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29·AUG·2012

Visiting The Lung of Murcia

The Carrascoy and El Valle Natural Park is a protected area just some 6 kilometers from Murcia City close to the district of La Alberca and easily reached by hire car. The park covers an area in excess of 16000 hectares, reaches heights of 1000 meters and, although it contains around 600 species of plants, the landscape is dominated by dense forests of Aleppo pine.
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Other flora include dwarf palms, perennial gramineae and the kermes oak, thyme and rosemary. Fauna include the striped necked terrapin, five species of bats, the booted eagle, the kestrel, and the eagle owl. This area has been protected since 1917 and was officially designated a regional park in 1992. Its close proximity to the city and its verdant hillsides are what earned it the nickname of the ‘green lung” of Murcia City. In the following picture taken at El Valle you can see Murcia City in the distance. The Carrascoy and El Valle Natural Park The park has three visitor’s centres. The Visitors Centre San Antonio El Pobre provides insight into the lives of the religious hermits who lived in the area from the late Middle Ages. The Centro de la luz in the heart of the park is spread over three floors and comprises an exhibition of the history of the reserve, an audio/visual room, a cafe and viewing points. On our most recent visit, which was around lunch time, the car park was very busy, and we only just managed to find a slot. The Centro Naturaleza El Valle  lies between the district of La Alberca and the main park entrance and focuses on the flora, fauna and geology of the park. Please note that, at the time of writing, the visitors centres are closed Mondays and the exhibitions are sometimes closed from 14.00 – 16.00. You are advised to check times before you visit. There are many walking and cycling trails through the park and close to the entrance there is a large, free car park with BBQ pits and picnic tables. This is one of our favourite spots and during the week we find there are few people around. After a picnic lunch we take a stroll up one of the surrounding hills for a great panoramic view of Murcia City in the valley below. You can reach the park via the La Alberca turn off from the Murcia/Cartagena section of the A30. Journey time from Alicante Airport is around 1 hour and from the Mar Menor coast about 30-45 minutes. For further information about the Carrascoy and El Valle park visit the official Region of Murcia website.