abajo, which
carries a wide range of artisan goods and local produce, including some that have been awarded the
Andalusia Natural Park Brand.
Facilities
Conference/meeting room
Languages
English
Open
All year round
Contact details
Molino de Abajo s/n.
11670 El Bosque (Cádiz)
Tel.: 956 71 62 19 / 658 84 57 61
[email protected]
www.elmolinodeabajo.com
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ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
HORIZON AVENTURA
Encouraged by the wealth of opportunities available
in the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park, in 1994 two
teachers from the Andalusian High Mountain/Mountaineering School founded Horizon Aventura, which
offers a diverse range of activities with an emphasis
on adventure sports. A team of outdoor sports professionals carefully designs each adventure activity
until it is felt to be suitable not only for groups of ten
people, but for two hundred. In response to the increasing demand from companies wishing to bring
their staff for a weekend of team-building sports and
adventures in the countryside, a new branch of the
company has been created: Horizon Activa.
Among the activities on offer to sports and adventure lovers are 4WD routes, canyoning, para-gliding, caving and rock-climbing courses, all of which
take place amid the spectacular scenery and imposing geological formations of the Sierra de Grazalema.
Horizon Aventura also offers multi-adventure courses,
which take place in their new centre, Akinda, in the
village of Grazalema itself.
For people who enjoy walking, the company offers guided excursions along some of the park’s
most emblematic trails, such as the high-level route
through the Spanish Fir forest (El Pinsapar), across
the Sierra del Endrinal, or the shady walk beside the
visitor services and activities
• Adventure sports. Canyoning, caving
and rock-climbing courses, which
take place in the Garganta Verde, Las
Buitreras and El Susto and El Gato cave
systems.
• 4WD routes. During the course of the
itinerary, frequent stops are made to
explain the scenic and cultural heritage of
the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park.
• Walking. Along the park’s most
idiosyncratic trails.
El Bosque river. And almost anyone who visits the
village of Grazalema will wish to visit Horizon’s shop,
where they can find out about the activities on
offer, or purchase walking or mountaineering
equipment.
Material/equipment provided
Specialised equipment appropriate to the
activity in question.
Languages
English and German
• Multi-adventure courses. In the Akinda
centre, in Grazalema, Horizon offers
courses in rock-climbing, abseiling, flying
fox, archery, canoeing, para-gliding and
orienteering.
• Activities for companies. In addition to
organising conferences, meetings, etc.,
Horizon offers companies other activities,
outside the natural park.
Official endorsements
• Andalusia Natural Park Brand
• Park Information Point
Open
All year round
Contact details
C/ Corrales Terceros, 29 (bajo)
11610 Grazalema (Cádiz)
Tel.: 956 13 23 63
[email protected]
www.horizonaventura.com
SIERRA DE GRAZALEMA NATURAL PARK
95
POSADA DEL FRESNO
Towards the end of the nineteenth century, because
the wild mountain ranges around Ronda were a notorious haunt of brigands, a barracks was constructed in
the region. The Civil Guards who were billeted here
were charged with combating the activities of those
highwaymen — for some reason viewed in a rather romantic light today — so that travellers might pass
safely through the region. A century later, the barracks
was converted into the country guesthouse of Posada
del Fresno, steeped in the history of the picturesque
village of Montejaque, whose labyrinth of narrow,
winding streets and white-washed houses takes visitors back to the Moorish origins of the settlement,
which was built in a strategic location between the
Sierra de Grazalema and the river Guadiaro.
During the three-year restoration project, the
proprietors — Romi and Ángel — were able to convert the old barracks into a calm and peaceful resting
place for travellers exploring these mountains. The
friendly, informal atmosphere of the four comfortable
rooms extends to all four corners of the guesthouse,
Accommodation type
Superior guesthouse, shared
accommodation.
which has been charmingly remodelled and decorated, not only respecting the original elements of its
construction, but also adapting them to the needs of
present-day travellers. Thanks to this combination,
guests nowadays can relax in the spa. The menu offered by the guesthouse has been carefully selected,
featuring home-made dishes typical of the region.
The well-stocked library contains many publications about the Natural Park, such that guests will find
all the information they need here in order to plan
their activities and enjoy their stay. In addition, the
proprietors are very knowledgeable about the area,
especially the speleological possibilities, as they have
contributed to several informative publications about
caving, and also collaborate actively with the Montejaque Speleology Interpretation Centre, which guests
can visit free of charge. For keen birdwatchers, Ángel
has designed six itineraries around the guesthouse,
intended to introduce visitors to the local fauna.
As members of the Andalusian Federation of
Speleology and the Ronda branch of the Spanish Or-
Languages
Catalan, English, French and Italian
Location
Montejaque (Málaga)
C/ Miguel de Cervantes, 2
Coordinates: 36º 44’ 4.78” N, 5º 15’ 6.32” W
Facilities
• Library
• TV and DVD
• Spa
• Meals and dining room
• Wi-Fi
• Courtyard
Capacity
4 rooms, sleeping 8
Open
All year round
visitor services and activities
• Information about walking,
birdwatching, geological and
speleological itineraries and activities.
• Documentation about the area for guests
(maps, literature, etc.).
• Traditional home cooking, including
dishes typical of the region and
Mediterranean cuisine.
• Spa and massage service.
• Pets are welcome.
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ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
nithological Society (SEO-BirdLife), the proprietors of
Posada del Fresno contribute to both the understanding and promulgation of the natural heritage of
these mountains.
Prices
Double room (with breakfast): 60 €
Official endorsements
• Andalusia Natural Park Brand
• Commitment to Quality Tourism Label
• Park Information Point
Contact details
Tel.: 952 16 75 44 / 649 97 29 79
[email protected]
www.posadadelfresno.com
HUERTA DEL TAJO
The Huerta del Tajo lies at the foot of the spectacular
Puente Nuevo — perhaps the most emblematic monument of the city of Ronda — in the depths of the
renowned Tajo de Ronda gorge, whose magnificent
scenery has been immortalised in a thousand images.
Access to the Huerta del Tajo complex is via a more
modest and much newer bridge, spanning the river
Guadalevín.
An hour-and-a-half’s gentle stroll from Ronda,
along the waymarked footpath over the col of Las
Muelas, takes walkers to the spectacular El Gato cave
system. The Gaduares river rises here, its waters flowing from the mouth of the cave to fill a large pool, in
a particularly beautiful setting. A number of waterdriven flour mills can still be found in the surrounding area, some of which are in the process of being restored to their former use today. This route runs right
past the accommodation complex of the Huerta del
Tajo.
Huerta del Tajo, as its name suggests, was originally one of several farmsteads in the bottom of the
Accommodation type
• The big house: superior self-catering
accommodation
• The small house: simple self-catering
accommodation
gorge, where vegetables and other crops were
grown. It consists of two houses, painstakingly renovated over the past three years: not an easy task
given that there was no bridge when the works
started, and all building materials had to be brought
in by wheelbarrow from the river. The restoration
works have scrupulously respected the original constructive elements of the houses (thick stone and
Location
Ronda (Málaga)
Partido Rural los Molinos, nº 12
Coordinates: 36º 7’ 4.16’’ N, 5º 16’ 9.59’’ W
visitor services and activities
• Detailed information about Ronda, its
environs, local festivals, traditions, etc.
• Information about companies offering
active tourism in the area.
• Collection and transport of guests.
lime walls, wooden beams, artisan clay-tiled floors
made in Ronda, pan-tiled roofs, etc.), integrating
them harmoniously with more natural elements, in
particular stone from the surrounding area. Both
houses have been equipped and furnished by local
tradesmen.
Huerta del Tajo is an establishment with a marked
commitment to sustainability, providing its guests
with firewood that is guaranteed to have been produced in an environmentally friendly fashion, principally from pruning the surrounding olive groves, and
utilising a closed circuit system to take maximum advantage of the heat generated by the open fire. It has
also installed a biological water treatment plant, to
purify waste water before it is discharged into the
river. The proprietors — José María and M.ª del
Rosario — have produced informative several leaflets
about the rural life and traditions of the Tajo’s past inhabitants (mills, allotments, electricity production,
etc.), with the aim of providing their guests with a better understanding of the history of the region.
Facilities
• Open fire
• TV via satellite
• Terrace
• Swimming pool
• Barbeque
• Allotment (with the possibility of picking
some of the produce)
Capacity
The big house: 3 rooms, sleeping 6
The small house: 1 room, sleeping 2
Open
All year round
Languages
English and French
Prices
• The big house: 120 €/day
• The small house: 60 €/day
Official endorsements
• Park Information Point
• Commitment to Quality Tourism Label
Contact details
Tel.: 952 87 04 04 / 666 28 17 28
[email protected]
www.huertadeltajo.com
SIERRA DE GRAZALEMA NATURAL PARK
97
PANGEA
This activity tourism company, the first in Málaga,
has been offering its services to schoolchildren, individuals and businesses since 2002. Its headquarters are in Ronda, a settlement that straddles a spectacular gorge — the two halves of the town being
united by a celebrated bridge — that somehow inspires a sense of adventure in its visitors. Pangea offers three distinct types of activities: Pangea Events,
which offers team-building activities for businesses;
Pangea Active Nature, which is devoted to adventure activities for the general public; and lastly,
Pangea Educa, which runs educational programmes
for school children.
The activity tourism programme takes place in
the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park, where the
limestone topography is riddled with caves and
gorges, while the extensive network of footpaths
across the range provides access to such emblematic locales as the Spanish Fir forest (El Pinsapar) and
the Llanos de Rabel. Pangea Active Nature takes advantage of these natural riches to provide clients
visitor services and activities
• Walking. Participants can choose
between the most emblematic trails of the
park, or go birdwatching along the
Majaceite river. Walks can take half a day
or be of a full day’s duration.
with the opportunity on the one hand to learn
about the landscape or go birdwatching, and on the
other to practise more intrepid activities such as
canyoning or caving among others. Some of routes
can also be followed in 4WD vehicles, stopping at
intervals to explore select stretches of Grazalema’s
trails on foot.
Pangea Events is utilised by companies wishing
to provide their staff with the ultimate team-building
experience, during which they might take a balloon
ride, a 4WD trip across the mountains, or take part in
a treasure hunt.
Pangea’s horizons are not limited to those of the
Grazalema Natural Park, however; the company also
offers its services in the neighbouring Los Alcornocales Natural Park in Cádiz, as well as it the Sierra
de Las Nieves and Genal valley in Málaga. In fact,
clients are invited to explore the length and breadth
of Andalusia, where Pangea will organise activities for
them in line with the slogan “Just imagine, we’ll do
the rest”.
• Canoeing. This activity takes place on the
tranquil waters of the Zahara reservoir, set
amid magnificent scenery in the northern
part of the Grazalema park, at the foot of
the spectacular Moorish village of Zahara
de la Sierra.
• Speleology. In the cave systems of El
Gato, El Hundidero and El Susto,
participants will have the chance to
swim in subterranean lakes, abseil and
admire the magnificent geological
formations.
Material/equipment provided
• 4WD vehicles
• The specialist material required for each
activity
• Binoculars and field guides for
birdwatching
Languages
English and French
Open
All year round
• Canyoning. This adventure sport takes
place in the Garganta Verde, which is
considered to be one of the most stunning
gorges in Andalusia.
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ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
Official endorsements
• ISO 9001
• Andalusia Natural Park Brand
• Multi-adventure routes. Circuits designed
so that visitors can take part in a range of
exciting activities, including rock climbing,
flying fox and archery, among others.
• Cultural itineraries. Either in 4WD vehicles,
for small groups, or by coach for larger
numbers of participants.
• Specialised activities for companies. These
range from tailor-made team-building
exercises to activity pursuits or cultural
routes.
Contact details
Pasaje de Cayetano, 10 (local D)
29400 Ronda (Málaga)
Tel.: 952 87 34 96 / 630 56 27 05
[email protected]
www.pangeacentral.com
CASA RURAL DEL MUNICIPAL
The nameVillaluenga del Rosario refers both to the narrow, elongated shape of the settlement — a necessity
imposed by the abrupt topography — and the Virgen
of the Rosary, patroness of this village since the seventeenth century, of whom the payoyos — as the residents of the region are called — are staunch devotees.
The building that houses the Casa Rural del Municipal is thought to have been constructed by the
Moors, prior to 1400 AD. It is also said that it was the
quarters of the servants of Rodrigo Ponce de León
— Marquis of Cádiz and Duke of Arcos de La Frontera,
the conqueror of the mountains of Cádiz in the name
of Christianity — after the expulsion of the Moors in
1485. When the Catholic Monarchs granted possession of these mountain ranges to Ponce de León, he
established the capital of his domain — the Señorío
de las Siete Villas — in Villaluenga, where he himself
also chose to reside, in the house that lies next door
to the present-day casa rural.
Antonio, proprietor of the Casa Rural del Municipal, has an immense knowledge of both the hisAccommodation type
Simple self-catering
accommodation,
whole-house rental only
visitor services and activities
The proprietors can put guests in touch with
local companies offering activity tourism.
tory and the cultural and natural values of the region, which he is more than happy to share with his
guests.
In 1998, the Casa Rural del Municipal was refurbished to provide tourist accommodation, faithfully
conserving the original elements of its construction
Capacity
2 rooms, sleeping 4
Open
All year round
Facilities
• Library
• Open fire
• Barbeque
• Fully equipped kitchen
• TV
• Wi-Fi
• Courtyard
Prices
The whole house: 90 €/day
— including wooden beams, thick walls and clay
floors — and decorated in a traditional manner. The
house comprises two floors and a secluded interior
courtyard, complete with barbeque and delightfully
decorated with pot-plants. The upper storey consists
of two bedrooms, while the kitchen and lounge are
located on the ground floor.
Guests are encouraged to participate in the environmentally aware running of the house by separating their refuse for recycling, including waste cooking
oil — from which traditional soaps are made — and
the ashes from the fireplace, which are used to fertilise garlic grown by the owners.
The proprietors’commitment to environmentally
sustainable tourism includes plans to reduce energy
consumption, utilise renewable energy sources (solar
panels) to run the heating and provide hot water, and
implement measures to save water. They are also
keen to perfect their knowledge of sign language, so
as to be able to provide the best possible service to
people with hearing difficulties.
Official endorsements
• ‘Q’ quality tourism label
• Andalusia Natural Park Brand
• Park Information Point
Contact details
Tel.: 956 46 34 04 / 636 77 77 36 /
620 40 18 77
[email protected]
[email protected]
www.casadelmunicipal.es
Languages
English
Location
Villaluenga del Rosario (Cádiz)
C/Poeta Pérez Clotet, 8
Coordinates: 36º 41’ 49” N, 5º 23’ 11”W
SIERRA DE GRAZALEMA NATURAL PARK
99
AL-QUTUN
The Al-Qutun venture started with the establishment
of a rural hostel, which it still manages, although almost immediately the team began looking for ways
to expand the business. With their considerable depth
of experience working with groups, and profound
knowledge of the region, Al-Qutun soon established
a solid reputation in the world of active tourism and
educational and environmental programmes.
From the town of Algodonales, Al-Qutun offers
no less than seventy distinct activities, complemented by tailor-made programmes, which take
place both in the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park
and other interesting spots in the province of Cádiz.
Because of its privileged location at the foot of the
Sierra de Líjar, at the northern entrance to the park,
Algodonales is a particularly appropriate centre for
airborne activities, which Al-Qutun has made the
most of, by incorporating these elements into its programme.
Al-Qutun’s hostel was chosen by Greenpeace to
celebrate its summer camp in 2009. One of the sugvisitor services and activities
• Guided walks. Interpretative trails
through the Grazalema Natural Park: the
Spanish Fir forest (El Pinsapar), the Llanos
de Rabel, the Garganta Verde, the Salto del
Cabrero, the Sierra de Líjar and the river
Majaceite.
• Canoeing. Visitors can paddle gently
across the tranquil waters of the Zahara de
la Sierra reservoir. This activity can be
combined with raft-making and archery.
• Caving and climbing. Speleology in the
Susto and Excéntrica caves. A one- or twoday rock-climbing course is also available.
• Canyoning. In the Garganta Verde, ‘the
Devil’s Sinkhole’ (Sima del Diablo), the
Canyon of Las Buitreras.
gestions made at this time was the creation of a mobile recycling point, because the existing facilities
were too far away. Following several meetings with
local representatives, the project has been given the
green light, and installation is imminent. In this way,
Al-Qutun is contributing to the environmental education work of this renowned international NGO, in
accordance with Greenpeace’s philosophy of conserving the natural world.
Apart from the hostel, which was built in 1998 in
the traditional architectural style of the region, AlQutun has other accommodation available for rent,
both in Algodonales itself and in the surrounding
countryside. It also runs a shop, selling all the equipment and material necessary to take part in the range
of sports — be they montane, aerial or water — on
offer in the mountains of Cádiz. This establishment
also provides the visitor with detailed information
about the region, as well as hints and suggestions
about where to buy local artisan craftwork and farm
produce.
• Multi-adventure programmes. The
company offers composite activities of
games and adventure sports such as
abseiling, flying fox and archery. Also,
bungee-jumping, from the bridge of La
Nava.
Languages
English, French and German
Open
All year round
Official endorsements
• ISO 9001
• Andalusia Natural Park Brand
• Park Information Point
• 4WD routes. Through the Sierra de
Grazalema Natural Park and the Sierra de
Líjar, to the south of Algodonales.
• Flying centre. Hot-air balloon trips and
twin paragliding flights (with a guide) over
the picturesque Sierra de Líjar.
100
• Cultural programmes. Visits to the villages
in the Grazalema Natural Park, as well as
those in the ‘White Villages Route’.
ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
Material/equipment provided
• Full equipment for all activities
• 4 support vehicles, 4WD and van
• Orienteering and multi-adventure circuit
• Hostel sleeping 59 (with 2 ha dedicated
to organic agriculture)
• Rural accommodation complex of La
Carrihuela (3 houses, sleeping 12)
• Self-catering house Cerrito Blanco
(sleeping 5)
• Self-catering house Brígida (sleeping 15)
• Self-catering house La Cueva Soleá
(sleeping 6)
• Self-catering house Pitito (sleeping 5)
Contact details
C/ Zahara de la Sierra, 13
11680 Algodonales (Cádiz)
Tel: 956 13 78 82
[email protected]
www.al-qutun.com
ZAHARA CATUR
When it was founded twelve years ago, this company
became a pioneer in the development of active, educational and environmental tourism in the mountains
of Cádiz. Today Zahara Catur operates from the Arroyomolinos Recreation Area: a 6-ha enclosure in the
heart of the Sierra de Grazalema. Amidst vegetable
gardens and orchards, a small artificial lake has been
created by diverting the course of the river that runs
through the enclosure. On-site facilities — swimming
and play areas, drinking water and cloakrooms —
combined with the broad expanse of countryside
provide the perfect setting in which to enjoy the various activities offered by the company all year round.
Although Zahara Catur’s courses are designed
principally for individual clients and school groups,
they also offer an increasingly varied programme of
team-building initiatives for businesses. Among their
most popular activities are multi-adventure courses,
4WD itineraries, flying fox, archery, orienteering and
canoeing, all of which include a picnic prepared from
local produce.
visitor services and activities
• Walking. The principal itineraries on offer
are the Spanish Fir forest (pinsapar) and
the Garganta Verde, where the ‘Cabildo de
las Buitreras’ (with 150 pairs of Griffon
Vultures) can be found. Other interesting
routes are the Llanos del Rabel, on the
north face of the Sierra del Pinar, and the
ascent of Torreón, the highest peak in the
province of Cádiz.
• School-group programmes. Holiday
camps, including activities such as archery,
environmental workshops, trekking and
climbing, among others.
The itineraries devised by Zahara Catur visit
some of the most interesting sectors of the park,
such as the Garganta Verde and the Spanish Fir for-
est (pinsapar). One of the trademarks of the company is the extremely diverse range of activities it offers, such that it can operate all year round: walking,
4WD routes, horse trekking and — for more intrepid
clients — canyoning, caving and canoeing. The medieval settlement of Zahara, which lies to the east of
the present-day town, is well worth a visit: in this ancient encampment, Roman constructions designed
to store and distribute water are interspersed with
defensive structures dating from the Moorish period
and notable Christian edifices such as the Mudejar
church.
The company also manages the Natural Park Visitor Centre in the modern-day village of Zahara. This
three-storey building houses an exhibition and an
audiovisual projection room, both of which offer a
detailed analysis of the flora and fauna of this protected area. There is also a shop, offering artisan
merchandise and produce of the region, such as pottery, organic oils, wines, leather goods and natural
cosmetics.
Material/equipment provided
• Canoes (19)
• 9-seater vehicle
• 4WD vehicles
• Specialised technical material
• 4WD itineraries. These routes can be
adapted to suit the needs of each and
every client and participants can even
practise their off-road driving skills.
Languages
English, German
Open
All year round
• Multi-adventure courses. Canoeing on the
tranquil Zahara reservoir, canyoning in the
Garganta Verde and an introduction to
speleology in the Susto cave are just some
of the more exciting activities offered by
Zahara Catur.
• Team-building activities for businesses.
Several combinations of activities are
possible, of variable duration. 4WD
itineraries, flying fox and archery are the
most popular.
• Other itineraries. Horse-trekking routes of
various lengths; sight-seeing tours in a 9-
seater vehicle, with stop-offs at various
viewpoints and villages along the way and
the option of sampling local produce;
archaeological and historical tours, which
include a visit to the medieval settlement
of Zahara de la Sierra.
Official endorsements
• Andalusia Natural Park Brand
• Park Information Point
Contact details
Plaza del Rey, 3
11688 Zahara de la Sierra (Cádiz)
Tel.: 956 12 31 14 / 657 92 63 94 /
657 92 63 04
[email protected]
www.zaharacatur.com
SIERRA DE GRAZALEMA NATURAL PARK
101
The rocky summits of the Sierra Nevada.
In the background, the cliffs of the Veleta.
