The Dunes of Corralejo are a dune system north of the island of Fuerteventura. These dunes cover a coastal strip north-south, 8 km long by 2.5 km wide, with an area of 18.35 km², which ends with long white sandy beaches. These are the largest dunes of the Canary Islands, larger than the dunes of Maspalomas in Gran Canaria.
The area of dunes Corralejo was named “Le Sable” by the Norman conquerors of Fuerteventura (Fortaventure), in the early fifteenth century. The current name “El Jable” is a Hispanization of this French name.
The Dunes Natural Park of Corralejo consists of active dunes that constantly renew and move under the influence of the northeast trade winds; the dunes are more stable in the north. The white sand dunes of Corralejo are composed of 90% organic matter, from the disintegration and spraying of mollusk shells and other marine organisms to external skeleton.
Geomorphological and scenic value of this dune system led, in 1982, its protection as the Dunes Natural Park of Corralejo and the Island of Los Lobos. In 1994, the Dunes of Corralejo and Island of Los Lobos were separated into two distinct natural park.
The Natural Park of Corralejo (Parque Natural de las Dunas de Corralejo) includes dune system named El Jable, but the lava flow named Montaña de los Apartaderos and the crater of Montaña Roja (peaking at 312 m above sea level) which is separated from the dune system by the Barranco de las Pilas. The Natural Park covers an area of 26.69 km². It is habitat for numerous protected plant and animal species endemic.
Despite this status Natural Park, the Dunes of Corralejo are crossed by the coastal road FV-1 - often windswept sand - which connects the resort of Corralejo in the island’s capital, Puerto del Rosario; but there is a project to create a highway that would bypass the system of dunes from the west. Moreover, in the northern part of the Natural Park are two hotels built around 1975 to take advantage of long beaches of fine white sand, bordered by clear water. These hotels can boast a unique location, built before the classification of the area in the Natural Park.
The flora of the Dunes of Corralejo
The Dunes Park Corralejo provides habitat for 18 species of protected endemic plants, including fabagelle of Desfontaines (Zygophyllum fontanesii) appointed uvilla Spanish, real soda (Suaeda vera) (brusquilla or matomoro) and a family member Amaranthaceae of the Traganum Moquin (Traganum moquinii) (balancón). These plants are adapted to adverse conditions dunes that are constantly in motion.
The fauna of the Dunes of Corralejo
The fauna of the Dunes Natural Park of Corralejo includes 17 animal species, including seabirds and shorebirds, reptiles and invertebrates, especially beetles.
The emblematic species of the park - whose symbol marks the limits of the natural park on the road FV-1 - is the Houbara Bustard (Chlamydotis undulata fuertaventurae) (hubara de canarias), an endangered species, including the largest colony in the island is located in the Park. The Park is, with the island of Los Lobos a Special Protection Area for Birds (Zona de especial protección para las aves or ZEPA).
In the park are also found fossils of mason bees nests (Antophora). These fossils of small ovoid shaped urns, 3 to 4 cm in length, made of sand and lime, date back several millennia, when the climate of Fuerteventura was more humid and the soil by muddy areas.
The biotope of the Dunes of Corralejo is very sensitive to the constraints of all kinds; that is why the use of all-terrain vehicles is prohibited and severely punished: one can visit El Jable on foot.