Long live the mountain! Ten natural treasures of Catalonia
If there is something that Catalonia can boast besides good beaches, large cities, medieval villages and a supreme gastronomy, they are its wonderful natural parks.
In Catalonia the most impressive nature is lived between mountains, in places like Aigüestortes, Montseny or Els Ports; and wetlands, such as those of the Delta de l'Ebre and Aiguamolls. Total, The Community has 18 parks and nature reserves with roads adapted for people with reduced mobility and families who want to go for a walk with baby carriages. Many of them are also virtually accessible through a 3D application that allows us to explore their itineraries and obtain all the information we need. Always respecting the great natural beauty that surrounds us, we stand on-site to discover ten of them:
1. AIGÜESTORTES Y ESTANY DE SANT MAURICI
The only National Park in Catalonia is a natural jewel, an idyllic high mountain landscape where water is the main protagonist. His more than 200 lakes (or ponds) coexist with impressive cliffs like Els Encantats. Its leafy Black pine, fir, wild pine, birch and beech forests They only increase the beauty and charm of the place. To discover it: it is best to start walking along its innumerable ways. Yes, always respecting the nature and the silence that surrounds the place. The most classic route is that of Foc cars, a circular high mountain crossing linking nine mountain shelters included in the park. In addition, Aigüestortes has roads adapted for people with reduced capacity and families who want to go for a walk even with baby carriages.
Aigüestortes, a natural wonder © Manuel Mata Oliver
2. NATURAL PARK OF CADÍ-MOIXERÓ
Another natural park in Catalonia that leaves us with our mouths open is that of Cadí-Moixeró. Blame it for it is its impressive mountain ranges with summits that range from 900 to 2,648 meters from the Mount of the Baridana Canal. A curiosity: The woodpecker is the symbol of the park. In addition to this bird, it is easy to run into Pyrenean owls, marten or chamois, the masters of heights. The park organizes guided excursions to observe riparian birds and other animals such as European marmots. It is also ideal for hiking or walking, horse or bicycle routes.
3. NATURAL PARK DELTA DE L'EBRE
The largest wetland area in Catalonia is also one of the most important aquatic habitats in the western Mediterranean. And is that the Delta de l'Ebre, with an area of 320 km2 It shelters an important number of birds. Its biodiversity is amazing, so much that it is declared Unesco Biosphere Reserve. Located in Tarragona, the shape of this delta is of an arrow that penetrates almost 22 kilometers into the sea. Its about third largest delta in the Mediterranean after the Nile Delta and the Rhone Delta. It is a pleasure to enjoy its virgin beaches such as Fangar or cycle the rice fields of the park on routes such as the Desembocadura-Garxal-Riumar or Encanyissada, very prepared to go with the whole family, including babies and their carts .
Family tourism in the Garxal (Delta de l'Ebre National Park) © Mariano Cebolla
4. ELS PORTS NATURAL PARK
Located between Catalonia, Valencia and Aragon we discover the Natural Park of Els Ports, a place formed by calcareous massifs and steep reliefs. Despite appearing an untamed place, there are many types of routes to access it. A very interesting one is the one that runs through Ports de Horta, the ravine of Carrer ample and les Clotes (510 meters of unevenness and 15 kilometers). To travel by bicycle, the Greenway through the park is perfect, especially if we want to pedal as a family; and for adventurers, the descent of the Canaleta river in the wild nature invites us to take a good dip.
5. NATURAL PARK OF MONTSENY
Declared as Unesco Biosphere Reserve, the Natural Park of Montseny is another natural jewel of Catalonia that should not be missed. It is a perfect getaway to do from Barcelona, since it is only 50 kilometers away from Barcelona. In its landscape we encounter large mountains of Mediterranean and Central European mountains and forests, a wonder for the five senses. To discover part of this beauty, the accessible route of Font del Frare It does not disappoint. One tip: when visiting the park, it is essential to respect the environment, not litter and leave it as it was before our visit.
6. NATURAL PARK OF AIGUAMOLLS DE L´EMPORDÀ
A wetland full of ponds at the confluence of the Muga and Fluvià rivers forms the Aiguamolls de l´Empordà Natural Park, a privileged home of hundreds of species of waterfowl that visit it during its migrations. Is the second most important wetland in Catalonia -after the Delta de l'Ebre-, and an ideal destination for families, due to its flat orography and its great accessibility. Observing its fauna is a spectacle for children and adults. Gamos, red fox, marbled newts and otters coexist with more than 300 species of birds, such as the royal duck, the imperial heron, the white stork or the flamingo. An ideal route to explore the wetland is that of the ponds, ready to do it walking or pedaling and very accessible for the whole family.
Natural Park of Aiguamolls de l'Empordà
7. SANT LLORENÇ DEL MUNT I L'OBAC NATURAL PARK
Large farmhouses, caves, Neolithic archaeological remains and a unique landscape formed by reddish monoliths and green pine and oak form the Sant Llorenç del Munt I L'Obac Natural Park. Its main peaks are Montcau (1,052 m) and La Mola (1,104 m), where the famous Monastery of Sant Llorenç del Munt, the most emblematic monument of the park and a must for every traveler. Among the adapted itineraries offered by the park, the one of Casanova de l'Obac, very accessible for people with reduced mobility and families with young children.
8. NATURAL PARK OF L´ALT PIRINEU
On horseback between Pallars Sobirà and L'Alt Urgell, we find the largest natural park in Catalonia. It has everything: large valleys, lush forests, beautiful lakes like the one of Certascan, deep gorges like the C'baba de l'obaga de Baleran or summits like the Pica d'Estats, the highest in the Community. Its gateway is the municipality of Sort, although if we want to see an authentic Natural Monument we have to go to and Alins where we find the Fir of the Pla de la Selva. To visit Alt Pirineu with the whole family, the ideal is to get the Explorer Passport, a personal booklet where the explorer records the visits he is making in the park. Depending on the number of stamps reached, explorers receive gifts from the park. An initiative designed primarily to travel with children.
Natural Park of l'Alt Pirineu
9. NATURAL PARK OF THE SERRA DE COLLSEROLA
The locals can boast of having a natural watchtower in the metropolitan area: the Collserola mountain range, more than 8,000 hectares of protected natural space with a valuable biodiversity. The famous Tibidabo is the highest peak in Collserola and the lung of the city. The Collserola Tower, the work of Sir Norman Foster, is a unique panoramic observation point. To sleep inside the park, we recommend the farmhouse Can Valldaura, an accommodation that promotes clean energy and organic food production. And to go for a walk, the itinerary of Camí del Fondal.
10. NATURAL PARK OF LA GARROTXA VOLCANIC AREA
A very unique place (and whose flavor was discovered by chef Jordi Cruz) is La Garrotxa, in Girona. Its about best example of volcanic landscape of the entire Iberian Peninsula. It has 40 cones, craters and 20 basaltic lava flows very well preserved. Despite being a volcanic area, the park offers lush vegetation with holm oak, oak and beech forest. Its 28 pedestrian itineraries allow us to enter it without difficulty. Among its cultural heritage, the medieval villages of Besalú and Santa Pau They are a wonderful wonder that we cannot leave behind.
The volcanic landscape of La Garrotxa © Istock