Sierra de Grazalema and Gibraltar - natural history
A prime destination for lovers of spring wildlife in the Mediterranean, amid dramatic limestone landscapes.
Our holiday starts in one of Andalucia’s most stunning Parks, the Sierra de Grazalema, home to many species of orchids and endemics. Our base is the enchanting village of Grazalema, from where we venture out into surrounding hills, a haven for the Spanish Pinsapar and Spanish Ibex, often spotted on mountain crests.
The old town of Ronda, overlooking the deep Tajo Gorge, is our destination one afternoon. We will look for botanical treasures, such as Ornithogalum reverchonii, the Afro-Iberian endemic Biscutella frutescens and a gem of a silvery-white knapweed Centaurea clementei. Cliffs, crags and caves provide excellent niches for Black Wheatear, Rock Thrush and Bonelli’s Eagle.
We will find open limestone areas with good flower meadows and explore the area around the failed Hundidero Dam, where carpets of Orchis mascula ssp olbiensis should be seen. On another day we experience the wildlife associated with ‘dehesa’ landscapes of oak woods. A visit to the Cueva de la Pileta is a must if you relish Palaeolithic cave paintings.
We drive south to Gibraltar, which looms out of the Mediterranean, steeped in pre-history and Moorish architecture. Overlooking North Africa, the Rock is well placed to observe the spring bird migration and provides opportunities for spotting endemic elements in its flora, including the Gibraltar Candytuft. We visit the Upper Rock, admire the views and amble down this Jurassic limestone outcrop, stopping to look for reptiles and flowers. Of course, the Barbary Macaques will welcome us to this UK overseas territory.