The final stretch of the River Segura and its estuary (known as La Gola in Valencian) is a unique natural environment. The existing vegetation provides resting places for nesting waterfowl such as herons, egrets, stilts, gulls, grebes, moor hens and others.
A noteworthy area is known as ‘la Marrada del Riu Vell’ (The Old River’s Meanders). It is now a protected stretch of the old river bed since a new River Segura channel flows straight to the sea since the late 1980s Flood Plan. This ancient protected stretch has been replanted with native river bank vegetation and shrubs.
There is a bird observation tower near the river’s mouth. Walking and cycling excursions known as ‘Green Routes’ have been set up on both river banks. They connect Guardamar with towns upstream all the way to Orihuela (29 km) and Murcia (69 km). You can also choose to discover the neighbouring farmland country paths.
The Guardamar Farmlands or Horta de Guardamar
‘L’Horta de Guardamar’ is the traditional name given to the traditional farmland irrigation countryside of Guardamar. It is located on both sides of the final stretch of the River Segura. It is irrigated by a medieval system of canals, ditches and draining ditches. It is made up of small properties where citrus trees and vegetables are grown, the most famous product being the unique ‘Nyora de Guardamar’ (a small sweet dried red bell pepper), which is subsequently dried in the dunes and widely popular in Valencian cuisine.
The hills and Camp de Guardamar (Guardamar drylands)
The hills surrounding Guardamar were reforested in the 1940s and 1950s, especially with pines. An abundant Mediterranean flora and fauna now grows here. The highest points are slightly over 100 metres above sea level. The hills are known as: El Montcaio, Les Raboses, El Palleret, l’Estany and El Molar.
At the foot of these hills the ancient, now dried up, marshlands are all at sea level. This means the views are spectacular from these small heights.
You will be able to gaze at all the coast from the northern Bay of Santa Pola, the small island of Tabarca with its 18th century village, the mouth of the River Segura and the 11 km long stretch of Guardamar fine golden sand beaches bordering the pinewoods all the way down south to the salt lakes at the south.
Orihuela/Oriola the historic southern capital and bishopric of the old Kingdom of Valencia can be seen to the west, explaining the defensive role played by Guardamar in past centuries: meaning literally, ‘the Guardian of the Sea’.
To the south, behind the Montcaio hill, we find ‘el Camp de Guardamar’, some ancient dry lands originally used as a livestock pasture area. In the 1920s the area received irrigation water due to the elevation of water surplus on the right bank near the River Segura’s mouth. This was carried out by the Levante Segura River Irrigation Company (Compañía Riegos de Levante).
Despite the presence of new, mainly foreign residents ‘urbanisations or ‘country residential developments’, it remains largely intact. It is a rural landscape of lemon and orange trees with vegetables and garden produce served by small irrigation ponds.
The dry lands are represented by vineyards and grain fields. In the higher areas and hills looking south there are some fantastic views of the La Mata Salt Lake Lagoons and the Mediterranean Sea, very near to the east.
La Mata Salt Lakes Natural Park
The La Mata and Torrevieja Salt Lakes were historically known as the Guardamar Salt Lakes since they were a part of our district. They are a natural park of great ecological value for its flora and fauna.
It is a resting place of great importance for migratory birds on route to Africa or back. Amongst other species, we must mention the necked grebe and the flamingo, as well as other nesting birds such as the marsh harrier and the avocet.
The park covers a surface of 3,700 hectares (9,143 acres), with much of the north shore still belonging to Guardamar’s district.
There is an Information and Interpretation Centre on the coastal N-332 Road, at the height of La Mata village, which can be reached by bike from Guardamar. Within the park, there is a route that can also be done on foot or by bike.