|Beautiful cork tree groves.|
Alcornocales Natural Park
This vast park covers 167,767ha from Tarifa in the south to the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park in the north. It is named after its handsome and beautifully kept cork tree grove, the largest in the Iberian Peninsula and one of the most important ones in the world. It is the best example of what the densely wooded, primeval Iberian forests may have been like.
The far south of the region is crossed by deep, narrow, humid V-shaped valleys, called canutos, which have been eroded by rivers and provide the ideal habitat for subtropical forests of great ecological value. Today, these forests only exist in Spain and Turkey but they used to grow in many other parts of Europe. There are over 40 species of fern in the area; one botanical jewel here is the rare fern psilotum nudum, the only other examples of which occur in the southern hemisphere. Typical canutos are those of the Gallina, Hortela and Jautor.
There are two visitors' centres: Huerta Grande is south of Algeciras at Km 96 on the N340 coast road. El Aljibe is in Alcalá de los Gazules, on the road to Benalup at Km 1. For both centres, call 956 679 161.
The area is easily accessible via road, the main road crossing the northern section being the A375 between Ubrique in the northeast and Alcalá de los Gazules in the west. Between Algar in the north and Jimena de la Frontera in the east is the C3331, whilst the A381 crosses the southern section from Alcalá de los Gazules to Algeciras. There are also many minor roads and forest tracks crisscrossing the park. See our section on walks, for exploring the park on foot.