SIERRA NEVADA NATIONAL AND NATURAL PARKS
A visit to a high Mediterranean mountain range
The Sierra Nevada is a mountain range of superlatives and records: it is home to the highest peak in the Iberian Peninsula (Mulhacén,
3,482 m), boasts the most exclusive and varied Mediterranean flora in the whole of Europe, and is composed of a series of peaks that were
carved out by Europe’s most southerly glaciers. Moreover, hidden away in its midst lies La Alpujarra, one of the most popular Spanish regions for travellers, attracted by its combination of singular architecture and rural and agrarian culture, which to a large extent is a legacy
of the Moorish Andalusian culture of the Middle Ages. During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries La Alpujarra and the Sierra Nevada
were the source of inspiration for numerous romantic travellers such as Gerald Brennan and, more recently, Chris Stewart, author of the bestselling Driving over Lemons, who have created from their experiences in the region what is possibly the broadest body of travel literature
in Spain. Besides its notable plant and insect diversity, the Sierra Nevada — Sulayr or ‘the mountain of the sun’ to the Arabs — is also a
magnificent protected area in which visitors can practice a vast array of outdoor activities, from skiing to hiking. The GR-240 long-distance
footpath — the longest in Spain and known as the Sulayr — circumnavigates this huge protected area, and to walk this trail is but one of
the many ways of getting to know this region and the quintessence of Andalusian rural way of life. Otherwise, visitors may choose to head
for the city of Granada, one of the unmissable centres of cultural tourism in Spain.
he Sierra Nevada is closely related to the Pyrenees, Atlas Mountains and Himalayas. During the Alpine orogeny of the Tertiary
period, the collision between the African and European continents
uplifted land and marine sediments alike to produce a mountainous
arc extending from Gibraltar to the Balearic Islands with the Sierra
Nevada as its highest point. The maritime origin of many of the rocks
is made patent by the series of limestone and dolomitic rocks that
surround the main spine of this magnificent massif.
Thanks to its position, size and, above all, its geological and ecological histories, the Sierra Nevada is an area of great natural contrasts that can be appreciated in the colours and composition of its
rocks, the shapes of its peaks, slopes and valleys, the variety and
adaptations present in its flora and the distribution of its forests.
Aside from the ski station at the head of the river Monachil, its highest mountains are refreshingly free of all human infrastructures, and
the alignment of its summits, ridges, gorges, cirques, valleys and glacial platforms have all played an important role in the distribution of
its highly varied plant communities.
The vast pine forests on the northern face scored by numerous
gullies blend in at lower elevations with thick Holm Oak forests that
in many areas have been cut to provide space for almond and cereal
cultivation. On the southern face, on the other hand, a mosaic of deciduous oak and Holm Oak forests, terracing, gullies and narrow ir-
T
rigation channels define the landscape, much more humid and verdant in the west in Granada province than in the dry arid easterly villages in Almería province. A trip along one of the sinuous roads that
contours around the massif at mid-altitude, crossing a myriad of gullies and valleys, is the best way of getting an idea of the sheer size
of the Sierra Nevada and the lengths its inhabitants have had to go
over the centuries to tame it.
But perhaps the most arid of all the landscapes that surround
the Sierra Nevada are those of the Hoya de Guadix (Granada) and
the valley of the river Nacimiento (Almería). Here, desolate badlands,
the product of past and on-going erosion, shape a landscape that
would not seem out of place in a far-eastern desert, and traditional
architecture has found a magnificent way of overcoming the limitations of this arid land: buildings have been dug out of badland hillsides to create the famous cave-homes, a type of troglodyte dwelling
that are models of energetic efficiency.
Lastra, launa and calar: three rock formations distributed
concentrically around the Sierra Nevada
The summits of the Sierra Nevada are formed of metamorphic
quartzites and mica schists, over 250 million years old; they are hard,
dark-coloured (but at times reddish) and reflective and are locally
known as lastra. They are abundant on the north face of the massif
SIERRA NEVADA NATIONAL AND NATURAL PARKS
103
Panoramic view of the Sierra Nevada from Loma de Papeles.
where the major peaks of Mulhacén, Alcazaba and Veleta stand out,
but form rather gentler slopes on the southern side. Bordering on
the lastra, is the launa, a mix of clays and slate fragments, coloured
bluish or brilliant grey by the micas and quartzes they contain and
which, due to their imperviousness, have traditionally been used in
houses in La Alpujarra as roofing material.
A third rock type — known as calar — forms a ring of dolomitic
and limestone rocks around the other two rock types and has been
eroded away to create a series of singular landscapes. The multiple
fractures in the dolomites have allowed water and ice to penetrate
and shatter the rock and generate dry river beds and tongues of
gravel resembling sandy beaches. They are especially noticeable in
the westernmost part of the massif near Granada, above all on the
slopes of Pico Trevenque and in Los Alayos de Dílar. In nearby valleys,
narrow gorges such as that of Los Cahorros on the river Monachil have
been carved out by the action of water on the dolomites.
The most southerly glaciers in Europe
The high peaks of the Sierra Nevada are fossil landscapes, moulded
during the ice-ages by meteorological conditions that no longer exist.
The ice caps extended as far as Andalusia, at the gates of Africa, and
excavated deep U-shaped valleys, characterised by their steep sides
down which water cascades as the snow melts in spring and summer.
The ice-ages left indelible marks on the region in the form of glacial
features that today are an intrinsic part of the landscape — cirques,
glacial platforms, roche moutonées, moraines and frozen glacial lakes.
The presence of numerous scree slopes reflects the implacable
force of the ice, which has fragmented slopes and scoured clean
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ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
rocks of extreme hardness, and created a landscape of exceptional
abruptness. The ascent of Veleta and El Mulhacén, or the route of
the tresmiles (3,000-m peaks) from El Picón de Jerez as far as El Caballo, reveals to the observant visitor the variety of glacial forms and
its dynamism. The glacial activity has also originated other interesting habitats such as borreguiles, marshy grasslands that form on the
glacial platforms and around glacial lakes: a tour of these landscapes
and the observation of the flora that has taken refuge there is like
stepping into an Alpine or a Nordic habitat a mere handful of kilometres from the Mediterranean.
A mountain of vital importance for the area
The huge mass of the Sierra Nevada traps passing humid air masses
that almost always give rise to snow above 2,500 m. Snow accumulations affect temperatures in what is otherwise a very dry area and
act as reservoirs of water for crops on the sub-tropical coast of
Granada and for nearby cities.
The melt water feeds an extensive hydrographic network composed of myriads of gullies, streams and rivers that on the north face
converge on the river Genil, which in turn flows into the mighty
Guadalquivir; on the south face, streams feed the rivers Guadalfeo,
Adra and Andarax. Aquifers are numerous and well supplied and
some such as those that gush out at the famous spa and bottling
plant at Lanjarón are noted for their medicinal properties.
As well, the melt water is used to supply an intricate network of
acequias or irrigation channels, made impermeable by the launa
clays, which water the cultivated terraces of La Alpujarra. A walk
along these acequias (for example, the Alta and Baja in Capileira, Al-
bardas and Bacares in Trevélez) in the shade of the splendidly exuberant vegetation that thrives on their banks is a delight in any season, but above all in summer.
Wood in autumn in Vereda de la Estrella,
at the headwaters of the river Genil.
A mountain range with all Mediterranean bioclimatic
vegetation zones
The great altitude of the Sierra Nevada permits five different vegetation zones to thrive, thereby converting it into the most plant-rich
mountainous area in the whole of the Mediterranean Basin. At the
base of the massif the ramblas or dry river beds of La Alpujarra are
decorated by Oleanders and other thermophile shrubs. At mid-altitudes Holm Oak forests cover mountainsides and are at their best in
places such as Bayárcal, Beires and Pitres. Deciduous oak forests appear above the Holm Oaks, but have been much transformed by grazing and centuries of firewood gathering. They alternate with stands of
Sweet Chestnut, Fig, Cherry, Walnut and even Mulberry trees that
were cultivated originally by the moriscos (Muslims converted to
Christianity during the Reconquest) and are best appreciated on the
Alpujarran slopes around Puente Palo, Cáñar, Pitres and Trevélez.
Aleppo, Maritime and Black pines today cover northern slopes, in
part in plantations; some of the best preserved forests in the area,
though, can be seen in the Dehesa del Camarate (Lugros), where a
smattering of the original vegetation can be admired (Holm and deciduous oaks, maples) along with a number of more Atlantic species
such as Whitebeam, Wild Cherry and Yew.
Between 1,900 and 2,800 m in the oromediterranean zone on the
limestone-dolomitic rocks a few relict Scots Pine (subsp. nevadensis)
forests cling on accompanied by junipers, for example in the Cortijuela forest in the mountains around Alayos and Trevenque. The vegetation here is composed of trees and shrubs such as Scots Pine,
Savin and Common Juniper, as well as spiny shrubs growing in cushions as an adaptation to the weight of the snow, the wind and grazing by herbivores. The main such species are Vella spinosa and
Hedgehog Broom (Erinacea anthyllis) and this specialised spiny shrub
community is present all around the massif just above the tree line.
A series of species with singular adaptations to extreme climates,
obliged to complete their vegetative cycles in the three summer
months, have taken refuge on the summits above 2,800 m in the socalled crioro-mediterranean zone. This high-mountain flora that
brings to life the otherwise bleak summits is composed of houseleeks, foxgloves, butterworts, and endemic artemisias, violets, plantains, poppies and monkshood. Few plant communities thrive here
in the thin soils and adverse climatic conditions, and grasslands are
necessarily short and scant, although they are home to many fascinating local endemic plants.
The scree slopes are widespread at high altitudes and harbour a
large number of plants such as the Sierra Nevada Violet (Viola crassiuscula) and a toadflax Linaria glacialis that have adapted to life in
SIERRA NEVADA NATIONAL AND NATURAL PARKS
105
Three rare endemic plants found at high altitude in the Sierra Nevada: Erigeron frigidus, Sierra Nevada Violet (Viola crassiuscula) and Sierra Nevada Poppy (Papaver lapeyrousianum).
this hostile environment, while the cracks in sheer rock faces are
home to Saxifraga nevadensis and Arabis alpina. The borreguiles,
the marshy meadows bordering the lakes and streams in the bottom
of the glacial cirques that are grazed by local cattle, also hold a number of endemic species of flowers, as well as others that are typical
of peat bogs.
In all, the Sierra Nevada is home to 2,100 of the 8,000 species of
vascular plants known from the Iberian Peninsula, of which the most
relevant are the endemic species: 175 are Iberian endemics, and a
further 80 are endemic to the Sierra Nevada. Of the latter, a number
are in danger of extinction, including the famous Sierra Nevada Rock
Tea (Artemisia granatensis), Arenaria nevadensis, Erodium rupicola,
Laserpitium longiradium, Narcissus nevadensis and Senecio elodes,
to name just a few of the most threatened species that make the
Sierra Nevada such a hotspot of Mediterranean floral diversity.
From the singular endemic invertebrates to the world’s largest
population of Iberian Ibex
Such varied vegetation and environmental conditions inevitably
translate into an equally diverse and original invertebrate fauna
boasting over 300 endemic species. The most characteristic animal
of the Sierra Nevada is the Iberian Ibex, endemic to Spain and found
nowhere else in such large numbers as in these parks. It has expanded into neighbouring upland areas and has even colonised
coastal cliffs; it is easy to see in summer on the highest peaks, but
in winter descends to feed on mid-altitude mountain slopes.
The most visible group of animals are probably the birds, and
there are a number of species, including Alpine Accentor, Northern
Wheatear, Skylark and Black Redstart, that are inextricably linked to
the high mountains in the Sierra Nevada; elsewhere, rocky outcrops
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ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
are the places to search for Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush, Red-billed
Chough and Golden Eagle.
Mons Solarius, Sulayr, the Sierra Nevada
The Romans called the Sierra Nevada ‘Mons Solarius’, whilst the
Moors named it ‘Sulayr’, the ‘Mountain of the sun’, since the sun caresses its heights until dusk has almost completely fallen: a sunset
seen from the Albaicín quarter of the city of Granada is one of the
most charming of all sights for visitors to see.
The Moorish occupation of the Iberian Peninsula left its mark on
many of the landscapes that we are able to contemplate today
— this is the case of shady woods that have sprung up on some
slopes along the acequias built by the moriscos to conduct the melt
water down towards the valleys. Likewise, the Moorish influence is
still recognisable in place names such as Mulhacén or the village of
Tahá de Pitres. Nevertheless, perhaps the most singular legacy of the
period of Moorish domination is the irrigation network, based on an
intricate network of channels that criss-cross the hillsides and transport the abundant waters to the gardens and fields of La Alpujarra.
One of the best examples of traditional local architecture in Andalusia is to be found in La Alpujarra. Dwellings are cubic in shape,
with a flat roof — the terrao — made out of the impermeable launa
rocks, out of which point skywards cylindrical (but slightly conical)
chimneys topped off with flat stones giving an appearance of a hat.
Walls are made out of stone (quartzites and schists), consolidated
with adobe and whitewashed in most villages, but with the stone left
bare in most country farms. Roofs are covered with slate slabs laid on
beams of sweet chestnut wood. The lines of houses follow the curves
of the terraced hillsides and normally have a small vegetable garden
attached. Many houses also have a tinao, exterior porch-like struc-
View of the north face of El Mulhacén and La Alcazaba at dawn at the beginning of
October; at their feet, the Genil valley.
ture that connects one line of houses with it neighbour and which
are used as terraces, store-rooms or places to dry fruit and seeds.
This style of domestic architecture houses predates the arrival of the
Moors into Andalusia and is reminiscent of Berber dwellings in North
Africa. All in all, these villages, situated on the very hillsides that are
the source of the building materials and the water that run through
their narrow streets, exude a harmony of style and a rural atmosphere that is hard find anywhere else in the world.
Outside the villages, many other examples of rural architecture associated with agriculture and livestock farming survive. On the paths
linking the villages, walkers will come across springs, washing places,
stables, mills, bridges, corrals, cultivated terraces and plantations.
Three representative species of animal from the Sierra Nevada: Alpine Accentor, the
endemic orthopter Pycnogaster inermis and Iberian Ibex.
Views of the villages of Bubión and Capileira in the valley of Poqueira.
Managing to conserve the biodiversity
The Sierra Nevada was declared a Biosphere reserve in 1986 and a
natural park in 1989; subsequently, the highest part of the massif
was declared a national park in 1999. The management of the protected area is complex, above all because of the many different
human activities that take place within these mountains.
In recent years a number of outstanding conservation projects
have been carried out, including the closure and the landscaping of
SIERRA NEVADA NATIONAL AND NATURAL PARKS
107
PRACTICAL INFORMATION AND PUBLIC FACILITIES
Sierra Nevada National and Natural Parks
• Date declared. Natural Park: 18 July 1989; National Park: 11 January 1999.
• Surface area. National Park: 86,208 ha; Natural Park: 85,750 ha.
• Provinces. Almería and Granada.
• Municipalities. ALMERÍA: Abla, Abrucena, Alboloduy, Alhabia, Almócita, Alsodux, Bayárcal,
Beires, Bentarique, Canjáyar, Fiñana, Fondón,
Íllar, Instinción, Laujar de Andarax, Nacimiento,
Ohanes, Padules, Paterna del Río, Rágol, Santa
Cruz, Terque, Las Tres Villas; GRANADA: Aldeire,
Alpujarra de La Sierra, Alquife, Bérchules, Bubión, Busquístar, Cádiar, Cáñar, Capileira,
Carataunas, Cogollos de Guadix, Dílar, Dólar,
Dúrcal, Ferreira, Gójar, Güéjar-Sierra, Huéneja,
Jérez del Marquesado, Juviles, La Calahorra,
Lanjarón, Lanteira, Lecrín, Lugros, Monachil, Nevada, Nigüelas, Padul, Pampaneira, Pórtugos,
Soportújar, La Tahá, Trevélez, Válor, La Zubia.
• ECST accreditation. 2004
• Other types of protection. Biosphere Reserve, Special Protection Area for Birds, Ramsar
Site (Lagunas de Padul), Site of Community Importance.
• Contact
Carretera antigua de Sierra Nevada, km 7
18191 Pinos Genil (Granada)
Tel.: 958 02 63 00
[email protected]
Go to Ventana del Visitante at:
www.juntadeandalucia.es/medioambiente
www.reddeparquesnacionales.mma.es/
parques/sierra/index.htm
vISITOR FACILITIES
EL DORNAJO VISITOR CENTRE
Located in the north of the protected area, this
centre brings the area to life through a description of the history of mountaineering in
the Sierra Nevada and of the illustrious scientists and romantic travellers who have visited
the area. It also provides an overview of the
protected areas’ biodiversity and local ethnographical heritage. From the centre there is access to a viewpoint and La Cortijuela Botanical
Garden, and to the Sulayr Trail.
• Location and contact details. Granada to
Sierra Nevada road (A-395), km 23, GüéjarSierra (Granada). Tel.: 958 34 06 25
• Facilities and services. Library, sale of books
and maps, cafe, eco-shop. Also offers environmental education, outdoor activities and
guided excursions.
108
• Opening times. All year round. Monday-Sunday: 09.30-14.30 and 16.30-19.30
• Access for people with reduced mobility
LAUJAR DE ANDARAX VISITOR CENTRE
Located in the south of the protected area in the
Almerian Alpujarras, this centre provides visitors
with information on the parks’ hydrographical
resources and how historically local people
have exploited water using Moorish traditions.
As well, there is an exhibition on the geology of
the Sierra Nevada, the history of mining in the
area and a display of different minerals.
• Location and contact details. Laujar de Andarax to Berja road, km 1 (Almería).
Tel.: 950 51 35 48
• Facilities and services. Information and recommendations for visitors, sale of books and
maps.
• Opening times. All year round. Thursday-Sunday: 10.30-14.30. Saturdays, Sundays, public
holidays, and eve of public holidays in summer:
16-18.
• Access for people with reduced mobility
jara. In all, 400 different plant species grow
here.
• Location and contact details. Access: from
the village of La Zubia take the track towards
Cumbres Verdes and La Cortijuela casa forestal.
Tel.: 958 02 60 00 / 697 95 89 39
• Opening times. March-October (inclusive).
Monday-Friday: 09-14; Saturdays, Sundays and
public holidays: 12-18.
• Río Dílar, in Dílar (Granada). Located next to
the Ermita Vieja Field Study Centre.
• Puerto de La Ragua, in Bayárcal (Almería). Situated next to the information point and a hostel; start of three paths designed for people
with reduced mobility.
• La Roza, in Abrucena (Almería). Near the only
place in the two parks that free camping is permitted, and a restaurant.
ERMITA VIEJA FIELD STUDY CENTRE
Situated near the village of Dílar, in a leafy valley of pines, walnuts and market gardens, this
centre can cater for 50 people. It is run by the
Huerto Alegre Centre for Educational Innovation and is used for developing environmental
education programmes for children, teenagers
and adults.
• Location and contact details. Camino de la
central hidroeléctrica, km 4, Dílar (Granada).
Tel.: 958 22 84 96. www.huertoalegre.com
• Opening times. All year round, but prior
reservation needed for group activities.
• Access for people with reduced mobility
LA CORTIJUELA BOTANICAL GARDEN
A visit to this botanical garden is highly recommendable for those wanting to get to
know some of the most representative plants
of the Sierrra Nevada and nearby mountains
such as the sierras of Huétor, Tejeda and Almi-
RECREATIONAL FACILITIES
PICNIC SITES
In all, there are 18 such sites, of which the following are of most interest:
• Hoya del Portillo, in Capileira (Granada). Access
to the Altas Cumbres Interpretation Services.
PAThS AND TRAILS
A network of 26 waymarked paths totalling 250
km exists in the parks, along with five bivouac
huts and two guarded mountain huts (Poqueira in Capileira and Postero Alto in Jérez del
Marquesado).
The following are some of the best paths for
those wishing to explore the protected area:
• Pueblos del Poqueira. Circuit starting and ending in Pampaneira that passes through three villages (Pampaneira, Bubión and Capileira) and
gives walkers a chance to admire the typical
local architecture and terraced cultivation of Las
Alpujarras. Length: 9.5 km. Time: 4-5 h.
• Hoya del Portillo-Poqueira mountain hut.
This magnificent route — an excellent way of
getting to know the summits of the area — and
many others start from the Poquiera guarded
mountain hut and are the best options for tackling the highest peaks in the Sierra Nevada.
Length: 9 km. Time: 3 h.
• Trevélez-Siete Lagunas. A very varied route
linking the humanised forests of Las Alpujarras
with the glacial lakes, damp pastures (borreguiles), endemic flora and specialised fauna
of the highest peaks. Length: 12 km (with a
climb of 1,420 m). Time: 6-7 h.
• El Aguadero. This route through the municipality of Laujar de Andarax traverses the forests
of the Almerian Alpujarras, visiting the Alder
and ash riparian woodland, as well as groves of
Sweet Chestnut where ancient trees such as‘La
Rosa’ have survived the tests of time. Length:
14 km. Time: 5-6 h.
• Río Alhama. This route starts in Lugros and
heads for one of the most mature and best preserved forests in the Sierra Nevada, with a mix
of deciduous oaks, maples and Yew. Length: 6.7
km. Time: 3 h.
• Sulayr Trail. The longest circular trail in Spain,
made up of 19 stages covering a total of 300
km. The paths, trails and drovers’-roads are
linked to public facilities such as El Dornajo Visitor Centre and La Cortijuela Botanical Garden.
OThER INFORMATION POINTS
Name
Location
Pampaneira
Pampaneira
Information Point (Granada)
Address
Puerto
Bayárcal (Almería) La Calahorra to
de La Ragua
Cherín road,
Information Point
km 11.6
ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
Open
Pza. de la Libertad, All year round
s/n.
All year round
(currently under
restoration)
Telephone
Access
958 76 31 27
Yes
950 52 40 20
Yes
MUSEO ALMAZARA LAS LAERILLAS
This museum contains an almazara, a waterpowered olive-oil mill, and is situated in a
building dating from the Nashrid dynasty (12th14th centuries) that also houses the Museum of
Traditional Agriculture.
Nigüelas (Granada). Tel.: 958 77 76 36
www.niguelas.org / www.turgranada.es
MUNICIPAL MUSEUM OF ALPUJARRAN
HOUSES (Museo La Moralea)
A good example of typical Alpujarran architecture, where the different construction techniques and building materials used can be admired.
Bubión (Granada).
Tel.: 958 76 32 25 / 958 76 30 32
www.bubion.es / www.turgranada.es
• For people with reduced mobility there are
three routes starting at the pass at La Ragua,
and a bird observatory at the Laguna de Padul.
Ferreira (Granada).
