Get in touch with your wild side when you tour the natural wonders and sights that Catalonia has to offer anyone passing through the area. As with many countries, one region can encompass all kinds of geographical differences and Catalonia is no different. The countryside in this region ranges from steep and rocky coastlines to calm, sloping beaches, from expansive plain lands to dense pine forests and from harrowing, snow-capped peaks to unbelievably deep Pyrenean valleys. This variation means there is more than enough to satisfy any and all tourists, travellers, adventurers and nature lovers. These are just a few of the natural parks through Catalonia that highlight the diversity and incredible scenery in Catalonia, Spain.
This immense Catalan park is located in the heart of the Pyrenees Mountain Range and covers over 10,000 hectares. There are two sections of the park: Aiguestortes in the west and Sant Maurici in the East. Aiguestortes translates to “winding water” and it’s clear why they settled on this name: this part of the National Park includes more than 200 crystal clear lakes, slow moving streams, tumbling rivers and thundering waterfalls. Many who pass through this part of the park agree that is has some of the most beautiful mountain scenery in all of Europe.
If adventure sports are your kind of activity, you will have no shortage of choices in the Aiguestortes and Estany de Sant Maurici National Park. There’s a great network of walking trails for all levels of hiker, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in the winter. If you prefer something more low-impact, visit in the spring and take the cable car up to a mountain lake for some seriously superb sightseeing.
Also located in the Catalan Pyrenees is the Garrotxa Volcanic Natural Park. It is widely known to be the best example of volcanic terrain on the Iberian Peninsula and stands in stark contrast to the scenery from the first park listed. Here, you’ll find over 12,000 hectares of protected land with 40 volcanoes and more than 20 lava flows. None of the volcanoes are still active, and since the last eruption 11,000 years ago, an incredible diversity of flora and fauna have made their home among the volcanic soil. There are 28 different scenic walking routes that take you through this Catalan park and they are well signposted.
The largest park on this list, Alt Pirineu covers over 60,000 hectares and includes a number of natural highlights. The highest peak in all of Catalonia is within this parks boundaries and the Pica d’Estats stands at 3,143m tall. The largest glacial lake in the Pyrenees, Lake Cetascan, also calls Alt Pirineu home. Check out the plants and animals in this park, too. There are forests of beech, fir and birch trees and tons of endangered animals too like brown bears, bearded vultures and the Aurelio rock lizard. Beyond the natural attractions, this national park also has a rich history and incredible collection of ancient and religious artwork.
The Cap de Creus National Park is located in the easternmost point of the Iberian Peninsula and showcases more marine life than any of the other three on the list. This region of Catalonia’s geological landscape included high cliffs, coves, islets, reefs and other unusual natural formations. If you visit Cap de Creus, be sure to head to the monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes as the views from the top are unbeatable. The monastery itself holds serious historical significance and is just one of the many architectural heritage sites scattered through the region. You’ll come across chapels, castles and a bunch of small, picturesque villages within the park and its surrounding areas.
These natural parks are just the beginning of the intense and incredible natural environment you will see in Catalonia. They have remained largely untouched by development and mass tourism, which easily makes it the perfect place to enjoy the wild beauty of this country and region. As you prepare for your holiday in Catalonia, it’s important to consider buying a top quality adventure sports travel insurance plan to protect your health and wellbeing from any accidents or unexpected problems that may come up.
Image courtesy of Flickr user horrapics