Sierra de Andujar Natural Park Jaen
Sierra de Andujar Natural Park Jaen
The Natural Park of Sierra de Andújar is located to the northwest of the province of Jaén, in Sierra Morena. It has the form of an almost perfect equilateral triangle. It borders on the west by the Córdoba Parque Natural Sierra de Cardeña-Montoro, with which it shares many of its natural values.
This park covers an area of 74,774 hectares, and contains four municipalities with a population of just over 40,000 inhabitants.
It has the largest natural vegetation typically Mediterranean in all Sierra Morena and it has species with a high degree of threat such as the lynx, the wolf and the imperial eagle, that have mountains in these mountain ranges one of their last settlements.
This park is known, apart from their natural values, because it hosts the Shrine of the Virgen de la Cabeza in the Cerro del Cabezo; the pilgrimage, in April, attracts thousands of people from all over Spain.
In Sierra Morena, one of the oldest training ranges of our peninsula, within the province of Jaén, is located the Parque Natural Sierra de Andújar, as representative of a typical system of our land and habitat for very interesting and Mediterranean seriously endangered. The population of this park, with human settlements from the Neolithic period, has rich cultural history demonstrations, being possible its knowledge to get closer to their villages and their people. We can also see one of the hilly landscapes of our region sung by XIX English travellers, a haven for robbers and bandits.
The rivers that cross the area are mostly intermittent due to dry season that is characteristic in the Mediterranean climate, existing on the eastern edge the Presas de Jándula y Encinarejo. The river Jándula retains the best representation of riparian vegetation throughout the park, with willows, alders, hackberries, Tamujos and oleanders.
On the banks of the reservoir Encinarejo is located a recreational area prepared for use of the visitors. In the western boundary, and separating it from the Natural Park of Cardeña y Montoro, downs the river Yeguas of great beauty where the oaks and grasslands extend to the shores, where is located a sparse vegetation of ashes and oleanders.
The characteristic vegetation developed is the holm oaks and cork oak groves shaped like pasture and in the higher altitudes where humidity is higher, the gall. Among the most common man-made, the replacement of native vegetation by cereal crops is the most widespread. When these crops were abandoned, it is colonized the land with scrub species that rapidly invade the substrate. Among the most common are the gum rockrose and the kermes oak. However, in the pending north-facing and in the ravines you can admire native vegetation patches, which give us an idea of the species that made up the noble Mediterranean such as strawberry bush, mastic and myrtle, with oak and cork.
This vegetation preserved in good condition supports a rich fauna of large mammals and birds, among which we highlight the spectacular deer, roe deer, mouflon, wild boar, that represents the most prized species from the standpoint of hunting. We should mention the two protected species that find in the park one of their last strongholds where to live; we refer to the lynx, little hunter of great beauty, and the wolf, the last inhabitant of these mountains.
With respect to birds, solitary summits with inaccessible rocks are the preferred nesting place for pure golden eagle. It is possible to distinguish the unique and grandiose flights of Bonelli and imperial eagles, this latter unique in the Iberian Peninsula and that has in this area one of their last refuges.
Three scavengers species are common visitors; and in this way it is possible to see the silhouettes above the tree tops and black vultures, and the Egyptian vulture, attracted by the abundance of food.
The financial resources of the population are based on land uses that offer. We can differentiate the agricultural area, mainly devoted to olive, with the town of Andújar as the best known centre, but also it grows cotton and grain. The forestry sector is composed mainly by meadows with oak trees, as well as coniferous forests, pine and black pine.
The big game is the most important economic advantage, most of game reserves are private carried out during the time allowed lumber camps. In the Sierra, the Santuario de Nuestra Señora de la Cabeza, patron saint of hunters and trappers, assembles thousands of people in its annual pilgrimage. It is situated in a place called Cerro del Cabezo, and from it, you can be observe a breathtaking view of the Sierra.
The town of Andújar is keen for its monuments, emphasizing the bridge over the Guadalquivir with twelve eyes built by the Romans, and where nowadays we can count to fourteen because Arabs increase them when they made the restoration.
The pottery of the area was greatly appreciated, making clay jars, narrow neck jars, and other pieces of blue and gray on a white background.
In the town of Marmolejo is located the mineral source “of vitriolic or martial water “, appearing in the treaty of Tissot, eighteenth-century French physician of great fame in his time, recommended for various ailments.
Path El Encinarejo
Length: 2,75 km.
Time budget (going): 30′.
This path is designed around the River Jándula. By it and through a pleasant walk, you can enjoy the contrast between the riparian ecosystem and the ones of a typical pasture in the Natural Park Sierra de Andújar.
It begins in the “Puente de Hierro” that crosses the river Jándula and also constitutes the main entrance to the Park. It continues alongside the right bank of the river a recreational area with barbecues and tables. In this section of the path we see the characteristic vegetation of the riparian Park: ash trees, alders, twills, oleanders, tamarisks, etc …, that serve as havens for representative wildlife of this wetland: herons, grebes, moorhens and if we are lucky, you might see some otters. It is interesting, too, the presence of small flocks of magpies or grimaces that often approach visitors in hopes of food.
In this same section and to our left, in the Solana del Coscojar, we can see, on the slope, that vegetation changes abruptly, appearing oaks, pines, mastics and barberries.
Following the river we arrived at the foot of the dam Encinarejo swamp. It is a small swamp, more like a lake, and whose aim is the use of electricity.
Below the dam and through a bridge crosses to the other side, after a short climb you reach the village of Encinarejo, built to house workers who built the dam.
The rabbit is very important within the Park as well as being subjected to a traditional hunting use in the area, serves to sustain a very interesting species such as lynx, imperial eagle and the mongoose.
The deer is the species of big game for excellence in the Natural Park, the traditional form of hunting is the hunt, a tradition in this part of Sierra Morena, comes from ancient times and is a major contribution of income to the local economy.