Category Archives: Nature

The natural world of the Serrania de Ronda, including the natural parks, fauna and flora, Ronda mountains, activities, and nature photos. Many of the visitors to Ronda will be here for a single day, or at most two days, and by reading our nature articles (frequently updated) we hope visitors will be able to fully enjoy the scenery of Andalucía.

Our most popular articles are the Griffon Vulture, Bonelli’s Eagle, and the Woodcock Orchid.

Griffon Vulture of the Serranía

A colossus in our mountains! With a wingspan of 2.8 metres and weighing 8 kilos, that’s 9 foot and 17lbs in old money, Griffon Vultures Gyps fulvus is our largest resident raptor here in the Serranía de Ronda and Sierra de Grazalema.

Essentially a specialist carrion eater, this enormous bird is spectacular and the most easily seen raptor in our mountains. Throughout Spain, this species has increased steadily over the past 15 years by the provision of feeding stations, the last official census carried out to ascertain the number of breeding birds put the population at 17,000 pairs.

Why not take a day out with Wildside Holidays to discover the wildlife of the Sierra de Grazalema

Continue reading Griffon Vulture of the Serranía

The Spanish Fir, Abies pinsapo

Dotted around the mountains of Grazalema and the Sierra de las Nieves, and also in the city of Ronda itself, the observant visitor will occasionally run across a type of evergreen fir that looks different from others.

This is Abies pinsapo, the national tree of Andalucía, and one of a very few species that survived through the last major ice age into the modern era. That alone gives the tree special significance, and sadly Abies pinsapo is endangered. Reforestation efforts seem to be working, but the tree is often found in zones that have a high risk of fire. Continue reading The Spanish Fir, Abies pinsapo

Prickly Pear (Higo Chumbo)

Dotting the Andalucian countryside from high to low, the Prickly Pear, or Higo Chumbo as it’s known in Spanish, has become one of the iconic symbols of the region. Even though the succulent is found from Portugal to the Eastern shores of the Mediterranean, in Andalucia the fruit is held in special regard as a dessert.

Looking like an unfriendly briar patch of thorns attached to flat green paddles, the Prickly Pear is a succulent that grows in dry and semi-arid conditions, and can be a large as a mini-van when fully grown. Typically they will clump together making an impenetrable wall.

The variety most often seen in the wild in Andalucia is green with a checkerboard pattern of the thorns on the flats of the leaves spaced about 2.5cm apart, and two rows of offset thorns around the outer edges. The fruit grows on the outer edges of leaves and begins as a green bulb that usually grows to about the size of a pear, but more oval in shape. Continue reading Prickly Pear (Higo Chumbo)

Guided excursions and white villages of the Sierra de Grazalema

You are discovering the white town and “City of Dreams” that is Ronda and will be amazed by the beautiful Puente Nuevo, the architecture and history, the Plaza de Toros. But, take a moment to enjoy the stunning views from the balcony behind the Parador and the Paseo de los Ingleses. The mountains in the near distance are known as the Sierra de Grazalema. One of Spain’s most famous natural parks. A fabulous location to spend time be it resting, walking, bird watching or photography.
Continue reading Guided excursions and white villages of the Sierra de Grazalema

Woodcock Orchid – Ophrys Scolopax

The Woodcock Orchid is my favourite flower any time I go into the countryside, even though it isn’t always visible since it only blooms from March to June.

To find this orchid really means getting off the roads in most cases and onto farmland or public land in the Natural Parks, preferably to areas that haven’t had sheep or goats present.

Whilst the Woodcock Orchid is found all along the Mediterranean, as far as nature in Ronda goes, you really want to get up to Grazalema, which is where you’ll have the greatest chance of seeing it accessibly. Continue reading Woodcock Orchid – Ophrys Scolopax

Paper White Narcissus (Narcissus papyraceus)

In the winter months around the Serrania, you really won’t need to go very far to see more Paper White Narcissus than you could ever dream of.

Around Ronda and the Pueblos Blancos – the white villages – you won’t even need to get off the beaten track. This highly scented flower blooms in December through to February while the weather is cool, and if March and April are wet and cold they may stay in flower. Continue reading Paper White Narcissus (Narcissus papyraceus)

The Autumn Mandrake

The mandragora autumnalis is an autumn and winter flowering beauty here in Andalucia and is a plant totally surrounded in myth and folklore. The mandrake belongs to the Solanaceae or Potato family and has been mentioned over the centuries many times, even in the Bible it was noted as an aphrodisiac.

From September to March it can be seen in olive groves, in fields or even along the verges growing as a large clump of enormous dark green leaves. If you take a closer look you will see the wonderful lilac-pink crocus like flowers, often 10-30 on a single plant and after flowering there are enormous yellow/orange seedpods. Continue reading The Autumn Mandrake