After over six years of campaigning, it looks like the Malaga province of southern Spain will finally be getting its first national park. Though not yet official, approval for the future Parque Nacional Sierra de las Nieves is expected to come sometime this year, making it Spain's 16th national park, Lonely Planet reports.
Situated northwest of the city of Malaga, the Sierra de las Nieves mountain range has been a protected natural park since 1989. According to Lonely Planet, the natural park now shelters incredible wildlife, including ibexes, roe deer, otters, and raptors, though it's also known for its ancient, hard-to-find pinsapos (Spanish firs). Remainders from the Iberian Peninsula's Ice Age, these pinsapos can only be found in three areas of southern Spain and in northern Morocco.
Once officially approved, Parque Nacional Sierra de las Nieves will be Andalusia's third national park, encompassing 230 square kilometers of Malaga's mountain range. The funding it receives will go toward building visitor centers and other infrastructure to support responsible tourism efforts in the area, as well as the local communities that fought for this national park designation, according to Lonely Planet.
Adventure activities in the Sierra de las Nieves mountain range include cycling, hiking, mountain biking, caving, kayaking, climbing, and canyoning. Meanwhile, history buffs will appreciate the fortresses and other remnants of the area's previous residents dating back as far as the Phoenicians.
Andalusia is already home to two very popular national parks: Granada's Parque Nacional de Sierra Nevada, which is home to Spain's highest peak, and Cadiz's Parque Nacional de Doñana. According to Lonely Planet, this new addition to Andalusia will make it second only to the Canary Islands in the number of national parks in one Spanish region.
For more information, visit the official website for Sierra de las Nieves.
Jessica Poitevien is a Travel Leisure contributor currently based in South Florida, but always on the lookout for the next adventure. Besides traveling, she loves baking, talking to strangers, and taking long walks on the beach. Follow her adventures on Instagram.
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