The Natural Park of Albufera is a wetland area of great ecological importance. It extends over the districts of Alcúdia, Muro and Sa Pobla, and it is separated from the Bay of Alcúdia by an 8 km-long sand bar. It covers an area of around 2,584 hectares and has a perimeter of 32 km. It receives surface water from various torrents and the spring of Sant Joan, and sea water enters the area during summer. The main forms of vegetation are sorghum and ravenna grass, with saltwort rushes growing where the ground contains salt. The most notable trees are the tamarisks, elms and poplars. In terms of wildlife, birds are the most notable animal, with over 230 species, making Albufera a unique spot for bird-watching, with specially built hides within the park. Amongst the species that nest here are coots, moorhens, blue-crowned conures etc. Among the migratory birds are flamingos, and amongst the birds which spend winter here are wild ducks. Fish are present in abundance, such as eels, which are highly regarded within the regional cuisine here. There are also various amphibians and reptiles, such as small snakes and terrapins.
In the 1960s the development of large areas, which included the construction of lakes and channels around the hotels and apartments of Port d´Alcúdia, brought about the destruction of part of this wetland area. To halt this process and preserve the natural richness of Albufera, in January 1988 the Government of the Balearic Islands approved the creation of the first natural park on Mallorca, covering 1,700 hectares of Albufera, most of which is public property.
Albufera has been used since ancient times for fishing and hunting. Plini, in his book Naturalis Historia, which was written in 77 AD, tells of how Roman diners appreciated the purple swamphen and the night heron from Albufera. Throughout history different uses have been sought for the zone, though without much success, such as paper production, salt extraction and rice cultivation; this last activity has been carried out with help from experts from Valencia´s wetland areas, though it is not yet running as a commercial operation. Since the 18th century various attempts have been made to dry the area out, with the aim of eradicating diseases such as malaria, which are spread by stagnant waters, and then using the dried-out land for agriculture. In 1862 the New Majorca Land Company was founded in London, the aim of this venture being to dry out Albufera. Of the dried-out lands, only 400 hectares could be sown, due to continuous infiltrations of water and salt in certain areas. 400 km of drainage ditches were built, along with 50 km of paths with bridges, a 72 km channel which surrounded the wetland area, a bridge which went 300 metres into the sea – known as the Bridge of the English – and the main channel of the Canal Gran, which runs out to sea and is 50 m wide and 2,500 m long, and which has a small landing dock known as S´Oberta.
To reach the park´s reception centre, you have to take the straight road from Port d´Alcúdia towards Can Picafort, and you´ll find it after crossing the bridge which spans the Canal Gran where it flows out to sea.
The Reception Centre ´Sa Roca´
October to March: from 9 am to 5pm.
April to September: 9 am to 7 pm.
The reception centre provides information about the five sign-posted itineraries around the Reserve. Leaflets about the Reserve can also be obtained there. The reserve boasts a small museum, and a total of four hides. It is possible to book guided tours with environmental instructors, that last two hours. These are only available on Saturday mornings for groups of less than 20 people.