It is in our character not to give importance to what we have. In our nearby environment we have the Lagunas de Villafáfila, which is home to 50% of the wintering waterbirds of Castilla y León. That is to say, it is the best place to observe aquatic birds of Castilla-León without a doubt. To continue highlighting its importance, say that the nearly 2000 bustards estimated are the largest population of these birds in the world.
Although the common name of the lagoons is Villafáfila, it hosts lands of diverse municipalities (11 in total). It is located in a very large cereal area. Three main lagoons (Salina Grande, Barrillos and Salinas) and several small lagoons form the set of lagoons. The clay soils of the semiendorreica basin of the Salado River define this complex. This is the aquatic part.
It has a Visitor Center, Casa del Parque, where we approach the importance of the Lagoons. It is so interesting and easy to access that it is a good way to initiate children or access people with limitations. The proximity, how easy it is to see different species are part of surprise.
But the great wealth, the treasure of this lagoon complex is its bird habitat. As we said in the Casa del Parque we have an introduction to the possibilities of sighting in several small lagoons. The great discovery is what with little effort can be seen in the other many lagoons and large lagoon extensions.
Top Five Birds
- Great Bustard
- Little Bustard
- Black-bellied Sandgrouse
- Montagu’s Harrier
- Greylag Goose
At Terra Incognita we support tours that do good in the world. They must help to conserve the environment, support local people, and educate their guests. Here’s what Santiago Manuel Baliñas Perez from Viajes Albur said to us…
What conservation activities do you support through the tour, and your wider operations?
The importance of the collection of lakes in northern Spain known as the Lagunas de Villafáfila (Lagoons of Villafáfila) is great. The lagoons are home to 50% of the wintering waterfowl of Castilla y León and they are part of the network of Natural Protected Areas of Castilla y León. They also have the largest population of great bustards in the world.
How does the tour support local people?
I have a master’s degree in community aid and international cooperation. Talking about intervention in the environment or in the local community requires explaining the context. I have worked in several countries, including almost a year and a half in Costa Rica and a year in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Unlike other countries, Spain has a different framework.
The Lagoons of Villafáfila is a resource protected by the Junta de Castilla y León, the regional government. The mayor of Villafáfila is the provincial Deputy of Heritage and Mancomunidades (commonwealths of municipalities) in the Council of Zamora, the Provincial government.
Unlike other situations in which tourism activities affect the environment, here its benefit is channeled in part through an institution which is an active agent. In XXX country, a national park is created by Decree IIII. In that national park there is an Indigenous community. The Indigenous community “authorizes” some people to be guides if needed and which houses can accommodate visitors. The community itself demands social benefit-sharing from the guides.
In our case, the process is more artificial. In the commonwealth of municipalities that encompasses Villafáfila, there are direct actions on the park, for example La Casa del Parque, which are within a structure. This structure is strengthened by the use of the nature reserve for tourism and it supports the community directly and indirectly. They maintain control over tourism and community benefits. Each member of the community is an active agent of its development. There is a network of rural tourism houses and tourist activities with the local population.
We, as a travel agency, are aware of the manifest depopulation that our autonomous community is experiencing due to their migration to the city and to places where there are greater possibilities of work, and we have an active attitude to overcome this problem. We get behind other projects to fight against that tide. Those of us who are from the sea know that to overcome the force of the tide we have to swim or row stronger. And we do that. As a company, we stand out for our associative behavior. We are generating a comic museum in our city. We are good people, which in the end is the best passport you can have to travel.
What type of environmental education activities do you incorporate into your tour?
The Lagoons of Villafafila Visitor Centre provides information about migration of birds and the importance of the lagoons. In the surroundings there are conservation activities for the wolf and protected species.
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Tour Operator | Viajes Albur
Contact Name | Santiago Manuel Baliñas Perez
Contact Email | SANTI@VIAJESALBUR.ES
Website | https://viajesalbur.wordpress.com/2018/07/26/la-sorpresa-acuatica-de-villafafila/