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Marshlands, birds and rice paddies: Doñana in the province of Seville. The Rice Paddy


Doñana stretches across a vast plain between Seville and the Atlantic Ocean. Sun, air, water and mud are the protagonists for hundreds of kilometres around this enormous and uninhabited geological basin, the history of an Andalusia eroded, transported and sedimented here over millions of years.

Described by romantic travellers, inhabited by forgotten communities, transformed by the rice industry and rediscovered by environmentalism, Doñana in Seville has become a discovery for the Sevillians, after centuries of anonymous coexistence, thanks to the curiosity of travellers and the enhancement of the tourist services.

In Doñana, marshlands, meadows, forests, rivers and rice paddies, together with the towns that surround it, form a small universe full of life and biodiversity which, throughout the year, offers the possibility of enjoying the most emblematic, important and well-known natural space of the entire European continent. Moreover, this paradise not only represents an ecological and environmental landmark, but is also a huge capital in terms of sustainable tourism. 

For this reason, we suggest that you delve deeper into this territory and stimulate your knowledge of the culture, history and nature offered by the towns in this unusual paradise. Aznalcázar, Isla Mayor, La Puebla del Río, Pilas and Villamanrique de la Condesa. In the end, we offer you a plan with five proposals to enjoy and get to know this Sevillian setting, a jewel of Europe and a paradise for nature and ornithology lovers.

The Rice Paddy: where history, culture and biodiversity coexist in harmony

Extending the flooding of the rice paddies beyond the production season to provide food and shelter for the birds has turned a natural area into a generator of economic wealth for the rice farmers in the area and has created one of the birds' favourite places to forage daily, contributing to global biodiversity.

Getting to Isla Mayor is a unique experience in itself. You will discover the village that lives at the water's edge, among the rice paddies. The last inhabited place before the emptiness of the marshland shows you a church, western-style porches and streets around a settlement. Depending on whether you leave the village from the west or from the south, you will find yourself in the most productive rice paddy in Europe, in euros and in birds. 

If you leave Isla Mayor from the south and with a telescope, during the winter, you can find good flocks of cranes, common moor hens and black storks, which feed in the rice paddies in front of La Vuelta de la Arena during the season. Further on, the reeds and canes of Brazo de la Torre provide shelter for hundreds of small wintering birds such as the common chiffchaff and the blue-breasted nightingale. 

A little further south, crossing the Brazo de la Torre, we find the Veta de Alí with its eucalyptus trees, and the rice paddies of Cantarita, a favourite of thousands of geese every winter. The Veta de Alí, on the other hand, offers shelter and food for many steppe birds in its pastures, scrubland and dry cereals fields.

Further south, the rice paddy begins to approach the marshlands. You will see the Brazo de la Torre again in another of its meanders and you will see the bushy plains of El Matochar, over which it is possible to spot the imperial eagle.

Points of interest
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