The Spanish Language Blog

Far in the south of Spain, between the provinces of Huelva and Seville and at the mouth of the Guadalqivir River is Doñana National Park. This is the second largest national park in Andalusia after Sierra Nevada and has a 700-year history. UNESCO has also already recognized this special park and in 1994 included it on the list as a World Heritage Site and Reserve. There are several reasons for this, as the park is characterized by a diversity of biotopes (natural habitats of plants and animals) and special ecosystems. It is home to several wild animals and migratory birds including some endangered species. Wild horses, sea turtles, wild boar and birds are not unthinkable here.

  • Of the Spanish national parks, Doñana National Park is the only one to have an ecosystem with moving dunes.
  • At the foot of the national park is a small village called El Rocío. This village takes you right into history and is the perfect starting point for a horseback ride through this special area.
  • An alternative way to visit the park is via Sanlúcar de Barrameda in Cadiz. By boat, you can easily dock at Doñana and then take a long walk along the kilometers of moving dunes.

In Andalusia, 17% of the total territory consists of protected natural areas. Of that 17%, the Doñana National Park comprises more than 26,000 hectares of protected area. This is slightly more than half of the total area consisting of some 50,000 hectares. Forest and scrubland, beach lakes, marsh and moving dunes mark the nature reserve here. These dunes are up to 30 kilometers long and are so called because the wind causes the dunes to be in constant motion and because of this they change shape and size all the time. This is unique in Spain and therefore one of the most special attractions of the park. Doñana is also special because it is the habitat of the following endangered species: the pardellynx, the Spanish imperial eagle, the marbled duck and the white-headed duck. In addition, it is another annual wintering site for about 500,000 waterfowl. Because the land is so well regulated by nature, there is plenty of fertile soil to be found on and around the park. So chances are that the strawberries in the store come from this region; in fact, Spain boasts the largest strawberry export worldwide. Moreover, 90% of Spain's total fruit cultivation is concentrated mainly in the Huelva and Seville area around Doñana National Park.

Every year a pilgrimage takes place through Doñana National Park.This starts from Sanlúcar de Barrameda in Cadiz and lasts three days and two nights.In it, nearly 9,000 people walk the road to Almonte. A special journey that teaches how to enjoy paradise: the earth. This trek also passes through the village of El Rocío. A visit to this village is really recommended. In fact, it lies at the foot of Doñana National Park and completely takes you back to the past. For those who always wanted to get an impression of how comic book character Lucky Luke lived, this is the proclaimed opportunity! This may not be the town on which the famous comic strip is based, but it is certainly not inferior. As soon as you arrive on a narrow dirt road, you see the first phenomena that give you the impression of having gone back in time. In the distance you can see the wooden houses with porches and stands for horses. Indeed, here people often go out on horseback, by horse and carriage or on foot. For those who are completely excited to go horseback riding themselves in this special village, there is the possibility of making a tour on horseback through the beautiful surroundings with El Rocío as a starting point.

There are several ways to get to Doñana National Park. The park is about a one-hour drive from Andalusia's capital, Seville. For those who are in Seville and want to spend a few days at Matalascañas beach, they can choose to take the indirect bus to Matalascañas. This route passes through the village of El Rocio and the park itself. This could be the perfect starting point for a combination visit to El Rocío, Matalascañas ánd the Doñana National Park. Another possibility to visit the park in a special way is via the small seaside town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda in Cadiz. With a small boat you sail towards the park. Once docked, you can enjoy a quiet and peaceful beach here. A long beach walk along the kilometers of moving dunes is already unique in itself. There is also a good chance of encountering wildlife along the way. For true birdwatchers and nature lovers, this area is a walhalla, because a visit to this park shows the real wilderness of Spain. In short, and true adventure!

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