‘La Berrea’: Witness the Bellowing of the Deer in Authumn as they Fight for a Mate at Los Alcornocales Natural Park
It’s probably one of the most amazing natural spectacles you can witness at the Los Alcornocales Natural Park in autumn. Located within in the Campo de Gibraltar, the park spans the municipalities of Los Barrios, Castellar and Jimena.
We are referring to a curious activity whereby guided tours are carried out in order to listen to the sounds of male deer in heat, fighting off other males in a bid to win over a female. In this demonstration of natural selection, the two “pretenders” fight each other, clashing horns in a bid to defeat their adversary.
These exhausting fights happen during September and October, and end with the defeated animal retreating. Those who have had the opportunity to witness these specialised guided tours – which take place during the afternoons and at night – have described it as one of the most surprising experiences that nature has to offer.
The Park is currently home to some 35,000 deer that fight hard for the right to mate with the females. It’s no trivial act, seeing as one single male can mate with up to 50 females if his call succeeds in attracting them. This is the first step in the reproduction cycle of this species and is also considered to be an unofficial sign that autumn has begun, once the high temperatures of summer begin to drop.
Walking through the tall grass and daunting shadows cast by the moonlight through the cork and oak trees, accompanied by a silence that is only interrupted by bellowing sounds and the knocking of antlers which can be heard several kilometres away – especially once night has fallen – is without a doubt one of the most unusual and unique experiences that the Campo de Gibraltar has to offer.
The temptation to venture out into these Mediterranean forests alone is not to be recommended – and especially not at night. Not only would a lone trek go against current legislation which prohibits these practices without authorisation but you will not be be covered by insurance in case of emergency.
Various private and public companies organise all inclusive tours; you can pay in advance to secure a spot. Everything is much more enjoyable when you visit the natural environment during these unusual hours with the advice of guides and specialists who provide interesting details and know where to go for animal sightings – which, by the way, is no easy task.
The Bellowing of Deer
Several companies and organisations in the province offer guided tours during this unique event. Every year, more and more companies and entities organise excursions that follow the bellowing of deer.
Tugasa, a network of rural establishments in Cádiz province, organises excursions into the forest to witness these mating rituals and battles. Accompanied by guides, you will be able to observe this great spectacle from a castle. Until mid-October, tours will be provided throughout Los Alcornocales Natural Park, making a visit to the park a unique experience. More information can be found on the Tugasa website.
2 nights in a double room for two people and half board in the Castle at Castellar, costs €59 per person, per night.
During the second half of September and the first half of October, the tour company Castellar Gestión del Patrimonio also organises a series of guided tours through the Los Alcornocales Natural Park to listen to the roar of the deer. More information can be found on the Castellar website.
The Los Barrios Town Council also organises these kinds of excursions. For more information contact their Tourist Office or the website.
Genatur also offers the opportunity to listen to the deer bellow “in situ”, without having to spend the night. They will talk about the species, their biology, horn growth, moulting, etc.
Listening to the bellowing of the deer will take place from 18:00 to 22:30 in the Montes Propios de Jerez on October 4th and 5th. The price is €9 for adults and children under eight can attend for free. The phone number for reservations is: 0034 + 676 987 031