There is absolutely nothing like the feeling of being on top of the world and no place better to realise this feeling than at a high altitude, such as the Parque Natural de las Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas in the province of Jaén.
Amber & I took a few days out to visit (and photograph) this area of stunning beauty staying in the town of Cazorla. Cazorla is constructed around three main squares, the Plaza de la Constitución, the Plaza de la Corredera and the Plaza Santa Maria, where we stayed. Plaza Santa Maria is the oldest and is connected to the other two by narrow, twisting streets so if you’re driving, beware!!!!!!!
Established in 1986, the Parque Natural de las Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas is located to the east / north-east of the province of Jaén. It is the largest protected area in Spain and was declared a UNESCO biosphere reserve in 1983. Two of the Iberian peninsula’s most important rivers, the Río Guadalquivir and the Segura, have their sources here, amongst some of the wildest landscape in Spain.
Although one of the park’s major attractions is its abundant and varied wildlife, human intervention has meant that some of the animals that roamed this region have disappeared. Bears were the first to become extinct in the 17th century, followed much later by wolves in the 1920s. Game species like deer and wild boar actually died out here during the 1950s, prompting the creation of a national hunting reserve in 1960, with the re-introduction of these species together with the mouflon, a wild sheep with striking overlarge horns. On the highest rocky slopes are Spanish ibex.
There are many species of raptor that can be seen frequently, soaring on thermals high above the mountain peaks. These include griffon vultures, Egyptian vultures, short-toed eagles, booted eagles, Bonelli’s eagles, golden eagles, red kites, kestrels, goshawks, sparrowhawks and peregrine falcons. There are rare sightings of the lammergeier also called quebrantahuesos in Spanish, or bone breaker, due to its habit of dropping its prey down to rocks from a great height to break their bones.
The park has an important population of birds commonly found in the pine forests, such as coal tits, great tits, crested tits, firecrests, azure-winged magpies, white wagtails and green woodpeckers. Above the treeline and on rocky slopes are rock thrushes, blue rock thrushes, red-billed choughs and alpine accentors.
In 1988 the park was designated a Special Protection Area for migratory birds.
Among the predatory mammals inhabiting the woodland areas are the fox, genet, stone marten, wild cat, badger, polecat and weasel. A subspecies of the common squirrel is endemic to the Sierra de Segura. A third of the mammal species found in the park are bats. Reptiles include nine species of snakes, as well the Valverde lizard, which is endemic to the park and of course the Ocellated lizard.
Summing up, the landscape in Parque Natural de las Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas is stunning and in common with other areas of Spain, unique. There is certainly no shortage of beautiful locations and places to see.
I’ve put together a slide-show of the best of my 650 ish photographs taken, I hope you enjoy them 🙂