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Málaga province

Málaga province

The Lagunas de Campillos are five seasonal saltwater lakes with a protected area covering 1,126ha. Only one lake, the Laguna Salada, hardly ever dries out. Some lakes used to be permanent but have suffered from the agricultural activites in the surrounding areas that has put pressure on the water levels of the lakes. But they still provide an important resource for birds based in the area, like those at the nearby Laguna de Fuente de Piedra and the Laguna de la Ratosa.

The Cañón de las Buitreras is the strikingly named Gorge of the Vultures, after the colony of griffon vultures that nest in the area. The gorge itself is impressive, with often near-vertical sides at times reaching 200m high. In the bottom of the gorge is the Guadiaro river, which has eroded the limestone rock.

The Spanish fir, pinsapo in Spanish (abies pinsapo), is a rare tree most commonly found in the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park. The pinsapo de las Escaleretas is the oldest pinsapo on record at over 350 years old. Its dimensions are impressive: it is 26m high, with a trunk measuring 5m in its circumference and branches that cover an area of 200m².

Within the Torcal de Antequera Natural Area is this protected geological feature, the Tornillo del Torcal. Its name - the Screw of Torcal - comes from its distinctive appearance, as its limestone layers have been eroded making them look like the threads twisting around a screw. It is used as a symbol for the Torcal Natural Area.

The only lakes in Andalucia occupying a depression in the land formed by erosion, the Lagunas de Archidona are two lakes situated 900m apart which make up a protected area of 193ha. The biggest lake, Laguna Grande, is freshwater and significantly deep at 10m, with no significant seasonal fluctuations in its water level. The Laguna Chica is saltwater and shallow, with a fluctuating water level.

Between Antequera and Estepa is this small protected lake and surrounding area. The reserve covers 168ha. A good time to visit is in winter, when there are many waterfowl.

In the north of Malaga province 19km from Antequera is the Laguna de Fuente de Piedra, a famous beautiful lagoon. The largest natural lake in the Iberian Peninsula at 2.5km wide and 6.5km long, it is a haven for birds with over 170 different species recorded here.

This is a unique stretch of near-virgin coastline in Malaga, which runs for 12km east of Nerja to La Herradura in Granada province and covers an area of 1,815ha, including a protected part offshore. Its dramatic rocky steep cliffs (acantilados) plunge down to the sea, leaving a few sheltered bays with beaches inbetween, which can be accessed via staircases or tracks.

Thirty kilometres north of Malaga is the 12km² Torcal de Antequera Natural Area, with one of the most dramatic and exceptional karstic landscapes in Europe. This surreal and lunar grey limestone plateau, dating from the Jurassic period, is riven by deep gullies and characterised by its fantastically weathered natural sculptures, like the Tornillo Natural Monument.

The small protected area of the Sierra Crestellina, of 478ha, is a limestone ridge rising to 926m at its highest point. It stretches for 4km north-south, immediately north of the village of Casares.