Bahía de Cadiz Natural Park

Bahía de Cadiz Natural Park
 

Overview
The Bahía de Cadiz Natural Park is an area consisting of marshes, salt pans, freshwater lakes, sandy beaches and tidal inlets.  It covers roughly 10,500 hectares and is bounded by Puerto Real to the north and San Fernando to the south. The park office is located in at Calle Coghen in San Fernando (Tel: 956 590 405). The northern part of the park can be accessed from the N-443 Puerto Real to Cadiz road and the southern part from the CA-33. Areas of the park are very difficult to access including the privately owned salt pans. However there are four signposted walks that will take you through abandoned saltpans and forest.  

The park is located to the south east of the Doñana National Park and to the north west of the Breña y Marismas de Barbate Natural Park.

     

Walking
Calle Coghen in San Fernando has a park office where you will find information on the park, including maps and walks. There are four signposted walks as detailed down below. The best time to see the park is from September to May at low tide. If you have them, take some binoculars for birdwatching.

Sendero Pinar de Algaida is a 12km walk (round trip).  This follows the San Pedro river and through the Pinar de la Algaida, a forest of stone pines near Puerto Real. It passes a marshland area before skirting around the saltpan of the Salina de Nuestra Señora de los Desamparados.

Sendero Dolores is a 3½km circular route.  It begins at the Salina Nuestra Señora de los Dolores and follows a wall on the riverbank. The path loops round the rest of the saltpans to return to the starting point.

Sendero Tres Amigos-Río Arillo is a 4½km walk. If you go south the path will take you along the marshland to a bird hide where you can view the marismas.  Alternatively north goes around the marsh and along the Arillo river. The best time for this walk is autumn, when the marshlands are full of migrating birds.

Sendero Punta Boquerón is a 3km linear walk to the Punta de Boquerón Natural Monument from Camposoto beach southeast of San Fernando.

Sightseeing
Around the Bahía de Cadiz Natural Park are the towns of San Fernando, Puerto Real and Chiciana de la Frontera. Even though it is not strictly part of the natural park, the city of Cadiz is well worth a visit. Cadiz is the most ancient city still standing in Western Europe, its founding is dated to about 1100 BC. Situated on a narrow spit of land surrounded by the sea the city has a wealth of attractive vistas and well-preserved historical landmarks including: the cathedral, many old municipal buildings, an 18th-century watchtower, parts of the ancient city wall and an ancient Roman theatre. The old town of Cádiz is one of the most densely populated urban areas in Europe, and is packed with narrow streets connecting open plazas in which you can find most of the historic buildings. The main plazaz are the Plaza de Mina, Plaza San Antonio, Plaza de Candelaria, Plaza de San Juan de Dios and Plaza de España.

The Carnival of Cádiz is one of the best-known carnivals in the world. It is centred on Shrove Tuesday, at the end of February or beginning of March, and is a celebration of life and excess. In total the festivities last for ten days which take in two weekends. The whole city participates in the carnival for more than two weeks each year, and the presence of this fiesta is almost constant in the city because of the rehearsals, recitals, and contests held throughout the year.

     

Geology
The geography of the bay of Cadiz has changed considerably over the past few thousand years due to changes in sea level and the formation of barrier islands and spits caused by the accumulation of sand in front of the coast. This has been enhanced by the silting up of the spaces formed behind these spits. This has caused the old Cadiz islands mentioned in ancient descriptions to become joined to the mainland by a process of sedimentation. As well as this, there has also been significant sea erosion in some areas. 

Animals/Birds
The Bahía de Cadiz Natural Park is an important breeding site for avocets, and spoonbills amongst others.  It also has considerable colonies of little terns. The park stopping place for migrating birds during winter. The bay region is rich in shellfish and fish. Birds that can be found include Gannet Solan Goose, Stork, Cormorant, Great Crested Grebe, Herring Gull, Flamingo, Tern, Sea Eagle and Avocet.

Cockles, clams, shrimps and crabs can be found in the muddy areas along the coast, as well as in the salt lakes, where sole, sea bass, golden bream and grey mullet can be found. Other species include mussels and prawns.

The pine forest Pinar de Algaida is home to many species of birds.  These include hoopoes, meadow pipits, white wagtails and goldfinches.

Plants
The Pinar de la Algaida forest within the Bahía de Cadiz Natural Park consists predominantly of umbrella pines.  The salt marshes vegetation is home to saltwort and glasswort, sea lavender or the rare cynomorium coccineum.

On the dunes, you’ll find marram grass, spiny rushes, Russian thistles, sea rocket and sea holly.