Tel.: 958 67 73 01 / 616 08 31 89
www.turgranada.es
OThER FACILITIES
CENTRE FOR THE INTERPRETATION OF
ARABIAN ARCHITECTURE
This museum occupies an old Moorish fortress
and some of the rooms of a restored Moorish
house (La Casa Grande), and describes the
Moorish cultural legacy present in the area
known as the Marquesado del Zenete.
MOLINO BAJO CENTRE FOR THE
INTERPRETATION OF THE wATER
At the Molino Bajo interpretation centre visitors
can discover for themselves the history and
workings of the local water mills.
Huéneja (Granada).
Tel.: 958 683 001
www.hueneja.es
A-92
Alcudia de Guadix
Lugros
1
El Dornajo Visitor Centre
2
Laujar de Andarax Visitor Centre
JB
Albuñán
A-92
Jérez del Marquesado
Lanteira
Dólar
Ferreira
Huéneja
Pampaneira Information Point
4
Puerto de la Ragua Information
Point
Abrucena
JB
La Cortijuela Botanical Garden
3
Fiñana
1
Dílar
Location and contact details
• North face. Albergue Universitario de la Hoya
de la Mora, road A-395, km 32.
Tel.: 671 564 407
Opening times. Monday to Sunday, 08-20
(summer only; telephone for full details).
• South face. Casa de la Cultura, Capileira
(Granada). Tel.: 958 76 34 86 / 671 56 44 06
Opening times. Monday to Sunday: 09-14. From
Tuesday to Sunday, also: 16-20 (only spring to
summer; telephone for full details of opening
times).
GUIDED vISIT SERvICES
ALTAS CUMBRES INTERPRETATION SERVICES
This service consists of a guided visit by minibus that follows the old road across the Sierra
Nevada — now closed to traffic — and provides visitors with a close-up view of the highest peaks from both north and south. From La
Guadix
GRANADA
Pinos
Genil Güejar-Sierra
Hoya de la Mora on the north face the minibus
approaches the base of the peak of Veleta,
from where in an hour visitors can reach the
peak and discover the joys of the high-level
flora of the area and the remains of the Veleta
glacier.
On the south face, the route starts in the village
of Capileira and climbs to Puerto Molina, where
there is an interpretation service for the glacial
valleys of the south face of the range, the main
peaks and the high-level flora and fauna. From
here, visitors can continue on foot to the summit of Mulhacén in 2-3 hours.
Abla
Nacimiento
4
Ohanes
Bayárcal
Padul
Laroles 2
Dúrcal
Bérchules
Nigüelas
Lecrín
Lanjarón
Padules
Alcolea
Juviles
Cádiar A-348
Órgiva
Fondón
Ugijar
Pitres
Cáñar
Láujar de Andarax
Válor
Capileira
3
Alboloduy
Canjáyar
A-348
Paterna del Río
A-347
Murtas
0
10
20
30
km
A-348
SIERRA NEVADA NATIONAL AND NATURAL PARKS
109
Winter on La Alcazaba and El Mulhacén.
the highest road in Europe: cars are no longer allowed on this road
and it is now used as a walking trail for visitors wishing to enjoy the
solitude of the highest mountains in the Sierra Nevada.
Reforestations with native species of tree have been conducted
as a means of restoring the original forests that were cut down and
replaced by pine plantations. It is hoped that in this way the pine
forests of La Alpujarra and El Marquesado will one day become much
more varied in composition and thus resemble far more the original
forest of the Sierra Nevada.
Other projects include the restoration of the acequias, which will
help preserve the Sweet Chestnut and other deciduous forests that
thrive along these irrigation channels, as well as the singular agrarian landscape inherited from the morisco culture.
Recreational and sporting activities must be compatible with the
conservation of the region’s natural heritage and traditional rural
ways of life. For this reason, the Sierra Nevada Natural and National
Parks have been granted the European Charter of Sustainable
Tourism, an award that ensures the application of an action plan
aimed at promoting tourism that respects both local cultural and natural heritage and the very people who live within these parks. 110
ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
Pico del Trevenque from the viewpoint at Espartera in the Dílar valley.
CUEVAS DEL TÍO TOBAS
The Cuevas del Tío Tobas are situated on a hillside in
the Zalabí valley, close to three protected areas (Sierra
de Baza, Sierra de Castril and Sierra Nevada) and the
important mountain pass of La Ragua. With their sinuous lines, arched roofs and white chimneys, these
cave dwellings are singular to say the least.
Over 100 years ago, ‘Tío’ Tobas began to build
these cave dwellings for his family (including 10 children), working in the winter when the rain and bad
weather made it impossible to work in the fields. The
result is an interconnecting series of caves that, thanks
to their underground situation, have an almost perfect
stable natural climate — 21º C all year around (which
means that, surprisingly, blankets are needed in summer).These troglodyte dwellings, known as Las Cuevas
del Tío Tobas, are thus both intimate and welcoming.
The vast cultural legacy of peoples as disparate
as the Jews, Arabs and Christians characterises the
cookery of the accommodation’s restaurant, which is
Accommodation type
Rural self-catering house (three keys)
visitor services and activities
• Horse riding with guide supplied by the
house. Routes can last from a day to a
week, using Las Cuevas as a base from
which to explore the local area.
• Activities for companies. Via an active
tourism company, multi-adventure
group activities can be organised:
archery, canyoning and trips in light
aircraft or hot-air balloon are the most
popular.
local organic wine. This accommodation also offers
clients the chance to go for short walks in the area,
trek in the higher reaches of the Sierra Nevada, go
horse riding, fly in a light aircraft or a hot-air balloon
or just relax and enjoy the local spas. Cultural possibilities in the areas include a visit to the town of
Guadix with its numerous monuments or to the badland landscape with its caves and dolmens.
essentially simple but tasty. Local products are knowingly combined in recipes handed down from generation to generation, in which tradition blends in perfectly with the magic of Mediterranean cuisine. The
rin ran (salt-cod and tomato), the tajás (bread and
pork based mix) with fried eggs, the partridge in spicy
sauce and kid in garlic are all made from exquisite
local products, that can be washed down with a fine
• Guided tour in 4WD. From Las Cuevas a
4WD route takes visitors to the Gorafe
Megalithic Park, one of the greatest
concentrations of dolmens anywhere in
Europe. Once at this park, there are a
number of waymarked paths with
information boards.
Location
Alcudia de Guadix (Granada)
Almería road, km 1
Coordinates: 34º 14’ 45.60’’ N, 3º 5’ 31.20’’W
Open
All year round
Prices
Cave dwelling for two: 78 €/day518 €/week
Official endorsements
Park Information Point
Contact details
Tel.: 958 69 83 50 / 607 62 22 26
[email protected]
www.tiotobas.com
Capacity
• 19 houses (caves), sleeping 60
• 100-cover rural restaurant
• Las Cuevas del Tío Tobas regularly offers
clients special packs, for example, an
excursion on horseback combined with a
tour of the Moorish heritage of the spa of
Graena.
• Pets welcome.
Languages
English, French and German
Facilities
• Reception
• Free parking
• Swimming pool
• Mountain-bike hire
• Small shop selling typical local products
(pottery, products made out of esparto,
oil, etc.)
• Open fire
• TV
• Equipped kitchen
SIERRA NEVADA NATIONAL AND NATURAL PARKS
111
COMPLEJO RURAL EL CERCADO
A family enterprise, set up in 2006, this complex of
rural self-catering accommodation is located in the
middle of the countryside about half a kilometre
from Bérchules, one the highest villages in Spain. It
comprises 14 small houses, each in the characteristic architectural style of the Alpujarras, a restaurant
and a swimming pool. The houses, which have been
built using local materials, boast the typical structure
of dwellings in these foothills of the Sierra Nevada:
stone walls, flat roofs topped with launa (as the impermeable clay of the region is called) and chimneys
faced with slabs of slate. These traditional architectural components have been combined with modern-day elements in order to improve the environmental performance of the complex: a boiler run on
biomass bricks, independent heating and individual
thermostats in each of the houses.
In the restaurant, one of the most popular dishes
is the puchero de hinojos, a fennel-flavoured stew,
closely followed by barbequed meats and pork products from the proprietors’ own herd of Iberian Black
Pigs.
El Cercado collaborates with other companies in
the area in the supply of active tourism packages
that include walking, horse-trekking routes of various days’ length (for which the complex has fully
equipped stables) and cycling itineraries. For guests
who prefer to spend their time here in a more relaxed manner, the surrounding countryside is riddled with ancient trails, threshing floors, natural
caves and other attractions.
Another example of how El Cercado combines innovation with tradition is the recently introduced
client-loyalty discount scheme for returning guests.
Accommodation type
Self-catering apartment (three keys)
Languages
English
visitor services and activities
• Three-fork restaurant offering typical
Alpujarran cuisine.
• Walking: stroll through chestnut forests
and along irrigation channels around
Bérchules.
• Horse trekking.
• Activity tourism: rock-climbing,
canyoning, 4WD routes, etc.
• Sale of locally produced foodstuffs.
• Dogs are welcome (except in the suite),
on the deposit of 100 €.
Location
Bérchules (Granada)
Paraje El Cercado, Alcútar (municipality of
Bérchules)
Coordinates: 36º 58’ 17” N, 3º 11’ 20”W
Open
All year round
Capacity
• 14 country houses for 2 (one of which is a
suite) and 4 people; sleeping 54 in total
• All the houses are suitable for people
with limited mobility
• 135-cover restaurant
112
Facilities
• Restaurant with terrace
• Cafeteria-bar
• Swimming pools (for adults and small
children)
• Conference/meeting room
• Car park
• Open fire
• Full equipped kitchen
• Jacuzzi in the suite
• Wi-Fi in the restaurant and the cafeteria
ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
Official endorsements
• ISO 9001
• Park Information Point
Prices
House for 2 people: 85 €/day, 510 €/week
House for 4 people: 100 €/day, 600 €/week
Suite for 2 people (breakfast included):
135 €/day, 840 €/week
Contact details
Tel.: 958 06 40 23
[email protected]
www.elcercadoalpujarra.com
LA ALQUERÍA DE MORAYMA
One of the most evident legacies of the Al-Andalus
culture is observable in the traditional architecture of
the villages of La Alpujarra. Among the most typical
constructions that still survive are the farmsteads,
formed of clusters of agricultural buildings, of which
the Alquería de Morayma is a magnificent example.
Located in the heart of La Alpujarra in Granada
Province and on the banks of the river Guadalfeo,
this agrotourism centre lies within a 50-ha estate
devoted to agroforestry, with organic production of
almonds, figs, quinces, wine, olive oil and Sant
John’s wort oil for therapeutic use. This small oasis,
just 30 km from Mediterranean beaches, also has
superb views over the southern flanks of the Sierra
Nevada and the villages of Lobras, Tímar, Bérchules
and Cádiar.
Since 1992 and as needs have become apparent,
its buildings have been gradually reconstructed and
crops expanded. In addition to the principal building
Accommodation type
Two-star rural hotel
visitor services and activities
• Accommodation and restaurant with
traditional local cuisine.
• Participation in the agricultural activities
(grape harvest, wine and oil production,
fruit collecting, farm work, etc.).
• La Alquería Irrigation Channel Trail: a
shady 2 -km trail running down a gully
cloaked in Mediterranean woodland fed
by water from the ancient irrigation
channels. Signposted and recognised as
route SL-49, this is a self-guided trail with
information leaflet available.
• Other officially recognised routes passing
through the estate are PR-25, PR-32, GR-7
(E-4) and GR-142.
which houses the reception, restaurant and two
apartments, the complex also includes seven groups
of two or three small buildings built into the slopes
and interconnected by tinaos (covered passageways
typical of the area), as well as a chapel, stables, farm
and vegetable gardens.
• Vehicle and bicycle routes through
different parts of the area.
• Ski ascents to two of the Sierra Nevada
peaks. These routes are undertaken in
February and March.
• Birdwatching. Visitors may take part in the
birds censuses carried out in La Alpujarra in
the surroundings of La Alquería.
• Personal development courses (natural
bio-dance, yoga, Tai Chi).
• Dogs and other pets are allowed.
The restaurant serves traditional dishes typical of
Las Alpujarras using recipes inherited from the Moors,
and made using fresh local produce. The day starts
with toast drizzled with olive oil, plus tomato, a little
salt and, of course, a little of the area’s cured hams.
Lunch or dinner might be an olla gitana (literally
gypsy’s pot), with a base of various beans, local bacon,
chicken and spicy pork sausage.
To make best use of the surroundings, La Alquería
also organises various routes through the estate, as well
as visits to the wine cellar, olive oil mill, and also offers
the chance to participate in the agricultural activities.
As a result of the great care with which the complex has
been reconstructed, the Alquería now acts as a model
for the region, and one of its specific commitments to
sustainability is the restoration of the courses of the ancient irrigation channels running through the estate
that were devised and developed by the former inhabitants in days of the Moorish domination of Andalusia.
Capacity
• 22 rooms, sleeping 48
• 55-cover restaurant
• Olive oil mill producing ecological olive
oil, and including a thematic museum
• Farm with chickens, ducks and doves
• Stables for horses of riding groups
Open
All year round
Prices
Houses: for two people, 70 €/day; for four
people, 102 €/day
Languages
English
Location
Cádiar (Granada)
A-348 road, km 50. The turn-off to the
access track is signposted
Coordinates: 36º 55’ 27” N, 3º 10’ 57”W
Facilities
• Two-room restaurant
• Bar with Wi-Fi internet connection
• 80 m2 multi-use room
• Library specialised in Sierra Nevada and
La Alpujarra
• TV, DVD, international channels
• Swimming pool
• Winery producing ecological wines
Official endorsements
• ‘Q’ quality tourism label
• Park Information Point
Contact details
Tel.: 958 34 33 03 / 958 34 32 21
[email protected]
www.alqueriamorayma.com
SIERRA NEVADA NATIONAL AND NATURAL PARKS
113
HOTEL FINCA LOS LLANOS
The balconies of the Finca Los Llanos hotel offer
splendid views over the Sierra Nevada and the picturesque village of Capileira which, together with
Pampaneira and Bubión, is located in the Barranco de
Poqueira. This valley, which runs northwards from Las
Alpujarras towards the high peaks of the range, is endowed with fabulous scenery, traditional vernacular
architecture and a long cultural history.
The hotel lies close to one of the departure points
for guided tours of the Sierra Nevada National and
Natural Parks offered by the Altas Cumbres Interpretation Service. These minibus routes are designed to
help visitors learn about the history, physical geography, landscape and wildlife of the highest parts of
these mountains. Many of the footpaths that traverse
the area also start nearby; for example, the descent
to the Poqueira river, the trail to La Cebadilla, or a
stretch of the Sulayr route. Finca Los Llanos is happy
to inform guests about the range of activities availAccommodation type
Three-star rural hotel
visitor services and activities
• Walking. Nearby footpaths include the
descent to the river Poqueira, a circular
trail through the settlement of La
Cebadilla, or a section of the Sulayr route.
• Beginners’ horse-riding lessons, and the
organisation of horse-trekking routes.
• Restaurant with traditional home
cooking.
able in the region, such as horsetrekking routes of several days’ duration that can be organised by the
hotel itself, in collaboration with a
local company.
Taking advantage of its privileged
location in the upper part of the Barranco del Poqueira, the hotel is designing an interpretative route within
its grounds, in order that guests might
learn a little more about the history of
the region, local stories and legends,
the traditional way of life and native
plants, but above all, as a way of enjoying the fabulous panoramas of the Sierra Nevada
available from a series of viewpoints.
In the kitchens of Finca Los Llanos, honey is one
of the basic ingredients, along with fruit and vegetables, fish and cheeses, which are combined to pro-
Location
Capileira (Granada)
Sierra Nevada road, s/n
Coordinates: 36º 57’ 43” N, 3º 21’ 27”W
Capacity
• 45 rooms, sleeping 87
• 150-cover restaurant
Languages
English
114
duce a great range of dishes reflecting the cultural variety of the region. Among the specialities on offer are
aubergines with Lanjarón honey, salads incorporating goats’-milk cheeses from the farms of Busquístar
and the cured pork sausages of Pampaneira.
ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
Facilities
• Swimming pool
• Social room
• Terrace
• Restaurant
• Picnic lunches (for hotel guests)
• Library
• Free internet and Wi-Fi in the communal
areas
• Laundry
• Television
• Refrigerator
• Towels for the swimming pool
Open
All year round (the restaurant is closed
from 1 November to 1 March, but breakfast
is still available between these dates)
Prices
Double room: 75 €/night
Official endorsements
Park Information Point
Contact details
Tel.: 958 76 30 71
[email protected]
www.hotelfincalosllanos.com
MAMUT SIERRA NEVADA
Mamut Sierra Nevada is a services company specialised in active tourism, training courses and sports
training. It also organises sports events and incentive
courses for companies. The nature reserves in
Granada (and other provinces in Andalusia) are used
for this range of services, while other activities are occasionally undertaken in more distant destinations,
such as trekking in the Moroccan Atlas mountains.
However, the company principally focuses on the
Sierra Nevada area, an ideal location for certain activities that are impossible elsewhere in eastern Andalusia. These include rock climbing, cross-country
skiing, snowshoe walking, mountain biking and
canyoning. However, in addition to the fun involved,
the Mamut Sierra Nevada team also aims to educate
and raise awareness and knowledge of the environment while undertaking these activities.
Steeped in this philosophy of combining active
tourism and environmental education, the Mamut
visitor services and activities
• Climbs. Alcazaba, Mulhacén, Arista del
Cartujo and the Veleta peaks are some of
those climbed. Winter climbs are also
undertaken.
Sierra Nevada guides are not only technically excellent teachers, but also have a profound knowledge of
the local geography, flora, fauna and traditions. They
also act as excellent ambassadors for introducing the
visitor to the natural environment and human culture
• Interpretive skiing. This activity
complements the teaching and
improvement of skiing techniques with
the interpretation of the surroundings. In
the same spirit, walking using snowshoes
brings the visitor closer into contact with
their surroundings.
• Mountain biking. Various routes, differing
in length and difficulty are present in the
park and its surroundings. These include
longer mixed (road-track) routes from the
Sierra Nevada to various points on the
Mediterranean coast.
of the Sierra Nevada. In addition, the principles of
conservation and the value of the natural environment are emphasised during all of their activities, as
corresponds to the strict protection status given to
the Sierra Nevada.
Among the sustainability measures incorporated into the company’s activities are water saving
and reduction in the number of bottles used, made
possible by the installation of a system of water storage tanks and multiple taps. Mamut Sierra Nevada
collaborates with the park managers by notifying
problems with equipment/installations and passing
on interesting observations of wildlife, as well as
through the organisation of activities associated
with other park events and in the promotion of
safety measures amongst those undertaking highrisk activities. They also work closely with local associations working in the conservation of the area’s
cultural resources.
Material/equipment provided
Optional services, such as ski-lifts,
photography, support vehicles, food,
medical services and rental equipment for
each activity.
Official endorsements
• ISO 9001
• Park Information Point
• Interpretive hiking. The principal
components on these routes are the flora,
lakes, man in the landscape and the
mountain. A 3,000 m peak is also included
to teach about Mediterranean high
mountain areas.
• Mountain sports courses. For those
wanting to begin skiing, rock-climbing,
mountaineering or learn outdoor survival
techniques, the company offers
personalised training.
Contact details
Avda. Sierra Nevada, 126
18190 Cenes de la Vega (Granada)
Tel.: 958 48 64 16
[email protected]
www.mamutsierranevada.com
Languages
English, French and Italian
Open
All year round
SIERRA NEVADA NATIONAL AND NATURAL PARKS
115
AULA DE NATURALEZA ERMITA VIEJA
The Sierra Nevada Natural Park is a broad belt of land
entirely surrounding the National Park of the same
name that protects the highest peaks of this imposing
range. The Ermita Vieja Nature Study Centre is situated about 15 km from the provincial capital of
Granada, in a verdant valley of pinewoods, vegetable
gardens and walnut trees, encircled by the summits
of Los Alayos. Children, young people and adults
come here to learn about and enjoy the natural environment.
Ermita Vieja is the logical extension of a project
initiated in 1982. At that time, eight students — concerned about the environment and hoping to create
their own employment opportunities — purchased
an abandoned farmhouse in the vicinity of Albuñuelas on the western flanks of the Sierra Nevada. There
they set up an educational farming project with the
intention of helping local schools to teach children
about wildlife conservation.
visitor services and activities
• School programmes. The Ermita Vieja
Nature Study Centre designs activities for
school groups at all levels and of variable
duration (1, 3 or 5 days). In addition to the
wildlife resources of the surrounding
countryside, they also make use of the
Centre’s tree nursery, threshing floor and
apparatus used to distil aromatic plants.
• Ecological itineraries. Guided walks along
the river Dílar, focussing on its flora and
fauna, aimed at school groups, families or
groups of individuals.
Following the success of this venture, in 1994
they founded the Ermita Vieja Nature Study Centre in
Dílar, on the northern edge of the range. Since this
time, they have diversified the range of activities on
offer, with recent projects including workshops dedicated to the biodiversity of the Sierra Nevada and the
• Ecological workshops. After learning
about the distillation of plants for their
aromatic oils, participants can make their
own natural soaps and toothpastes. Other
workshops teach participants about
renewable energy sources and how to use
resources (water, energy, etc.) responsibly.
appreciation of the natural and cultural heritage of
the region. Although most all these activities take
place in the Centre, school and private groups can
also choose from a number of itineraries offered by
Ermita Vieja: for example, the trail along the river Dílar
or to the col at Silleta de Padul for spectacular views
of the Sierra Nevada as far as Granada.
The endeavours and social and environmental
commitment of the Ermita Vieja team has been acknowledged by regional authorities on numerous occasions. Among the honours bestowed on the Centre
are the Andalusian Environmental Award, the Andalusian Medal for Educational Innovation and the Rainbow Award for Cooperativity (‘Premio Arco Iris del Cooperativismo’). Perhaps their most significant honour
to date, however, was to receive the Andanatura Award
for Collaborating in the Sustainable Development of
the Sierra Nevada, granted for the role the Centre has
played in the conservation of this national park.
• Summer camps. Aimed at children
between six and 13 years. Among the
activities on offer are excursions in the
Natural Park and workshops dealing with
expression, communication and research
in ecological issues and the utilisation and
transformation of natural resources.
