Hidden Wonders of Spain: Huelva’s Marismas del Odiel

When I finished college in 2008, I let my adventurous heart lead me to Spain, where I worked for two years in a high school teaching English. My school was located in the province of Huelva, a lesser-known part of Andalucía (the sun-scorched southern region of Spain).

Marismas del Odiel in Huelva, SpainAndalucía is full of must-see tourist destinations: the Alhambra in Granada, Córdoba’s Mezquita, and the innumerable treasures of Sevilla (the Cathedral, Giralda, and Alcázar, to name a few). Huelva is much less flashy: its main attractions are natural ones.

Marismas del Odiel in Huelva, SpainWhile I was living in Huelva, I fell in love with the natural park that was right outside my city: Las Marismas del Odiel, a tidal marshland where the river Odiel empties into the Atlantic.

Marismas del OdielThere are a handful of lovely little walking paths right off the road. Every summer when my husband and I go back to Spain to visit his family (a definite perk of being married to a Spaniard!), we take a drive to the Marismas.

IMG_6301-2Some of the paths end in a small observing cabin, where you can spy on the storks, egrets, flamingos, and other aquatic birds that frequent the zone.

Marismas del Odiel in Huelva, SpainEven though it’s literally in sight of the capital city of Huelva, the Marismas are quiet and tranquil. Almost every time we’ve visited, we’ve been the only ones on the paths and have had the whole marsh to ourselves.

Marismas del Odiel in Huelva, Spain

The water of the estuary sparkles in the late afternoon sun, and the purple wildflowers contrast so beautifully with the green grasses.

Marismas del Odiel in Huelva, Spain

No matter how many times I’ve been there, I am still floored every. single. time. that I can observe flamingos in the wild, just hanging out on the side of the road.

flamingoes in Marismas del Odiel in Huelva, SpainAs I mentioned before, this is a tidal  marshland, so you’ve got to be careful how you time your walks out to the observatories. Last summer when we were there, we turned around to head back to the car and found our path had disappeared!

IMG_6314-2As the water covers the path, watch out you don’t step on one of the thousands of fiddler crabs flowing in with the tide.

Marismas del Odiel in Huelva, SpainThey’re funny little fellows, scooting around and diving into their holes as your shadow passes. Tomás was able to make friends with one, though!

IMG_6311A tip we learned for next time: don’t leave your shoes on the path while the tide’s coming in!

IMG_6329If you have occasion to be in Spain during the springtime, make sure you get over to the Marismas del Odiel. They’re lovely any time of year, but spring will bring you the chance to see thousands of flamingos taking a rest during their migration.

Tell me in the comments: When you travel, do you prefer to visit natural sites or man-made attractions?

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