Many come to look for villas for sale on the Costa del Sol for the beautiful Mediterranean beachfront homes for sale in Spain as well as for the clement weather, sedate lifestyle and charming cuisines. But what of the rugged and spectacular landscapes of Spain’s interior that Andalucia holds in abundance? Or even the beautiful and delicate ecology that southern Spain lays claim to? Beach bums of Marbella could well find some eye-opening and breath-taking experiences on venturing inland where they will surely discover a Spain that’s all-too-often ignored.
As testament to their beauty, large areas of Andalucia come under protected status for the uniqueness of their flora and fauna, for their fragile ecosystems or geological features, and as such access to some areas are restricted. These protected areas are listed as either national parks, natural parks, areas or reserves. While there are only two national parks in Andalucia, there are many more incredible areas of natural beauty that are listed under a different designation. Regardless of the classification, there are undeniably countless wonders to enjoy, such as:
A short distance from Granada and a few hundred kilometres from Malaga, the Sierra Nevada is the second highest mountain range in Europe and is a national park as well as a biosphere reserve containing Spain’s highest peak. As well as featuring Europe’s southernmost ski resort, the Sierra Nevada abounds in year-round activities from mountaineering to horse riding and from climbing to paragliding. The Sierra Nevada Ski Station offers a long season, often from November to May, while keen hikers can enjoy clear mountain air and views of Africa, on a good day.
The Alpujarras region of the southern foothills of the Sierra Nevada has a long history of cultivation dating back to the Berbers in the 8th century CE and the villages still show North African influences. After the moors were banished from the Granada area in 1492 the area suffered depopulation from which it never really recovered. Today the area is popular for hiking and mountain biking and foreign visitors who appreciate the nature and quiet beauty of the hills and historical villages.
Fuente de Piedra
Ornithologists of Andalucia are drawn to this coastal lagoon and largest natural lake of the Iberian peninsular for its great diversity of birdlife and range of species. The Fuente de Piedra is also the second largest flamingo colony in Europe and the only inland breeding ground of the aquatic birds, which come to the lagoon for its shallow, salty waters. Flamingo populations are at their highest in spring, while in summer the lagoon often dries up causing birds to migrate. There is a visitors’ centre with information and guided tours, which can be found just outside of the Fuente de Piedra village, 70 kilometres north of Malaga.
Montes de Malaga
For those seeking a quick escape from their villas for sale on the Costa del Sol, the Montes de Malaga Natural Park is located just several kilometres from Malaga town. Forests of Aleppo pine were planted here in the early 20th century to combat destructive flash floods that resulted from deforestation, which began in the 15th century for the cultivation of olive trees and grapevines. Today the park enjoys a diverse flora of over 400 plant species and a rich wildlife. The wine-growing past of this area can be noticed in the traditional lagar buildings, olive presses and bread ovens, and the historical villages of Casabermeja and Colmenar can be appreciated for their traditional architecture and nostalgic charm. The Cochino Viewpoint offers views of the Mediterranean coast, and perhaps even the sight of eagles that can be found in the park.
El Torcal de Alcantera
This natural area of the Sierra de Torcal mountain range is a fascinating spectacle of limestone rock formations that will impress children and adults alike. The unusual and other-worldly forms of the Jurassic era karst topography makes for hours of fun in comparing the rocks to everyday items, so don’t forget your camera. The Torcal also features limestone caves of Neolithic significance, such as the Cuevo del Toro. Wildflowers to be found include orchids, nazarenes and red peonies, while goats, lizards and snakes are also common in the area. Mind where you step!
Doñana National Park
In contrast to the mountains of the Sierra Nevada, Andalucia’s other national park is a lowland region of the Guadalquivir River delta and is made up of areas of sand dunes, salt marshes and brushwood. Doñana National Park is widely recognised for its unique biodiversity and is considered to be one of the most important wetland nature reserves in Europe. In addition to being a strategically located breeding ground for large populations of European and African migratory birds, Doñana is also home to deer, boar, mongoose and the Iberian lynx. Threatened birds such as the marble teal and the Adalbert’s eagle may also be found here.
Due to the sensitive nature of the ecosystems, access to the park is limited to 4-hour guided tours which need to be booked in advance. These are run from the visitors’ centre at El Acebuche, about 12 kilometres from El Rocio south-west of Seville.
With such positively intoxicating environmental wonders in the area, we are sure that you’ll want to make national park trips a regular thing whilst you are looking for beachfront homes for Sale in Spain go and look for the best real estate agent in Marbella and talk to Europrestige now about how to make your holiday into a lifestyle!