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HOT Attractions - Murca - Natural Wonders

The largest single-province autonomous community in Spain, and little more than a 3 ½ hour drive from Málaga, Murcia is the home of the Costa Cálida — the hottest new destination for expat property purchasers - and is also blessed with more than its fair share of truly spectacular nature reserves, both rural and coastal...

A unique destination, providing tranquillity, fresh air, wide open spaces and some of the most beautiful natural landscapes on the Iberian Peninsula, the province of Murcia is bordered by Alicante to the north, and Almeria to the south. Extending across a territory of approximately 11,300 square kilometres, it boasts a remarkable diversity of terrain ranging from fertile plains and marshlands teeming with wildlife, to rugged Mediterranean coastlines and dramatic mountain backdrops, making it just the place for nature lovers, sports enthusiasts and peace-seekers alike.

But what will perhaps surprise newcomers to the region the most, is finding two seas on one coastline! The Mar Menor, or 'Smaller Sea', is Europe's largest salt-water lagoon and one of Spain's most magnificent natural wonders. Detached from the Mediterranean by the narrow sandbank known as La Manga del Mar Menor, or 'Sleeve of the Smaller Sea', its calm, shallow waters (some 5°C warmer than the Mediterranean), are spread across 170 square kilometres, providing an ideal year-round environment for water babies as well as offering the perfect conditions for a whole host of water sports and leisure activities, including sailing, scuba diving, windsurfing and jetskiing.

Dating back to prehistoric times, the region was highly valued by the Romans, who in addition to establishing a lucrative salt industry here, also built thermal baths in order to take advantage of the therapeutic properties of the clay and mud. And to the north of the Mar Menor, the San Pedro del Pinata marshlands are a favourite spot for birdwatchers eager to catch a glimpse of a variety of coastal species, including flamingos, herons, geese and ducks.

The regional parkland of Sierra Espuna, meanwhile, can be found in inland Murcia. Covering approximately 25,000 hectares, located between the valleys of Guadalentin and Pliego, and with a mild year-round temperature averaging some 13°C, the Sierra Espuria's flora is dominated by pine trees and is home to the Espuña squirrel, wild boar, goshawks, the Royal owl, various reptiles, and hundreds of other animal species native to the region.

The Sierra is a singularly breathtaking location dominated by the 1,583 metre summit of Pico de Espuña, and where visitors can additionally experience the historic and artesian attractions of the surrounding villages of Berro, Aledos or Mula, as well as participating in many outdoor activities, such as camping, hiking, climbing and hang-gliding — not to mention the infinite nature trail possibilities.

Other destinations for those who revel in pure mountain air are the El Valle-Carrascoy regional park, a conservation area since 1988, and the Sierra de la Pila Natural Park which rises to a height of 1,266 metres above sea level. Considerably smaller at around 8,800 hectares, it is one of Murcia's lesser-known regional parklands, and its seemingly untouched landscape is carpeted with more than 600 different species of vegetation, including fragrant rosemary, honeysuckle and lavender.

Back to the coast, visitors to the Calnegre and Cabo Cope Natural Park can treat themselves to leisurely clifftop strolls overlooking the wild and somewhat solitary coastal area of Marina de Cope, where amongst the almost hidden coves and bays that are only accessible on foot, are the Ciscar and La Junquera beaches, Cala de la Gruta and Cala Leña. Another natural phenomenon of the area is the Isla del Fraile — a small islet just a stone's throw from the main coastline and home to a large colony of seagulls.

The nature reserve at Cañaverosa is one of only a few remaining wild forests in the region and is a must-see destination due to its lush foliage of poplars, willows, elms, oleanders, pines and, most importantly, as its name suggests, also features sugar-cane plantations. Partly destroyed in a forest fire in 1994 which swept across 30,000 hectares, Cañaverosa has now regained much of its former beauty with species that were previously thought to have disappeared, returning to their natural habitats.

In a region of Spain so rich in fascinating contrasts, another trip not to be missed is to the wetlands of Ajauque and Rambla Salada where you can delight in floating in the salty river (an estimated 40 grams of salt per litre) of the same name. Extending across some 1,600 hectares, the conservation area belongs to the municipalities of Abarán, Fortuna, Santomera and Molina de Segura and was declared a protected zone for birdlife in 2000. Indeed, like Mar Menor, the Ajauque and Rambla Salada marshland is the perfect spot for ornithologists, with species such as mallards, herons and storks among some of the many permanent residents of this idyllic area.

FURTHER INFORMATION Log on to: wvvw.murciaturistica.com

Please note: Every effort was made to check the accuracy of the information contained within our archived HOT Properties Magazine articles at the time of originally going to press, but may well have been superseded over the ensuing years. They are now made available as historical archival information only. The said information has not been reviewed subsequently for present day accuracy nor has it been updated and we expressly disclaim any duty or obligation to do so. VIVA cannot accept responsibility for any errors or omissions, nor for the authenticity of any claims or statements made by third parties. We therefore strongly recommend that readers of these archived articles make their own thorough checks before entering into any kind of transaction. Prices were correct at the time of publication but may now vary due to circumstances beyond our control. The views and opinions of editorial contributors do not necessarily reflect those of VIVA .

 

HOT Properties Magazine Issue 55 - 2006

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