Aigüestortes and Estany de Sant Maurici National Park, the lungs of the Pyrenees
Aigüestortes and Estany de Sant Maurici National Park , freely translated as The winding streams and St. Maurice lake, is a haven of nature. Located in the north of Lleida, between the regions of Pallars Sobirà and Alta Ribagorça, has a great variety of alpine vegetation. And it is special… not only because of its impressive landscapes, but because it is the only National Park in Catalonia, declared as such in 1995.
Its territory, with a core area of 14,119 hectares, is part of the Special Protection Area for Birds (ZEPA), and of the Wetlands of International Importance. Its sky, one of the cleanest in the country, is a Tourist Destination and a Starlight reserve by UNESCO. Four large regions: Alta Ribagorça, Pallars Sobirà, Pallars Jussà and Valle de Arán, share its beauty.
The soil of the National Park was formed in the Paleozoic Era and is made up of slate and granite. Among its scenic places -all of great beauty- the Coll del Portarró d’Espot stands out with its vertiginous 2,400 meters, the Mata de València d’Àneu, or its more than 200 lakes such as Cabdella Lakes, a set of 27 linked by underground tunnels.
What to do?
- Get lost in the lakes. There are more than two hundred and all of them with granitic formation, but San Maurici Lake stands out at the foot of Els Encantats mountain, recognized as one of the most iconic landscapes of Catalonia. There are different viewpoints to admire them from the heights, such as from Ratera Lake.
- Outdoor activities. Hiking, mountaineering, mountain skiing and mountain biking are some of the sports that you can do from its valleys and peaks. Discover the routes and itineraries that allow mountain lovers to enjoy this place. If you are one of the very brave, go for the Carros de Foc – Chariots of Fire , a circular route of 56 kilometers and almost 9,000 meters of accumulated drop that links the nine refuges of the National Park.
- Reach to the heights on the cable car. It lets you to reach Estany Gento from Lake Sallente in less than fifteen minutes.
Towns to visit
- Boí is a treasure trove of streets and different Romanesque monuments in the middle of the valley. Its church is recognized as a small rural temple full of history and was declared World Heritage Site.
- Espot, the town serves as the gateway to the Aigüestortes and Estany de Sant Maurici National Park. It is located to the right of the Noguera Pallaresa river and in the Escrita river Valley. Besides its charm there is the possibility of practicing winter sports in one of the most important ski resorts in the Catalan Pyrenees.
With the family
- Walk through forests and waterfalls by La Mata de Valencia and Gerdar forest . The first is located right where the Aigüestortes National Park conservation area begins and constitutes the most important fir forest in the Iberian Peninsula. This dense area is one of the few places where you can still hear the song of the “gall fer” (grouse), a threatened species. For its part, in the Gerdar forest the main activity is to enjoy its black pines.
- Search for the “ minairons “, little creatures of the forest. In summer, the park organizes half-day family excursions to discover these fantastic creatures that hide among trees and rocks.
Aigüestortes and Estany de Sant Maurici National Park
Ca de Simamet
C / de les Graieres, 2
Telephone: 973 69 61 89
Fax: 973 69 61 54
Casa del Parque – House of the Park
C / de Sant Maurici, 5
Tel / fax: 973 62 40 36