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Doñana National Park

AREA. Total area: 77,260ha: World Heritage and Special Bird Protection Areas: 50,720ha. National Park. Buffer zone: 26,540 ha.
ALTITUDE. Sea-level to 40m (dunes).

The Parque Nacional de Doñana is one of Europe’s most important wetland reserves and a major site for migrating birds. It is an immense area protected and surrounded by a buffer zone: The Doñana Natural Park. It is internationally for recognised for its great ecological wealth and has become a key centre in the world of conservationism.

This is the environment of major European interest for its wild life, and catalogued biosphere reserved by UNESCO. More then 50.000 protected hectares, turned in to the mayor and most importantly ecologic extension of Europe. Like its wildlife and flowers and also the tree important ecological facts are: the dunes, beaches, forest, these factors are visited by four wheel drives, driving 80 km, and ready for the occasion

Doñana is well known for its enormous variety of bird species either, permanent residents, winter visitors from north and central Europe or summer visitors from Africa, like its numerous types of geese and colourful colonies of flamingo. It has one of the world’s largest colonies of Spanish imperial eagles. The park as a whole comprises three distinct kinds of ecosystem: the marismas, the Mediterranean scrublands and the coastal mobile dunes with their beaches.

The Doñana National Park in Andalucia is Europe’s largest sanctuary for migrating birds. It is a vast coastal marshland, productive, well preserved and inaccessible where the River Guadalquivir meets the Atlantic Ocean, notable for the great diversity of its biotopes: beaches, swamps, lagoons, fixed and moving dunes, pine and cork oak woodland and heath. The marshes host four threatened bird species, one of the biggest heronries in the Mediterranean, more than 500,000 wintering waterfowl and millions of migrant birds.

Access for visitors and facilities.

Entrance to the park is strictly controlled. You can take half-day trips with official guides or explore the environs of the visitors’ centres on foot.

The principal visitors’ centre is El Acebuche, This centre has an exhibition about the park, a café and a shop selling maps and books. From the centre is a sign posted 5km trail through scrubland and pine trees. Next to the centre is the El Acebuche lagoon, with bird hides, where you can see purple gallinules, among other birds.

From El Acebuche there are four-hour trips into the park which must be booked in advance. The four-wheel drive vehicle can seat 21 people and guides speak some English. There are two trips a day (excluding Mondays), at 08:30 and 15:00 (17:00 in summer). Full day trips can also be organised for groups, with lunch in Sanlúcar de Barrameda. A typical trip will take in all three ecosystems in the park – dunes, matorral and marshland – but the amount of exposure to each environment varies with the seasons. One thing is guaranteed – no two visits will be alike.

The nearest visitors’ centre is La Rocina, close to El Rocío , just 500m from the village. It has information on the park and a 3km-long nature trail along the freshwater lake and marshland Charco de la Boca, which feeds into the Madres de la Marismas at El Rocío. The trail has five bird hides and it’s possible to see purple gallinules, hoopoes, herons and Savi’s warblers, among other birds.

Seven kilometres on from La Rocina is the Palacio del Acebrón, an old hunting lodge containing exhibitions on the park. In the grounds is a pleasant 1½-km nature trail through woodland and around a small lake, the Charco del Acebrón.

The Centro de Visitantes José Antonio Valverde on the northern edge of the park has some excellent bird watching opportunities. It is 30km south of the town of Villamanrique de la Condesa, from where it is signposted.

The Playa de Castilla beach, reached on foot east of Matalascañas, runs alongside the park boundary and although you can’t enter Doñana here, it is a beautiful, unspoilt stretch of coastline with good bird watching possibilities.

The park can also be reached (but not entered) by taking the ferry boat across the Guadalquivir river from Sanlúcar de Barrameda where there is a visitors’ centre, the Centro de Visitantes Fábrica de Hielo), with exhibitions on the Doñana. You can take the Real Fernando boat daily (except in January) from Sanlúcar for 13km up the Guadalquivir river, stopping in a few places for guided walks into the park. It’s advisable to book in advance, especially during the summer and holidays.

