Europe’s Last Subtropical Rainforest Hidden Away In Spain

Andalucia's Hidden Subtropical Paradise

Los Alcornocales Natural Park. Credit: losalcornocales/

NOT many people are aware that there is one last remaining subtropical rainforest in Europe, and it’s in Spain.

Andalucia is home to the Los Alcornocales Natural Park, nestled between the provinces of Cadiz and Malaga, and presents a unique subtropical jungle, boasting an exceptional biodiversity that is unparalleled in Europe, write 20 Minutos.

A Unique Ecosystem

Dating back to prehistoric times, the park spans nearly 170,000 hectares and is renowned as the continent’s largest cork oak forest. Named after these cork-producing trees, the park features a variety of plant species contributing to its lush environment.

These include gall oak forests, ferns, mosses, laurels, and rhododendrons. The park’s unique climate, influenced by its proximity to the sea and the local topography, encourages the formation of moist, low clouds, locally known as ‘Levante beards.’

Diverse Wildlife And Historical Significance

The park’s fauna is as diverse as its flora. Inhabitants range from deer, roe deer, fallow deer, mountain goats, and wild boars to smaller creatures like mongooses, otters, and foxes. Birdlife is equally varied, with species such as the imperial eagle, vultures, and Egyptian vultures.

Moreover, the park serves as a crucial transit point for migratory birds crossing the Strait of Gibraltar. Archaeological discoveries within the park reveal human settlements dating from prehistoric to Roman times, highlighting its historical and cultural significance.

Remarkably, some plant species in the park are living fossils, like the ojaranzo or rhododendron, the holly, and the tree fern, having survived millions of years with minimal evolutionary changes.

Exploring The Park

Declared a Special Conservation Area and part of the Natura 2000 Network, the park offers various hiking trails for nature enthusiasts. Surrounding towns also provide a glimpse into the region’s rich cultural heritage.

This Spanish subtropical jungle is not just a testament to nature’s resilience but also a treasure trove of ecological, historical, and cultural wonders.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.


    • Ann Ni Clearigh

      06 December 2023 • 14:19

      Liked this article very much as I often go down to Cadiz & up north to Galicia & Asturias. I live in Madrid & have done so for 60 years!

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