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Walking the river Cares Gorge – Picos da Europa

Walking the river Cares Gorge – Picos da Europa

Probably the most iconic walk of Picos da Europa.

You can locate Posada de Valdeon on the map, “Google it”, in the heart of Picos de Europa National Park, in the autonomous community of Castile and León, Spain, and from there you will take your way to Caín … where the road ends.

Can we go somewhere from here?

Not driving for sure, only walking we can move forward.

Returning to our map, we will see a river that unites Caín to Poncebos, is the River Cares.

The space between these two locations appears on the map as being a mountain range with peaks over 2.000m high and with many steep slopes surrounding the Cares Gorge.

Can it be crossed?

Yes, we can cross this gorge and you will find one of the most interesting walking trails of the National Park and probably of Spain, the Cares Gorge / La Garganta del Cares. It is a very deep canyon where runs the Cares River through all its extension, uniting Caín to Poncebos.

It’s a 12km / 7.5mi walk, without much elevation gain or loss, always following along a trail that is, for most of its length, about 1, 5 m wide.

Between 1915 and 1921 the “Sociedad Electra de Viesgo” built a canal that would drive the Cares River waters from Caín to the hydroelectric of Poncebos. The result of this work is the canal that nowadays we can see along the trail which has 71 tunnels and where the water will be constantly appearing and disappearing.

However, there was always many conservation problems and between 1945 and 1950 a new canal had to be built next to a new trail and that is the path that we can walk. In some photos you can still see the old trail on a lower lever along the river.

After walking the 12 km long trail we get to Puente de Poncebos where we can find some terraces and then will be the perfect time to drink a beer and eat some tapas, preferably from Cabrales cheese, a local cheese made with milk from sheep’s, goat’s and cow’s with very intense flavor and a characteristic mold, typical of the region.

This walk is part of one of the tours I’m constantly offering due its natural beauty and also because it is one of a kind.

I’ll be waiting for you.

David Monteiro

Originally posted 2013-05-07 22:43:30. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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Aigüestortes National Park at the Pyrenees – Spain

Photos from previous tours – please, click on one of the photos to enlarge.

Aigüestortes National Park at the Pyrenees – Spain.

The Park’s correct name is Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici National Park but usually is referred as Aigüestortes because the name is quite long.

Is located in the central area of the Spanish Pyrenees and is the only national park in Catalonia.

Its territory is divided between the municipalities of Vall d’Aran, Pallars Sobirá, Alta Ribagorça and Pallars Jussà, about 200 km West of Andorra.

Was created in 1955 and today covers an area of approximately 40,000 hectares also considering the peripheral protected areas.

Is a natural space of great beauty where both water and granite appears in their maximum splendor and in surprising combinations.

With a high concentration of ridges often around 3,000 m high, as is the Punta Alta (3,015 m) and the Contraix (2,960 m), you will find a high contrast with the deep green valleys where streams flow with crystal clear waters.

The first time I visited this park I didn’t know what to expect, I thought this was another Pyrenees park as beautiful as the others I knew. I was wrong.

In between my circle of friends it was not very known and back then I couldn’t find much information about it so it took me a while to be interested in going there.

I remember to join a group of friends to climb the Vignemale and after that, because I still had a few days to spend so, together with my friend Carlos Queirós we decided to visit the park.

The first two days was quite foggy so I couldn’t really appreciate the place but on the third day it was just amazing, it was like walking in a postcard, I

My company logo was inspired in the mountains of the park and my active tourism entrepreneurial endeavor was begun, important landmarks for me.

Have fun,

David Monteiro

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Climbing our way up to Canchal de la Ceja – Spain

The day was perfect to climb up to Canchal de la Ceja. The ice was hard, the snow was very firm and the sun was shining … just perfect.

Sometimes is just a question of luck, some other times it’s a result of a good planning but when you get a little of both you might get the best of all, like the day we spent at Laguna del Duque, not too far from Salamanca.

The access to the parking area is some how bizarre because you will need to remove an apparently locked chain that makes you wonder if one day you will arrive there and find it really impossible to open.

