Located in the heart of the Pyrenees (Spain), this is the most genuine representation of a mountainous area. The majestic landscapes and views and the highly varied flora and fauna that live within its borders make this is a truly unique location. Centuries old woods of fir trees and black pines are scattered around the park, which also contains nearly 200 mountain lakes. This is the habitat of the wild goat, the capercaillie, the marmot and the legendary bearded vulture (also known as the lammergeyer).
In addition, the Aigüestortes and Estany de Sant Maurici National Park has been certified as a Starlight Reserve and Starlight Tourism Destination. The first of these recognitions is awarded to areas that take protective measures and which have exceptional levels of quality. The second is awarded to territories that also have infrastructure for promoting astronomy tourism. This is the first Catalan park to have received this distinction awarded by the Starlight Foundation and one of the first in Spain to have been granted such recognition.
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Routes through the Park
Total time required: 2h 30 min.
1.- The Aigüestortes Plateau, Lake Llong and Lake Redó
Difference in altitude: 287 metres
This is the classic way to discover the Sant Nicolau valley in the western part of the Park. From the Molina footbridge, it is possible to reach Aigüestortes by public transport, by bicycle, or on foot, but from that point on, there is a further two and a half hour hike to the lakes.
Visitors will discover the Llebreta pool and the magnificent deciduous woods that are reflected in it and will also see the spectacular Sant Esperit waterfall.
The route, which follows the course of the river, becomes gradually steeper as it rises through forests of Spanish pine and crosses enchanting plateaus, including that of Aigüestortes, with the twisting waters that suggested its name. Before heading on towards Lake Llong, visitors should go to the vantage point that is located just behind the mountain shelter. After passing the Lake Llong shelter, they will then find the lake itself, in a truly marvellous setting. The route then skirts around the lake, crosses the Peixerani gully, and then – in a 30 minute walk - smoothly climbs up to Lake Redó.
2.- The Pierró Meadow car park, Sant Maurici Lake, and Ratera and Amitges Pool
Total time required: 3 hour climb.
Difference in altitude: 740 metres
This well-signposted path offers visitors a complete view of the Riu Escrita valley, from the lower part of the valley which is dominated by lush forests of Scotch pine, fir and Spanish pine. The landscape then gradually changes with fewer and fewer trees being encountered as the route nears the Amitges shelter (2.380 m).
A total of 7 lakes and pools will pleasantly surprise visitors along this route, which is presided over by the peak of Els Encantats, the highest summit in the park. Visitors should remember to visit the vantage point on the lake, which is 5 minutes from the main path and near the Ratera pool. Just before getting there, they can also admire the monumental Pi d'Amitges (Amitges Pine), which is just to the right of the path. This hardy tree has survived the harshest of conditions.
3.- Cavallers Dam, Riumalo Falls, and Estany Negre
Total time required: 2 hours 15 minutes.
Difference in altitude: 350 metres
This route allows visitors to enjoy one of the most impressive landscapes in the National Park, because this area contains all of 3,000+ metre summits in this protected natural space.
Visitors can set off from any of the car parks near Lake Cavallers and follow the path that skirts its waters until they reach the Riumalo plateau, passing the waterfall of the same name on their way. From this point on, the path becomes steeper land passes through steeply sloping, rocky terrain: the Llastres de la Morta.
The path continues its ascent through granite rocks, which have been left smooth and polished by the erosion of the glaciers that once occupied this valley, as far as Estany Negre (the Black Pool), which is one of the best known waters in the valley. There, visitors will also see some of the few Spanish pines that are embedded amongst walls of granite, where they cling on to resist the harsh conditions of the area.
Above the pool there is the Ventosa and Calvell shelter, where it is possible to finish the route. From this point on, it is possible to wander through the lake area located in the upper part of the valley and to see numerous lakes and pools that have remained virtually unaltered by time, including Travessani, Monges and Mangades.
Total time required: 2 ½ hours .
4.- Estany Gento, Colomina Shelter, Estany de Mar and Estany de Saburó
Difference in altitude: 390 metres
The headwaters of the vall Fosca (Dark Valley) have been significantly affected by the exploitation of its lakes to obtain hydroelectric power. Even so, it still conserves its rough, untamed, high-mountain character. Visitors can reach the Estany Gento pool on foot from the Sallente reservoir (a walk of 1 h 30 min and climb of 390 metres) or take the cable car that connects theses two points in summer.
From there, a well marked path will take visitors to the Colomina pool and the shelter of the same name. They can then go on to lake Saburó, having crossed the Pas de l'Ós (Bear Pass), a path with steps cut into the rock, which was created when the dams were being constructed. The imposing granite relief and lakes are the main attractions in this valley that lies on the periphery of the main park.
5.- Great Circ of Colomers
Total time required to complete the circuit: 6h 30 min.
It is possible to do a shorter circuit (saving 2 hours) by taking public transport from Els Bahns de Tredòs as far as the path leading to the Colomèrs shelter. Information about the timetable should be obtained in advance.
Difference in altitude: 490 metres
Setting out from Els Banhs de Tredòs, the route leads to the calm waters of Aïguestortes and the River Aiguamòg. It then crosses Era Planhòla, before climbing up to the Colomèrs shelter, which serves as the starting point for several typical excursions. The proposed circuit, which is marked with white and yellow signs, begins at the Lac Major lake, then passes the Mòrt and Garguilhs pools and Cabidornats pool, before returning to Lac Major. This is a good way of discovering a good part of the circ that contains the largest concentration of pools in the Pyrenees.
For further information:
CASA DEL PARC NACIONAL D'ESPOT
Carrer de Sant Maurici, 5
Tel/Fax: 973 624 036
CASA DEL PARC NACIONAL DE BOÍ
Ca de Simamet
Carrer de les Graieres, 2
Tel: 973 696 189 / Fax: 973696154
INFORMATION CENTRE OF SENET
C/ del Port,10
25553 Senet (Alta Ribagorça)
Tel. 973 698 232 / Fax: 973 698 229
INFORMATION CENTRE OF LLESSUI
Ecomuseu dels Pastors de la Vall d’Àssua
Antigues escoles s/n
25567 Llessui (Pallars Sobirà)
Tel. 973 621 798 / Fax: 973 621 803