EXTREMADURA is a very large autonomous region, and consist of two provinces, BADAJOZ and CACERES. The Tagus River flows through some dramatic gorges where birds of prey circle high overhead. The name EXTREMADURA simply means the land at the end of the river Douro and has nothing to do with extremes of any sort.
The area to the south of the Guadiana is relatively flat although it becomes more hilly as you approach the PORTUGUESE border. Between the rivers, (about 120 – 130 km), the countryside is very lush and beautiful and pretty much untouched by modern day farming methods. You will often see horses pulling a plough and donkeys being used to carry goods to and from the villages.
To the east of the central part are the hills of the SIERRA DE GUADALUPE and yet another WORLD HERITAGE SITE, the Royal Monastery of Santa Maria de Guadalupe, the most important monastery in Spain for four centuries in the Middle Ages. To the west are the hills leading to the Portuguese border and the pretty town of ALCANTARA with its famous Roman bridge and another huge lake.
North of the TAGUS the country is hillier, sometimes even mountainous, ranging from the SIERRA DE GATA in the North West to the SIERRA DE GREDOS in the north east. Also in the north east is the Valle de Jerte, home of thousands of CHERRY trees and a riot of blossom in the spring.
Being such a large place, the weather varies across the region. Hot in summer but not unbearably so. If you live close to one of the lakes, or in the hills, you will generally find it slightly cooler than in one of the country areas as there will often be a gentle breeze. Rain varies quite a lot. In the north and in the hills generally there will be more rain than in the other areas but this will mostly be confined to winter, although a SUMMER thunderstorm is not unknown.
In the rest of the area you can virtually guarantee no rain from May to October and when it does come in the winter it tends to rain fairly hard for a few days and then the sun comes out again. SNOW and extremes of weather are virtually unknown here, although they do get some snow around Nalvalmoral de la Mata, and only the very occasional frost, especially in the lower lying areas.
The people can be summed up in one word, FRIENDLY. Outside of the main towns in the villages, people still live life the way they have done for many years. And although most people do not speak ENGLISH or any other foreign language you will be surprised at how well you can communicate with the odd word of Spanish, a few hand gestures and lots of SMILES.
The road system here is excellent with a large network of main roads and a few motorways. Driving here is a pleasure not a chore! MADRID is often the closest airport, depending where you live, with other possibilities being Seville, Valladolid or even Lisbon. An internal airport at BADAJOZ has flights to other parts of Spain.
The whole of EXTREMADURA is a haven for wildlife. From the vultures and eagles, possibly even the rare IBERIAN LYNX of the Monfragüe National Park 30 minutes north of Trujillo, to the black storks that seem to nest on every available rooftop or pylon, everywhere you go you are conscious of how unspoiled the area is and just how much diverse wildlife lives here.
Every year thousands of CRANES arrive to fatten up on the acorns around the lakes of Las Vegas Altas before continuing their long journey to their summer home in Scandinavia. And if you are lucky you may even see the GREAT BUSTARDS strutting their stuff just outside TRUJILLO. The lakes to the south of Trujillo in Las Vegas Altas are teeming with fish, but with very few fishermen!
EXTREMADURA is a rich and fertile land that has for centuries supplied much of Europe with fresh produce. The SIERRA MORENA rises in the south along the border of ANDALUSIAN provinces of Seville, Cordoba and Huelva. Local people use a specific EXTREMADURAN language which differs from CASTILLIAN. The countryside remains partitioned into Latifoundios, large estates which primarily farmed by landless day labourers. Sheep and pigs are chief livestock.
Roads stretch for miles into the distance that are a pleasure to drive on because of lack of traffic. Scenery that changes from fields where cattle and sheep graze to the hills covered with oak trees, to mountains of the SIERRA DE GREDOS in north, with magnificent valleys that are so fertile and where CHERRIESand ALMONDS provide stunning displays of blossom in the spring. Water everywhere with lakes, rivers and reservoirs. STARS in the night that look as though you could reach up and touch them
To sum up, EXTREMADURA is a very quiet, peaceful, traditional part of Spain where life is lived at a slow place, pretty much in the same way that it has for hundreds of years. It is very beautiful, HISTORIC, uncrowded and likely to remain that way.