Sepúlveda is a small, pretty village, as old as the smell of roast lamb floating through the village square. Its cobbled streets take us to one of the most unexpected places on these Castile plains: the Las Hoces del Duratón Nature Park. Immediately below the village we find scenery of chalky towers in the midst of the desert, with nothing to envy of the typical American postcards of the plains of Colorado. Just a few metres away, the river Duratón has dug out a luxuriant paradise along the course of its waters.
Binoculars must be taken to watch the birds of prey close up, and also a stick for walking and a swimsuit for crossing the Duratón when we want. Shadows may easily pass by; a griffon vulture flying over so low that we can hear the wind passing through its long feathers. Its wingspan of 2 m from tip to tip impresses us, and if we are lucky we can take home one of its feathers for they often fall and lie defiantly on the path.
In addition to the vultures, if we are patient we can see tortoises on the banks of the river and enjoy nightingales, orioles, Egyptian vultures, eagle-owls and a multitude of local flowers and plants. But if this might seem little, this nature park in Segovia offers attractions for climbers with chalk channels over the river full of handholds and traps, reaching up to 100 metres high. There are a large number of natural caves that can be scrambled up to for a view of the winding river.
The cave interiors are perfect for looking for pellets, which is what the birds of prey spit out after eating their prey. These are formed by a mixture of small bones and other waste very much appreciated by the studious, so it is not a bad idea always to carry plastic bags with seals and some pincers to be able to carefully study our findings at home.
The river's appearance in the moonlight is only known to the vultures…