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The divine nature of La Mancha, Spain’s sweetest spot in photos

Spain's sweetest spot for nature lovers, Tablas de Daimiel in La ManchaThe region of La Mancha is central Spain’s sweet spot. Often overlooked as a dusty plain to rush through on express trains from Madrid to southern cities, people miss its enviable qualities.

For in these plains there’s history, incredible food, culture – it’s the birthplace of one area of the arts, and nature in abundance.

This dust bowl punctuated by a wave of windmills, some of which are as old as the sprinkling of hills on which they stand, was home to author Miguel de Cervantes, who died 400 years ago.

Cervantes’ first novel was the first novel. The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha, more often known as Don Quixote, was published in 1605 and is believed to be the first novel ever created. It’s also hailed as one of the greatest novels ever written.

The tragicomedy charts the life of a nobleman who falls in love with a farm girl (who has no idea of his love for her), loses his sanity, and sets out to revive chivalry. He renames the farm girl Dulcinea, his sweetheart – dulce being Spanish for sweet.

The book uses the countryside that Cervantes grew up in as a backdrop, and as we wandered this land we unearthed many of its sweet corners.

The nature of Cervantes country – Tablas de Daimiel in La Mancha

It was at Tablas de Daimiel National Park however that La Mancha’s tranquility and delicate beauty unveiled itself.

On the Guadiana River at Tablas de Daimiel in La Mancha, Spain

We had unusually bad luck during our trip to Spain – it was a week in which Europe’s weather did a 180-degree turn. As we left bright blue spring skies in London, we landed into unusually overcast and rainy weather in Spain.

So despite the vibrant spring flowers and spectacle of Tablas de Daimiel, these photos don’t do justice to how beautiful it would look under normal weather conditions, which in this region of Spain is characterised by temperatures of 40C in summer.

The Guadiana River in Tablas de Daimiel in La Mancha, Spain

Tablas de Daimiel is an area of wetlands created by the Guadiana River – the fourth largest in Spain. But this Spanish region’s flat plains have slowed the river so much it has become a wetland, creating something of a delta.

Nightingale through a telescope at Tablas de Daimiel in La Mancha, Spain

This delta is home to 100 bird species, which can be seen around the park from telescopes and bird hides.

Bird hide at Tablas de Daimiel in La Mancha, Spain

It is also home to mammals including wild boar, otters, wild cats, mongooses and red foxes, plus reptiles including frogs and toads.

Heading into Tablas de Daimiel in La Mancha, Spain

Exploring the 30 square kilometre national park is made simple with a number of walking routes along paths and boardwalks over the expanses of water.

Walking through Tablas de Daimiel in La Mancha, Spain

And this afforded us a perfect escape from the rush of modern life – a chance to press pause and embrace its peacefulness. To literally stop and smell the flowers.

Sarah in among the poppies at Tablas de Daimiel in La Mancha, Spain

Spring is a wonderful time to be in Spain. It’s when colour reigns, before the hot summer sun scorches it from the landscape.

Poppy at Tablas de Daimiel in La Mancha, Spain

It’s when poppy heads flip-flop on the breeze, and yellow, blue and pink petals play across the countryside.

Wildflower at Tablas de Daimiel in La Mancha, Spain

We revelled in nature’s vivid oil painting as we strolled through Tablas de Daimiel’s fields of colour.

Among the spring flowers of Tablas de Daimiel in La Mancha, Spain

Then along more boardwalks over gently rippling water.

Following the trail through Tablas de Daimiel in La Mancha, Spain

Where we’d pause for the passage of a red-crested pochard or grebe.

Red crested pochard | pic: Diliff, Wikimedia

All the while we were guided through the park by Vincente, one of its expert guides, who’d reveal its magic to us from his telescope – we spotted hawks circling above and listened to the sweet melody of nightingales singing across the park.

National park guide, Vincente, Tablas de Daimiel, La Mancha

He also informed us about the crayfish farmers of yesteryear who lived in small stone-built houses by the Guadiana River before its native crayfish were killed off by an imported species.

Stone house at Tablas de Daimiel in La Mancha, Spain

In our busy lives it is rare for us to stop. To take time out from the rush of the 21st century.

Boat among the reeds in Tablas de Daimiel in La Mancha, Spain

It’s now become unusual for us to put down our smartphones and tablets and take in our surroundings. To embrace them without the filter of technology, taking things in with our eyes and ears.

Wetland setting in Tablas de Daimiel in La Mancha, Spain

Perhaps this is why Tablas de Daimiel had me in its grip – the outside world melting away as I immersed myself further and further into the park.

Sarah at Tablas de Daimiel in La Mancha, Spain

The park proved to me to be one of Spain’s sweetest spots – a place Dulcinea would surely have loved.

Poppies at Tablas de Daimiel in La Mancha, Spain

About

LiveShareTravel's founder and editor Sarah, has long been passionate about luxury travel and, with a nose for a deal, has helped many friends book trips as affordable as they are stylish. As a journalist and travel magazine editor with expert knowledge of shared ownership, starting LiveShareTravel was a natural progression. She can't live without her smartphone, loves dancing (especially salsa), wine and massages; and is never happier than when she's wandering the world. She is co-author of The Luxury Traveller's Handbook.

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2 Responses to The divine nature of La Mancha, Spain’s sweetest spot in photos

    • I’d love to be able to take the credit Chris, but that one’s a Wikimedia image by Diliff. I only had my iPhone with me that day so no chance of images of that quality sadly. I was happy enough to be able get the close ups of the flowers and nightingale out of it!

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