5 reasons to visit Parque de la Naturaleza de Cabarceno

A stone’s throw from Santander, get in touch with your wild side at one of northern Spain’s biggest attractions. Located in Cabarceno, Pisuena Valley, Parque de la Naturaleza de Cabarceno, the former iron mine has been transformed into a nature-lover’s paradise. Grab your khaki and get ready for a safari experience with a difference. Here’s five reasons to visit Parque de la Naturaleza de Cabarceno. 

1. Conservation

via Facebook @P.Cabarceno

Founded on the hope that it would become a centre for species recovery, the park is an international hub for the conservation of both native and foreign wild animals. The vast landscape of the area can accommodate large groups of animals that roam freely within enclosures and mix with other species. Working in collaboration with a number of universities such as the University of Gottingen and the Department of Biotechnology of the Veterinary school of Leon, the park has carried out many studies on non-invasive reproduction techniques for the endangered species on the site. As members of the most important international associations related to wildlife, this is the ultimate spot to witness large-scale conservation in action. 

2. Animal Encounters

via Facebook @P.Cabarceno

Spread across spacious enclosures through gorges, lakes and rocky landscapes, the park is home to nearly 120 species from five continents. Offering the chance to get up close and personal with some of the world’s greatest beasts, the Wild Visit allows you to spend five hours touring the landscape stopping at the various habitats to see the animals. Drive past he elephants, bears and gorillas, as the park rangers explain why conservation methods and the ethos of the estate. After you’ve completed the full tour, settle in for a sea lion show and watch the playful creatives dance, jump and play games and watch in wonder as the birds of prey demonstrate how they hunt. A truly unique day out, book in and see for yourself why this is one of the best attractions in Spain. 

3. Telecabina

via Facebook @P.Cabarceno

See the park from new heights and take a ride on the Telecabina. The gondola lift offers panoramic views over the whole area and can be accessed from the south, east or Mirador del Rubi. Operating four stations, start at number one in Cabarceno and descend to station two overlooking the elephants, zebras, lions, yaks and lynxes. From the Ruby viewpoint, you can take in the Bay of Santander, valleys and mountains as well as part of the Massif de Pena Cabarga. Continue your journey in the sky and finish off the day with the baboons, kangaroos and the stunning karst landscape below. 

4. Nature Trails

via Facebook @P.Cabarceno

Boasting a plethora of botanical routes, the park is the ideal place to escape the hustle and bustle of Santander’s busy streets and relax into the natural surroundings. Snaking around most of the animal enclosures, the trails highlight the varied selection of flora in the park and are split into three different routes centred around different plant species. Route of yews, cork oaks and walnut trees will lead you alongside the tigers and is potentially the most beautifully scenic paths in the estate. Next take the path of birches, lindens and beeches which will bring up you past the hyenas and wolves, as well as some cheery and elderberry trees. Finally wander round route chestnut and pine, the pathway to the lions and bison. Outside of the nature trails, the park itself is a natural beauty. Located in one of the most remarkable areas in Cantabria with its unique karst landscape and mining history. 

5. Overnight Stay

via Facebook @castillatermalhoteles

Whether you prefer luxury or rough and ready, the accommodation on offer near the park is enough to make you pack a bag and spend a night with the animals. Right outside the park gates, be at one with the natural surroundings at in one of the animal-themed cabins at a nearby campsite. The comfortable bungalows are only a kilometre and a half away from the entrance to the estate and come equip with kitchens, private gardens and BBQs. If you were envisioning something a little more luxurious, check into one of the spa hotels just a stone’s throw away. Return back from a long day of exploring in the wild to hot tubs with garden views on your terrace. Only a twenty minute drive from the gates of the park, you’ll be back in the lap of luxury in no time at all.


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- Lucy Norris