THE FOUNTAIN OF ANDALUSIA

You are about to travel to one of the last natural paradises in southern Spain, an immense refuge for hundreds of extremely important wildlife species, many of which can only be found in this area. The herds of fallow deer at the Cañada de las Fuentes and the griffon vultures gliding above the Peña de los Halcones peak are hard to forget. You’ll find delight in the waterfalls, streams and lakes that proudly feed the first few steps of Andalusia’s most important river: the Guadalquivir.

The “Río Grande”, or big river, as the Arabs called it, made a mark on life in this territory and favoured the most important explosion of biodiversity in the Nature Reserve. Here, right next to Gilillo hill, is where the Cazorla violet (Viola cazorlensis) was discovered for science. You can find thirty mountain endemisms in this territory alone, meaning plants that grow nowhere else in the world.

Large mammals are the most characteristic feature of this area, however. To come across a herd of mountain goats in Los Poyos de la Mesa mountain or a pair of mouflons in the Estrecho de los Perales canyon are unique moments. Red deer, roe deer and wild boar will pass you at close range, for they have grown accustomed to human presence.

The sky is also full of life, for it is populated by over 150 bird species: eagles, black kites and falcons await the return of the bearded vultures, the mythical bird that disappeared from these mountains 20 years ago. An ambitious conservation plan is underway to recover this peaceful and majestic bird of prey.

In Cazorla you’ll discover handsome buildings wrapped in legend, as well as the local culture and cuisine. At La Iruela you’ll be amazed by the spectacular Templar castle. In Quesada you can take a tour of the Zabaleta Museum and in Peal de Becerro you can visit the Toya burial chamber, one of the most fascinating Iberian monuments in Spain.

Travelling along these tracks you’ll be reminded of the travels of Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente, the Spanish naturalist who lives on in La Nava de San Pedro and the Collado de la Zarca, where a solemn specimen of Corsican pine carries his name and reminds visitors of his respectful passion for nature.

 

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