You can find beautiful national parks in Armenia or Croatia and Extremadura, the region I live in Spain, is packed with some of the most gorgeous countryside in all of Spain. It's rugged, wild, often dry and arid, but always stunning! Whether you want to experience fast-flowing cold rivers tumbling through mountain gorges at Los Pilones, or huge open plains where Game of Thrones battles have been filmed in Los Barrecos, we have it all here. But to add to this list, the most impressive natural place in the area is still to come - Monfrague National Park - home of the eagles and condors.
The park is about an hour drive away from my home city of Caceres (yet another Game of Thrones set area) although when I visited last week we got relatively lost in back-country private roads and it took us almost three hours! It was the ideal place to bring my parents who were visiting in hopes of some Spring sunshine and amazing scenery - they definitely got both.
Alongside the incredible scenery, the Monfrague National Park is best known for the remarkable bird habitat that it provides. Here you can find the world's largest colony of Eurasian Black Vultures (with more than 200 pairs). These gigantic, floating, seemingly never-flapping lords of the air are a constant companion in the park, and whenever you look up they can be seen drifting around on the thermals above. There is also the highest concentration of Imperial Eagles (that look like they could swoop down, pick you up and take you to their hungry babies if you annoyed them enough) in the world, and hundreds of other birds of prey. It really is a haven for birdwatchers as well as plain nature enthusiasts. There are also reports and incredibly rare sightings of the Iberian Lynx here, although there are only around 400 of these animals left in the entire world.
It's a bit of a surprise, but at the highest point in the park, on the top of a large hill, you will find the Monfrague Castle (Castillo de Monfrague). This castle is incredibly exposed, windy and a bit of an isolated place. However, this exposure and isolation means that the views from the tops of the castle ramparts are absolutely unbelievable! You can see the entire park, which is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, from this spot, and the 360 degree view is truly remarkable. I found myself feeling a bit sorry for the medieval soldiers that had to spend time up here in Winter, as I think it might have been a bit of a miserable experience. However for us on a nice sunny day, it was glorious!
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