At Solana de Ávila you will find a narrow road that will lead you to the weirdest parking area and from here facing the dam wall, on your left you will find a trail, that’s the one.

Please be aware that on the right side of the dam wall there’s a hut you can use in case of emergency.

Usually I do a trail on the right side walking up to the summit, is a nice trail, not too difficult at all, accessible to most of the walkers.

On that day we wanted a more “vertical” wall so the left trail would suite us much better, a more technical way offering a moderate challenge.

The summit, Canchal de la Ceja is the highest point of the “Sierra de Bejar y Candelário” with 2428m and climbing up here via the Laguna del Duque is the most challenging way.

The day started quite foggy and I was not very enthusiastic but by around 10 am the sun came out and the day just turned to be perfect.

It was such a nice that I will repeat it.

Who will join me?

David Monteiro

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Canyoning with the three stooges at Salto de Bierge – Spain

Once in a while I find astonishing  places, truly amazing locations.

It’s not easy for me to point one single place in between so many incredible places I know but sometimes there is something I can’t explain that makes location to shine in a different way it get stuck in my maind.

On the case of Salto de Bierge is quite obvious, just look to the pictures, the spot is definitely wonderful and, I can assure you that what you cannot see gives it even a greater interest.

This small dam of the river Alcanadre is located in the Sierra y Cañones de Guara Park, the Spanish Meca of canyoning. For those who don’t know what canyoning is please check this clip.

After a quite windy canyon the river Alcanadre arrives to a wide area where its waters slows down and spreads along a shallow bathing area.

Around here, besides being a pleasant area for a bath, one can jump from the river dam wall. It’s a 9,5m high wall and the falling will end in deeper waters, egnouphly deep to jump safely.

I came here for the first time on vacations with two friends, I was far from imagining that one day I would guide tours here.

At the time we thought it was a good idea to hire a local guide to l
ead us throughout the canyon, a real treat, really vacations time.

We was so excited that we didn’t pay too much attention to the guy saying: the canyon will require many jumps to the water increasingly higher along the way. The point here was that one of the three stooges was afraid to jump from high places.

As you can imagine it was quite an amusing morning until the moment that we arrived to the river dam wall and I realize that is was impossible for my friend to jump.

I never in the world could imagine he could say what he said: I WILL JUMP!!!!

I grabbed my disposable camera … dreadful camera … but the only one I had at the moment and I jumped to be able to capture his jump from a bottom up angle.

I was so excited that I almost lost the camera. Fortunately I was able to retrieve it.

One step to the void and there he was, the guy that refused all the jumps during all the canyon was jumping from the highest one.

The jump was immortalized in a lousy picture and all the crowd was clapping theirs hands … How did they knew? The third stooge had given short a speech before the jump telling everybody present about what was happening and the second stooge had is moment of glory.

What a day 🙂 thank you my friends for such memories.

David Monteiro

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A hard day at Sierra de Gredos – Spain

A hard day at Sierra de Gredos – Spain

The wind was blowing tremendously strong intensifying the wind chill effect and the fog was preventing us to see more than 50m ahead.

I knew the summit Almanzor was not too far from the point where we was standing but we were still missing the most difficult part to climb.

The team was not prepared to overcome such a difficult task and, on top of that there was no point to continue.

I knew everybody was eager to reach the top … we were so close …

“THAT IS IT GUYS … WE HAVE TO RETURN”

It’s hard having to “stop the fun” especially when I knew that everybody had traveled from so far away to climb this mountain but I know today that was the right decision at that time.

(one day earlier)

I can’t say the day before was sunny and with a blue sky, was not. Was kind of foggy day but good enough for a ice climbing introduction and I had the opportunity to explain all the techniques I was supposed to and, at the end was a wonderful working day.

We spent the night at the Refúgio Elola, the local mountain hut and I remember the substantial dinner we had, was something like a goulash in a Spanish way, whatever that is.

The climbing day was supposed to have better weather but Nature has its mysteries and during the night the Gods might had some disagreement in between them.

I slept regularly, in mountain huts I never sleep deeply but the fair amount to rest. Anyway, inside the mountain hut one cannot have the perception of the weather outside.

