The Los Alcornocales Nature Park is a very large park of 170,000 Ha in southern Andalucia, easily accessible from the western Costa del Sol or the southern Costa de la Luz, representing one of the largest cork oak forests in the world.
The park is important, not only for the cork oaks but also the diversity of the fauna and particularly the flora that thrives within the microclimate created under the tree canopy in conjunction with its proximity with both the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.
The terrain is not particularly rugged but is unique, with narrow valleys where there is always running water, and small peaks rising to less than 1000m showing above the forest.
Chris Stewart interestingly writes about a treck through this landscapes in his book "The Almond Blossom Appreciation Society"
The cork trees are farmed - after they reach 20 years of age, the bark can be carefully stripped and used every 9 years, a process which the trees are capable of surviving and living to an average of 150 years.
The subtropical microclimate in the narrow river valleys or canutos which are predominantly in the southern part of the park are home to rhododendron, alder, laurel, ash, hazel, holly, butcher's broom and variety of ferns, including some species of enormous botanical interest.
The wildlife in the park includes deer and roe-deer, mongoose, otter, polecat, weasel, wild-cat, fox and badger.
Birds of interest include short-toed eagle, griffin vulture, booted eagle, Imperial eagle, golden eagle, eagle owl, peregrine falcon, Egyptian vulture, goshawk, sparrow hawk, tawny vulture. You may also see a flash of colour from bee-eaters or hear a nightingale.
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