Doñana National Park

Located in the southerly region of Andalucía, Doñana National Park covers a total area of 104,970ha (of which 50,720 are classed as national park and 54,250 classed as Natural Park). The central area of the park is officially classed as a national park however in 1989 the surrounding ‘buffer’ area was given the title Natural Park, making the boundary between protected and non-protected land more secure. The national park has also been a UNESCO biosphere reserve since 1994.

Doñana national park mainly covers a large area in Huelva but also spreads into parts of Seville and Cadiz allowing it a particularly diverse landscape. The park enjoys a Mediterranean climate which adds to its attractiveness both to visitors and migratory species alike. Its relatively humid winters and hot summers are perfect for migratory species from both Africa and Europe which provides it with diverse and varied inhabitants throughout the year. Landscape is also of particular importance in terms of attracting a variety of different species, from marshy wetlands to dunes and woodland the park has a lot to offer in terms of acting as a permanent or temporary habitat for wildlife.

Flora and Fauna

Due to its unusual location between two very distinct continents as well as being close to the Atlantic, the Mediterranean and the stretch of Gibraltar, Doñana National Park attracts thousands of different species of both migratory and resident birds every year. Coming from both European and African origins to spend winter enjoying the warmer climate of the park, both water and land species of bird can be seen all over the park and the variety is astounding.

For bird-watchers and nature-lovers everywhere, Doñana is the perfect place to spot wildlife in its natural habitat and there is definitely plenty to see. The park is home to an estimated 20 species of fish, 11 amphibians, 21 reptiles, 37 mammals and 360 birds (of which 127 breed habitually in the park); snakes, lizards, frogs, chameleons, deer, bats, boar and otters are just a selection of what you might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of during your visit.

The park is also home to the Iberian Lynx, the most endangered cat on the planet, of which only a few still exist in a limited number of national parks, Doñana being one of them. This is a particularly recognisable aspect of the park.

Hitting the headlines

Doñana National Park has made its name for a variety of reasons, one of which is when it hit the headlines in 1998 after toxic waste and acid water containing high levels of zinc and arsenic leaked into the Guadiamar River which runs through the national park. The leak posed a great threat to the fragile ecology of the park however luckily a huge operation spanning over 3 years managed to divert the dangerous waste away from the national park. More information on:

More recently, the park has also been under the spotlight for a very different reason. As a result of investigations that took place in 2004 and again in 2011, American archaeologists strongly believe that the park marks the site of the lost city of Atlantis. The supposed site of the ‘lost city’ is right in the centre of the park at Marisma de Hinojos. Find out more.

Visitor Centres

  • Palacio del Acebrón:
    Built in the 20th Century, this mansion was completely refurbished and is now used as the main visitor centre for the Doñana National Park. Inside you can find maps and information about walks and hiking routes around the park as well as an interesting exhibition called ´Doñana and Man’ which describes in the detail the relationship and living conditions of people who lived on this landscape.
  • Centro de visitantes de El Acebuche:
    This centres’ main focus is the conservation of endangered species that reside in the park. Of course the most important of these is the Iberian Lynx and there are a number of exhibitions dedicated to the captive breeding of this beautiful wild cat. The centre also displays information regarding the environments and landscape within the park and the importance of preserving this balance.
  • Centro de visitantes Fábrica de Hielo:
    Those who are interested in getting a general introduction to Doñana and its attractions, inhabitants and environment will find this centre of particular interest. The exhibitions on display here give an overall insight into the park and how it works.

Other visitor centres include: La Rocina, Dehesa Boyal, José Antonio Valverde, Los Centenales
Information about all of the parks visitor centres can be found here.