Natural Park of Despeñaperros and Nature Area of Cascada de la Cimbarra

This natural corridor, of staggering orography and breathtaking beauty, is the traditional point of access into Andalusia from the Castillian plateau.


  • Natural Area of the Cimbarra Waterfall
  • Natural Area of the Cimbarra Waterfall

    Aldeaquemada is mainly known for the proximity of the Cimbarra Waterfall. This spectacular 40-m./131-ft.-high waterfall...

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Despeñaperos, a gorge carved by a river of the same name into the slate rocks of Sierra Madroña, runs from northwest to southeast, breaking the uniformity of Sierra Morena with its rugged craggy shapes. The rocky walls, falling almost vertically, reveal the arrangement of the different strata. At the spot known as 'Los Órganos' ('The Organs'), some of the rocks are shaped like gigantic organ tubes.

Portuguese, holm and cork oaks (Quercus suber, Quercus ilex and Quercus faginea) constitute the most representative vegetal species of Despeñaperros. This autoctonous vegetation contrasts sharply with the green areas reforested with stone pines (Pinus pinea).

Parque Natural Despeñaperros 5_pq

Among the typical animal species living in this protected Mediterranean scrubland habitat, the following occur in substantial populations: genets (Genetta genetta), beech martens (Martes foina), wildcats (Felis silvestris) and mongooses (Herpestes ichneumon). Wolves and lynxes (Lynx pardinus) have occasionally been spotted in the area. As in most of Sierra Morena, deer and boar hunting is a common sport activity.

Many different species of birds also live in the Natural Park of Despeñaperros: Spanish imperial eagles (Aquila adalberti), griffon vultures (Gyps fulvus), European serins (Serinus serinus), rock thrushes (Monticola) and wheatears (Oenanthe). The Valdeazores gully is of great tourist interest for its outstanding botanical diversity. One of the main cultural attractions of the area is the existence of major prehistoric Iberian sanctuaries, located in the 'Collado de los Jardines' ('Gardens' Pass'). Human presence in this natural space dates back to the Neolithic period. The archeological remains found in the 'Cueva de los Muñecos' ('Dolls' Cave'), one the major sanctuaries in Spain, date back to this period. The rock paintings found in the 'Cuevas de las Vacas del Retamoso' ('Cave of the Retamoso Cows') are also of great artistic and historical value.

Outside the limits of the Natural Park, very near the village of Aldeaquemada, the river Guarriza suddenly turns into a spectacular waterfall calleed 'La Cimbarra'. The whole area, comprising 534 ha. (1319 ac.), has been declared a Nature Reserve. Near the Cimbarra Waterfall, we find a whole group of important caves and shelters with Levantine and Schematic Rock Art on their walls that were declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1998: 'Tabla del Pochico', 'Poyos de la Cimbarra', 'Garganta de la Hoz'...


Geographical location:
North of the province

Municipal districts: Santa Elena

Coordinates: 38º 23'N; 3º 32'O

Natural Park status since: 1989

Surface: 7.649 ha. (18.901 ac.)

Height: Between 600 and 1.174 m. (1.968 and 3.851 ft.) (Peña de Malabrigo - 'Malabrigo Rock')

Weather data:
- Average monthly temperatures: Between 8ºC (46 F) (January) and 29ºC (84 F) (July)
- Average annual rainfall: 650 mm. (25 in.)

Main formations:
Rock gorges, Mediterranean forest and pine tree reforestations.

Administrative Office of the Natural Park:
c/ Fuente del Serbo, nº 3. 23071 Jaén
Tel.: +34 953 012 400
Fax: +34 953 012 508

Visitors' Centre:
Puerta de Andalucía
Autovía de Andalucía (A4), Km. 257. Santa Elena
Tel.: +34 953 664 307

Other protected areas:
Special Protection Area (SPA) for Wild Birds [ZEPA (2002)]

Other public facilities:
- Recreational Area 'Puente Morros'
- Base shelter 'Collado de la Aviación'


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