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Best nature reserves in Spain

Spain has more UNESCO awarded Biosphere Reserves than any other country in the world, making it officially one of the most interesting and bio-diverse landscapes on the planet.

The Spanish protect their landscape within several enormous natural parks, so you can experience the immense beauty and variety of wildlife for yourself. Below we take a look at some of the best spots to visit, which are easy to get to from popular Spanish seaside resorts.

El Torcal Natural Park – Antequera, Andalucia

El Torcal Natural Park sits in the heart of the beautiful Sierra del Torcal mountain range, which is around a 70-minute drive from Costa del Sol resorts such as Marbella and Torremolinos.

This park is known for its highly unusual rock formations and its vast network of limestone caves. Some of this limestone goes back to the Jurassic age of the dinosaurs and relics found in the caves show human habitation as far back as the Neolithic period.

Walking through this untouched landscape can make a fantastic day out, particularly for children, as it's so easy to imagine that a big T-Rex might be lurking just around the next craggy outcrop.

Cabo de Gata-Nijar – Costa Almeria, Andalucia

Formed thousands of years ago from volcanic activity, Cabo de Gato-Nijar is Andalucia's first ever marine-terrestrial park protecting both land and sea-dwelling wildlife. This makes it a haven for an incredible range of rare plants, birds and sea creatures.

There are also several small towns within the park's vast 38,000 hectare space that you can stop off at including Cabo de Gata, which has a small sandy beach, and Nijar, which is regarded as one of the prettiest older Spanish style towns in the region.

Cazorla Nature Park – Cazorla, Jaen

Located just under three hours from Costa Almeria resorts such as El Toyo, Cazorla Nature Park includes the Cazorla, Segura and Las Villas mountains ranges.

It's the second largest natural park in Europe and home to an incredible array of animals including magnificent bearded vultures, which look a lot friendlier than the beardless variety.

You can explore rivers, lakes, forests and valleys either by driving through and finding a spot to stop off at, or doing some hiking.

The region also has several villages nestled between the peaks that provide a scenic surprise with their ancient fortifications, charming whitewashed buildings and winding cobbled streets.

Camino de Ronda – Costa Brava

Although not strictly speaking a natural park, the Camino de Ronda coastal path is definitely a must-see if you're visiting the Costa Brava region.

It was created from a series of ancient paths in the 19th century and was originally used as a way for police officials to spot smugglers, but proved completely ineffective at stopping them.

It's now a scenic route along the cliff tops with platforms where you can pause to rest and admire the stunning views out to sea. There are beautifully colourful flowers and plants too, which provide shade and fragrance.

You can stroll the route at your own leisurely pace and stop off at picturesque villages along the way, such as Llafranc and Calella.

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