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Cabrera: a day in paradise

31/05/2021

A mere ten kilometres from Cap de Ses Salines, and very close to our Inturotel hotels on Mallorca, lies the Cabrera archipelago, a genuine unspoilt paradise in the midst of the Mediterranean that has been a Maritime-Terrestrial National Park since 1991, because of the wealth of flora and fauna it contains. How would you like to visit it with us?

When you visit Cabrera, keep your camera at the ready at all times, because it is highly likely that you will catch a glimpse of dolphins, turtles, cormorants, ospreys and Iberian wall lizards (podarcis lilfordi, the characteristic lizard of the Balearic Islands).

 

Fauna: Did you know that the waters of Cabrera are home to the greatest diversity of fish in the entire Mediterranean? In total more than 200 species, as well as molluscs, crustaceans, sea birds, reptiles, mammals... An outstanding feature of Cabrera’s fauna is the large colonies of seabirds: Scopoli’s shearwater (Calonectris diomedea), the European storm-petrel (Hydrobates pelagicus), Audouin’s gull (Larus audouinii)…

The seabed around Cabrera is rich in both vertebrates and invertebrates, like colourful nudibranchs. Groupers are typical, as are octopi and Mediterranean morays (Muraena helena)...

 

 

 

But in addition, these waters are a sanctuary for larger animals, such as common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), striped dolphins (Stenella coeruleoalba), short-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus delphis), long-finned pilot whales (Globicephala melaena), sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) and loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta).

 

 

 

The noble pen shell (Pinna nobilis), one of the largest bivalves in the Mediterranean (up to 2 metres), can live for up to 50 years, and is an endemic species whose main habitat is the Posidonia oceanica meadows. A high rate of mortality has been recorded in noble pen shell populations since 2016, due to a parasitic disease that has brought them to the brink of extinction. Thanks to thousands of calls reporting sightings, we have at least five survivors on the islands. Three of them have been moved to the Cabrera National Park and are protected by cages to prevent the usual predators of Pinna nobilis, like the octopus or the gilthead bream, from eating them. Will they survive? We certainly hope so.

 

Flora: More than 500 species of vascular plants, 22 species of moss, 21 of lichens and 162 of seaweed co-exist in Cabrera! Some of the more striking species are Balearic Island buckthorn (Rhamnus ludivici-salvatoris) or the Balearic peony (Paeonia cambessedessi).

 

 

The island of Cabrera has been uninhabited since it was declared a National Park in 1991, except for the rotating shifts of the staff who manage the park. Previously, it was inhabited by several Mallorcan families who made a living from fishing and farming.

Today the island is a sublime destination for engaging in activities in nature’s heart, such as snorkelling, diving (a permit must be obtained in advance), hiking (always on the marked paths), birdwatching… or simply breathing and relaxing in an atmosphere from a bygone age.

 

 

Several boat companies in the nearby Colònia de Sant Jordi will take you to Cabrera, on a pleasant sea voyage lasting one hour. A trip to Cabrera implies staying on the island for the whole day, and as well as enjoying the island’s idyllic beaches or discovering its fertile sea bed, there are many more things to do there!

 

You can visit the highest point of the island, where the 16th-century castle stands, built to protect the island from the Berber pirates who came from North Africa with the aim of putting in at Cabrera and using it as a base from which to attack Mallorca. It has been destroyed and reconstructed on several occasions throughout history. The worst destruction took place in 1550, when the Turks attacked.

Don’t miss the chance to view the island’s beaches and scenery from the top of this imposing vantage point!

 

Cabrera also offers visitors a botanic garden, an ethnographic and historical museum and a small bar in the port (which looks like something out of a novel – a refreshing drink in the shade of its grapevine is an absolute must). As for beaches, there are several to choose from, ranging from the sandy to the very fine stone variety, and even some located at the foot of the spectacular cliffs.

But without a shadow of a doubt, the highlight is Sa Cova Blava (the “Blue Cave”), formed by calcareous rock. When the evening sun falls on the water in the cave, it gives rise to a spectacle of light that lends a magical blue tone to the sea. A “zen” experience that you will take away with you as a lifelong memory.

 

 

If you aren’t up for the boat trip but still want to find out more about Cabrera and the seabed around it, one great alternative is to visit the Cabrera Interpretation Centre-Aquarium in Sa Colònia de Sant Jordi, which is just 40 minutes away from your Inturotel hotel in Cala d’Or.

 

When you reach your Inturotel hotel on Mallorca, the reception staff will be delighted to supply you with all the information you need to enjoy your unforgettable trip to Cabrera to the full. Happy adventuring!

 

Some sites of interest:

www.balearsnatura.com

caib espais protegits

www.mma.es/parques

 

 

 

 