Languages
English
• Training courses. Aimed at teachers,
students, organisations or, indeed, anyone
who is interested in the environment.
• Practical fieldwork in environmental
education. Designed for both teachers and
students, these sessions are offered in
collaboration with the Huerta Alegre
Centre for Educational Innovation and
Granada University.
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ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
• Centre hire. The whole installation can be
hired by groups or organisations who wish
to carry out their own activities, providing
that these are either educational or cultural.
Material/equipment provides
• Educational and research workshops
• Dining rooms
• Multi-purpose rooms (for games or
conferences)
• Library
• Educational materials for school children
Open
All year round
Official endorsements
• ISO 9001 and 14001 (applied for)
• Park Information Point
Contact details
Carretera de la central hidroeléctrica, km 2.5
Dílar (Granada)
Tel.: 958 22 84 96 / 958 34 04 72
[email protected]
www.huertoalegre.com
ALOJAMIENTO RURAL EL VALLE
During their explorations south of Granada in the seventh century, the Moors discovered a broad and fertile valley on a plain ringed by mountains that combined all the features they considered to be most
important: good soil, freely running rivers and natural
shelter from the sierras. And not surprisingly, they
stayed. Captivated by its beauty they named it the
Valle de Lecrín, or ‘the valley of happiness’. Today, it is
home to the El Valle Rural Guesthouse.
Evoking former times, this reformed traditional
country house, more than 200 years old, is located
just 15 minutes from the city of Granada, 25 minutes
from the coast and 35 minutes from the Sierra Nevada
ski station.
El Valle is ideal for visitors seeking peace and tranquility, and directly from the front door it is possible to
wander through the vegetable gardens and extensive
orange and olive groves, to visit Arab castles or simply
sit on the banks of the river. Alternatively, guests can
Accommodation type
Simple rural guesthouse
visit the local crafts shops or tapas routes to sample
the local migas de harina (flour-based mixture of different local products), choto al ajillo (veal with garlic),
habas con bacalao (white beans with salt cod) or the
roscos de canela (cinnamon doughnuts).
After nightfall, clients can also enjoy views of the
night sky thanks to the astronomical observatory lo-
• Astronomic equipment sales point.
• Wines and oils sales point. The latter
comes from the lechín variety of olive,
which is typically associated with the
cultivation of oranges.
Languages
English and French
visitor services and activities
• Information about walking, horse-riding
and cycling routes. One option is to visit
Laguna de Padul, very close to the
accommodation.
• Information regarding outdoor sports.
• Astronomical observations (star-gazing).
Organised by the owner, an amateur
astronomer, using a small on-site
observatory. Planned developments will
allow guests to observe microscopic star
dust and take their own photographs of
the night sky, and to have available a
personal planetarium.
cated in the roof: a real delight and present because
both owners happen to be amateur astronomers.
The four independent houses and the apartment
are all equipped with energy-saving systems.The swimming pool also uses a saline treatment system. The accommodation is accredited with the Andalusia Natural
Park Brand, guaranteeing the quality of its services.
Facilities
• Swimming pool, gardens and barbeque
• Balconies with views
• Car park
• Astronomy observatory
• Free internet and Wi-Fi connection
• Satellite TV
• Fully equipped kitchen
• House for 6 people: 260 €/weekend;
780 €/week
• House for 6/8 people: 280 €/weekend;
840 €/week
Location
Dúrcal (Granada)
Solana Alta s/n. Access is via a signposted
track
Coordinates: 36º 59’ 36’’ N, 3º 35’ 4’’W
Capacity
4 houses and 1 apartment, sleeping 20
Official endorsements
• Andalusia Natural Park Brand
• Park Information Point
Open
All year round
Prices
• House for 2 people: 132 €/weekend;
396 €/week
• House for 2/4 people: 170 €/weekend;
510 €/week
Contact details
Tel.: 958 78 15 15 / 649 16 18 96
[email protected]
www.alojamientoruralelvalle.com
SIERRA NEVADA NATIONAL AND NATURAL PARKS
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CÁMPING LAS LOMAS
Despite the fact that in general in Spain camping is
not a mass phenomenon, almost 25% of all tourist accommodation in Spain is in campsites, some of which
rate amongst the best in Europe in terms of facilities
and natural surroundings. This is the case of Las
Lomas, which has been open for over 30 years.
Las Lomas is two kilometres outside of GüéjarSierra, a small village on the north face of the Sierra
Nevada in the valley of the river Genil, where the high
peaks, streams and springs, archaeological remains
and monuments are linked physically and metaphorically by historical trails and local traditions.
It is impossible to talk of local cuisine without casting one’s mind back in history: after the Jews and
Moriscos were expelled at the end of the fifteenth century at the end of the Reconquest, the deserted rural
areas were repopulated by people from the north
(from Castille, Navarre andValencia), who brought with
them culinary traditions that were soon incorporated
Accommodation type
Class 1 campsite
into local cookery. This explains the presence of pork
(forbidden to the Jews and Arabs) as the fundamental
ingredient of many of the dishes of the campsite’s
restaurant: black pudding (morcilla), fried chorizo, wild
mushrooms fried with ham, delicias of kid and, espe-
• Playgroups and workshops for children
on the campsite in summer.
• Pets welcome (except in cabins).
visitor services and activities
• Restaurant with local cuisine.
• Visits to the bee-hives of Güéjar-Sierra,
where clients can make their own wax
veils.
Languages
• In summer: English, French, Italian and
German
• Rest of the year: English and French
• On weekdays, a guide from the campsite
organises a walk to a bathing pool on the
river Genil.
• Drive up to the mountain pass of Alguacil
for views of the Sierra Nevada.
• In summer, the campsite provides clients
with a map of the peak of Cerro del Calar,
situated opposite the campsite. From its
summit, the views over the Genil valley
and towards the peaks are spectacular.
118
cially tasty, pork in almond sauce. As a part of its commitment to sustainability, Las Lomas Campsite produces written information about nearby footpaths, enabling clients to walk and enjoy the surroundings
without having to use any form of motorised transport.
Facilities
• Camping area
• Area for camper vans
• Cabin rental (fully equipped, except
towels)
• Restaurant with two garden terraces
• Cafe
• Supermarket
• Laundrette
• Internet (in reception) and Wi-Fi
• Sports (mini-golf, table tennis)
• Children’s playground
• Gardens
• Swimming pool
• Viewpoint
• Hydro-massage
• Privates baths for families
• Facilities for people with reduced
mobility
• Baby baths (free)
Open
All year round
Location
Güéjar-Sierra (Granada)
Güéjar-Sierra road, km 6.5
Coordinates: 37º 9’ 39.60’’ N, 3º 27’ 58.89’’W
Prices
• Pitch (sleeping 2 + tent and
car/caravan + light): 29.50 €/night
• Cabin sleeping 2-4: 80 €/day
Capacity
• Pitches: 100 (sleeping 300)
• Cabins: 23 (5 sleeping 2, 11 sleeping 4,
and 7 sleeping 5) sleeping in total 89
• 200-cover restaurant
Contact details
Tel.: 958 48 47 42 /
958 48 47 34 (restaurant)
[email protected]
www.campinglaslomas.com
ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
BALNEARIO DE LANJARÓN
The Balneario de Lanjarón stands at the gates of the
Granadan Alpujarras and just a half hour from the city
of Granada, and is one of the most popular destinations with the visitors who come to the Sierra Nevada
aiming to cleanse both mind and body during their
stays. The medicinal properties of this spa’s waters
were first noted in the 1770s, although it was not until
the nineteenth century that its fame began to spread,
and its waters have been put to therapeutic use ever
since.
Often regarded as the most popular spa in Andalusia, many are attracted to the prestigious Lanjarón therapeutic spa centre by the purity of its waters and the quality of the treatment on offer, which
range from bubble baths with relaxing massages,
wraps and presotherapy, to a floatarium and beyond.
Treatments such as the Secret Garden even take place
in the open air. For clients who want further activities
to occupy their time, the spa also organises walks in
visitor services and activities
• Baths. Thermal water treatment in baths,
prescribed for rheumatic and kidney
illnesses and for general relaxation.
• Bubble baths. Bubble baths help relax
and are also good for the circulation; they
can be accompanied with sedative
massages.
the village of Lanjarón, delightfully situated on the
flanks of Cerro del Caballo on the southern face of the
Sierra Nevada.
In recent years, the spa managers have opted to
improve local environmental quality by installing one
of the largest privately owned solar energy systems
in Andalusia. This system heats the minero-medicinal
waters of a spring, El Salado, in Lanjarón, thereby
avoiding the emission annually of over 200 tonnes of
carbon dioxide. As well, as part of its objective of improving its links with the Sierra Nevada National Park,
the spa furnishes clients with information about the
active tourism companies working in the Sierra Nevada area who offer the opportunity to discover the
natural, cultural and scenic charms of these mountains.
The Balneario de Lanjarón also actively participates in a number of local-scale projects and, for example, recently helped in setting up of the Museo del
• Pediluvium and maniluvium. Foot- and
hand-baths that relax and stimulate the
circulation.
• Therapeutic showers. Different types of
showers — pressure, circular and
miorelaxing — relax the muscles and help
with circulatory and respiratory problems.
• The spa also has a floatarium, a Finnish
sauna and a steam bath.
Agua (Museum of Water) in Lanjarón, which describes
all the uses the local water has been put to over the
years and shows how the town and its waters have always been inextricably linked. As well, in 2008 the
owner of the spa provided a venue for the celebration
of the Andalusian Honey Fair.
Facilities
• Function room
• Bar-cafe
• Audiovisual facilities
• Solarium
• Tennis courts
• Car park
Official endorsements
• ‘Q’ quality tourism label
• Park Information Point
• Qualicert
• Active tourism. To complement the
services provided in the thermal baths,
clients can also take part in a number of
different activities in the open air
organised by companies that operate in
the Sierra Nevada National Park and
surrounding area.
Contact details
Avda. de la Constitución s/n
18420 Lanjarón (Granada)
Tel.: 958 77 01 37
[email protected]
www.balneariodelanjaron.com
Languages
English
Open
All year round
SIERRA NEVADA NATIONAL AND NATURAL PARKS
119
CASTILLO DE LANJARÓN
The Castillo de Lanjarón hotel, as its name suggests, is
located in the spa town of Lanjarón — a delightful
maze of white-washed houses and charming little
squares, often regarded as the gateway to Las Alpujarras — and has been offering its services to visitors
who wish to explore the surrounding countryside for
almost seventy years.
In the reception area of the hotel, guests are able
to consult a wide variety of up-to-date material about
the Sierra Nevada protected area, from information
about the cultural heritage of the region to details
about the range of activity tourism available in the
park, as well as a list of local artisans and craftsmen. In
addition, the hotel can show video material about the
Sierra Nevada on request.
One of the most charming features of the hotel
is the magnificent views of the Guadalfeo valley and
mountain ranges of Lújar and Los Guájares that greet
guests from their balconies, although the most eyeAccommodation type
Three-star hotel
visitor services and activities
• As an accredited Park Information Point,
the hotel provides guests with material
about the park’s natural and cultural
resources, as well as information about the
various excursions on offer.
• Ruta de las Acequias. Guided walks along
this trail, which follows the ancient
irrigation system built by the Moors, take
place every Monday in July, August and
September.
catching feature of these vistas is undoubtedly the
castle itself: a frontier fort situated on an isolated
rocky promontory, of great significance during the
time when the area was occupied by the Moors. As
history would have it, the fort was defended against
a Christian assault by three hundred Moors under the
leadership of a notorious chieftain known as ‘The
Black Captain’who, when the battle was lost, and the
• In collaboration with a local company,
the hotel can organise a wide range of
active pursuits.
• Pets are welcome.
fort overrun, chose to throw himself from its highest
tower, choosing death over surrender.
This curious tale is just one among many legends,
stories and recipes that have been collected by the
proprietors of the Castillo de Lanjarón over the years,
which are proffered to guests as a way of inviting
them to immerse themselves in the culture and traditions of the region.
Facilities
• Cafeteria-bar
• Lounge
• Garden
• TV
• Free Wi-Fi in rooms and communal areas
• Guests are also welcome to use the
computer in reception
• Views of the castle from some rooms
• 1 room is adapted for people with
limited mobility
Open
All year round (except from 15 January to
15 February)
Languages
English
Prices
Double room (with breakfast): 62 €/night
Location
Lanjarón (Granada)
C/ Granada, 1
Coordinates: 36º 55’ 4.85’’ N, 3º 29’ 17.13’’ W
Official endorsements
Park Information Point
Capacity
30 rooms, sleeping 60
120
ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
Contact details
Tel.: 958 77 07 12
[email protected]
www.hcastillolanjaron.com
LA ALACENA DE LAUJAR
Anyone entering the Alacena de Laujar store — located on the road that links Laujar de Andarax with
Fondón, in Almería — finds themselves immersed in
a veritable sea of colours, scents and flavours. The
shelves are stacked high with tasty morsels of culinary
fare of Las Alpujarras: hams from Trevélez, artisan
cheeses from Abrucena, chocolates from Pampaneira,
the wines of Alboloduy and rich biscuits from Laujar
itself. Apart from these mouth-watering gastronomic
delights, visitors have the opportunity to purchase
craftwork from the region, including local pottery
(pitchers, plates and bowls), colourful rugs and carpets, and a wide range of basketwork. In truth, entering María Rosario Rodríguez’s shop is like taking a
step back in time.
Ever since the enterprising María opened her
shop, she has been looking for ways to expand her
business. In 2006, the Almería Regional Tourist Board
granted her Tourist Information Bureau status, since
visitor services and activities
• Sale of local produce. La Alacena de Laujar
stocks organic foodstuffs and craftwork
procured directly from local farmers and
artisans.
• Oenology courses. Organised in
collaboration with La Gabiarra Friends of
Wine Association in Laujar, these courses
study wine production, blending and
tasting.
which time she has been able to provide visitors with
an enormous amount of advice as to how to get the
best from their stay in the Sierra Nevada.
• Educational talks for schools. The children
learn about what comprises an ecological
product, and its significance.
• Tourist information. La Alacena de Laujar
provides visitors with a wealth of
information about the Sierra Nevada
protected area, so as to help them get the
most from their stay in the region.
In 2007, in recognition of Maria’s work — particularly for her efforts in promoting the local economy
and conservation of the heritage of the region — La
Alacena de Laujar was awarded the Andanatura Prize
for Sustainable Development. While encouraging the
sale of local produce, María also endeavours to stock
only those goods that are guaranteed to have been
produced in an environmentally sensitive manner. In
addition, she has organised a series of lectures, for the
schools of the region, about the significance of consuming organic foodstuffs, as well as courses in oenology (wine making, tasting and blending).
María also finds time to contribute to the maintenance of her village, with her most recent project
concerning the restoration of the Genara spring in the
Laujar picnic area. Together with a group of volunteers from the region, she is aiming to repair the fountain, so that its crystal-clear water will once more be
available to the villagers.
Material/equipment provided
Informative leaflets about the park
Open
All year round
Official endorsements
Park Information Point
Contact details
Hermanos Castañeda, 14
04470 Laujar de Andarax (Almería)
Tel.: 950 51 34 53
[email protected]
SIERRA NEVADA NATIONAL AND NATURAL PARKS
121
AL-MIHRAS
This active tourism and environmental education
company has been operating in the Sierra Nevada
National and Natural Parks and surrounding area for
over twelve years. Its objectives, above all, are to
promote a better understanding of this protected
area, and its activities have been designed so as to
combine respect for the environment with learning
how to conserve it. A wide repertoire of routes and
trails is used for this programme, some of which coincide with the official footpaths of the parks.
In order to reduce the environmental impact associated with following these itineraries, Al-Mihras
takes its clients to areas of the countryside that are
well away from the tourist honey-pot areas, also
avoiding more sensitive natural habitats. This strategy
is combined with the execution of various excursions
at different times of year, so as to avoid excess visitor
pressure on any one area. Al-Mihras is particularly
renowned for its work with groups of people who
visitor services and activities
• Walking itineraries. Guided walks through
the Sierra Nevada National and Natural
Parks.
have difficulty walking in the countryside, good examples of which are the programmes it organises for
older and retired people for Almería City Council, and
for marginal social groups as part of the programme
‘Nature for Everyone’of the Andalusian Government’s
Department of the Environment.
As a complementary service, Al-Mihras offers accommodation to its clients in the Casa Rural Monterrey, close to Laujar de Andarax (Almería), in the heart
of the Sierra Nevada Natural Park. Originally a forestry
station, this building has been recently renovated and
is now a public facility that Al-Mihras has the concession to run. It is a two-storey building, comprising
two spacious, self-catering units, available to rent independently, both of which are fully equipped. Casa
Chullo, situated on the ground floor, sleeps four and
is specially adapted for persons with limited mobility,
while the upper floor is occupied by Casa Almirez,
which sleeps six.
• Multi-adventure activities. Cross-country
skiing is one of the most popular sporting
activities offered by Al-Mihras, which is
practised on level or gently sloping
terrain. Because it does not require the
enormous infrastructure associated with
downhill skiing, it causes much less
damage to the environment. Other
activities offered include archery, rock
climbing, orienteering and a flying fox.
Among its commitments to sustainability, the
company has devised a scheme to collect used (cooking) oils from schools. Al-Mihras is intending to expand this initiative to include the villages of the region, Alcolea, Bayárcal, Fondón, Fuente Victoria,
Paterna del Río and, of course, Laujar de Andarax,
which is where the scheme is based.
Among the activities on offer during the
day-long courses are walks around the
crops cultivated on the farm,
environmental education workshops, a
visit to the ethnographic museum to learn
about traditional farm implements, etc.
This programme is suitable for all ages, and
includes a breakfast prepared from organic
ingredients.
Material/equipment provided
Everything needed to participate in the
various workshops and activities (rock
climbing, archery, etc.)
Languages
German, English, French and Turkish
Open
All year round
• Cultural routes. Walks around the villages
of the Andarax valley, to explore their
churches, chapels, mansions and
vernacular architecture, as well as the way
of life, traditions and history of their
inhabitants. These can be combined with
visits to some of the farming enterprises in
the region, such as an organic vineyard, a
potter’s workshop, a sweet-making
venture, an oil press, etc.
122
• Environmental education. This programme
of activities takes place on the organic
farm of Cortijo El Cura, which lies between
the Sierra Nevada and the Sierra de Gádor,
close to Laujar de Andarax. It provides a
working example of sustainable
development and is therefore a marvellous
place to learn about the importance of
conserving the environment in situ.
ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
Contact details
C/ Covadonga, 4
04470 Laujar de Andarax (Almería)
Tel.: 950 51 41 49 / 655 84 64 77
[email protected]
www.al-mihras.com
LOS MOLINOS DE PADUL
To talk of the mills (molinos) of Padul is to talk of water,
the key element in this ancient flour mill dating from
Moorish times. It has been restored using original materials including Arabic tiles, whitewashed walls, mud
floors and even original-style furniture.
A multitude of fascinating corners will delight visitors, who will also find a true garden where it is not
unusual to find fish swimming in the mill race or see
birds perched amongst the plants. Various species of
flora have been planted as examples of local flora or
as traditional species found in the region’s gardens.
The Molinos de Padul also has a corral, whose
fresh eggs can be savoured during a delicious breakfast, and then a few minutes can be spared to greet
the donkey, a children’s favourite. Another of the attractions is the ethnographic museum, including the
mill’s machinery, still in perfect working order, and
other objects such as old farm tools and kitchen utensils.
Accommodation type
Holiday Home (Vivienda Turística
Vacacional)
visitor services and activities
• The accommodation provides
information on the park and contacts for
numerous other activities: skiing, hiking,
cycling, horse riding and guided
excursions to the Laguna de Padul.
This rural accommodation
is just a stone’s throw away from
Granada, the Sierra Nevada, the
beach and Las Alpujarras. Additionally, for birdwatchers, the
Laguna de Padul lies very close
by. This wetland (300 ha) forms
part of the Sierra Nevada Natural Park and is included in the
Ramsar agreement. Over 150
bird species have been
recorded here, the most notable being wintering wetland
species such as Bluethroat,
Eurasian Penduline-tit and
Eurasian Reed Bunting.
For those looking for peace and tranquility, attractive options exist such as visits to the Ibero-roman
trail, the Mal Nombre spring or the Padul Nigüelas ge-
ological fault; those wanting to walk will soon discover the proximity of the GR-7, the Sulayr trail and
the Ruta de los Molinos (Route of the Mills).
Location
Padul (Granada)
Camino de los Molinos s/n. Signposted
from the centre of Padul village
Coordinates: 37º 0’ 26.30’’ N, 3º 37’ 15.88’’ W
• One of the apartments has good access
for people with reduced mobility
• Bicycles (free for clients)
• Equipped kitchen
• Communal washing machine
• Small saloon with chimney and TV
• TV and DVD in all apartments
Open
All year round
Capacity
3 apartments, sleeping 12
• Parascending and hang-gliding strips are
located very close by.
• Sales of local agricultural food products.
Languages
English and French
Facilities
• Ancient Moorish mill containing a small
ethnographic museum
• Garden with barbeque
• Swimming pool
• Small lake
• Children’s playground
• Car park
Prices
4-people apartments: 80 €/day, 550 €/week
Official endorsements
Park Information Point
Contact details
Tel.: 958 79 08 13 / 600 09 94 04
[email protected]
www.molinosdepadul.com
SIERRA NEVADA NATIONAL AND NATURAL PARKS
123
HOTEL RESTAURANTE LA FRAGUA
La Fragua is located in Trevélez, the highest village in
Las Alpujarras in the province of Granada, and undoubtedly one of the most charming in the region.
The hotel forms part of the best-conserved of the
three districts that comprise the village — the Barrio
Medio — where most of the houses have been built
in true Alpujarran architectural style: constructed of
local stone, with flat roofs topped with launa (an impermeable clay of the region) and stone slabs around
the eaves. The narrow streets of the town are lined
with dwellings typical of the architecture of Las Alpujarras, whose mortared, white-washed walls are punctuated by deep-set windows and doors that keep out
the cold in winter and the heat in summer.
