Spain in-depth: Adventure

Bird watching in Spain

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Bird watching in Doña Ana

Doñana National Park is a mosaic of unique Spanish ecosystems since you can find, only a few kilometers away the swamps, the beach, dunes, shrub land, pine and oaks forests. This park has been a biosphere reserve since 1980 due to its large biological diversity, and has been a UNESCO patrimony since 1984.  Dona Ana is meant to be the best area to enjoy bird watching in Spain.

The Doñana National Park is spread out on three Andalusian provinces, Cadiz, Huelva and Sevilla in the birth of the Guadalquivir, and the usual accesses are made from Matalascañas by 4×4 that leaves the El Acebuche reception center with a guide. You can also leave by sea going up the course of the river from Sanlucar of Barrameda on the Real Fernando boat that also includes guides to the nature, the park and its species. Another option would be to enjoy one of the many hikes in Doñana or by bicycle on the designated paths that arrive to different bird watching facilities.

If you want to go across Doñana in 4×4, you’ll need to reserve in advance since the protection of the National Park limits the number of visitors in a day. The visit in 4×4 takes about four hours and there are only two departure times, one in the morning and one in the evening.  

The vehicles used are small buses with big wheels and traction to all four wheels that enable the car to circulate through the sandy areas, beaches and dunes. There are about 20 spaces plus the driver on the bus, who on top is the guide that will explain the different ecosystems, the traditional uses of the park, the old mines, the still existing towns and the different species spotted.

In the northern part of the Doñana National Park you’ll find the swamps closest to the Rocio village where you will see a large variety of birds. On top of pine and oak forests, you’ll find the Iberian Lynx, considered the most endangered feline of the planet, this is why it was declared as a protected species in 1966. In this same northern part of the park you’ll also be able to observe deers, mongooses and wild boars: a real adventure!

The more southern part of the park occupies the zone of the mobile dunes, the border and the bank of the Guadalquivir until its estuary and the part of the beach that boarders the municipality of Matalascañas. This all can be visited in the 4×4 on the sea next to the dunlin birds playing in the waves. On this courses you’ll be able to visit the border, the pens of vegetation formed by the dunes and a few pine and oak forests where you will be able to spot another emblematic animal of this park: the Spanish imperial eagle.     

Spain National Parks (Doñana)

You can also visit the Doñana National Park by using two modes of transportation. You can start by crossing the Guadalquivir on a barge from Sanlucar, and once you reach the other end of the river, you can continue the rest of you visit in a 4×4 until the Plancha town which is right next to the pier where the Real Fernando ship docks. Back on the river before heading back to Sanlucar, you’ll sail to a few bird spotting areas, near wetlands and salt lakes where you can observe spectacular flocks of flamingos, ducks, egrets…since nearly half a million birds pass through the Doñana National Park per year. 

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