Sierra de Aracena y los Picos de Aroche Natural Park
Mammals that used to inhabit the Sierra include bears, wolves, roe deer and the lynx. Some died out in this area because of increasing pine and eucalyptus plantations, which replaced their natural habitat of Mediterranean woodland. Others, such as the wolf which disappeared in the 60s, were forced out by farmers wanting to protect their livestock. The lynx depended on rabbits as its source of food and this population was severely depleted by mixomatosis in the 70s and, more recently, viral pnuemonia.
Other mammals and birds that are becoming increasingly rare - such as black vultures - tend to keep to those areas in the Sierra with the least human habitation and roads. These are the places with more wildlife - including the rarer examples - and are the Contienda, the Picos de Aroche and north to Encinasola; the Múrtigas river valley northwest of La Nava; and the road from Corteconcepción to Cañaveral de León, past the Embalse de Aracena.
Along the rivers look out for frogs, toads, newts, dragonflies, butterflies, salamanders and lizards. Otters also live along rivers but you are unlikely to spot one. Various snakes inhabit the Sierra: the horseshoe whipsnake, ladder snake, false smooth snake and vipers.
There are many types of small carnivore mammals in the Sierra, like the mongoose (meloncillo), wild boar (jabalí), beech martens, polecats, genets, weasels and badgers. At night you can sometimes spot bats wheeling overhead.
The muflon, a type of wild sheep, has been introduced in the Sierra and can sometimes be seen.
In the stone-walled fields between Jabugillo and Aracena are toros bravos (fighting bulls).
The Sierra is rich in birdlife, with a high possibility of seeing raptors. These include a variety of eagles, goshawks, sparrowhawks and red and black kites. The rare black vulture is more likely to be spotted in relatively remote areas like the the Picos de Aroche.
In woodland areas are hoopooes, azure-winged magpies, warblers, bee-eaters, shrikes and cuckoos. Listen out for the tapping on trees of the great spotted woodpecker. A good place to see colourful bee-eaters in spring is along the Navahermosa-Valdelarco road off the N-433, 2km out of Galaroza towards Aracena. The birds make their nests in the terracotta-coloured banks on the left-hand side of this road.
Most village church spires have a huge stork's nests on top.
At night, you can often hear owls hooting, whilst in spring after dark the nightingales sing.
Hotels in the main towns and villages. Bed & Breakfast and casas rurales (country cottages) in beautiful rural locations. More on Sierra de Aracena accommodation page >