Comprising two hotels and a restaurant, and offering a high-quality service, La Fragua is perhaps the
most emblematic accommodation complex in
Trevélez, renowned also for its knowledge of the
Sierra Nevada and its commitment to nature conservation in the protected area. Many of the best-known
trails of the Sierra Nevada start from the hotel itself,
including the ascent of Mulhacén. Year after year, the
traditional pilgrimage to this summit leaves a considAccommodation type
• La Fragua I, one-star hotel
• La Fragua II, two-star hotel
erable quantity of rubbish in its wake, such that La
Fragua has embarked on an awareness campaign
— involving posters and informative meetings — to
alert the villagers to the potential environmental impact of this event.
The gastronomy of La Fragua not only offers a
range of the traditional farmers’ dishes of the region
— migas del pastor (literally ‘shepherd’s bread-
• Restaurant specialised in traditional
home cooking.
Languages
English
Location
Trevélez (Granada)
C/ San Antonio, 4
Coordinates: 37º 0’ 0.80’’ N, 3º 16’ 0.74’’ W
crumbs’!), stews of potatoes and pork, and kid cooked
with garlic — but also an interesting variety of vegetarian meals, using home-grown ingredients.
The hotel collaborates with several companies that
offer activity tourism in the area, in this way not only
supporting the local economy, but also providing their
guests with a wide range of leisure opportunities: walking, horse-trekking routes, cycling excursions, etc.
Facilities
• Restaurant with tapas bar
• Cafeteria (breakfasts for guests)
• Library
• Lounge with open fire
• Free Wi-Fi internet connection, also in
some of the rooms
• TV
• Swimming pool
• Covered car park
Open
All year round (except from 10 January to
10 February)
visitor services and activities
• La Fragua organises activities for its
guests in collaboration with the active
tourism company Nevadensis: horsetrekking excursions, mountain-bike hire,
canyoning and 4WD routes.
• Each year the company carries out an
environmental awareness campaign,
involving both its guests and the villagers,
in order to collect the rubbish produced
during the annual pilgrimage to Mulhacén.
124
Prices
Double room: 45-55 €/night
Official endorsements
• ‘Q’ quality tourism label (La Fragua II and
the restaurant)
• Park Information Point
Capacity
• 24 rooms, sleeping 42. 1 room is suitable
for people with limited mobility
• 50-cover restaurant
ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
Contact details
Tel.: 958 85 86 26 / 958 85 85 12 /
958 85 85 73 (restaurant)
[email protected]
www.hotellafragua.com
SIERRAS DE CAZORLA, SEGURA Y LAS VILLAS NATURAL PARK
The largest protected area in Spain
Like a breaching whale, the sierras of Cazorla, Segura and Las Villas emerge from a sea of olive groves in the heart of the province of Jaén,
and form one of the most complex mountain ranges in the whole of Andalusia. These limestone mountains, replete with towering cliffs and
rocky crags, are covered by some of the most extensive pine forests in the whole of Spain, and the management of these magnificent forests
of various different species of pine provide a complete reflection of the history of forestry in Spain over the centuries. Big-game hunting is
another traditional activity in these mountains, as many of the Iberian Peninsula’s largest ungulates live here — some native like the Iberian Ibex (undoubtedly the park’s best-known mammal) and others like the Mouflon and Roe Deer introduced. Nevertheless, the most threatened animal species in the park is probably the Lammergeier, which after having becoming extinct in the 1980s has returned to the park’s
skies thanks to a reintroduction project. The region’s flora, however, is perhaps the most significant natural aspect of this Natural Park, the
largest in Spain; around 1,500 plants have been recorded from within the park, about a fifth of all the plants known from the Iberian Peninsula, of which 24 are endemic to the Natural Park.
This chapter of the guide has been promoted by:
Panoramic view of the Sierra de la Cabrilla.
overing almost 210,000 ha (similar in size to the island of Tenerife), the Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas Natural Park is the
largest protected area in Spain and one of the largest in Europe. The
best-known range in this complex area of knife-edged and principally
limestone mountains is the Sierra de Cazorla, in the south of the park.
In general the main mountain ridges run south-west to north-east and
are separated by the river Guadalquivir, Andalusia’s principal watercourse, which rises in the Natural Park. The sheer cliffs of the high
mountains to the east of the river tower above the valley bottoms in
a landscape that is so typical of the Cazorla-Segura region. To the
west of the valley in the Sierra de Las Villas, on the other hand, the
landscape has undergone more intense erosion and numerous tributary gullies and deeply scored valleys split the mountainsides, likewise boasting spectacular sheers cliffs, dozens of metres high.
The Sierra de Segura, which occupies two-thirds of the park,
takes its name from the other great river, the Segura, that rises in
this protected area. However, unlike the Atlantic-bound Guadalquivir,
the Segura heads in the opposing direction and eventually flows into
the Mediterranean.
Owing to its size and the complexity of its relief, it is difficult to
highlight any one vantage point in the park that gives views over its
whole immensity. Nevertheless, there are a series of peaks whose
summits provide breathtaking panoramas that will leave no one indifferent — Cabañas (2,027 m), Gilillo (1,847 m) and Empanadas (2.107
m), the latter the highest point in the Natural Park and offering superb
views over the neighbouring Sierra de Castril (province of Granada) —
and on very clear days the sea is visible in the far distance. The Sierra
de Segura is more modest in height and is dominated by the peaks of
Banderillas (1,993 m) and Yelmo (1,808 m), off of which the intrepid
launch themselves in hang-gliders and enjoy wonderful bird’s-eye
views of the park, before landing in the valley 1,000 m below.
C
Plateaux and valleys
The mountains of the park form part of the limestone Cordillera
Bética. Many of the region’s most spectacular landscapes have been
sculpted by karstic erosion; the rivers have cut deep into the limestone and today run through intricate valleys separating the high
plateaux that accumulate the waters that feed their sources. This is
the case, for example, of the deep gullies known as cerradas, of
which the most visited are La Cerrada de Utrero on the river
Guadalquivir and La Cerrada de Elías on the river Borosa. This latter
gorge has been equipped with 500 m of wooden walkway fixed to
the sheer cliffs, in places at a height of 10 metres above the river. Further upstream, visitors will come to one of the most magical sites in
the Natural Park, the waterfalls of Los Órganos, where the river cascades over an outcrop of tufa, a type of limestone rock created when
the calcium carbonate dissolved in water precipitates out. Another
waterfall, La Cascada de Linarejos, which intermittently pours over a
sheer cliff carved out by the river Guadalquivir, is equally attractive
and has become one the most-photographed landscapes in the
whole park.
On the immense high plateaux (or calares) the rainwater and
snowmelt slowly dissolve the limestone rocks, creating fractured
limestone pavements of sculpted white and grey stone. Where the
dissolution of the limestone has been most intense, dolines — depressions — dot the landscape and when seen in a bird’s-eye view,
the pattern formed by the dolines of Los Campos de Hernán Perea in
La Sierra de Segura is especially eye-catching. Within this area lies El
Pinar Negro, one of the most complete karstic landscapes in Andalusia, where caves such as El Hundimiento and Pinar Negro provide access into the very entrails of the mountains. The eight-metre
wide entrance to the Pinar Negro cave lies in the centre of a large doline with a diameter of over 100 metres, and experienced speleoloSIERRAS DE CAZORLA, SEGURA Y LAS VILLAS NATURAL PARK
127
gists have followed its interconnected chambers as far as 155 metres below the surface.
In this broken landscape, the calares alternate with muelas, another type of high plateau, but the main settlements are to be found
below in the valleys created by the rivers and streams as they carve
their paths through these labyrinthic mountains.
The cradle of the rivers
The river Guadalquivir — ‘Betis’ to the Romans and ‘Al-wadi al-Kabir’
(the Great River) to the Moors — rises in the Sierra de Cazorla. Although no consensus exists as to the actual source of this, the Andalusian river par excellence, El Nacimiento del Guadalquivir (the
Source) at 1,350 m in La Cañada de las Fuentes (near Quesada) is a
must for most visitors. This natural spring is normally generous in its
flow, although it can dry up in periods of drought. Although this
spring is officially described as the source of the Guadalquivir, historical records and recent calculations and geographical studies
seem to suggest that the true source is elsewhere.
Be this as it may, most of the upper course of the Guadalquivir,
around 70 km, runs through the Natural Park. Forced by the surrounding mountains to head north at first towards the Mediterranean, the river boasts a series of delightful rock pools and small
waterfalls, and passes under charming bridges such as El Puente de
las Herrerías, dating from the fifteenth century.
The river Guadalentín, on the other hand, runs between sheer
cliffs in the opposite direction, north-south. One of the park’s most
evocative of marked trails runs from La Trinchera to the spring, La
Fuente del Acero, along this river and it is worth walking as far as
the pools at La Cerrada de la Canaliega for a quick solitary dip. Before heading towards Pozo Alcón and joining the river Guadiana
Menor, the river Guadalentín is damned and forms the reservoir of
La Bolera.
Without doubt, the river Borosa, is another ‘must-see’ site. Its
source is the spring of Aguas Negras at the foot of the Sierra de Banderillas in the Sierra de Segura near La Laguna de Valdeazores.
The park’s other great river is the Segura, which flows into the
Mediterranean after rising at Fuente Segura near Pontones in a sump
or cave, flooded by green crystalline waters, in a beautiful open
mountain valley. It is worth mentioning two of its main tributaries,
the river Madera and Zumeta; the latter runs through a narrow
canyon, while, according to experts, the former is home to one of the
best Black Pine forests in Spain and verdant riparian vegetation composed of Hazels, ashes, willows and poplars.
Upper course of the river Guadalquivir in the gorge of Cerrada de Utrero.
128
ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
Ancient pines
The forests that cover the sierras of Cazorla, Segura and Las Villas
embody one of the most extensive tree masses in the whole of Spain.
Today, pines dominate and the story behind the management and
exploitation of these vast forests provides an excellent compendium
of the history of forestry practices in Spain. The most important tree
species is the Black Pine (Pinus nigra subsp. salzmannii), with its unmistakeable silvery bark. It is the longest-lived of all Iberian pines
and in some parts of Cazorla and Segura the forests are thought to
be populated by some of the oldest trees in Spain. It is known that
some living trees had sprouted even before El Cid roamed these
forests back around the year 1050. Typically the Black Pine is accompanied by stunted Common Junipers, Savin, thymes and brooms,
while at lower altitudes, where it rains less, this pine is replaced by
Maritime and Aleppo Pines.
Nonetheless, visitors to the Natural Park will also find stands of
deciduous Pyrenean and Lusitanian Oaks, and Italian and Montpellier Maples. Normally these maples are found individually and not
as single-species woodland, although one site that should be visited
is the maple forest along the river Madera that in autumn turns spectacular shades of yellow through to red. Another tree that is at its
best in autumn is the Dogwood, which occasionally forms pure
stands. In the most humid parts of the Sierra de Segura there are
stands of pure Hazel, a typical northern species that can be found
alongside Holly and Whitebeam in places such as La Cueva del Agua
and Las Acebeas, between Siles and Segura de la Sierra.
The most Mediterranean forests consist of magnificent tracts of
Holm Oak woodland, for example in the Sierra de Quesada, to the
south of the village of the same name, and the Zumeta valley near
Santiago de la Espada, although in many areas of the park the Holm
Oaks are mixed in with Lusitanian Oaks. Along the river banks wind
lines of riparian woodland dominated by tall poplars, ashes, willows
and elms.
The vascular flora of these sierras is rich and varied, boasting
around 1,500 plant species, about a fifth of the total number of
plants known from the Iberian Peninsula. Around 24 of these
plants are endemic to the Natural Park and it is worth highlighting
the butterwort Pinguicula vallisneriifolia, an insectivorous plant
that feeds on the insects that are trapped by its sticky leaves, the
Cazorla Geranium (Geranium cazorlense), only found in the Sierra
del Pozo, the columbine Aquilegia pyrenaica subsp. cazorlensis,
the stork’s-bill Erodium cazorlanum and the Cazorla Violet (Viola
cazorlensis). In the Torre del Vinagre Botanical Garden all these
rare and fascinating species can be admired without disturbing
their habitats.
The forests and game animals of these mountains first began to
be managed in the eighteenth century; in the middle of that century
forests began to be replanted and cared for and, along with hunting, began to act as the driving-force of the local economy. In the
mid-1950s, when the Wolf, Roe Deer and Wild Boar had all died out
due to excessive human pressure, but as Iberian Ibex populations
were actually improving, Red and Fallow Deer, and Mouflon were
(re)-introduced into the local hunting reserve, the Coto Nacional de
Cazorla-Segura, which today is now an Andalusian Hunting Reserve.
Today in Cazorla, Segura and Las Villas, as in the rest of Spain,
habitat conservation and public access are increasingly becoming
more important in forestry management than the commercial exploitation of the forests. And in terms of the local fauna, the Lammergeier has returned, but the growing populations of Mouflon and
Fallow Deer are beginning to threaten the endemic flora and even
the Iberian Ibex, which it tends to displace from feeding areas.
From left to right: Cazorla Violet (Viola cazorlensis); Limestone cliffs and pine forests in the Sierra de las Villas; Cazorla Geranium (Geranium cazorlense).
SIERRAS DE CAZORLA, SEGURA Y LAS VILLAS NATURAL PARK
129
From left to right: Lammergeiers now fly in Cazorla again after having been reintroduced; Griffon Vulture; Iberian Ibex, the park’s most symbolic animal species.
A faunal reservoir
Since time immemorial these mountains have been an important
refuge for fauna thanks to their forests, ruggedness and the direct or
indirect protection they have received. First of all, military orders
after the Reconquest and then the Navy protected its forests, in the
latter case as a source of wood for shipbuilding. Subsequently, they
were declared a National Hunting Reserve in the 1950s and a Natural Park in 1986. All in all, the local fauna has always enjoyed a
greater degree of protection — and management in the case of game
species — than other similar protected areas.
The Natural Park is home to a very complete community of vertebrates, boasting 36 mammal, 130 breeding bird, 21 reptile, 12 amphibian and 11 fish species. Most visitors to the park are probably
attracted by the large ungulates that between September and December are rutting. The sound of the barking of the Red and Roe Deer
and the clashing horns of the Mouflon and Iberian Ibex (in that
chronological order) waft on the autumn winds throughout much of
the park. Other interesting mammals include the forest bats and the
threatened Iberian endemic Cabrera’s Vole, here in one of its most
southerly populations. A different subspecies from the rest of Spain
of the agile Red Squirrel (with a darker tail) frequents the forests of
Cazorla and Segura (as well as the nearby Sierra de Alcaraz in the
province of Albacete) and is the symbol of the comarca (region) of
the Sierra de Segura.
Pride of place amongst the birds must go the cliff-nesting raptors
— Golden Eagle, Griffon and Egyptian Vultures and Peregrine
Falcon — that find a safe home on the myriad of cliffs of these sierras. The extensive forests are hunted over by the Booted and Shorttoed Eagles and Goshawk, whilst in the pine forests tits and other
conifer-loving species abound.
Relative to the total number of species present in the Iberian
Peninsula, the amphibians are the most species-rich group; as
well, in the context of these mountains inevitably one has to talk
of a lizard, the Spanish Algyroides (Algyroides marchii), which is
confined to the mountains of Cazorla, Castril, La Sagra and Alcaraz.
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ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
The problems of the Iberian Ibex
If there is one animal that represents the essence of the Spanish
mountains and, above all, of Cazorla, Segura and Las Villas, then it
is the Iberian Ibex. Notwithstanding its status as an Iberian endemic,
this ungulate is of great interest as an indicator of habitat quality in
mountain areas, as an important game (and thus economic) species
and for its conservation history over past centuries.
After suffering serious declines in the past, ibex populations have
been thriving in recent decades, although in the park this tendency has
been halted in the last years. These sierras boasted the best Iberian
population of the Ibex until the end of the 1980s, when an mange epidemic reduced its population to just over 200 animals, the low point
from which local populations have partially recovered to the 1,300 ibex
counted in 2007 in the Cazorla and Segura Andalusian Hunting Reserve
(66,000 ha within the Natural Park). The decline in local ibex populations was the signal for Fallow Deer and Mouflon, both introduced
species, to expand and occupy the ecological niche of the ibex.
The return of the ‘bone-breaker’
A hundred years ago the Lammergeier was a common sight in the
skies over many Andalusian mountains. By the 1950s, though, direct
persecution, poisoning and egg-collecting by European museums and
collectors had reduced the Andalusian population to just five pairs, all
in the mountains of Cazorla and Segura. But by 1986 even these birds
had succumbed and the Lammergeier was extinct in Andalusia.
However, in recent years an ambitious captive breeding project
aimed at reintroducing the Lammergeier into these mountains, promoted by the Andalusian Government and run by Fundación Gypaetus, has been set in motion, based around the Guadalentín Recuperation Centre in La Nava de San Pedro. The programme has already
had its successes and between 2006 and 2009 twelve immature
Lammergeiers were released, although some have died through poisoning, gunshot wounds or natural causes. Not until the young females birds reach sexual maturity and breed will it be possible to affirm that the Lammergeier has returned to what is one of the most
emblematic of all Andalusian mountainous areas.
A long human history
From prehistoric times and right up to the present day practically all
the peoples that have ever occupied the Iberian Peninsula have at some
time or another passed through the Cazorla region, from Ibers to
Moors. The Middle Ages left their mark in the form of numerous castles
such as Bujaraiza, whose hilltop ruins are isolated when the waters of
the Tranco reservoir rise to their highest point, Segura de la Sierra and
La Iruela and, in the town of Cazorla, La Yedra and Las Cinco Esquinas.
From the Middle Ages right through to the nineteenth century many
of the towns in the Natural Park were dependent on the Bishopric of
Toledo, in the guise of a feudal body known as the Adelantamiento de
Cazorla, while some of the towns in the Sierra de Segura belonged to
the militarised Order of Santiago. Both institutions governed these
towns for centuries, thereby influencing their cultures and traditions.
In one way or another, local inhabitants have always lived off the
land. In terms of agriculture, the olive is king and the famous local oils
have been awarded two Denominations of Origin — Sierra de Segura
and Sierra de Cazorla. You cannot talk of the province of Jaén without
mentioning its olive groves, nor understand local culture and society
without referring to this traditional crop. To reach the uplands of Cazorla,
Segura and Las Villas, visitors must first cross a sea of olive groves,
which those who make it to the peaks will see extending away endlessly
at their feet. Today, olive cultivation is more important than ever and is
the cornerstone of the rural economy of the province of Jaén, which accounts for almost half of Spain’s total olive oil production. In recent years
the surface area devoted to olives groves has continued to increase.
Logging campaings
The mountains of Cazorla and Segura have historically been one of the
most important areas for timber production in Spain, and for at least ten
centuries wood has been extracted from these forests, often using the
waters of the rivers Guadalquivir and Segura for transportation. Epochs
of intense extraction have come and gone and, for example, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries many local people found work producing timber for the Spanish Navy, to the extent that the mountains
were organised into maritime provinces; the Natural Park belonged to
the province of Segura. The felling campaigns and extraction along
rivers were known as maderadas or pinadas and the main destination
for the wood were the shipyards of Cartagena, Seville and Cádiz.
With the decadence of the shipyards, the railways filled the gap
and millions of railway sleepers were cut from the forests of these
mountains. Working conditions were tough: men used handsaws and
axes to fell the pines, which were then dragged by mules to the nearest river, where they were converted into sleepers. Here the sleepers
were thrown into the water and were accompanied dozens of kilometres downstream by gancheros or pineros to the nearest railhead.
The last great maderada took place in 1949, although the extraction of timber by RENFE, the Spanish rail company, to supply all
the new lines it was building, continued until 1988 (and even after
the declaration of the Natural Park). Today what little timber extraction that still takes place is conducted under much more restrictive
criteria and orientated towards the better conservation of the region’s natural values. (Left, top) Panorama of the village of Cazorla. (Left, bottom) Segura de la Sierra. (Centre) Castillo de la Hiedra in the village of Cazorla. (Right, top) A sea of olive groves surrounds the Natural Park (Right, bottom) Segureña sheep grazing in the Campos de Hernán Perea.
SIERRAS DE CAZORLA, SEGURA Y LAS VILLAS NATURAL PARK
131
PRACTICAL INFORMATION AND PUBLIC FACILITIES
Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las villas
Natural Park
• Date declared. 16 March 1986
• Surface area. 209,920 ha
• Province. Jaén
• Municipalities (in the park and in its socioeconomic area of influence). Arroyo del Ojanco,
Beas de Segura, Benatae, Cazorla, Chilluévar,
Génave, Hinojares, Hornos de Segura, Huesa, Iznatoraf, La Iruela, La Puerta de Segura, Orcera,
Peal de Becerro, Pozo Alcón, Puente de Génave,
Quesada, Santiago-Pontones, Santo Tomé, Segura de La Sierra, Siles, Sorihuela del Guadalimar, Torres de Albánchez, Villacarrillo, Villanueva del Arzobispo, Villarrodrigo.
• ECST accreditation. 2004
• Other types of protection. Biosphere Reserve, Special Protection Area for Birds, Site of
Community Importance
• Contact details
Cazorla office: C/ Martínez Falero, 11.
Tel.: 953 71 15 34
Siles office: C/ Familia Marín Martínez, 5, bajo.
Tel.: 953 49 95 64
[email protected]
Go to Ventana del Visitante at:
www.juntadeandalucia.es/medioambiente
vISITOR FACILITIES
TORRE DEL VINAGRE VISITOR CENTRE
This centre stands on the road between the
towns of Cazorla and Hornos de Segura, close
by to some of the most interesting sites of this
magnificent Natural Park. Its exhibition rooms
provide visitors with an introduction to the
many different ecosystems, and their associated flora and fauna, present in the park, from
the towering cliffs to the many water courses
and dense forests. Likewise, visitors will find information about the villages of the region and
how local inhabitants have garnered a living
from the land (above all from olive groves) over
the centuries. There is also a room devoted to
the main game species found in the park.
• Location and contact details. Road from Cazorla to El Tranco (A-319), km 48.8. SantiagoPontones. Tel.: 953 71 30 17
• Services. Projection room, cafeteria and shop
selling books, maps and souvenirs.
• Opening times. November-March: 10-14 and
16-18; April-June: 10-14 and 16-19; July and August: 10-14 and 17-20; September and October:
10-14 and 16-19. Monday closed.
• Access for people with reduced mobility
132
TORRE DEL VINAGRE BOTANICAL GARDEN
Within this botanical garden grows a varied selection of the Natural Park’s rich flora, which includes numerous endemic and threatened
species. Plants from other parts of Andalusia
are also represented.