Flora

The park supports an incredible array of vegetation in a variety of virgin habitats. Inland are large expanses of stone pines, as well as Mediterranean scrublands, with narrow leaved cistus heather, mastic tree, rosemary, cistus scrub, glasswort, red lavender, rosemary and thyme. There are also junipers and forests of cork oaks, known as “las pajareras” for the enormous quantity of birds that nest in them. Among the flowering plants are lavender, tree heaths, gladioli, irises and rock roses. In the spring the marshlands are covered with flowers.

Fauna

This is a vast wilderness that supports an unrivalled wealth of fauna; 125 species of birds are known to be resident here, as well as 125 migratory bird species, 17 reptiles, nine amphibians and eight species of fish. There is a rich variety of mammals, 28 species in total, with some in danger of extinction, such as the Lynx and the Egyptian mongoose. Also here are badgers, rabbits and otters. Game is also plentiful, with red deer, fallow deer and wild boar.

    Places of interest

  • – EL ACEBUCHE
  • – LA ROCINA
  • – ACEBRON PALACE
  • – CENTRO JOSE ANTONIO VALVERDE
  • – CENTRO DE VISITAS FÁBRICA DE HIELO (ICE FACTORY)
  • – CUESTA DE MANELI

Visitors Centre “El Acebuche”

Ctra.El Rocío a Matalascañas,Km.12
21750 – ElRocío, Almonte(Huelva)

Located about 3 Kilometres from Matalascañas, on the road A-483. A trail access for about 2 kilometres leads to the Visitors Centre.
Hours: Summer: from 8 to 21 hours; Winter: from 8 to 19 hours.

    Facilities:

  • – Welcome Addressed by a guide that provides information on various National Park and their ability to visit.
  • – Presentation on the Doñana National Park. About the characteristics of Doñana as wetland of international importance and makes a tour of their natural and cultural most.
  • – Audiovisual Room and conferences. The audiovisual projection gives a general aspect of Doñana.
  • – Trail pedestrian “Laguna del Acebuche”: travel the southern shore of an ancient lake recovered in the 80’s for the aquatic fauna. From several observatories can appreciate its birdlife (1.5 km.).
  • – Trail pedestrian “Gaps of Orchard and Pajas” provides some insight into areas Boxes and pine trees and a lagoon complex recently restored (3.5 km.)
  • – Point reserve itinerary in 4×4 throughout the park (see section 4 Routes Guided).
  • – Cafeteria, with the same time that the Visitors Centre.
  • – Picnic area has tables and benches where rustic picnic. It is not permitted to make fire.
  • – Shop, bookstore on Doñana and other souvenirs from the park.

Visitors Centre “La Rocina”

Ctra.El Rocío a Matalascañas,Km.2
21750 – ElRocío, Almonte(Huelva)

Located next to the village of El Rocio, one kilometre from it, direction to Matalascañas, on the road A-483. About 16 km from Matalascañas.
Hours: Summer: from 8 to 21 hours; Winter: from 9 to 19 hours.

    Facilities:

  • – Welcome. Attended by a guide that provides information on various National Park and their ability to visit.
  • – Audiovisual room. Projection: the Arroyo de la Rocina.
  • – Exhibition (in the draft) presented by the various features and options visit facilities of the National Park and Natural Doñana.
  • – Choza-exposición “The Pilgrimage of Dew.” About this historic event religious depends Doñana, within a dwelling constructed and set to traditional style.
  • – Trail pedestrian “Charco of Mouth”: tour the left bank of the creek La Rocina four observatories in which halted to observe the aquatic fauna and the landscape. (3.5 km).

Visitors Centre “Acebrón Palace”

6Km. from “La Rocina”
21750 – ElRocío, Almonte(Huelva)

It is approximately 6 kilometres from the Visitors Center “Rocina, continuing from its parking by a paved runway. It can be accessed by car or bicycle.
Hours: Summer: from 9 to 21 hours; Winter: from 9 to 19 hours.

