The farm in Jaén where you can go on a safari to see Iberian lynxes

Travel

Mar Ramirez

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We entered lynx territory when leaving the Jaen town of Andujar. Everything started in this mountain range 22 years ago. The Mediterranean mountain embraces the sinuous A-6177 road in the area where the CBD-Habitat Foundation, with the Junta de Andalucía, began the recovery of the Iberian lynx with specimens from the only two existing populations at the end of the 1990s, in Doñana and Sierra Morena.

The road signs with the face of a lynx inviting you to slow down leave no room for doubt: it is a mountain of lynxes and therefore it is easy to see them crossing the road. A female even bred for a year next to the shoulder, sheltered by some large rock bowls.

There are 21 kilometers left until the entrance of The Encinarejo (inf: 680 980 641), a 2,000-hectare estate oriented towards nature tourism thanks to one of its most extraordinary inhabitants, the Iberian lynx.

It was one of the properties that collaborated from the beginning of the recovery tasks of this carnivorous mammal on the verge of extinction. With his authorization, the CBD-Habitat technicians began an essential task: the maintenance of the lynx habitat. In this way, it favored the return of the rabbit -essential prey for the survival of the lynx-, whose battered population is due to decades of diseases that have decimated their contingents.

Crossing the gate of El Encinarejo, until we reach the white farmhouse located on a hill, we are welcomed deer and wild fallow deer that jump away agile when surprised by the vehicle.

Encounter of ecotourists with bison

As soon as you arrive at the farmhouse, it is surprising to see the off-road vehicles with seats outside, like on an african safari. The surprise continues with the porch open to the immensity of the Mediterranean mountain, an authentic viewpoint towards the outback where the warm welcome of Jess y Alex Hohne -the crazy South Africans from the Sierra de Andújar, as they are called- confirm this couple’s pleasure in living in these great natural spaces, just like in their country of origin. His passion for conservation has driven a pioneering ecotourism experience that combines the charm of a ‘lodge’ in the middle of nature, with reminiscences of African-style luxury tourism, the Andalusian essence and the emotion of being in front of an Iberian lynx.

But it is not only the most emblematic species of the peninsula and a natural symbol of the Mediterranean mountain that awaits, but on the itineraries around the estate it is possible to spot the Golden Eagle that nests in the rocks or the no less threatened imperial eagle Iberian that breeds in a neighboring farm. With patience and stealth, you will even see the otter that frequents the riverbank. Observations that would not have been possible without the continued conservation work of the CBD-Habitat Foundation.

Before returning to the farmhouse to enjoy the sunset, a new surprise awaits before the meeting of a herd of bison. They are the new bet of the owners for the natural management of the farm.

Betting on the sustainability of its offer -it includes up to practice canoeing in the Jándula reservoir– Soon they will have four accessible bungalows with solar energy, which will be added to the four rooms for clients that they already have in their hacienda. They will be located in front of a vast panoramic view of the Sierra Morena, a pure Mediterranean mountain where the meows of the ‘cat’ can be heard, as the Iberian lynx is popularly called.

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