• Location and contact details. Road from Cazorla to El Tranco (A-319), km 48.8. SantiagoPontones. Tel.: 953 71 30 29
• Opening times. May-September: 10-14 and
17-19; October-April: 10-14 and 15-17.
• Access for people with reduced mobility
RÍO BOROSA VISITOR CENTRE
Located next to the river Borosa, one of the
most attractive parts of the Natural Park, this
centre boasts a path that visitors can follow as
a means of complementing their visit to the
exhibitions, which graphically describe the
park’s fluvial ecosystems and how water has
sculpted many of the park’s landscapes. There
is also a display that explains how the rivers
were once used to transport cut timber downstream.
RECREATIONAL FACILITIES
PICNIC AREAS
In all, there are 21 picnic areas in the Natural
Park, many of which are suitable for people
with limited mobility and found in the most of
the municipalities of the park.
VIEwPOINTS
The park has 17 viewpoints, many of which are
suitable for people with limited mobility and
foundinthemostofthemunicipalitiesofthepark.
FOOTPAThS AND TRAILS
A total of 20 waymarked paths belonging to
the Andalusian Network of Natural Spaces exists in the park, of which the following are some
of the best to explore this protected area:
• River Borosa. This path begins near the Río
Borosa Visitor Centre and runs along the river,
through a verdant but rugged landscape. One
of the most singular points of the path is the socalled Cerrada de Elías, a narrow gorge, just a
few metres wide, carved out by the river Borosa.
Length: 9 km. Time to Cerrada and back: 2-3 h.
• Acebeas-Navalperal. To climb the peak of
Navalperal, walkers should follow this path,
which passes through a verdant forest full of
Holly and Hazels. On the way to the summit,
the path also visits an interesting Black Pine forest. Access from km 12 of the JF-7012 road,
which begins in Siles. Length: 3.2 km (ascent).
Time: 1 h 45 min.
OThER FACILITIES
COLLADO DEL ALMENDRAL ANIMAL PARk
Road from Cazorla to El Tranco (A-319), km 59.7,
Hornos de Segura.
Open all year from dawn to dusk, within this
large fenced-off park live a number of the most
representative ungulates of the Natural Park
(Iberian Ibex, Red and Fallow Deer, and Mouflon).
EL SEQUERO INTERPRETATION,
VISITOR RECEPTION AND MYCOLOGICAL
INFORMATION POINT
This centre is located in a restored timber-drying building that has been converted into an
interpretation centre, which describes how
pine-nuts are produced in the area and different aspects of the natural and cultural history
of the Sierra de Segura. Also open, an exhibition on the fungi and their ecological function.
Siles. Tel.: 953 49 00 11
www.sierradesegura.org
ETHNOGRAPHICAL MUSEUM OF THE ARTS
AND CRAFTS OF THE SIERRAS DE CAZORLA,
SEGURA Y LAS VILLAS NATURAL PARk
Museum devoted to the traditional ways of life
of the people of these mountains (lime-burners, charcoal-makers, resin-producers, etc.),
with an exhibition of the tools they used, old
photographs and other artefacts related to the
customs of these sierras.
Road from Cazorla to El Tranco (A-319), km 37.9,
Arroyo Frío (La Iruela). Tel.: 953 72 72 49
www.turismoencazorla.com
• Location and contact details. Road from Cazorla to El Tranco (A-319), km 48 (1.5 km from
the turn-off to Loma de Mariángela and the
river Borosa). Santo Tomé. Tel.: 953 12 42 35
• Services. Small shop selling gifts.
• Opening times. January-March and OctoberDecember, Wednesday-Sunday: 10-14 and 1618; April-September, Wednesday-Sunday: 10-14
and 17-19; July and August, Wednesday-Sunday: 10-14 and 17-20.
• Access for people with reduced mobility
ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
• Cerrada de Utrero. Walkers can follow this
path along the river Guadalquivir to the waterfall of La Cola de Caballo or Linarejos. A little
further on is the Cerrada de Utrero, a long narrow gorge carved out of the limestone rock.
Length: 1.5 km. Time: 1 h-1 h 30 min.
• Aguascebas Reservoir. This trail circumnavigates the reservoir and takes walkers towards the
waterfall of Chorrogil, one the highest cascades
in the park. Access from the reservoir road in the
Sierra de las Villas. Length: 5.2 km. Time: 2 h.
CASTILLO DE SEGURA - FRONTIERTERRITORY
Exhibition distributed throughout the whole of
the castle of Segura de la Sierra, which describes the importance of this region during
the golden age of the Order of Santiago. Also
details of the life of the pre-Renaissance poet
Jorge Manrique, a native of these sierras.
Segura de la Sierra.
Tel.: 953 48 04 21
www.sierradesegura.org
Villarrodrigo
1
Río Borosa Visitor Centre
2
Torre del Vinagre Visitor Centre
CM-412
CM-3204
Génave
3 JB Torre del Vinagre Botanical Garden
Torres de
Albánchez
Siles
A-310
Puente de Génave
Benatae
La Puerta
de Segura
N-322
Arroyo del Ojanco
A-317
Beas de Segura
A-6301
Sorihuela
del Guadalimar
Orcera
Segura
de la Sierra
CASTILLA-LA MANCHA
Hornos
Villanueva del Arzobispo
Iznatoraf
Embalse del Tranco
Pontones
Villacarrillo
A-317
Santiago
de la Espada
N-322
Torreperogil
A-6204
Santo Tomé
A-317
MURCIA
1
2
JB 3
Chilluévar
Puebla de
Don Fadrique
A-315
A-330
La Iruela
A-319
Cazorla
Peal de
Becerro
A-317
Quesada
Huéscar
A-330
A-326 Castril
Huesa
A-326
Embalse de la Bolera
Pozo Alcón
0
5
10
15
km
SIERRAS DE CAZORLA, SEGURA Y LAS VILLAS NATURAL PARK
133
COMPLEJO LA VEGUILLA
La Veguilla is located in the Sierra de Segura, close to
Arroyo del Ojanco. Originally — more than a century
ago — it was a farm dedicated to the production of
olive oil, but in 1977 the property was acquired by its
present proprietors, who have transformed it into a
tourist complex consisting of a hostal and nine apartments, along with large function rooms for weddings
and other celebrations, two swimming pools, a children’s play-area and a cafeteria, bar and restaurant offering typical local cuisine. Guests at La Veguilla can
choose from a range of additional activities offered
by collaborating companies, including active outdoor
pursuits such as paragliding and rafting.
The complex provides guests with a detailed map
of the Natural Park, and also offers guided visits to some
of the local oil mills and presses, to learn about their operation.There is also a shop where guests can purchase
local produce. In the near future, La Veguilla will become an accredited Park Information Point.
Accommodation type
Two-star hostal
Self-catering apartments (1 key)
Location
Arroyo del Ojanco (Jaén)
Linares to Beas road, km 79.3
Coordinates: 38º 17’ N, 2º 57’W
• Children’s playground
• Football pitch
• Solarium
• Wi-Fi available in all the buildings
Capacity
• Hostal: 7 rooms, sleeping 14
• Apartments: 9 apartments, sleeping 32
• 80-cover restaurant
• Apartments with fully equipped kitchen,
TV and open fire
• Communal lounge with open fire in the
apartments
• Access for people with limited mobility
to the communal areas of the hostal, and
to two specially adapted rooms
• 1 apartment adapted for people with
limited mobility
visitor services and activities
• Information about the park.
• Guided tours of oil mills and presses in
the area can be arranged.
• Contact with companies offering activity
tourism in the region (sight-seeing trips,
walking, multi-adventure activities).
• Sale of organic produce (olive oil).
• Pets are welcome.
Languages
English and French
134
Facilities
• Restaurant, cafeteria
• Garden
• Swimming pool
• Function rooms (weddings, meetings)
ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
Open
All year round
Prices
• Hostal: double room 50 €/night
• Apartments: 80-108 €/night (according
to the type of apartment)
Official endorsements
• Park Information Point
Contact details
Tel.: 953 42 54 82 / 635 64 85 22
[email protected]
www.laveguilla.es
OLIVAIR. Flying & Adventure Services
Olivair is based in the Sierra de Segura and is a sport
and recreational company devoted to flying that offers other adventure sports to complement its aerial
activities.
The founders of Olivair have been working professionally for almost 20 years in the field of aerial excursions, and have been awarded a number of national and international paragliding and paramotor
diplomas as a result of having collaborated in the design of flying apparatus and systems for a number of
different equipment makers. As well, the company
identifies with and is fully committed to the sustainable development of tourism in the Natural Park and
region as a whole.
The company is based in the aerodrome of El Cornicabral (Beas de Segura) and in the valley of Cortijos
Nuevos (Segura de la Sierra), a stone’s throw away
from El Yelmo, a well-known peak that is also one of
the best spots for practising aerial sports in Spain and
visitor services and activities
• Twin paragliding, paratrike and ultra-light
flights and courses. Passengers receive all
the instruction needed to take off and fly
in total safety.
• Flying courses. These courses are
designed to teach learners how to pilot a
paraglider, paramotor or paratrike.
• Multi-adventure programmes. Designed
with groups in mind, these programmes
are tailor-made on demand and include
typically the company’s normal aerial
activities, as well as horse-trekking and
4WD routes, climbing, walking, canoeing,
rafting and canyoning.
the whole of southern Europe. Additionally, there is
plenty of accommodation in the area for clients to
stay in.
Olivair run aerial sport activities such as paragliding, paramotor and paratrikes, or aero-terrestrial activities such as kite-buggy and kite-surf; clients are at
all times — and with all possible safety precautions
taken — guided and helped by monitors. The company also runs flying courses that aim to provide users
with the necessary skill to fly solo and safely any of
the various different type of so-called micro-light flying machines.
To complement their aerial activities and, above
all in case of adverse meteorological conditions, Olivair also offers multi-adventure programmes for
groups and companies. These activities can be tailormade to fit the group — i.e. in terms of number, age
and aims, for example — and involve all type of outdoor adventure sports.
Material/equipment provided
• All the equipment needed to take part in
the activities, winter or summer
• Electric bicycles (with or without guide)
• Transport during the activities
(reservation necessary)
Languages
English, French and Italian
Open
All year round
• Electric bicycles. In these bicycles a small
rechargeable electric motor, with a range
of three hours, complements traditional
pedal-power and permits those who are
not in form to contemplate much more
strenuous rides than they might otherwise
have done.
Contact details
Apdo. de Correos, 58
23280 Beas de Segura (Jaén)
Tel.: 953 42 54 82 / 953 49 63 62 /
607 30 17 16 / 655 92 34 28
[email protected]
www.olivair.es
SIERRAS DE CAZORLA, SEGURA Y LAS VILLAS NATURAL PARK
135
HOTEL RURAL EL CURRO
La Iruela is an attractive village of steep, winding
streets and white-washed houses, presided over by
the silhouette of a Templar castle — declared a Historic Monument in 1985 — that clings to the precipitous crags that overlook the settlement. Close by lies
the hamlet of Burunchel, strategically sited amid the
rocky escarpments that form the threshold to the
Puerto de Las Palomas and the upper Guadalquivir
valley.
Accommodation type
Three-star country hotel
El Curro was built in this small, peaceful village in
2001, and was recently renovated so as to provide
guests with an even greater level of comfort, but at
the same time preserving the unique family ambience. One of the outstanding features of the hotel is
its restaurant, whose menu honours the traditional
cuisine of the region, including gastronomic delights
such as creamed rice with seasonal wild mushrooms
and fresh vegetables, or lomo de orza con rin-ran (pork
with a tomato-based conserve), free-range meats
cooked in the local style, rabbit stew, etc.
In the reception area of the hotel guests have the
opportunity to peruse a comprehensive range of information and maps about the park and the activity
tourism on offer here. Because El Curro is located in
the heart of the countryside, guests who wish to forget about their car for a few days have the opportunity to explore the surrounding area on foot, or to
cycle along some of the many trails that encircle the
hotel, taking advantage of a new venture denominated Escapada Campo y Montaña. In the near future,
the proprietors of El Curro will produce a series of interpretative leaflets for these itineraries, as part of
their commitment to promoting local customs and
the traditional way of life. Another option is to visit
the co-operative olive-presses of Aceite de Burunchel,
where it is possible to sample and purchase some of
the magnificent olive oils produced in the region.
Capacity
• 29 rooms, sleeping 45
• 70-cover restaurant
visitor services and activities
• Information about activities on offer in
the region.
• Contact with companies offering activity
tourism in the area (walking, horse
trekking, 4WD routes, rafting, canoeing,
caving, wildlife observation, archery, etc.).
• Traditional cuisine.
Languages
English
Location
Burunchel (Jaén)
Sierra road, 32
Coordinates: 37º 56’ 48” N, 2º 57’ 06”W
136
Facilities
• Restaurant, cafeteria
• Lounge
• Swimming pool and solarium
• Car park
• Wi-Fi in the communal areas
• Telephone, satellite TV, music and
internet connection in the rooms
• Terrace-solarium in some of the rooms
• Some rooms with hydro-massage facilities
• Access for persons with limited mobility
to communal areas and one specially
modified room
ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
Open
All year round (except between 8 January
and 28 February)
Prices
Double room (with breakfast):
75 €/night
Official endorsements
Andalusia Natural Park Brand
Contact details
Tel.: 953 72 73 11
[email protected]
www.hotelelcurro.es
HOTEL COTO DEL VALLE
The road leading from Cazorla to the Tranco de Beas
reservoir, which lies at the very heart of the Natural
Park, winds through dense pinewoods, spectacular
valleys and over passes such as the Puerto de Las
Palomas offering visitors stunning panoramic views
of the mountains. Shortly after starting the descent
towards the tourist enclave of Arroyo Frío (which belongs to the charming town of Cazorla), the impressive Coto del Valle Rural Hotel hoves into view, so
splendidly located and completely surrounded by nature.
The hotel — an old but completely restored
and enlarged building — gives spectacular views
from its 39 rooms surrounding a large central patio
(which is covered with an awning during the hot
summer months). The hotel is rustic in style
throughout, from its architecture to its décor, and
includes a number of big-game trophies, legacy of
the hunting that went on here for centuries. Today,
Accommodation type
Four-star rural hotel
visitor services and activities
• Organisation of social events.
• Traditional cuisine.
• Regional information.
• The hotel organises excursions for
clients through local active tourism
companies (hiking, all-terrain routes, horse
riding…).
however, the activities are greatly augmented in
number and diversified and include modern adventure activities, hiking, parascending and wildlife
observation.
The estate contains a large number of communal
areas, where clients can relax, shop or taste traditional
Location
Cazorla (Jaén)
Tranco road, km 34.3
Coordinates: 37° 55’ 7.04’’ N, 2° 56’ 0.26’’ W
Capacity
• 39 rooms, sleeping 78
• 400-cover restaurant
Languages
English
Facilities
• Restaurant, café
• Shop with outdoor clothing, tourist gifts
and local products (olive oil, jams, etc.)
• Large room for meetings, congresses and
conferences
• Social room with library and computer
with internet connection
food. A special mention should go to the gardens surrounding the principal building, including a large
swimming pool, which contain many native plants
mixed in with the abundant vegetation that surrounds the hotel.
The array of activities currently available is soon
to be increased through various projects, and those
clients looking to delight in the peacefulness of the
establishment or relax via physical activity will soon
be able to use a padel court (a kind of indoor tennis), a spa and also a wine cellar for tasting a selection of wines accompanied by traditional mountain
dishes.
An interesting system put into operation by the
hotel managers is the use of the swimming pool’s
water in the cooling system of the hotel’s ventilation,
thereby increasing the pool’s water temperature and
consequently increasing clients’ swimming enjoyment.
• Covered car park
• Garden
• Swimming pool
• Rooms with balconies
• Telephone, TV, room music, minibar,
room with safe-deposit box
• Wi-Fi internet connection in rooms
• Access for clients with mobility problems
in communal areas and an adapted room
Open
All year round, except 7-29 December
Prices
According to the room, from 76.50 € 160.50 €/night
Contact details
Tel.: 953 12 40 67 / 620 01 80 30
[email protected],
[email protected]
www.hotelcotodelvalle.com,
www.cotodelvalle.com
SIERRAS DE CAZORLA, SEGURA Y LAS VILLAS NATURAL PARK
137
PARADOR DE CAZORLA
The Parador of El Adelantado is beautifully located in
the place of Sacejo, at 1,400 m amidst a sea of mountain ridges, deep pine forests and silence — and to
reach the hotel visitors must first negociate a series
of remote mountain roads that penetrate deep into
the heart of the Natural Park.
Isolated in the midst of truly natural surroundings
and far from the hustle and bustle of the cities, this
parador (a state-run hotel) is an ideal place for those
searching for a few days of absolute peace and quiet.
The building is fairly modern and was built to resemble a typical Andalusian cortijo (farmhouse), with a
white-washed exterior and carefully tended gardens,
and interior décor resplendent with arches, tiled
floors and wooden beams.
As is the case with all paradores, the El Adelantado has been decorated with utmost care and transmits warmth throughout, right from the bedrooms
through to all the communal areas.
Type of accommodation
Three-star rural hotel
Its cuisine is based on local produce and clients
are rewarded with an extensive menu replete with
traditional local dishes such as pisto (a type of Andalusian ratatouille), pipirrana (an onion, tomato and
cucumber-based salad) and game, all prepared with
the superb local olive oils. Given the situation of the
Languages
English, French and German
visitor services and activities
• Information on the region (in reception
and rooms).
• Contacts with active tourism companies
in the region (walking, 4WD routes,
horse trekking, guided walks, cycle
touring, etc.).
• The Parador has a nature room with
information on the Natural Park.
• Regional cuisine.
• Sale of local produce.
• Terrace
• Swimming pool
• Gardens
• Children’s playground
• Car park
• TV, telephone, safe deposit box, minibar
in all rooms
• Some rooms with a terrace
• Good access for people with reduced
mobility (only in communal areas)
Open
All year round, except 20 December to 10
February
Location
Cazorla (Jaén)
Sierra road, s/n
Coordinates: 37º 54’ 19’’ N, 2º 57’ 40’’W
138
hotel, the possibilities are almost infinite for guests
wanting to enjoy the great outdoors. The hotel will
put clients in contact with the local active tourism
companies working in the area. Those who choose
less strenuous activities and opt to search out the
local flora and fauna will not have far to go, as hotel
and surrounding area — look out for the Red and Fallow Deer that wander uncornedly through the hotel
gardens! — are havens for wildlife.
As a member of the Parador group, the hotel has
been awarded a number of quality certificates and puts
into practice strict protocols regarding waste generation and water and energy consumption. It is also about
to implement a new series of initiatives designed to improve its environmental performance and promote the
Natural Park and the local economy, which include
reusing water, organising gastronomic workshops, employing local products in its cookery and arranging visits to the Lammergeier captive breeding centre.
Prices
Double room: 137 €/night
Capacity
34 rooms, sleeping 68
100-cover restaurant
Official endorsements
• ISO 9001
• ISO 14001
• ‘Q’ quality tourism label
Facilities
• Restaurant
• Library
• TV
Contact details
Tel.: 953 72 70 75
[email protected]
www.parador.es
ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
TIERRAVENTURA CAZORLA
Ever since it was founded in 1998, Tierraventura Cazorla has worked hard to ensure its principal objective, that its clients obtain intense emotional experiences in the large and highly valuable protected area
of the Sierras de Cazorla, Segura & Las Villas Natural
Park. Nevertheless, its professional trajectory over the
years has also allowed it to contribute towards promoting the area’s accommodation potential through
the design of packages covering several days including a wide range of outdoor activities.
This company, specialising in active tourism,
uses a team of specialist guides and monitors to
guarantee that the various activities are undertaken
correctly and safely. Some of the most frequent are
canyoning in the Cerrada de Utrero, kayaking on
the Tranco Reservoir, horse-riding routes in the
Guadalquivir valley and hiking and mountain biking
on the extensive network of tracks and trails in the
park, along with other attractive options such as abvisitor services and activities
• Adventure. Participants learn the
techniques of archery, orienteering,
abseiling and rock-climbing, as well as
canoeing on the calm waters of the Tranco
Reservoir. Additionally, the Cerrada del
Utrero, in the Guadalquivir River, is an
ideal gorge for those wanting to learn
canyoning.
seiling, rock-climbing, flying fox and archery, all frequently integrated into multi-adventure packages.
And all of this without of course forgetting the delights of historic routes in seductive local villages
such as Cazorla or the monumental towns of Úbeda
and Baeza.
• Wildlife. On foot: landscape
interpretation, mountain trails or
birdwatching walks; on mountain bikes:
descents or peaceful cycle rides along
forest tracks; on horse-back: various routes
through the park.
In addition to working with private groups and
individuals, Tierraventura Cazorla offers various programmes for schools and institutes allowing participants to a few days of adventure and sport in natural surroundings. Their end-of-term trips lasting for
three to four days offer school children the chance
to choose between intense activities such as kayaking, canyoning, rock-climbing and death-slides, or
more relaxing options including walking and visiting some of the park’s most emblematic sites,
rounded off with a short orienteering race in the
mountains.
One of the company’s most attractive tourist
packages for adults is their Adventure Raid, held over
four days. The combination of adventure and outdoor
survival amongst the spectacular landscapes of this
Natural Park make this particularly interesting for
groups of friends or work colleagues who want to
share a few days together in natural surroundings.
developed special cultural circuits, one for
students of the colleges in Castilla-La
Mancha and the other for the elderly.
• Company motivation courses. These are
tailor-made according to participants’
preferences. In addition to organising
daily activities, information on where to
stay in the area is provided.
Languages
English
Open
All year round
• Environmental education. This is aimed at
school children, who during their stay
undertake ecological hiking, participate in
environmental workshops and visit both
the Torre del Vinagre Visitor Centre and its
botanical garden. Summer camps are also
organised within the Natural Park.
• Cultural tourism. Tierraventura offer
historical and sightseeing routes in the
villages of the Sierra de Cazorla and their
surroundings. The company has also
Official endorsements
ISO 9001 (pending approval)
Material/equipment provided
Technical material for active tourism
activities (neoprene suits, ropes,
harnesses, helmets, canoes, mountain
bikes, etc.).
