Welcome to everything you need to get the most out of your Doñana Experience
The Doñana Park is composed of two different protected areas including 128.386 hectares of land. It is managed and funded by the Environment Agency of the regional government
The National Park, created on October 28, 1969. With an extension of 54,251.65 hectares, it is a territory under a very high level of protection; public access is restricted only to the visitor centres, trails associated to them and 4WD tours organized by various licensed companies. The main objective here is the conservation of species and ecosystems, prioritizing research activities ahead of the use of the natural resources and public uses. The majority of the land is public, so hunting and farming are not allowed.
The Natural Park, created on July 28, 1989, an actual extension of 68,236 hectares, is less strictly protected and more open to public access. It works as buffer area protecting the National Park and also contains well preserved forests, marshes and dunes. It houses an extensive network of visitor centres and walking trails, and a good part of the land is private. Farming and hunting are allowed in some of these areas, but it is carefully regulated.
For centuries, the forests and marshes here were treasured as one of the best hunting areas in Spain. In the twentieth century great transformations of the marshes were carried out, and in the end, most of them had been turned into farmland. Today, only 1/4 of the original marshes remain in natural conditions, but the natural areas are growing and being given international recognition as one of the most important nature reserves in Europe.
Across it’s 130,000 hectares, the Doñana offers a great variety of ecosystems and landscapes, which support a variety of animal and plant species.
The Vera is a narrow strip of land located between the sand dunes and forests, or sand dunes and marshes. In the spring rainwater fills these patches of grassland creating reedbeds that attract a great variety of species. This is also where the Pajareras, a group of enormous cork oaks where herons and spoonbills breed each spring.
Most of Doñana is covered by a tidal marsh and seasonal streams. In autumn these marshes turn green and large flocks of geese arrive from the north. In the winter it becomes a great lake populated by ducks, greylag geese, waders and many other species of waterfowl. In the spring, water level goes down uncovering a vast green carpet of bulrush and reeds, accented by buttercups and other wildflowers. Herons, ducks, flamingos, coots and grebes nest here, and in summer the high temperatures and the lack of rain turn this marshland into a large dry and cracked desert where only a few species can survive.
THE DUNES AND BEACHES.
Along the coastline we find bands of dunes about 30 km long where only sparse vegetation survives. Only juniper trees thrive in the intense winds that move the dunes about 3 – 6 meters each year. Pine woods called “corrales” grow at the edges of the dunes and here we can find foxes, wild boars, red deer, spur-thighed tortoises, lizards, vipers and beetles. The beach of Doñana extends for about 30 km between Matalascañas in Huelva and Sanlúcar de Barrameda in Cádiz, it is the largest virgin beach in Spain.
In the sands surrounding the marshes, we find dense scrubland areas where the composition of species depends on the amount of water in the soil. In dry soils we find “monte blanco” (white bushland), where rock roses and aromatic plants dominate. In more humid soils we find “monte negro” (black bushland), where heather, gorse, myrtle and blackberry bushes cohabitate. In sandy soils, cork oak and wild olive trees host a rich community of raptors and mammals including the Spanish imperial eagle and the Iberian lynx.
The Rocina Stream, next to the town of El Rocío, is also a protected area. Here we find a thick riverbank forest with willows, buckthorns, white poplars and blackberry bushes. Bordering this set we find some old cork oaks that alternate with ash and willow trees, stone pines and dense patches of braken.
Here you can download a PDF that contains a list of the plant and animal species I have personally identified in The Doñana.
I believe this is a great guide to begin with because all of the species are year-round residents, so no matter when you visit you can see them.
Of course there are several websites available in English that you can explore for a more complete look at the flora and fauna here.
Two of my favorite sources are from local outdoor adventure companies:
NOW ABOUT YOUR BOX
This box comes with everything you need to get in touch with this beautiful place including,
An online field guide to the flora and fauna within the park, healthy snacks sourced from local and sustainable sources, recipes for our favorite trail worthy treats and tools to help you navigate the natural world wherever you are.
We chose a variety of snack items, so each box may or may not contain the items listed above as and/ or... but every box does contain as well locally sourced Pumpkin Seeds and Pistachios.
In addition you have recipes for two of our favorite powerbars. If you would like to download a copy of the recipes to share, here they are:
We have carefully selected a few navigation and survival tools for you as well. The first is a set of water purification tablets made by Oasis. You can download information of how to use them by clicking on the image.
You also have a 550 Paracord Outdoor Survival Bracelet with a whistle, compass, and fire starter made by Sahara Sailor. For a video on how to use all of it's features, click on the image.
Now if you ordered the Premium edition of this experience, here are the additional items we have included.
You can read all about the Energy Drink and Protein Bar on the package, but your Pine Nuts are locally sourced, and hold a very special place in the hearts of Sevillians. For more information on the growing season and traditional ways to try the nuts, click here, and here.
You also have a handy Daypack, printed with local foliage designs and a Military Grade Compass, just ready for your next adventure. For a little intro on how to use your compass, check out the video below.