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Hike Europe’s Last Remaining Subtropical Rainforest In Spain

Los Alcornocales Natural Park, Andalucia, Spain - Europe's last subtropical rainforest
Los Alcornocales Natural Park, Andalucia, Spain – Europe’s last subtropical rainforest [Image by Tanja Freibott of Wikimedia Commons]
Hidden away in Andalucía, Los Alcornocales Natural Park is Europe’s last remaining subtropical rainforest. Not many travelers know of its existence and the sheer beauty and biodiversity to be found there. Read on to find out why you should visit this subtropical jungle in the heart of Europe.

Los Alcornocales Natural Park – a subtropical rainforest in Andalucía, Spain

When most travelers think about Andalucía in southern Spain, they imagine the Costa del Sol and its amazing beaches and the iconic and historic cities in the region. However, this area is much more than those attractions.

Los Alcornocales Natural Park, Andalucia
Los Alcornocales Natural Park, Andalucia [Image by Tanja Freibott of Wikimedia Commons]
Nestled between the Malaga and Cadiz provinces of Andalucía, Los Alcornocales Natural Park is a unique subtropical rainforest. The park features an exceptional biodiversity that is unparalleled in Europe.

Flora and fauna in the park

The park’s unique ecosystem dates back to prehistoric times and covers some 420,080 acres. Meanwhile, the park is home to the largest cork oak forest in Europe and is named after the trees. However, it also hosts a wide variety of other iconic plant species in its lush environment.

Los Alcornocales Natural Park, Andalucia, Spain
Los Alcornocales Natural Park, Andalucia, Spain [Image by El Pantera on Wikimedia Commons]
Besides the gall oak forests, there are varieties of ferns, laurels, mosses and rhododendrons. The park’s proximity to the sea and the local topography, draw the formation of low, moist clouds, locally dubbed “Levante beards.”

Among the equally diverse wildlife, visitors can hope to see deer, roe deer, fallow deer, wild boars and mountain goats. Other, smaller fauna includes otters, mongooses and foxes. For birders, the birdlife is equally diverse and boasts species like vultures, Egyptian vultures and the imperial eagle. Moreover, Los Alcornocales serves as a transit point for many migratory birds crossing the Strait of Gibraltar.

History and prehistory in Los Alcornocales

Los Alcornocales Natural Park - subtropical rainforest
Los Alcornocales – subtropical rainforest [Image by Darwin on Wikimedia Commons]
Archaeologists have uncovered human settlements in the park dating from prehistoric to Roman times which reveal its cultural and historical significance in Europe. Meanwhile, some plant species living here are almost like living fossils. These include the rhododendron or ojaranzo, the tree fern, and holly. Experts say these plant species have survived millions of years with minimal evolutionary changes.

Exploring Europe’s last remaining subtropical rainforest

Map of Los Alcornocales Natural Park, Andalucia, Spain
Map of Los Alcornocales Natural Park, Andalucia, Spain
[Image by Falconaumanni on Wikimedia Commons]
Los Alcornocales Natural Park has been declared a Special Conservation Area and forms part of the Natural 2000 Network in Spain. Meanwhile, it offers many hiking trails for nature enthusiasts to explore. Moreover, the surrounding towns also offer a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of the region. The park also borders the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park that is also a worthy visit.

This last remaining subtropical rainforest is not merely a testament to nature’s resilience, but also offers a treasure trove of historical, cultural and ecological wonders. Due to the extreme heat of summer in this region, the best times to visit the rainforest are spring and autumn. Find out more about this natural park in southern Spain on the official website for Andalucía here.


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