Tourists seeking pure air away from crowded urban areas have been invited to explore Spain’s top ecotourism destinations this year – when travel plans permit it. Noting that the coronavirus pandemic was encouraging an increasing number of people to rediscover more natural settings for their holiday getaways, travel website Holidayguru listed 12 major areas committed to sustainable initiatives.
They cross-cross the country from Asturias in the north (Muniellos-Fuente de Narcea woodland) to Cádiz in the south (Marismas de Barbate marshland) and across the Atlantic to Garajonay National Park on La Gomera island. Murcia makes the list at number six with Sierra Espuña.
According to Holidayguru, more than 40 per cent of the Murcia region’s flora species are located in the Sierra Espuña regional nature park, which comes under the auspices (and protection) of the European Sustainable Tourism Charter.
Sierra Espuña is a mountainous, mostly calcareous massif in the heart of the region, rising to 1,500 metres above sea level, with karst landforms at its summits. It is closed to vehicle traffic, so hikers and cyclists can enjoy a network of forest roads and pathways in peace and quiet.
The regional park’s many points of interest include Los Pozos de la Nieve, La Santa hermitage, Hilo and La Perdiz recreational areas, Leyva valley and La Carrasca Forest House – with excellent panoramic views from lookouts dotted throughout the routes.
The flora includes aleppo, black and corsican pine, holm oak, almond, kermes oak, juniper berries, elm and buckthorn; and the fauna, golden eagle, eagle owl, goshawk, sparrow hawk, partridge eagle, booted eagle, pilgrim hawk, tawny owl, Espuña squirrel, wild boar and barbary sheep.
Several hiking routes are available, selected for their natural beauty and cultural attractions. One of the main trekking projects in Sierra Espuña is Espusendas, which provides hikers with the opportunity of enjoying stunning vistas, local cuisine, insight into the history, people and customs of the area, and activities such as active tourism, ecotourism and a variety of rural experiences. The routes range from 3.5 to 5.5 hours, with varying levels of difficulty, and can be followed by individuals or with experienced official guides.
Meanwhile, in other ecotourism news from the region, the ministry of tourism, youth and sport has announced that it has budgeted €70,000 for sign-posting of the EuroVelo 8 cycling route.
The route follows the Mediterranean from Cádiz in Andalucía to Cyprus, covering nearly 6,000 kilometres in total.
In Murcia, the EuroVelo extends over 217 kilometres in four stages through the municipalities of Águilas, Lorca, Mazarrón, Cartagena, La Unión, Los Alcázares, San Javier, San Pedro del Pintar and Murcia – via highways, roads and cycling paths showcasing 15 coastal and 10 protected nature landscapes.
Holidayguru’s Top 12
- Muniellos-Fuente de Narcea, Asturias
- Sierra Norte, Madrid
- Geoparque Molina-Alto Tajo, Guadalajara
- Marismas de Barbate, Cádiz
- Sierra de Segura, Jaén
- Sierra Espuña, Murcia
- Vallés Oriental, Barcelona
- La Gomera, Canary Isles
- Ribagorza, Huesca
- Cabañeros, Toledo & Ciudad Real
- Geoparque Villuercas-Ibores Jara, Cáceres
- Sierra de Albarracín, Teruel
Discover more about Murcia’s popular inland and coastal areas here.