Serra da Malcata Nature Reserve, Reserva Natural da Serra da Malcata
The Serra da Malcata Nature Reserve, Reserva Natural da Serra da Malcata, is situated between Penamacor, Sabugal and Spain. Its remote locations means it is one of the least visited natural parks in Portugal. This beautiful part of central Portugal is vast and epic. The Reserva Natural covers 16,348 ha and the altitude varies between 425 and 1078 m. You can see an amazing range of flora and fauna, which carpets the undulating landscape.
The logo of the nature reserve is the Iberian Lynx, currently the most threatened feline species in the world. The nature reserve was created by people power in 1989, after demonstrations to save the Iberian Lynx and it’s habitat. When the reserve opened there were thought to be over 1000 lynx in Portugal, now there are less than 100, and possibly none within the reserve itself. There is an Education Centre with a laboratory dedicated to preserving the indigenous wildlife’s habitats and natural landscape. They are also looking at reintroducing Lynx back into the area through a breeding programme.
Any wildlife within the park is indeed wild. Relatively untouched, undisturbed and rightly left to roam free in the woods. If you are quiet enough you may be lucky to see a fox, wild cat, wild boar, otter, doe, genet, black stork, eagle, goshawk or nightingale.
Throughout the park there are also a network of excellent walking routes, starting at 4km. We are too swamped with torrential downpours at the moment, so we went for a woodland walk the other weekend when the sun was still shining. We headed for our nearest trail, a 7km jaunt through the ancient Mediterranean forests. The majority of the native forests that surround the natural park were long replaced with pine and eucalyptus, a contentious subject, after last summer’s forest fires were blamed on over-forrestation of these alien species. However, within the park you have the opportunity to walk through pine forests but also forests of native species indicative of the area; Black Oak,Cork Oak, Holm OIak and arbutus trees.
Our trail involved a lot of forest walking, we even managed to pick the last of the Medronho berries from the arbutus trees. Not quite enough to make jam, but Mayhem insisted he loved the taste of them and ate them all up. Chaos tried to save his to make jam but ended up with a very squished medronho berry after he slipped and fell on his rear pocket containing his secret stash. We had a gradual climb up, then headed back down, leading to and crossing over the river Bazágueda.
With Chaos and Mayhem in-tow we were not quiet enough to find any animals, but we did discover one of the few houses that live a remote existence within the national park. It was a surprise to find out it was actually a friend’s place, as the walking trail goes right past their family home! Their dog was busy taking their flock of sheep out for a walk down to the river as we headed past. What an amazing place to live. After leaving their idyllic location we had a steep climb back up into the forest and around to our starting point on this circular walking route.
A perfect way to get outside and spend a Sunday getting back to nature on a family walk…
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