We left the hut around 5am, just before sunrise. It’s always better to start walking with hard snow.

There was no way to see the clouds and or to assess the weather for the next hours.

Around 8am the weather was already giving us a hard time and we was right before being exposed to the most severe area, we was about to be at the north face of the mountain, the windiest part.

Half an hour later I had all the team tide up to a rock, all prepared to climb the last section but there was when I realized the team couldn’t continue and you know the rest.

I’m joining a picture of the place but with god weather so you can understand where was we 🙂

The mountain is still there so we will try another day.

David Monteiro

 

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Walking the Congost de Mont-rebei, halfway to the Pyrenees – Spain

Walking the Congost de Mont-rebei, halfway to the Pyrenees - Spain

Nothing better like a nice walk to stretch your legs during a long van transfer, even better if is the Congost de Mont-rebei.

After a long flight, there is nothing worse than being seated in a car for 4 hours driving to doesn’t matter where. But that is what can happen when you are traveling to the Pyrenees after landing at the Barcelona Airport if you don’t have a backup plan.

Of course, you can fly to a closer airport like Huesca or Zaragoza. However, there are not many flights to those airports and in the end, it can take more time than getting there by car.

So, what to do to, at least to soften the long car ride? The answer is to stop somewhere nice for a walk and enjoy the place and instead of a long drive you just add an extra interesting day.

I was searching for a walk halfway to the Pyrenees because of the above reasons and this place caught my attention, is the Congost de Mont-rebei.

The Congost de Mont-rebei is the narrowest canyon of the river Noguera Ribagorzana, right in between the provinces of Huesca and Lleida, Spain.

Is located in quite remote hills and until the beginning of the XX century there were no roads to connect some local villages or with the existing roads, it was a very long ride. So, in 1912 a walking trail was built in the canyon to connect Corçà to Alsamora and other tinny little villages.

Later a river dam was also built and the first trail was flooded (you can see that in one of the photos) and was needed to build a new trail again but now in a higher altitude. In 1984 the second walking trail was finished allowing the people to cross from one side to the other.

More recently an iron bridge and some catwalks were added.

Map-Congost-Mont-rebei

The trail (red line) is not too far from Tremp, has 13 Km to each side without relevant elevation gain. Obviously, you can do a shorter distance because the most beautiful part of the trail is the canyon and it goes until the first 8 Km.

Allow me to suggest you take a sandwich or something else to bite, you will find a perfect place to do it, like my colleague in the photo.

Have fun.

David Monteiro

Location: Tremp, Spain

 

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The Way of Saint James

The Way of Saint James

What is the Way of Saint James? How did it appear? Why is so important?

What is the Way of Saint James? How did it appear? Why is so important?

More than a pilgrimage is a spiritual journey within us, steps towards to self-knowledge.

The History of the Way of Saint James dates back to the time of the birth of Christianity.

In the middle ages pilgrims came from all over Europe on the road to Santiago de Compostela with the intention to pay a promise or any other religious intent. In this way they contributed to what would later be called the Way of St. James or, as it is known in Spain, “El Camino”.

After an impressive growth over the centuries it felt abruptly to the point of to be counted 40 pilgrims, during the 19th century.

But something happened that made the flame burn again and in 1999 an impressive number of 155,000 pilgrims were counted.

What happened?

This is a long story that I will tell in a few posts.

Keep tuned.

David Monteiro

Originally posted 2013-06-15 09:26:36. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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Lac Negre, Pyrenees – Spain

Lac Negre, Pyrenees - Spain

A landscape can get stuck in your mind for many reasons not just because is astonishing. Sometimes you just don’t know why but you keep remembering the picture you mentally took or maybe you did it with your camera as well.

The Lac Negre, Black Lake in Catalan, is the case for me, it just pops up in my mind once in a while.

I keep going there on tour and, in between the 200 lakes of Aigüestortes National Park, this is the lake I better remember. I just don’t know why … yet.

Anyway, for your information, the Lac Negre is located here. It’s easy to access if you park your car at the Cavallers Dam parking lot here.

