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The Traveller's Magazine
  •   2 min read

Wolf watching on your travel bucket list? We can fix that without having to travel too far. Asturias, Spain’s northern territory is home to the only surviving wild wolf population in Europe. The Zamora province’s low-lying hills, heaths and forests await.

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Wolves have had a hard time in Europe with expanding cities, road developments but they’re making an impressive come back in Spain. The Asturias and Cantabrian Mountain region is undergoing a phase of depopulation, giving the wolves the space they need to hunt and breed.

[see]Flights to Oviedo[/see]

Picos de Europa National Park

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This is one of Spain’s oldest national parks, created in 1918. Today it is an UNESCO approved Biosphere Reserve and is an important place for protected animal species to live without too much interaction with humans, including the Iberian wolf (Canis lupus signatus). There are an estimated 1,500 wolves in this area today, compared to only a few hundred in all of Spain in the 1970s.

Wolves are most active in open areas in the early morning and late-afternoons and evenings so plan your outings into the park during these times, particularly in the western part of Picos de Europa. To make the most of your time, consider joining a wolf-watching tour, organised by the local tourism authority or with a wolf protection organisation.

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Wolves have played a strong part in Spanish culture, particularly in the north. Did you know that there are over 70 traditional expressions for “wolf” in Spanish in order to avoid saying the actual word, lobo? Legend has it that the animal will manifest if you call its name. Cave painting of wolves have been found in the Iberian Peninsula and wolf motifs can be found on ancient vases and urns all over the country. It’s not only wolves that you’ll see in Asturias, this region is rich in other wildlife like otters, wild boar, red and roe deer.

Let’s hear you howl!

Imgs: jroblearjavism / Flickr cc.

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