The Fuente de Piedra lagoon is of fundamental importance because it hosts the only stable colony of flamingos in Europe. Depending on the rainfall, between 20,000 and 50,000 flamingos can be found here.
With an extension of 6 kilometres long by 3 kilometres wide, this saltwater lagoon is the destination chosen by the pink flamingos as a nesting site, which explains its high ecological value.
This wetland is recharged thanks to rainwater and groundwater, presenting in all seasons beautiful landscapes dominated by its sheet of water. During the summer, when it is difficult to find other wetlands, the bird fauna finds in this place an important area of shelter and food.
Trails and viewpoints
The lagoon is a place for the breeding, passage or wintering of various species of aquatic birds, as well as being a European refuge for pink flamingoes. Spring may be the best time of the year to observe these birds, especially in the early hours of the morning.
There are several viewpoints and observatories available for public use to contemplate the lagoon and the species it hosts. They can be accessed through an itinerary around the lagoon, with signposted paths.
Viewpoint of the Hill of the Stick
Located behind the José Antonio Valverde Visitors’ Center, the “Mirador del Cerro del Palo” (viewpoint of the hill of the stick) is the first viewpoint that the visitor finds on his way, from which a great panoramic view of the entire lagoon is contemplated.
This 250-meter walk, adapted for people with reduced mobility (including wheelchairs) starts at the viewpoint of Cerro del Palo and allows us to access the observatories of the Abejarucos, Las Palomas and Laguneto, from which we will be able to observe a great variety of aquatic birds.
Length: 250 m
Approximate duration: 15 minutes
This path leads to the Mirador de la Vicaría (viewpoint of the vicarage), from where it is possible to observe the lagoon from its western side. As it is located on top, it is easier to see the different types of birds.
Length: 2.5 km
Approximate duration: 60 minutes
Viewpoint of the Cans
From the Mirador de las Latas (viewpoint of the cans), which is located in the southern part of the lagoon, you get a wonderful view of the lagoon and the town of Fuente de Piedra in the background.
Close to the Fuente de Piedra lagoon and located on a small hill known as Cerro del Palo, is the José Antonio Valverde Visitors Centre. His privileged location allows to contemplate splendid panoramic of the lagoon and of the species that frequent it, especially the common flamingo.
This information centre specialises in the natural wealth of the area. Its rooms explain the fauna variety of the lagoon: the pink flamingo, the mallard, the marsh harrier, the grey heron…
It is named after José Antonio Valverde in recognition of the scientific work of this biologist, naturalist, ecologist and environmental activist.
The Visitor Centre has a reception area, toilets, souvenir shop and vending area, as well as 2 free exhibition rooms and a 12-minute audio-visual. You can also rent binoculars, audioguides in different languages and trolleys.
Ringing of Flamingos
One of the most spectacular and emotional moments of this Natural Reserve is the ringing of baby flamingos. Approximately in the middle of July, this operation is carried out with the participation of around 300 people, including volunteers, monitors, veterinarians and biologists.
It has not yet dawned when a percentage of the chicks born that year in the lagoon is led to an improvised corral, through an authentic human fence.
Then, one by one, they will be measured, weighed and banded, to be released again. In this way, the birds can be monitored individually and different aspects of their biology can be studied: migrations, survival, mortality, reproductive behaviour, etc.
The landscape of this area, of very soft relief and covered with fields of olive trees and cereal, is dominated by the enormous lagoon, in which the ecological interest for the important colony of flamingos that it shelters, joins the landscape beauty of its extensive sheet of water. Even in dry years, when the level of the lagoon decreases, the spectacular nature of the area disappears.
Therefore, it is a point of great interest for nature lovers and enthusiasts of photography of natural areas.
The water level of the lagoon has a strong seasonality, so that it remains dry and covered with a sheet of salt in summer. The Romans were already interested in these salts, modifying the morphology of the lagoon to exploit them, with infrastructures such as dikes, canals and islets, still visible today.
The industrial exploitation of these salt mines took place from Roman times until the fifties of the last century.
After visiting the lagoon is also recommended to visit the town of Fuente de Piedra. Its name is linked to a famous fountain with curative properties that can still be seen today in the Plaza de la Constitución.
In this village of straight streets and whitewashed houses with wrought iron balconies, the singular Palace of the Marquesa stands out.
Another of the attractions of this municipality is its gastronomy, based on an olive oil of excellent quality.
In the same village of Fuente de Piedra, you will also find the Refugio del Burrito (donkey shelter). You can visit this typical Andalusian cortijo which has been transformed into a safe haven for the almost 100 donkeys and mules rescued all over Europe. In this entertaining and educational visit you will be able to know the stories of these animals while you walk through the refuge and discover how they are cared for.
How to get from Malaga to Fuente de Piedra
You can get from Malaga to Fuente de Piedra by car or bus. The distance between Málaga and Fuente de Piedra is 72 km and it takes approximately one hour by car.
If you go by car, you have to take exit 132 of the A92 motorway and head towards the MA454 road that leads to Fuente de Piedra.
If you go by bus, you have to take Alsa buses. The price of the ticket is 8 € and the timetables are as follows.
From Malaga to Fuente Piedra:
– Monday to Saturday: 13.15, 18.00, 19.00, 20.00
– Sunday: 18.00, 20.00
From Fuente Piedra to Malaga:
– Monday to Friday: 07.30, 09.35, 16.20
– Saturday: 008.15, 09.35, 16.20
– Sunday: 09.35, 18.15