    Facilities:

  • – Welcome: Attended by a guide that provides information on various National Park and their ability to visit.
  • – Ethnographic exhibition, which affects relations historical, social and cultural Doñana with its inhabitants.
  • – Trail pedestrian “Charco del Acebrón” surrounds this natural widening stream of Rocina. In their journey, we feel the botanical diversity of the forest gallery, and the various blocks landscapes of this area. (1.5 km)

Visitors Centre “Jose Antonio Valverde”

Cerrado Garrido. Marismas de Aznalcázar
41849 Aznalcázar (Sevilla). Located about 50 km from Matalascañas

The Center is located in the middle of marshland and presents a typology of architecture similar to the traditional huts marismeñas. We get a glimpse of a pike rehabilitated in which concentrates a diverse aquatic fauna. It is quite distanced from the people closest. From Villamanrique de la Condesa, Puebla del Rio and Isla Mayor there are approximately 25 km. Access is via a track albero, which can be used by any vehicle. As you can be a little confusing, we advise getting advance information on any of the other Visitor Centres.
Hours: Summer: from 10 to 20 hours; Winter: from 10 to 18 hours.

    Facilities:

  • – Welcome: Attended by a guide that provides information on various National Park and their ability to visit.
  • – Exhibition of Doñana National Park, with special attention to the ecosystem marismeño, its flora, fauna and stations, as well as the changes and human uses of the territory.
  • – Board of lectures and audiovisual projection “Voices of the marsh”
  • – Points wildlife observation. All Center is fitted with large windows that bathe the marsh, and to observe bird life which focuses on the pike. There is also a small pedestrian trail that accesses an outside observer
  • – Board of temporary exhibitions.
  • – Cafeteria, with the same timetable that the Centre.
  • – Souvenir Shop, with the same timetable that the Centre.

Visitors Centre “Ice Factory”

Avda. Bajo de Guía, s/n
11540 Sanlúcar de Barrameda (Cádiz)

Located in the town of Sanlucar de Barrameda, this centre is an ancient brotherhood of fishermen and ice factory, now restored as a visitors place.
Hours: Summer: from 9 to14 hours and from 16 to 21 hours. Winter: from 9 to 14 hours and from 16 to 19 hours.

    Facilities:

  • – Welcome: Attended by a guide that provides information on various National Park and their ability to visit.
  • – Exhibition: distributed in both plants in the center. On the first floor presents the natural values of the National Park and the Doñana National Park, through the recreation of a ‘notebook’, which offers to all visitors the opportunity to tour all its ecosystems. The second floor presents the history of Doñana and low Guadalquivir through various epochs and ships that have lost their waters. It is an approach to the uses and products of the land of Doñana and a chronological record of their history and territory, from its first settlers to the present.
  • – Audiovisual diverse and original visions Doñana.
  • – Souvenir Shop.
  • – Terrace-mirador, to the river and south of the national park.

Cuesta de Maneli

Ctra. A-494 San Juan del Puerto-Matalascañas km. 38,5
Almonte (Huelva)

This is a free access area located in the Natural Park of Doñana, on the west side of Matalascañas

It is situated about 15 Kilometres from Matalascañas in an area of stunning fossilized dunes, which you can explore on foot. The beach and dunes becomes a mixture at the Cuesta de Maneli, in a beautiful and tranquil part of the coast and very accessible by the A494 road to Mazagón.

The Cuesta de Maneli is sign posted from this road and there is a way marked walk, the “Sendero de la Cuesta de Maneli”.

Also as another reference is necessary to mention 6 more marked walks (Senderos) located in the Doñana Natural Park:

  • 1 – Laguna del Jaral
  • 2 – Laguna de Ribetehilos
  • 3 – Poblados forestales
  • 4 – Arrayán
  • 5 – Marismas del Guadalquivir
  • 6 – Pinar de la Algaida

For further details and contact:  Doñana website

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