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Why travel in Spain
For many years, Spain has been one of the world’s leading tourist destinations. Despite this immense success, it is not a destination that one spontaneously thinks of when talking about sustainable tourism. However, there are many initiatives to develop more responsible tourism in Spain.
It is true that Spain has an exceptional natural heritage that has long been overlooked in terms of tourism. There are no less than 16 national parks and more than 50 nature reserves spread throughout the country! These natural areas are so exceptional that 5 of them have been classified as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. Far from the most popular seaside resorts, there is plenty to tempt ecotourism enthusiasts in Spain.
A special mention goes to the Canary Islands, which have 4 national parks and 2 UNESCO sites. The Canary Islands are an attractive choice for travellers looking for nature tourism in Spain. Four islands are classified in their entirety as biosphere reserves: Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, La Gomera and El Hierro. On La Gomera, hike through the ravines and laurel forests of the World Heritage-listed Garanojay Park. This park is home to unique vegetation close to the tertiary forest.
On the island of Lanzarote, let yourself be tempted by a hike through the active volcanic system of Timanfaya Park, rhythmed by the earth’s breath. And if you stay in Tenerife, you can’t miss the roof of Spain, the Teide volcano. It dominates the whole island from the top of its 3,718 metres. A walk through this national park, which is also a World Heritage Site, will take you through a landscape that is as austere as it is beautiful.
Apart from the Canary Islands, there are three other natural sites in Spain that are classified as UNESCO World Heritage sites. And two of them are located in quite unexpected places! The first one is located on the island of Ibiza, which is mostly known by party people from all over Europe. And yet, off the beaten track, the island is home to a mixed marine and coastal ecosystem that harbours an amazing biodiversity. The icing on the cake is that the island is home to some remarkable archaeological and historical sites.
The last UNESCO site is located in Andalusia a few kilometres from the coast. It is the Doñana Park on the right bank of the Guadalquivir. Explore these remarkable landscapes with a great diversity of biotopes (marshes, lagoons, dunes, scrubland, etc.). They are home to a large number of fauna, especially endangered birds.
The last classified natural site is located in a place that will surprise less the regular hikers: the Pyrenees! It is more specifically the Mont Perdu sector. It offers exceptional mountain landscapes to explore on multi-day treks. More broadly, walking enthusiasts will find a multitude of walking routes to follow from the Basque country to Catalonia. The more adventurous can even enjoy canyoning and water trekking in one of the most sought-after areas for it : the Sierra de Guara.
And for those looking for more original mountainous fields, there is no shortage of choice in Spain from the Sierra Nevada in Andalusia to the Picos de Europa in Asturias. And these are just a few examples !
To hike in Spain in an original way, take the transhumance paths. These paths have been used since the dawn of time by shepherds who lead their flocks to their pastures. You will find such paths especially in Castilla or in the Spanish Pyrenees. Spain has also converted old, abandoned railway lines into hiking and cycling trails. Some of them in Asturias even give you the chance to see bears.
Andalusia, Catalonia and the Valencia regions are known for their excessive tourist resorts. What we advise you is to get off the beaten track to discover another of Spain’s heritages: the olive trees. Hike through century-old olive groves, visit oil mills and taste the flagship product of any self-respecting Spanish table: olive oil.
No doubt about it! Beyond its reputation for mass tourism, Spain is a destination of choice for travellers looking for ecotourism and responsible travel.
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