On September 28th, Nattule was invited to a fantastic blog trip to visit Cazorla, Segura and Las Villas Sierras Natural Park. And this time, I was the one who got lucky enough to discover the wonders that lie hidden in this magnificent natural park with the bloggers Los viajes de Claudia, Andalucía explorer, Andalusia viaggio italiano and El gato en el jazmín.
Four days is a short amount of time to go around and explore every corner of the largest protected corner of Spain and the second one in Europe, but it is perfect for a first time. Beautiful landscapes, nature, gastronomy, culture and history are endless in this great park where sometimes you wonder if you are still in the province of Jaén.
Beyond the sea of olive trees in which the capital is immersed in, when you start to see large pine trees and green areas, you know that you are already inside the Natural Park of Sierra Cazorla, Segura and Las Villas.
After a trip of almost 2 and a half hours, we arrived to the town of Cazorla in the afternoon. A town full of charm, a castle and legends we listened to while it was getting dark in our guided tour with Gabriel de Turisnat. A place where Tragantía and Cazorleans have meaning, and the night of May the 14th is illuminated with lamps made with shells of snails to celebrate the day of San Isicio, patron of Cazorla.
Early in the morning we discovered the importance that wood has had throughout the years, for both the inhabitants of the park and the rest of Spain, at the center of interpretation of the sawmill of Vadillo Castril. Antonio de Alma Gaia moved here a few years ago and we could see how in such a short time life has changed so much for those who lived there.
But the past is not important, so is the present. That is why we went to the conservation center of the bearded vulture with the Gypaetus Foundation. Don’t be afraid of the name of this animal, it is one of the most respectful and patient birds in the park, because while others seek and fight for the meat, they patiently wait to feed of only on the remaining bones. They are some of the beautiful and impressive birds that you can see in the Natural Park, as long as they are not in breeding season.
We continued our way to get to know the most unusual corner of the park; the Fields of Hernán Perea. We went from being among dense and leafy forests of pine groves, oaks and gall oaks, to an area with few trees and with only some samples of vegetation adapted to this environment such as the broom, the hawthorn and the common juniper. The views are simply spectacular. If we stay quiet enough, we can hear the echo of a flock of goats that graze in the distance.
This is the most extensive plateau of the country with an altitude of between 1,600-1,700 meters high, so, it is not surprising that in winter this almost deserted landscape becomes the particular Siberia of the park, reaching temperatures down to -40º C. We recommend that, if you are visiting in winter, you should go with experts and take extreme caution, as it is easy to get lost in the area. There are different refuges during the tour, and although they are more for shepherds than for visitors, it never hurts to know them for what could happen.
We continued our trip, and just before arriving at our destination in Don Domingo, we were able to get to know Galapán Pine, the highest pine tree in the whole park, being 39 meters high and over 400 years old. He is currently one of the candidates for “Tree of the year in Spain 2018”.
After the fascinating encounter with Pino Galapán, we arrived at the town of Don Domingo, place where the first Starlight Spot of Spain is located. This is due to the minimal light pollution of the place, which it meets all the conditions to have the Starlight certificate. We did not stay to see it at night, unfortunately, but we had the chance to taste the great gastronomy of the place at Don Domingo restaurant.
Our lunch break took longer than we initially thought it would, and we finished well into the afternoon. But that didn’t stop us from making a quick visit to Vega to have an amazing view of Segura Valley. From there, we were lucky enough to see wild mountain goats with binoculars and to enjoy a striking sunset.
We ended the day thinking about the stars, and what better place to enjoy star-gazing than in the Cosmolarium of Castillo de Hornos de Segura. Besides knowing the castle at night, we had the privilege of seeing Saturn and the Moon as we had never seen it before. We learned to spot some stars as the polar star, the fourth and fifth brightest star in the sky, Vega and Arturo, and we learnt some basic notions about planet locations. Of course, an unforgettable night.
Early in the morning, we went to El Pilarillo Forest House, in Sierra de Segura, where the artisan workshop AyF weavers is located. The owners of this singular workshop are Ana and Francisco, and they make unique and high quality handcrafted fabrics with threads purely of animal or vegetable origin. If you have a pending gift, one of their designs may be that special something you were looking for.
Before continuing on our way to the town of Segura de la Sierra, we stopped at the Aceveas – Navalperal path to walk a little bit and discover that within the park there is a corner with a cool and humid microclimate that allows large holly trees to grow. It’s like a piece of the north in the south. Undoubtedly, another example of contrasts and peculiarities that you can find in the Natural Park of Sierras Cazorla, Segura and Las Villas.
Once in the village, we decided to visit some of its streets and we were lucky enough to be able to access one of the oldest houses in the town thanks to the spontaneous kindness of its owner, Escolástico.
Later, in the early afternoon, we went out to visit the fantastic castle of Segura de la Sierra. From afar it is imposing, but once you approach it and you enter it, you begin to feel that you are travelling back in time.
Late in the afternoon we enjoyed the solar boat of El Tranco, in Tranco reservoir. The scarcity of rain is more noticeable when you look out over the reservoir, but that does not mean that the beauty of the landscape diminishes at all. In addition, we were just in time for the bellowing season, so if it was silent enough, you were able to hear it. Of course, with the binoculars at hand we could see some deer approaching the edge of the reservoir to drink water.
We ended this day having dinner in the same restaurant in the facilities of El Tranco, and we tasted typical dishes of the area.
On our last day of adventure, how could it be otherwise, we decided to go to the viewpoint of Felix Rodriguez de la Fuente to hear the bellowing. We were able to enjoy the amazing views that the viewpoint offered us with the best music of nature in the background.
After a relaxing listening session, we went directly to do some hiking on a stretch in the Borosa River, from Elías Cerrada. We took the short route due to a lack of time, but it only took a moment to completely fall in love with this tour, its turquoise waters and its overflowing nature. The complete route of Cerrada de Elías-Nacimiento del Borosa-Laguna de Valdeazores is 22 kilometers long in total, and, of course, we would love to enjoy the whole of it.
At the end of the route, we decided to check the visitors center Torre del Vinagre, in the heart of Guadalquivir valley. It has a didactic exhibition, perfect for the little ones. And it also has a souvenir shop with local and artisanal products, as well as a coffee shop where to rest after a day of hiking.
After our last meal, we had to face the harsh reality; the farewell. But not all the farewells are bitter. We know that, although it is possible that we will not coincide again, we will always have the memory of these four days in the incredible Natural Park of Sierras Cazorla, Segura and Las Villas. And who knows, if something has taught me this trip is that reunions after some time can happen.