This Protected Biotope is located right in the heart of the Rioja Alavesa region, close to the fortified town of Laguardia from where you can admire it. To the north, clearly delimiting the area and imposing itself on the landscape, the high Mountains of Toloño stretch out from east to west.

Category: Protected Biotopes
Municipalities:

Alava: Laguardia.

Information:

Laguardia Tourism Office
Phone & Fax: 945 600 845
E-mail: turismo@laguardia-alava.com

Services:
Servizi:

The lakes are easily accessible from Laguardia if we take the main road towards Logroño and if we follow the little roads leading through the vineyards to the lakes. This lake complex that includes four small wetlands was given the name of "Protected Biotope" due to its singularity, a fact that it soon becomes obvious as we approach the Carravalseca and Carralogroño Lakes. The resulting landscape has a series of dry, smooth and white depressions: white because of the salty crust formed due to the evaporation of the water that has accumulated during the rainy season. These are in fact
"endorheic pans" that are void of hydrological communication with rivers or streams, and which only catch the rain and the runoffs from the nearby hills. The pans flood during the rainy season and later, they lose their waters due to evaporation, leaving salt on the surface.

In addition to the aforementioned lakes, we encounter the ancient Musco Lake, which was dried out in order to make agricultural use of its soil, although there is a project to regenerate and reintegrate it into the biotope. There we will also find the Prao de la Paul Pond, although the wetland is of artificial origin and it works in a completely different way. A stream is dammed to get the water for this small pond. It is the only of its kind that is adapted for visitors: there is a path that goes along the wetland, which boasts areas specially fitted out for the observation of birds that take a rest in the lakes during migration seasons.

This lake complex is extraordinarily interesting, both from the geological point of view and from the peculiar flora and fauna that it accommodates. Not in vain, the area has been included by the Ramsar Convention on the list of wetlands of international importance. Besides, the complex is located in an almost solely viticultural region and houses significant archaeological treasures: the Settlement of La Hoya and La Hechicera dolmen, among others.

Remarks:

The walkway along the Prao de la Paul Pond covers 2.5 km and is accessible to disabled people, although it is not advisable during rainy season.

The bird observatory holds 18-20 people (ask for the keys at the tourist information centre).

A series of signposted hiking and biking routes take the visitor all over the Rioja Alavesa area. These include the fish and wine route (GR-38) running from Oyón/Oion to Otxandio that travels through the entire province of Álava from south to north, until reachin the coast in Bermeo or Lekeitio.

Fauna

Although the biotope can be visited throughout the year, it is from September to March when we can observe a larger number of birds.

Most aquatic birds use the lakes as places in which to rest or spend the winter during migration. In one-year period 118 different bird species have been registered, some of them so interesting as the great cormorant, the night heron, the cattle egret or the mandarin duck. Some birds nest in the area under the protection of reedbeds and bulrushes, such as the common coot, the mallard, the common pochard or the purple heron.

Among the amphibians to be found in the lakes are the palmate newt, the spadefoot toad and the parsley frog.

Flora

The area contains a number of unique alga species. Due to the salt accumulated on the ground, the lakes accommodate some plants that are equal or similar to those which grow on the coastal marshlands: Salicornia patula, Spergularia maritima, S. salina, Juncus maritimus and Sonchus maritimus.

Situazione e allogi vicini

Access: Departing from Bilbao, take the AP-68 motorway to Logroño. Then, go on the A-124 road to Laguardia. From Vitoria-Gasteiz, join the A-124 road to Logroño until Laguardia.

Public Transport: It is possible to get there on foot from the town centre of Laguardia (600 m).

Car Park: The biotope hasn't got any car park, although it is possible to park 200 metres far from the lakes, close to the football pitch of Laguardia.



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