Contact details
Carretera de la Sierra, s/n
23479 La Iruela (Jaén)
Tel.: 953 71 00 73 / 639 66 05 62 /
687 95 73 55
[email protected]
www.aventuracazorla.com
SIERRAS DE CAZORLA, SEGURA Y LAS VILLAS NATURAL PARK
139
TURISNAT
Since the fusion in 2003 of eight companies who were
providing different services related to wildlife interpretation, hiking, guided routes, provision of information at tourist information points and the sale of
handcrafted goods and locally produced foodstuffs,
TurisNat has become the leading active tourist
provider promoting the Sierras de Cazorla, Segura &
Las Villas Natural Park. This fusion brought together
an enormous pool of experience spanning the whole
gamut of wildlife tourism and thus created a team of
highly qualified individuals, including professionals
with degrees in biology, law, tourism and the English
language, as well as guides specialised in cross-country, mountaineering, environmental education and
first aid.
All of these people were born and still reside in
various towns in the region since one of the comvisitor services and activities
• 4WD routes. The company organises a
series of itineraries for observing flora,
fauna and landscapes in diverse locations
in the Sierras de Cazorla, Segura & Las
Villas Natural Park, as well as along a
special route known as The Rut (La Berrea).
• Wildlife and hiking guide service. Offered
to other travel agents and groups who
have not organised their tour through
TurisNat.
pany’s priorities is to encourage the local population
to remain in the countryside. The company manages
the service of guided routes within the Natural Park
thanks to concession awarded by the Andalusian Ministry of the Environment, and the design of the routes,
which visit areas of great ecological interest, aims to
impart knowledge about the local flora, fauna, geology, ecology, art and customs.
TurisNat was a finalist in the 2006 Andalusia
Tourism awards programme and is an active member of the Natural Park’s Sustainable Tourism Forum,
via which the “aim is to stimulate and support ecologically ethical practices allowing the undertaking
of tourist activities with the highest respect to the
natural environment […] so reaching sustainability
in all three of its facets: economic, social and environmental”.
• Photography. Park visitors, in groups of
up to seven, can take images using a
series of hides with the on-site help of a
monitor.
• Multi-activity packages. Several different
activities which a visitor may wish to
undertake during their stay in the park can
be combined (4WD itineraries, horseriding routes, archery, cultural visits,
boating activities…).
• Sports, adventure and leisure activities. In
consultation with specialised monitors,
groups of between 15 and 30 people can
undertake various different outdoors
sporting activities.
to facilitate observations and
photography without having to leave the
vehicles). All are equipped with an
emergency radio, mobile telephone and
first-aid kit
• Binoculars and telescope for wildlife
observation
• Walking sticks for hiking
• Bows, arrows and targets for archery
Languages
English and French
Open
All year round
• Operation of tourist information points.
TurisNat operates the municipal tourist
office in the town hall of Cazorla, which
also serves as the company’s
headquarters. These information points
also serve as booking centres for activities
and sales shops for tourism and wildlife
related items.
140
Official endorsement
Andalusia Natural Park Brand
Material/equipment provided
• The company maintains a fleet of 17
4WD vehicles each seating 7-8 and
a 4WD bus, with a total of 150 seats
(all the vehicles have roof openings
ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
Contact details
Pº. de Santo Cristo, 19, bajo
Cazorla (Jaén)
Tel.: 953 72 13 51 / 686 93 83 75
[email protected]
www.turisnat.es
HOSPEDERÍA LAS CAÑADILLAS
2007, the hotel was once again refurbished from top
to bottom.
Las Cañadillas has seven double rooms, and
guests also have at their disposal a swimming pool,
gardens, a large drawing room with an open fire, a library, terrace and dining room where a good variety
of local fare is on offer.
The owners are active in local life and belong to
a variety of associations, and are able to explain to
guests many of the most interesting aspects of the
Natural Park or provide details of local companies offering outdoor activities. To promote interest in the
Natural Park, the owners have written their own material on the area’s towns and villages, fiestas, culture
and crafts, and the hospedería is now in fact a Park Information Point.
Travellers who drive the peaceful back roads of the
Natural Park will come across Hospedería Las Cañadillas, just a few metres from the shores of the Tranco
reservoir and situated in a shady and half-hidden valley at the foot of the Sierra de Las Lagunillas. Located
on a truly Mediterranean mountainside, this estate
with its olive groves offers guests the chance to relax
in a relaxing rural atmosphere.
The owners, Antonio and Elvira, bought the estate in 1974 and set about restoring the farm building according to the dictates of traditional local architecture. The idea to open a rural tourism
establishment was hatched in 1989 and, after a series
of far-reaching reforms in 1995, the hospedería was
able to offer meals based on home-grown oil and
vegetables, for example, and local farm produce. In
Accommodation type
One-star rural hotel
Capacity
• 7 rooms, sleeping 14
• 30-cover restaurant
Facilities
• Restaurant
• Drawing room with open fire
• TV
• Library
• Garden
• Terrace
• Swimming pool
• Safe box in all rooms
visitor services and activities
• Information about the region.
• Contacts with active tourism companies
operating in the area (walking, guided
itineraries, 4WD routes, canyoning, rafting,
paragliding, etc.).
• Combined accommodation and
adventure activities breaks.
• Traditional cookery with organic
products and home-produced oil.
Languages
English, French and Portuguese
Location
Hornos de Segura (Jaén)
Pantano del Tranco road
Coordinates: 38º 10’ 24.8” N, 2º 47’ 48.8”W
Open
All year round
Prices
Double room (with breakfast): 75 €/night
Official endorsements
• Andalusia Natural Park Brand
• Park Information Point
Contact details
Tel.: 953 12 81 42 / 619 78 25 51
[email protected]
www.hospederialascanadillas.com
SIERRAS DE CAZORLA, SEGURA Y LAS VILLAS NATURAL PARK
141
AULA DE NATURALEZA EL CANTALAR
Since 1986 El Cantalar, a cooperative society, has been
running this environmental education centre located
in the valley of the river Guadalquivir, surrounded by
some of the most spectacular landscapes in the Natural Park and near interesting sites such as the Tranco
Reservoir, the Cerrada de Utrero or the River Borosa.
El Cantalar organises numerous activities related
to the natural world, for both children and adults, including itineraries for observing flora and fauna and
interpreting the landscape, as well as workshops for
adults (for example, the Autumn Classroom weekend
programme) whose objective is to make an in-depth
study of environmental problems so that participants
can comprehend them and in the future adopt more
environmentally friendly attitudes. El Cantalar uses a
broad-based team of professionals (biologists, teachers, specialists in environmental science), who promote public awareness campaigns, organise games
for young children and outdoor sports activities, run
visitor services and activities
• Multidisciplinary activities. For groups of
at least 15 people. El Cantalar has a guide
service available for walks and monitors
for environmental workshops (natural
cosmetics, production of liqueurs and
jams, basket-making, etc.).
• School group stays. During the school
year, multi-adventure, sporting and
environmental education programmes are
lead by specialist monitors.
• Centre hire. El Cantalar will hire out its
installations to groups (associations,
companies, families, etc.).
142
workshops for producing natural
products (foods, cosmetics, etc.), and
act as management consultants in
questions relating to the environment.
The Centre offers accommodation in an old forestry station, which
has been reformed to serve as a hostel for up to 60 people, with a central patio surrounded by lawns, a
swimming pool and sports fields.
There are a number of large dormitories, meeting rooms, a library and
laboratory equipped for studying
wildlife.
A stay in the hostel implies and opportunity to try
the rich local cuisine, which can include special
menus (ecological, vegetarian or gluten-free) prepared with the local produce.
• Summer camps. Organised in July and
August these include workshops, sports,
games, wildlife observation, camp-fire
evenings, etc. under tuition from
specialised monitors.
• Accommodation. It is possible to reserve
accommodation without additional
activities.
Facilities
• Accommodation in shared rooms with
maximum capacity of 60
• Dining room
• Swimming pool
• Sports installations
• Car park
• Multi-use room (for meetings, courses,
conferences, etc.)
ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
In 2008 the provincial delegation of the Andalusian Ministry of the Environment presented El Cantalar with an award — Bandera de Andalucía de Medio
Ambiente — for its outstanding work in environmental education.
• Hall with library and laboratory equipped
with binocular microscopes
• Wi-Fi area
Languages
English
Official endorsements
Andalusia Natural Park Brand
Open
All year round
Contact details
Tranco road, km 39.5
23476 La Iruela (Jaén)
Tel.: 953 12 41 21 / 609 64 53 09
[email protected]
www.elcantalarcazorla.com
CENTRO AGROTURÍSTICO Y DE EDUCACIÓN AMBIENTAL HUERTA DEL CAÑAMARES
Ten kilometres from La Iruela in the valley of the Cañamares, a river of crystalline waters and well-conserved
vegetation, stands Huerta de Cañamares, a centre devoted to agrotourism and environmental education
containing all the elements necessary for a wide variety of activities and the full enjoyment of nature. A
multidisciplinary team of professionals works from
here on numerous programmes for groups (both
adults and children) focused mainly on environmental education. Despite the emphasis on this type of
education, the centre also organises activities centred
around ornithology, fungus collection, ecological
agriculture, traditional production of liqueurs and
jams, traditional cuisine and handcrafted goods in esparto, wicker and ceramics. In addition (and unsurprisingly considering its location in Jaén province),
visitors are introduced into the world of the olive, with
local visits to oil-producing estates, museums and
mills. The Huerta del Cañamares Agrotourism and Envisitor services and activities
• Ecotourism, environmental interpretation
and birdwatching. These activities are
focused on groups of adults visiting the
park and are guided by specialists.
• Thematic weekends. Designed for
groups of between 15 and 25 people, the
options available differing according to
the season (fungi collection, jam and
liqueur making, handcrafts, the world of
the olive, birdwatching, gastronomy,
hiking, guided itineraries, horse-riding
routes, relaxation techniques, alternative
medicines, etc.).
• Guided routes in the Natural Park and
surroundings. In addition to the park’s
signposted trails, Huerta del Cañamares
has designed an alternative series of
vironmental Education Centre also
runs an ecological vegetable garden
and farm, both of which hold certificates from the Andalusian Committee for Ecological Production, where
clients can participate and then
savour the fruits of their labours.
The Centre also contains an old,
but remodelled and fully equipped,
workhouse, where those staying can
sleep and relax after the day’s activities. Two types of accommodation
are thus on offer in the complex: a
comfortable 8-bedroom rural guesthouse (all with en-suite bathrooms)
with a maximum capacity for 22 people, or a rural
hostel for groups of up to 60, which are housed in
large rooms (with baths) with space for 8, 6, 4 or 2
people.
hiking, birdwatching, mountain-biking
and horse-riding itineraries that can be
enjoyed with a guide, as well as visits to
sites of historic and artistic interest.
• Rural tourism hostel. Capacity to receive
groups (of up to 60 people).
• School group stays. Visits of variable
length can be organised for school
groups during the school terms.
Activities undertaken during these stays
include educational itineraries,
understanding and appreciation of the
surroundings, workshops (ceramics,
production of food and spices in jars)
and sports.
During their stay, visitors can also take part in
sports (hiking, football, volleyball, athletics and horse
riding), participate in alternative medicine and aromatherapy workshops or relax while practising yoga.
Material/equipment provided
• A 2-ha estate with fields for sports and
other leisure activities
• Living room with open fire, multi-use
room (meetings, courses and games),
dining room, large kitchen
• Laboratory with microscopes,
magnifying glasses, aquariums, terrariums,
etc.
• Video, DVD, music equipment, Power
Point projector, etc.
• Ecological vegetable garden
• Swimming pool
Languages
English, Italian and French
Open
All year round
Official endorsements
• Andalusia Natural Park Brand
• Park Information Point
• Summer camps. Camps are organised in
July and August and the installations are
rented out to various collectives.
Contact details
Juntas Muriel, s/n
23479 La Iruela (Jaén)
Tel.: 953 72 70 84 / 609 57 06 32
[email protected]
www.huertacanamares.com
SIERRAS DE CAZORLA, SEGURA Y LAS VILLAS NATURAL PARK
143
HOTEL & HOTEL SPA SIERRA DE CAZORLA
The hotel and spa complex Sierra de Cazorla stands a
mere 200 m from the centre of the village of La Iruela
and just 2 km from Cazorla, on a knoll that offers wonderful views of the Sierra de Cazorla, La Iruela and the
spectacular castle and crag that dominate the whole
scene.
Many of the workings of the complex revolve
around local olive oil, the economic cornerstone of
the region. This oil is one of the main ingredients of
the treatments provided by the spa and of the dishes
prepared by the hotel’s restaurant, and oil subproducts have been used in the hotel’s fittings.
The rooms of the hotel-spa are themed and
guests can choose from a variety of different ambiences — African, Moroccan, Mountain or Oriental —
created by a careful selection of décor and furnishings.
The spa ÓleoSalud is a thematic health resort that
promotes olive oil and its aesthetic and therapeutic
Accommodation type
• Hotel Spa Sierra de Cazorla: four-star
superior hotel
• Hotel Sierra de Cazorla: three-star hotel
qualities, in which clients can combine leisure and
health through water — and, naturally, oil-based
treatments. The spa has an active swimming pool,
peeling shower, mini pool with hydromassage, steam
Languages
English and French
Location
La Iruela (Jaén)
Sierra road, s/n
Coordinates: 37º 55’ 15’’ N, 3º 0’ 45’’W
Capacity
• Hotel Spa **** sup.: 39 rooms,
sleeping 76
• Hotel ***: 59 rooms, sleeping 107
• Two restaurants, 202 covers in total
visitor services and activities
• Information on the local region.
• Information on local active tourism
companies (walking, 4WD routes, horseriding, canoeing, etc.).
• Traditional Mediterranean cuisine.
• Spa (four-star hotel spa).
• Local organic products on sale.
• Pets are welcome (in the three-star
hotel).
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ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
sauna, mixed sauna, dry sauna, contrast shower, ice
spring and a floatarium. And to round it all off, some
of the hotel’s pillows are stuffed with olives stones
and are guaranteed free of PVC and toxic products,
thereby ensuring a peaceful night’s sleep and helping to prevent muscular problems and headaches.
Olive stones also act as natural ionizers and cleanse
the air, which is ideal, above all, for those who suffer
from asthma or allergies.
The hotel has written a guide (available in reception) with five walking routes and will also provide
clients with information on local active tourism companies.
In the immediate future, the company hopes to
promote a number of sustainable activities such as a
virtual book-borrowing service and the use of public transport — there will be a discount for clients
who come all the way to the hotel by public transport.
Facilities
In both hotels:
• TV, telephone, internet connection
• Some rooms with terrace
• Good access for people with reduced
mobility to all communal areas and some
rooms
• Swimming pool
• Spa
Open
All year round
• Car park
• Restaurant, cafeteria
• Olive oil-related products and services
• Salon
Hotel Spa **** (aside from the above)
• Pillow ‘menu’ (including pillows with
olive stones)
• Minibar
• Some rooms with jacuzzi
• Some rooms with hydromassage bath or
cabin
Prices
• Hotel Spa ****: between 84 and 230
€/night, according to room
• Hotel ***: between 63 and 89 €/night,
according to room
Official endorsements
• ISO 9001
• ISO 14001
• Andalusia Natural Park Brand (applied for)
Contact details
Tel.: 953 72 00 15
[email protected]
www.hotelsierradecazorla.com
HOTEL RURAL LOS NOGALES
At the southern entrance into the Natural Park, just 6
km from Pozo Alcón, stands Los Nogales Rural Hotel,
in the heart of a 4-ha estate. Immersed in a sea of olive
groves, the hotel’s ample gardens extend to the edge
of the gorge carved out by the river Guadalentín, the
cliffs of which house a breeding colony of Griffon Vultures.
The newly constructed hotel consist of two independent two-storey buildings, joined via a small
lounge with large plate glass windows that open to
allow access to the gardens. Upon arrival in the reception, guests will note the wide selection of local
produce on sale (honey, olive oil, etc.). The variety and
originality of the dishes on offer in the restaurant are
surprising, and local gastronomic specialities play a
predominant part. Dishes such as tosta forestal con
setas (wild mushrooms on toast), prime beef in rosemary honey and Segura-style lamb a la piedra are just
some of the delights waiting for visitors.
Accommodation type
Three-star rural hotel
Visitor services and activities
• Information for hotel users (maps, books
and guides, etc.).
• Guided visits (artistic and cultural).
• Contact with active tourism companies
operating in the area (hiking, 4WD and
horse-riding routes, etc.).
• Sales of local produce (oil, honey, etc.).
• Traditional cooking.
• Pets are welcome.
Languages
German, English and French
The hotel has 28 rooms including several Junior
Suites painstakingly decorated and equipped with all
kinds of luxuries, including a large lounge with open
fire, and a balcony with superb views over the Sierra
del Pozo.
Location
Pozo Alcón (Jaén)
La Bolera road (turn off at km 6 and the
hotel is 500 m ahead)
Coordinates: 37° 44’ 51’’ N, 2° 54’ 37’’W
Capacity
28 rooms, sleeping 56
There is a wide range of activities on offer that
guests can participate in during their stay, which will
help them get to know the best corners of the sierra
— possibly in the company of one of the local active
tourism companies. The hotel has special offers for
couples (live music, special meals, open-fire, cava, etc.),
and for those looking for relaxation, there is a spa with
solarium, outdoor swimming pool and large gardens.
As part of their commitment towards sustainability, Los Nogales uses rain and treated waste-water
on their gardens, even though the great majority of
the plants are native species requiring little water. Furthermore, the hotel has a firm commitment to improving its services by offering activities such as birdwatching (a hide overlooking the Guadalentín gorge
is being planned), and for which the staff are being
trained. Another future project is a lending library in
one of the lounges, which will include information
about the Natural Park, its wildlife and history.
• Satellite TV, telephone, internet
connection in bedrooms
• Safe deposit box, mini-bar, all rooms with
balconies
• Some bedrooms have hydro-massage
and open fire
• One bedroom and the communal areas
are adapted for people with limited mobility
Open
All year round
Prices
Double room (with breakfast): from 74 to
132 €/night (depending on season and
room type)
Facilities
• Private room for meetings and
celebrations
• Restaurant, cafeteria
• Lounge with open fire
• Wi-Fi
• Terrace
• Solarium
• Spa
• Car park
Official endorsements
Andalusia Natural Park Brand
Contact details
Tel.: 953 71 82 49 / 666 45 94 94
[email protected]
www.hotelrurallosnogales.com
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145
ALOJAMIENTOS RURALES HACIENDA SIERRA DEL POZO
Ten years have passed since the owners of these
rural apartments decided to escape from the hectic
life of Barcelona and return to a more relaxed style of
life in the mountain landscapes where they were
born. And from the first moment, Manuel and Anna
saw clearly that rural tourism was the best option in
a rural environment for combining work with the enjoyment of nature. They bought a hectare of land in
Pozo Alcón, to the south of the Sierra de Cazorla, and
threw themselves into the creation of Hacienda
Sierra del Pozo. This rural complex on the slopes of
the sierra from which it receives its name contains
four new apartments emulating typical Andalusian
architecture and is completely immersed in the natural environment.
The apartments, each named after one of their
parents’ nicknames (Filigrana, Pegota, Picacho and
Pinea), are all fully equipped for a comfortable stay.
Hacienda Sierra del Pozo also has a large garden, with
abundant native plants, plus a swimming pool for hot
days, barbeque, petanca court (a ball game), children’s
play area, sports area, mini-golf and a pen with domestic birds. For additional relaxation, clients can also
use the mini-spa, jacuzzi and massage service.
To further enhance the visitor’s stay the owners
have both written information and developed routes
based on different activities. Contacts with other local
companies also expand this range of options, and for
fishermen a package in combination with the nearby
Peralta intensive-fishing reserve is available.
To reduce its impact on the environment, a biomass burner has been installed to provide all the
heating and hot water. Additionally, numerous systems for water saving have also been incorporated,
both in the gardens and indoors. A further aim is to
substitute the current cleaning materials for more environmentally friendly ecological products, as well to
provide a pick-up service for those wishing to arrive in
Accommodation type
Rural apartments (two keys)
• Children’s play area
• Social room for large group meetings
• Large equipped kitchen
• Wi-Fi internet connection
• TV, DVD
• Open fire
• Access for those with mobility problems
visitor services and activities
• Information for clients (routes designed
by the owner, maps, library, etc.).
• Contact with local active tourism
companies operating in the area (hiking,
4WD routes, multi-adventure, horse riding,
wildlife photography, etc.).
• Sale of local goods.
• Spa service.
Languages
Catalan
Open
All year round
Location
Pozo Alcón (Jaén)
La Bolera road, km 4.5
Coordinates: 37° 44’ 06’’ N, 2° 55’ 14’’W
Capacity
4 houses/apartments, sleeping 34 (with
options for supplementary beds)
Facilities
• Gardens
• Swimming pool
• Mini-spa (jacuzzi and sauna)
• Sports pitch
• Mini-golf
• Petanca court
• Domestic-bird pen
• Barbeques
146
Pozo Alcón by public transport. Plans are also in place
to install a Park Information Point and sell local produce.
ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
Prices
Depending on capacity, from 150 € 240 €/apartment/night
Official endorsements
• ISO 14001
• Andalusia Natural Park Brand
• Natural Park Information Point
Contact details
Tel.: 953 71 84 28 / 696 00 49 81 /
625 56 44 99
informació[email protected]
www.haciendasierradelpozo.com
AVENTURA SPORT
Set up in 2004 and with offices in the town of Quesada, the advent of Aventura Sport was a response to
the growing demand for adventure activities in the
Natural Park.
Aventura Sport defines itself as a service company whose main aim is to promote sports activities
in the open air as a way of giving clients the chance
to practice their favourite sports in the peerless surroundings of the mountains of the Natural Park.
Aventura Sport also offers other types of activities
such as environmental education and animated activities.
Aventura Sport works with a very diverse public
and a lack of fitness and/or experience is no obstacle
when it comes to enjoying the company’s activities,
which are all adaptable to the needs and expectations
of every client.
The company is committed to caring for the environment in which it carries out its activities and col-
laborates actively in the protection and promotion of
the values of the region’s natural heritage. Aventura
Sport is able to guarantee the correct running and
safety of the activities it organises thanks to the pro-
fessionalism of its well-qualified staff, graduates in
physical education, sports monitors and mountain
guides with years of experience in the organisation of
this type of activities.
visitor services and activities
• Environmental education. Guided walks
and interpretation workshops,
birdwatching, activities for school groups,
wildlife observation and summer camps.