You can take the trail at the right side of the dam face upstream and you will find some signs pointing to the mountain hut Ventosa i Calvell. By the way, a mountain hut in Catalan “refugi”.

It will take you around 2h30m walking to the mountain hut and there you will find the lake.

Although I already did this walk a few times, usually I arrive at Ventosa i Calvell coming from another mountain hut while doing a trekking tour called Carros de Foc.

The water of the lack seems black because of some algae, the dark color of the granite and also because it never gets too much direct sunlight.

The best picture of the lake is during sunrise. Although for a photographer can seem obvious is also to say that during sunset the landscape can be quite flat, it loses the sensation of depth.

For several years I crossed this place during the first week of June when the mountain huts were starting their season and the scenery was always different. Sometimes it was all white from the snow/ice and some other years the snow/ice was long gone and everything was green under a deep blue sky.

I’m leaving you with some pictures of the lake, the mountain hut and where you can see also a mountain range on the background called Bessiberri.

Would you like to visit this lake?

David Monteiro

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Torrija at Bailara Restaurant in Bidania, Basque Country – Spain

Torrija at Bailara Restaurant in Bidania, Basque Country - Spain

Torrija is the Spanish name for French toast. So far so good nothing new.

Like any other dish you often may find the regular and occasionally you will find the superb and that is what this post is all about.

One of the hotels I often visit while guiding tours is the Iriarte Jauregia – http://www.iriartejauregia.com/en/ – and here you can find the restaurant Bailara where Enrique Fleischmann is the Chef. About the hotel, I promised to write in another post its magnificent history.

Many of you will think: What is there so special about a French toast?

Well …

Instead of regular bread, they use an award-winning brioche bread soaked in a custard cream and grilled, not fried.

The amber and yellow pearls are all done manually one-by-one. The yellow has a base of egg yolk dropped into a warm syrup so they will cook gently and the amber pearls have a base of syrup dropped into a cold cooking oil to crystallize without getting stuck with each other … just perfect.

The result is a French toast with a perfect structure, tasty, not too sweet, not fat, crunchy and while you are chewing you may have a very mild caramel flavor from the amber pearls …. ooooohhh the heaven exists 🙂

Enjoy it … I know I will 🙂

David Monteiro

Location: Bailara Restaurant, Bidania, Basque Country, Spain

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Walking and photographing in Picos da Europa – Spain

Walking and photographing in Picos da Europa - Spain

It truly pleases me to write about walks that are usually not mentioned in travel books or magazines. It’s like sharing a small world I found.

Mentions about the walk from Bulnes until Sotres are rare and those I find once in a while do not say much.

This is a walk for photographers. It gives us three opportunities of getting impressive pictures and also be there at the perfect hours of the day … well … the weather conditions are a different matter, please be aware that this happens in a mountain environment so the weather can be a challenge to take into account.

About photography, one thing is to have the opportunity for a shot something else is to actually turn it into reality. For me is still a work in progress, fortunately, some of my guests were able to capture amazing pictures.

The trail goes from “Bulnes la villa” until Sotres, has 9,5 Km with a gain of 850 m in altitude and a 450 m of descent. Not too difficult, moderate level, perfect for photographers.

1st photograph – Overnight in Bulnes to captures the lights of the villages when they are turned on in the evening. You will have sunlight while having the lights of the villages. Be quick because the sunlight will go away quite fast due to the high mountains surrounding the village.

2nd photograph – At the end of the ascending part of the trail, you will see the majestic Naranjo de Bulnes at your right … can’t miss it, it’s huge … an impressive limestone massif with 2519 m high. The light is usually at it’s best around midday due to the mountain “verticality”.

3rd photograph – Just before starting the steep descent towards Sotres you will see a valley with quite a few constructions that you will understand that they are not for humans. In fact, they were built to protect the cattle during bad weather moments. The place is called Moyeyeres, is an “invernadero”. The best view is from far … but that is just my point of view.

I leave you with my suggestions and I will keep looking for the right moment … not too easy because I’m usually here with guests (not my moment) but I will have come here just to capture the moments.

Have fun, I know I will 🙂

David Monteiro

Location: Bulnes, Spain