(Last Updated On: 13/07/2021)

If you happen to be in Mérida and fancy a day out in the nature you won’t need to go too far. Cornalvo natural park is only 15 km away from the Extremaduran capital and is a great place to enjoy a bit of walking in a protected area.

On my last trip back home I thought it would be a good idea to enjoy a cold but sunny Sunday with my dad doing a walking route in the park, and that’s exactly where we headed to after filling the backpack with some light sandwiches, fruit, water, the camera (obviously) and binoculars. Ready to go!

cornalvo natural park, extremadura

First stop: the Visitor Centre

The Visitor Centre is located in the outskirts of Trujillanos. They have different rooms where you can learn about the local flora and fauna and an information desk where you can get a map of the park and the suggested routes.

The routes

There are seven routes (from 1.5 km to 15.6 km) that you can do by foot or cycling with one of them 100% suitable for people in wheelchair. We decided to do a 7-km circular route around the Cornalvo reservoir and then go by car to a bird observatory near the Muelas reservoir.

map of cornalvo natural park

 Starting point: the Roman dam

A narrow single-track road will take you from the Visitor Centre right to the reservoir, where you can park your car.

The Cornalvo reservoir dates back almost 2000 years, when the Romans built a dam over the River Alberregas to supply Mérida (Emerita Augusta at the time) with water.

cornalvo reservoir

Walking around the Cornalvo reservoir

This route doesn’t require any particular skills, as the area is completely flat. It took us 1.5 hours to complete the route and it was a very enjoyable walk, I have to say.

You will see loads of holm oaks, cork oaks and gum cistus during the route. As we went in December, the holm oaks were full with acorns and we also found quite a few wild mushrooms under the trees.

cork oak

cornalvo natural park

cork oak in cornalvo natural park


wild mushroom

If you are a nature lover make sure you take binoculars with you to see different types of ducks and birds that live near the water (little grebes, Grey herons, great crested grebes or black-headed gulls, for example).

ducks in the reservoir

Some tips

  • Take loads of water with you and a cap or hat, as it can get really hot, even in winter.
  • Some areas on the northern side of the reservoir were quite muddy, so take some waterproof shoes with you.
  • There are a few private properties on the eastern side of the reservoir. Walk as near the water as possible and try not to make too much noise that may alert dogs and frighten the cattle.

 The Bird Observatory at the Muelas reservoir

Extremadura landscape

After completing the route around the Cornalvo reservoir we decided to do a bit of birdwatching at another reservoir just a couple of km away.

The best time to visit the bird observatory is winter (November-February), as that’s when the reservoir is full and you can see a great number of different birds.

The place was completely empty and silent, which was great. We could see quite a few ducks (don’t ask me the names of the species), bulls and loads of Extremadura’s flagship bird – the stork. They say in spring the rare black storks come for a visit.

storks and bull

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Nearby places you may want to visit:

  • Mérida (20km from Cornalvo Natural Park)
  • Lácara Dolmen (29.4km from Cornalvo Natural Park)
  • Alange (47.9km from Cornalvo Natural Park)


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Irene Corchado Resmella

Irene Corchado Resmella

I'm a UK-based independent Spanish sworn and legal translator working as ICR Translations. On Piggy Traveller, I share my home region of Extremadura with the world to encourage travellers to discover a different Spain.