Blog

Mondragó natural park, a true paradise
10/06/2022
Mondragó natural park, a true paradise
Mondragó Nature Reserve is one of the island of Mallorca’s finest natural treasures. It combines a wide variety of scenery with idyllic beaches of white sand bathed by turquoise waters and a diversity of flora and fauna.  In 1992, it was declared a nature reserve after calls by society to prevent its development. It has also been declared a Natural Area of Special Interest  (ANEI according to its Spanish acronym) and it is included in the Red Natura 2000 network, given its importance as a Special Protection Area for Birdlife (ZEPA) and a Site of Community Interest  (LIC). Located in the municipality of Santanyí, on the south-coast of the island, it covers an area of over 700 hectares, 95 of which are publicly owned.   The nature reserve can be very easily reached from any of our Cala d’Or hotels and it is just 7 km away. We suggest that you travel there by bicycle or on foot rather than by car so that you can fully appreciate the trip past  Cala Llonga, Portopetro and its charming bay, and other rural areas. In the summer months, you can also take a no. 521 bus from the bus-stop just a few metres from your hotel.       What to do at Mondragó Nature Reserve   Mondragó Nature Reserve can be visited on foot or by bicycle. There is an information point at the entrance, with visitor information and details of places of interest and hiking and bike routes. They are short, easy routes that can even be done with children. On these routes, you can enjoy a trip into the countryside or around the little lagoon and breath-taking coastline. The nature reserve’s landscape has been defined by centuries of farming and livestock activities, and it stands out for its multitude of dry-stone walls and barraques de roter (stone shelters used as accommodation for people and animals or for storing farm equipment), with either beamed or conical roofs.   You can also come across sitges (stone bases for charcoal furnaces), charcoal makers’ huts, lime kilns, and other features like boathouses, sandstone quarries, small defensive buildings and smugglers’ hiding places.   The flora As the singer-songwriter Raimon sang, “la genista florece y en el campo hay rojo de amapolas...” (the broom is in flower and the countryside is dotted with a red mantle of poppies...). In spring, the nature reserve is at its most splendid, thanks to the wide variety of flowers that bedeck the countryside, with orchids, poppies, daisies and brambles and flowering shrubs, such as  grey-leaved cistus bushes (Cistus albidus), Mallorcan brooms (Genista lucida), and rosemary plants (Salvia rosmarinus), in addition to flowering trees like common tamarisks. Buzzing around these plants are a multitude of insects that play an essential role as pollinisers in bringing natural cycles full circle. At the nature reserve, lots of environmental awareness raising workshops are organized, one within the framework of the EU www.life4polinators.com programme, which we recommend you to take part in.   On the seabed of the nature reserve, meadows of Neptune grass (Posidonia oceanica) guarantee the transparency of the waters, nourishing and acting as a shelter for a multitude of different species. The Balearic Islands are one of the Mediterranean sanctuaries where this underwater plant is in the best state of conservation and counts on the most protection. According to a publication by Greenpeace, Neptune grass has 7 outstanding characteristics. Here are just a few of them:   1) It is the oldest living organism on the planet, living up to 1,000,000 years old. 2) Meadows of Neptune grass are a breeding ground and refuge for fish, crustaceans and molluscs, fostering biodiversity.   3) Neptune grass protects beaches and helps to prevent coastal erosion.   4) Neptune grass contributes to the formation of beaches of white sand. 5) Neptune grass helps to combat climate change and acts as a lung for the Mediterranean.       The fauna Mondragó Nature Reserve has been declared a Special Protection Area for Birdlife. Amateur birdwatchers can enjoy splendid sightings of birds in unique natural surroundings. This is why visitors are advised to keep the noise down and to take binoculars with them. Some of the birds that can usually be seen in the nature reserve’s skies include common swifts (Apus apus), turtle doves (Streptopelia), Eurasian hoopoes (Upupa epops) and cormorants (Phalacrocoracidae). In places with stagnant water, Eurasian coots (Fulica atra) and common moorhens (Gallinula chloropus) can be found. Other species that can be sighted include examples of Eleanora’s falcon (Falco eleonorae), blue rock thrushes (Monticola solitarius), and Balearic shearwaters (Puffinus mauretanicus) close to the coast, as well as red-legged partridges (Alectoris rufa), European goldfinches (Carduelis carduelis), and red kites (Milvus milvus) in the countryside.  Harder birds to sight include European bee-eaters (Merops apiaster) and common kingfishers (Alcedo atthis). (You might see them as you paddle surf at quieter times).     Some other animals that you might come across include tortoises, hedgehogs, pine martens and hares. Please do not disturb them and never try to touch them.     Mondragó Nature Reserve’s coves Although it is not an on-land and maritime nature reserve like the Cabrera Archipelago (which we also suggest you visit: see our post about Cabrera, ‘A day in Paradise’ 31/05/2021), its entire length does run alongside the sea. The nature reserve contains several coves, three in particular that are worthy of mention: Cala Mondragó, S’Amarador and Es Borgit, with crystal-clear waters and a superb natural backdrop. With their white sanded beaches and waters filled with life, they are idyllic places to enjoy the peace and tranquillity that nature offers.   Cala Mondragó, also known as Caló de sa Font de n’Alis, is the closest to the nature reserve’s information centre and the easiest to reach. It is perfect for families, thanks to its easy access and the availability of a restaurant. It is considered to be one of Mallorca’s top 20 beaches and although it can be a bit busy in the summer months, we are sure that you will fall in love with its turquoise waters.     S’Amarador is a lovely, totally unspoilt beach with fine sands and vegetation made up of a dune system that is currently being renewed. It also has a pond fed by water from a torrent that leads into this cove, where tortoises bear their young. The name   S'Amarador refers to a former use that was given to ponds, when bundles of flax or hemp were submerged in them for a time to obtain plant fibre or trunks of wood were soaked in the water until they were resistant enough to build boats or to use as beams in houses. The cove is just 400 metres from Cala Mondragó and it can be reached on foot by walking along the coast.       Caló des Borgit –the smallest, quietest cove– is a bit more complicated to reach, but this is the one for you if you are looking for peace and quiet and fewer people.  It is a small cove with a V-shaped inlet, a leafy pine grove and fine sands, lending it a particularly unspoilt charm. It is also surrounded by low cliffs, with a restful, soothing air thanks to its distance from the local tourist resorts. It is easy to reach by road, following the signs to the cove. When you reach a sort of car park, park your vehicle and continue on foot for the last 300 metres.   If you wish to spend a few days away from the madding crowd, surrounded by nature, this is the place for you.   Inturotel invites you to discover this Paradise. We’re sure you’ll love it!            
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