• Active tourism. Canyoning, canoeing,
climbing, flying fox, walking, water sports,
orienteering, mountain-bike and horseriding routes and archery. These activities
are designed both for private clients and
for groups, schools and summer camps.
• Cultural and animated activities.
Themed excursions, magic shows,
theatre, exhibitions, story-telling and
workshops.
• Training. Courses for young people,
adults, technical staff and company
managers.
• Activities for companies. Team-building
events and outdoor training.
Languages
English
Material/equipment provided
• Workbooks for school children
• Approved equipment for all activities
• Binoculars
• Material for workshops
Contact details
Carretera de Huesa, 4
23480 Quesada (Jaén)
Tel.: 953 71 42 18 / 620 35 00 65
[email protected]
www.aventurasport.com
Open
All year round (expect for canyoning, only
March-November)
Official endorsements
Andalusia Natural Park Brand
SIERRAS DE CAZORLA, SEGURA Y LAS VILLAS NATURAL PARK
147
FUNDACIÓN PATRIMONIO SIERRA DE SEGURA
The Foundation has drawn up a tourism development
plan called ‘Sierra de Segura, El V Elemento’, one of
most ambitious projects ever to be carried out in the
Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas Natural Park in the field of
the restoration, conservation and evaluation of local
heritage as a tourist and cultural resource. This plan is
based on a communication strategy, in which all the
natural and cultural patrimonial elements of these
mountains are articulated around the four classical
Greek elements of earth, water, air and fire.
‘Earth’ is a reference to the main natural and cultural activities that take place in the Sierra de Segura. Its
geodiversity provides good examples of all the main
geological units present in Andalusia, including river
terraces that contain the oldest Palaeolithic remains in
the province of Jaén and numerous caves with rock-art
that have been declared a World Heritage Site. The Archaeological and Palaeontological Museum in Torres
de Albánchez and the Cave-Art Centre in SantiagoPontones are a must for visitors wishing to know more
about these exceptional finds. The remains of a numvisitor services and activities
• Running of information and interpretation
centres. Tourist, environmental and
cultural information about the Sierra de
Segura and the Natural Park.
• Guided visits. To museums, interpretation
centres and other installations run by the
Foundation, as well as to nearby villages
and sites.
ber of Roman villas have been preserved and are on
display in the Roman Culture Centre in Arroyo del
Ojanco. During the medieval period the Sierra de Segura lay foursquare on the frontier between Christian
and Moorish cultures and many fortresses were built,
some of whose remains have been restored and currently house interpretation centres (‘Frontier Territory’
in the castle of Segura in Segura de la Sierra and ‘Defending the Frontier’ in Villarrodrigo). The Museum of
the Old Town of Villa de Beas, the Sixteenth Century
and Mysticism, an interpretation centre with a permanent exhibition devoted to St Teresa of Jesus and St
Juan de la Cruz, will also be interest to visitors.
‘Water’ is present in the open-air Museum of
Water in Puente de Génave, whilst in Orcera a thematic exhibition is devoted to the importance of the
area as a supplier of timber for ship-building.
‘Air’is interpreted in the Museum of Air in El Robledo
(Segura de la Sierra), and the night sky and its constellations of stars can be admired at the Planetarium and Astronomical Centre in the castle of Hornos de Segura.
geodiversity, biodiversity and
ecodiversity.
• Cultural and animated activities.
Exhibitions, seminars, fairs, concerts, talks,
workshops, etc.
‘Fire’, the fourth element, has been the central element of local culture for centuries and various local
interpretation centres explain to visitors some of the
more interesting aspects of local traditions. For example, the region boasts an ecological olive-grove interpretation space in the Extra Virgin Olive Oil Cooperative in Génave, and El Sequero de Siles, a former
drying house for pine nuts that has been converted
into a visitor centre with exhibitions detailing some
of the oldest and most typical occupations of the people of these mountains.
The fifth element, Aristotle’s‘Ether’is symbolically
represented by the Sierra de Segura itself, which articulates the other four elements as part of local natural and cultural heritage.
Material/equipment provided
• Brochures and guides to the centres run
by the Foundation
• Promotional material for the Sierra de
Segura and the Natural Park (maps, tourist
facilities, itineraries, etc.)
Languages
English
Open
All year round
Official endorsements
Park Information Point
• Environmental education. Itineraries,
activities and workshops for groups on
148
• Training and development. Investigation,
conservation, restoration, evaluation and
popularisation of the heritage of the Sierra
de Segura through courses, debates,
seminars, congresses, seminars and
publications.
ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
Contact details
Fundación Patrimonio Sierra de Segura
C/ San Vicente, 14
23374 Segura de la Sierra (Jaén)
Tel.: 953 48 04 21
[email protected]
www.patrimoniosierradesegura.com
www.sierradesegura.org
www.cazorlaseguraylasvillas.com
CASA RURAL CORTIJO LA AJEDREA
In the far north of the Sierra de Segura, and close to
the province of Albacete and the high peaks of the
Calar del Mundo and Alcaraz mountains, the Guadalimar River valley opens up beside the town of Siles. In
a pleasant and tranquil landscape known as the Vega
de Castrobayona some 5 km from the town, La Ajedrea farm awaits those visitors exploring the northern part of the Natural Park. Lying in a 25,000 m2 olive
producing estate and surrounded by pinewoods and
mountains, the current guesthouse was built by incorporating the remains of the estate’s old farmhouse
(the Cava farmhouse), the walls of which are perfectly
integrated into and visible in the new construction.
Local materials and building techniques were used
for the reconstruction, such as the stone, wood, Arabic tiles and cane hurdles, so that La Ajedrea conserves the true flavour of the former buildings.
The rooms — organised into six apartments —
all have balconies with magnificent views, a wood-
Accommodation type
Superior category self-catering
accommodation
burning stove to warm the winter evenings and a
small kitchen. The decoration is principally rustic in
style, with wooden furniture and exposed beams.
Communal areas, including a lounge/dining room,
complete the offer.
Outside are ample gardens, a terrace with a pond
and fountain, and a swimming pool with solarium, offering the perfect opportunity to relax and come into
contact with the natural surroundings.
The olive orchard is managed ecologically, reflecting the owners’high degree of awareness for the
environment, and which is also seen in the various
measures in place to minimise water and energy use
and ranging from a biological waste-water treatment
plant, to the use of a biomass burner. Future aims include improving the quality of the information available for its clients, the production of compost from
the estate’s organic waste and providing clients with
gifts of locally produced goods.
Capacity
6 rooms, sleeping 12-24
Prices
• Double room: 50 €/night
• Whole house: 300 €/night
visitor services and activities
• Information and advice about the
Natural Park.
• Contact with local active tourism
companies for organising outdoor activities
(tourist routes, hiking, multi-adventure).
• Sale of ecological goods.
• Pets are welcome.
Location
Siles (Jaén)
Vega de Castrobayona, s/n
Coordinates: 38º 23’ 54.91” N, 2º 32’ 4.80” W
Opening
All year round
Official endorsements
Park Information Point
Contact
Tel.: 953 12 62 16 / 691 99 88 78
[email protected]
www.cortijolaajedrea.com
Facilities
• Garden
• Swimming pool
• Car park
• All rooms with balcony, wood-burning
stove, TV, DVD, small kitchen
• Communal dining room and kitchen in
an adjacent building (only available if
block-booking the whole house)
• One room and the communal areas
are adapted for people with reduced
mobility
SIERRAS DE CAZORLA, SEGURA Y LAS VILLAS NATURAL PARK
149
CÁMPING RÍO LOS MOLINOS
The Río Los Molinos campsite, located in the northern sector of the natural park, about 1 km from Siles,
offers several different types of accommodation to
satisfy those who enjoy the countryside. In addition
to the 88 camping plots scattered about this extensive grassland, there are 10 cabins and a self-contained house with six double rooms. These facilities
are served by a restaurant, bar and cafeteria, a lounge
equipped with a television and games, a washroom
and toilet block, with washing-up facilities, a supermarket, various sports facilities and a swimming pool.
Two types of cabins are available: some are
equipped with two bedrooms, kitchen, lounge, full
bathroom, central heating and a terrace, while others
have just one bedroom containing bunks for four people, full bathroom and central heating. The self-contained house is a recently renovated building comprising a lounge with open fire, fully equipped kitchen and
garden, and all the rooms have an en-suite bathroom.
Accommodation type
• Simple campsite and basic cabins
• Simple self-contained guesthouse
Right from the outset, back in 1991, the complex
has played an active role in the way of life of both the
region and its protected area, and has been awarded
the Andalusia Natural Park Brand for its efforts. Río Los
Molinos organises residential camps offering environmental workshops (planting native trees, recycling
used oils, etc.) and courses dedicated to the study of
fungi (mycology).
Location
Siles (Jaén)
Las Acebeas road, km 1.5
Coordinates: 38º 37’ 7.68’’ N, 2º 58’ 10.9’’ W
Capacity
• Campsite: 88 plots
• Cabins: 10 bungalows, sleeping 60
• Independent house: 6 rooms, sleeping 12
• 60-cover restaurant
• House: TV, fully equipped kitchen, open
fire, garden
• Cabins: TV, fully equipped kitchen,
bathroom, terrace
• Access for people with limited mobility,
except to the bungalows. The house has
two specially adapted rooms.
visitor services and activities
• Information about the park.
• Contact with companies offering activity
tourism in the area (sight-seeing trips,
walking, multi-adventure activities).
• Organisation of environmental
workshops.
• Sale of organic produce (olive oil).
Languages
English
150
Facilities
• Restaurant, cafeteria, bar
• Garden
• Swimming pool
• Sports facilities
• Bathroom/WC complex with washing-up
area on the campsite
ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
Open
All year round
Prices
• With a tent: 3.6 €/person/day
• With a caravan: 6 €/person/day
• Whole house: 18 €/person/day
• Double room in the house: 50 €/day
• Per cabin, sleeping 6: 68 €/day
Official endorsements
• Andalusia Natural Park Brand
• Park Information Point
Contact details
Tel.: 953 49 10 03 / 626 76 36 63
[email protected]
www.riomolinos.com
HOTEL RURAL ZAHARA DE LOS OLIVOS
Surrounded by montane olive orchards and extensive pine woods, Torres de Albánchez is a small village in the Sierra de Segura of barely 1,000 inhabitants. On the village’s outskirts lies the Rural Hotel
Zahara de Los Olivos, with its distinct personality and
familiar air, which has its origins in an idea brought to
fruition by its founders (Amalio and Celia) back in the
1980s. The hotel is now housed in the building which
was constructed then, and according to the current
managers (who are the founders’ children) its 16
rooms — named after plant species typical of the
surrounding hills — instil a certain chill factor in its
clients, ideal for relaxation. The outside of the establishment is just as important, with various thematic
balconies each with carefully controlled atmosphere,
excellent views of the mountains and countryside
around Torres de Albánchez, and also a garden where
guests can relax in the shade of the fig trees.
Accommodation type
Two-star rural hotel
The hotel also has an open-air cocktail bar and a
buffet-style restaurant — where carefully selected
music enhances the dining experience — with a wide
but select range of dishes, which incorporates not
only the traditional regional foods but also international cuisine, plus a selection of surprising homemade desserts. Among the many services offered by
the hotel figure the elaboration of informative material regarding the park and the production of personalised maps for clients, as well as organising courses
about the Iberian fauna. In addition, they also provide
information about other local companies with outdoor activities, hand-crafted goods and other typical
goods of the area.
The hotel is also planning to obtain the endorsement of Park Information Point and get more
involved in activities related to local development
and nature conservation.
Location
Torres de Albánchez (Jaén)
Avda. de Andalucía, 175
Coordinates: 38º 25’ 00’’ N, 2º 40’ 59’’W
Capacity
• 16 rooms, sleeping 32
• 90-cover restaurant
visitor services and activities
• Provides information about the park
(routes, maps, etc.).
• The hotel can contact local active
tourism companies who operate in the
area (hiking, horse-riding routes, 4WD
tours, rafting, rowing, canoeing, caving,
wildlife observation, archery, etc.).
• Traditional cooking.
• Runs courses about the Iberian fauna.
• Pets are welcome.
Facilities
• Restaurant, cafeteria
• Lounge
• Swimming pool
• Garden
• Balconies
• Wi-Fi in the communal areas and
bedrooms
• TV in the communal areas and
bedrooms
• One bedroom and the communal areas
are adapted for people with reduced
mobility
Open
Closed from January to March. Open from
Easter to Christmas.
Official endorsements
Andalusia Natural Park Brand (pending
acceptance)
Prices
Double room (with breakfast): 69 €/night
Contact details
Tel.: 953 49 43 54 / 650 11 84 25
[email protected]
www.hotelzaharadelosolivos.com
Languages
English and French
SIERRAS DE CAZORLA, SEGURA Y LAS VILLAS NATURAL PARK
151
CASAS RURALES LA FRESNEDILLA
The two independent houses at La Fresnedilla lie in
the Sierra de Las Villas, in a spectacular natural setting
reached along a peaceful mountain road from the village of Mogón, which itself is worth the effort. On the
way, motorists will pass through a succession of surprising landscapes and also be able to stop at picnic
spots or places such as the Aguascebas reservoir, the
spring of Los Cerezos or El Charco del Aceite.
La Fresnedilla consists of two independent
houses, La Casa del Guarda and La Casa del Ingeniero. Both houses once belonged to Icona and were
used — as their names indicate — by the forest wardens (guardas) and engineers (ingenieros) when the
only way of getting around these mountains was on
horseback. Eventually, the Land Rover arrived and
then, finally, those who worked in the sierras no
longer needed to live there at all. Once the original
purpose of these simple but solid buildings had disappeared, the idea of putting them to a different use
arose. Thus, was born La Fresnedilla, a project consisting of two independent rural houses, well built
Accommodation type
Simple self-catering rural houses
and carefully decorated and today each with its own
swimming pool.
Undoubtedly, one of the great attractions of
these particular houses is the setting, in the middle
of the countryside in the Natural Park and far from
the madding crowds. Both houses are surrounded
by lush vegetation and visitors’only neighbours will
be the local Red Squirrels, deer and the abundant
birdlife whose songs and calls will enliven any stay.
La Fresnedilla is an ideal site for those looking a bit
of peace and quiet and wanting to enjoy tranquil
walks in the countryside, although if clients so wish
the owners will get in touch with local companies
who organise adventure activities or wildlife excursions.
The owners are also organising various projects
in the Natural Park aimed at restoring ruined houses
and running them with the same philosophy as used
in La Fresnedilla. Currently, the owners are designing
self-guided discovery routes (vegetation, fauna, geology, culture, etc.) to be used by guests in the vicinity of the houses, which will complement the local
map and guide Mapa y guía excursionista de la Sierra
de las Cuatro Villas that the owners also worked on.
Guests are given a present of oil or wine when they
arrive as a way of promoting local produce and producers.
Location
Villacarrillo (Jaén)
Aguascebas road, km 22.5
Coordinates: 38º 03’32.46’’N, 2º 56’39.40’’W
Capacity
Casa del Guarda: 3 rooms, sleeping 6
Casa del Ingeniero: 4 rooms, sleeping 8
• One of the houses has good access for
people with limited mobility
• Restaurant nearby
visitor services and activities
• Information for house guests (maps,
books, etc.).
• Contact with local active tourism
companies (walking, mountain bike, 4WD
and horse-trekking routes, birdwatching,
guided visits, rafting, paratrike, fishing,
etc.).
• Pets are welcome.
Languages
English, French, German and Dutch
152
Open
All year round
Facilities
• Private swimming pool
• Barbeque
• Garden
• Satellite TV, music centre
• Open fire
• Equipped kitchen
ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
Prices
• Casa del Guarda: 120 €/night
• Casa del Ingeniero: 170 €/ night
Contact details
Tel.: 626 49 66 80 / 618 73 94 62 /
686 39 25 29
[email protected]
www.cazorlaylasvillas.com
HOTEL SIERRA DE LAS VILLAS
Las Villas is one of the three comarcas (county-like regions) that are part of the Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y
Las Villas Natural Park, and is proud to include the municipality of Villacarrillo, which, along with Martos and
Mancha Real, is one of the largest produces of olive oil
in the whole of the province of Jaén. Villacarrillo, traversed by the nascent river Guadalquivir, is home to
the Hotel Sierra de LasVillas, founded in 1970 and completely refurbished in 2005 so as to provide visitors
with all the comforts and services they might require.
The hotel’s 38 rooms are fully equipped and
guests are welcomed to the region with a gift consisting of a sample of extra virgin olive oil, the local
product par excellence.
The hotel is famous for its cuisine, and traditional
local dishes are the most popular. Guests should
make sure to try the partridge pâté, the escalope à
Las Villas, the cod pipirrana (onion, tomato and cucumber-based salad), the andrajos de conejo (a type
of rabbit stew), roast lamb and desserts such as
gachas dulces (sugared unleavened bread).
Accommodation type
Two-star hotel
visitor services and activities
• Information for guests (maps, books,
etc.).
• Traditional local cuisine.
• Contact with local active tourism
companies (horse riding, walking, guided
visits, etc.).
Besides the typical facilities, the hotel has also just
inaugurated a function suite — La Olivina — with capacity for 500 people and superbly equipped to provide
first-class service for any type of ceremony or meeting.
The hotel is pledged to operating sustainably, as
is shown by its commitment to renewable energy
Location
Villacarrillo (Jaén)
Córdoba to Valencia road, 30
Coordinates: 38º 7’ 12.46’’ N, 3º 4’ 42.13’’W
Capacity
• 38 rooms, sleeping 70
• 200-cover restaurant
Language
English
sources that help with the demand for heating and
hot water, and to energy-saving practices. Moreover,
the hotel has come to arrangements with various colleges to allow young people on work experience to
work in the hotel, thereby fomenting the employment
of local people in the hotel and restaurant industry.
Facilities
• Restaurant, cafeteria
• Wi-Fi
• TV, telephone and internet connection in
rooms
• Some rooms have hydro-massage cabins
• Function room for events
Open
All year round
Prices
Double room: 50 €/night
Contact details
Tel.: 953 44 01 25
[email protected]
www.hotelsierralasvillas.com
SIERRAS DE CAZORLA, SEGURA Y LAS VILLAS NATURAL PARK
153
GUADALKAYAK, DEPORTE Y AVENTURA
Water is one of the main features of the rugged landscape of the Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas Natural Park, a mountainous protected area that harbours
the source of the river Guadalquivir. Guadalkayak was
created in 1999 to promote adventure sports in the
Natural Park and, in particular, activities such as canoeing, rafting and canyoning that are inextricably
linked with water.
Whatever your level of experience, the company
currently offers visitors a range of activities in the
mountains of the Natural Park, all of which are led by
qualified monitors. Visitors can thus choose between
canoeing for beginners in an open canoe along the
upper reaches of the Guadalquivir, canyoning (a mixture of climbing and water sports) in La Cerrada de
Utrero or El Arroyo Membrillo, or white-water descents in pneumatic dinghies (rafting). The company
also organises activities such as walking, climbing and
archery for schools and other educational centres.
In all cases Guadalkayak provides all the necessary
equipment and, if need be, transport to and from the
starting point of the activity (rafting and open canoe-
visitor services and activities
• Aquatic adventure activities. Open
canoeing, canyoning and rafting, all led by
qualified staff.
Material/equipment provided
• Material for water sports (life-jackets,
wetsuits, helmets, etc.)
• Climbing equipment (ropes, harnesses,
carabiners, etc.)
• Changing rooms (with toilets and
showers)
• Bar-restaurant
• Car park
154
ECOTOURISM IN SPAIN. GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS
ing). In 2006 the company opened new headquarters
that contain their offices, changing rooms with toilets
and showers for clients and a large car park.
Languages
English
Open
Canyoning — March to October; rafting
and open canoeing — May to September;
school activities — March to June.
Contact details
Tranco road, km 8
23330 Villanueva del Arzobispo (Jaén)
Tel.: 616 96 62 01
[email protected]
www.guadalkayak.com
HOTEL LA MORALEDA
The complex formed by Las Delicias and the Hotel La
Moraleda, in Villanueva del Arzobispo, consists of two
businesses that have been united by family links since
their they were set up, some thirty years. Initially, this
establishment had just a swimming pool and bar, but
over the years it has grown through the addition of
multi-purpose function rooms, a small hotel with
cafeteria and an additional small conference room.
New rooms were added in 2005 and, by expanding the services offered to visitors, La Moraleda attained the category of two-star hotel. The hotel is located in the heart of the town and has a large
swimming pool, 32 double rooms, and a bar-cafete-
ria and restaurant offering a wide range of dishes
based on regional cooking and char-grilled meats.
Many other types of celebrations, including weddings, baptisms, first communions, etc., can also be
catered for.
The company also has a rural guesthouse with capacity for 18 people located very close to the village
of Cortijos Nuevos, in the Sierra de Segura.
For those clients interested in hiking and visiting
the beautiful region of Las Villas, the hotel organises
walks in the park and can also put clients in touch
with active tourism companies who operate in the
area.
Accommodation type
Two-star hotel
Languages
English
visitor services and activities
• Contact with local active tourism
companies operating in the area (hiking,
guided excursions, etc.).
• Information is provided about the park
and different possible routes for clients.
• Regional cooking.
• Sale of local produce (olive oil).
• All types of celebrations can be catered
for.
• Intensive swimming courses with
specialised monitors.
• Pets are admitted.
Location
Villanueva del Arzobispo (Jaén)
C/ Fuensanta, 73
Coordinates: 38º 09’ 55” N, 3º 00’ 17”W
Facilities
• Restaurant, cafeteria, bar
• TV
• Wi-Fi area
• Conference room
• Terrace with barbeque
• TV, telephone in bedrooms
Open
All year round
Capacity
• 32 rooms (some for individual use),
sleeping 64
• 500-cover restaurant
• Rural guesthouse with 9 double rooms,
sleeping 18
• Swimming pool with toboggans and
trampolines
• Some rooms have hydro-massage towers
• One room and the communal areas are
adapted for people with reduced mobility
• Children’s playground
Prices
Double room: 50 €/night
Contact details
Tel.: 953 45 03 88 / 627 40 93 65
[email protected]
www.hotel-lamoraleda.com
SIERRAS DE CAZORLA, SEGURA Y LAS VILLAS NATURAL PARK
155

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