The park of Doñana, thanks to its privileged location, is a unique place with its flora, fauna and unique geological characteristics.
It has been National Park since 1969, Biosphere Reserve since 1981, wetland of the Ramsar agreement since 1982, a Special Protection Area (SPA) since 1988, Natural Park of Andalucía since 1989 and it has 4 European diplomas for the conservation and management of natural spaces.
The cherry on top was that it was named World Heritage by the UNESCO in 1994.
It is a unique ecosystem within Europe, because of the marshlands created by the Guadiamar River and the mouth of Guadalquivir River, which is the last stop for many migratory birds before crossing to Africa, and because of its mild temperature many birds stay throughout the year.
Depending on the month, you can see up to 50 different bird species, like the duck, flamingo, heron, stork, gull, tern, cormorant, eagle, partridge, etc.
The mammals are represented by the lynx, fox, rabbits, deer, fallow deer, wild boar, hares and horses, which have owners but are allowed to run free on the marshlands.
The flora is quite diverse and it is associated with the different ecosystems that are present, such as the dune ecosystem and the banks. Each ecosystem has a different fauna.
There are more than 20 species of fish that have been classified, 21 reptiles, 11 amphibians, 37 non marine mammals and 360 birds; almost half of them reproduce in the park.
It is half an hour from Huelva and one hour away from Seville. Doñana has always been a popular place, which is found close to emblematic places such as the Colombina route (La Rábida, Palos de la Frontera, Moguer and Lucena) and Sanlúcar de Barrameda.
The park has 5 visitor centers, but only the one in El Acebuche offers guided tours; it is found in km 12 of the El Rocío to Matalascañas road.
It has a very interesting interpretation center, exhibit hall, shop and various paths that take you to the viewpoints where you can observe the birds and read about the flora and fauna you see. These services are free of charge.
What is not free but I really recommend it is to make a guided tour around the park: along the river from Sanlúcar or, what I did, a four hour ride in all terrain Mercedes’ that take you around the park and the different ecosystems.
They leave from El Acebuche and it goes through the Matalascañas Park.
From there you go along the beach for several kilometers, it is full of loud seagulls, and then you cross the reserve, where you see many deer and fallow deer.
You also visit the marshes and banks, an area of transition between the marshes and the reserve. My favorite part in the park is the system of mobile dunes, that depending on the winds, it moves forward taking in the vegetation.
The visit, quite interesting per se, was even better thanks to the comments of our driver, who had a very good sense of humor. He told us that the lynx’s main problem was that people drove too fast in the roads, running over the poor animals.
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