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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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The Garrano Horse at Gerês National Park, Portugal

Garrano horses at Peneda-Gerês National Park, Portugal

The Garrano Horse at Gerês National Park, Portugal

Wild horses in Portugal at Gerês National Park.

Why are the Garrano horses so important?

In a territory with such ancient boundaries, such as Portugal, and where the human presence is almost everywhere, there are not so frequent wildlife sightings.

When these sightings happen, as it was in this case, it is always an exciting moment.

Garrano is a breed of Iberian horses.

We often tend to refer to Garrano horses as being Portuguese but the fact is the animal knows no boundaries and they can be seen both on the Portuguese side and on the Spanish side.

On the Spanish side, the Gerês (Gerês National Park) is called Xures, very similar.

These are horses of small stature, wrongly often referred to as ponies, adapted to the harsh conditions of the Gerês and with working horse characteristics.

It’s difficult to find the word to express how much I love seeing these free animals in the wild.

They are no longer in danger of extinction as once they were, it is a sign of hope in the future of coexistence between humans and wildlife.

This was a moment to remember.

David Monteiro

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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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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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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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Walking from Fuenterrabia to San Sebastian – Spain

Walking from Fuenterrabia/Hondarribia to San Sebastian/Donostia, Basque Country, Spain.

I loooove to walk … that is obvious … however is not an absolute truth because there are walks I love more than others and some walk I hope not have to do them.

Each walk has its charm but for a walk to enter into my favorites gallery the walk has to have something special like a story, History, superb views, extraordinary places or, something less objective, has to have that je ne sais quoi that will make it special.

The Spanish Basque Country is widely known by its gastronomy and there there is also a quite long and beautiful coastal line.

When I first started to analyze the trail from Hondarribia (Fuenterrabia in Spanish) to Donostia (San Sebastian in Spanish) I didn’t know what to expect so I was open to whatever I could find.

Hondarribia is a Spanish Basque village at the border with Hendaye a French Basque village and, in between these two Basque villages, you can find the river Bidasoa. Is a village full of life where you will find a lot of bars with amazing pintxos.

There’s a trail here that will take you directly do Donostia, always along the Cantabric coast and that was the trail I first thought about doing. Has 30 Km with 1400 m of elevation gain, challenging but not too difficult.

In the meantime, I realized that not too far from the trail there was quite a good number of elements that are quite interesting to visit while doing the walk and that could increase the charm of the walk, decrease the length, reduce the elevation gain a little bit and increase the charm … looks like a good deal.

The trail ended up having 27 Km with 1100 m of elevation gain. Is still a challenging walk but with added value. Not too bad, I knew that some of my clients would love to do it.

Now I know that I can either do the trail in one shoot or split it in two wonderful walking days.

During the trail you can visit/see:

And, before crossing Donibane de Pasaia you can have lunch in a wonderful terrace by the river Oiartzun mouth looking to the sea.

Arriving to Donostia will be time to have a deserved bath and a nice meal. One thing that you will find in abundance in Donostia is restaurants where you have a superb dinner.

I already did this walk with clients and they loved everything. For sure I will repeat it.

Enjoy yourself.

David Monteiro

Location: San Sebastian, Spain

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A hiking adventure at Sierra de Gredos – Spain

At 110 Km Norwest from Madrid you will find the landscape of the book “For whom the bell tolls” from Ernest Hemingway and a perfect location for a hiking adventure.

If I remember well, I read the book “For whom the bell tolls” when I was 18 years old or something like that. At that age I was far from imagining that one day I was going to lead tours there or even to climb to its summit, the Almanzor.

When I read the book I was fascinated by the description of how the earth shacked when we made love with Maria, I admired the strength of Pilar and I could only imagine the mountains landscape in my dreams. One have to realize that back then there was no internet where I could go browse about Gredos, the closest thing I had was the local public library and there was not many books about such a place.

Anyway, this mountain range is like a mini Alpes, it really looks like it but in a much smaller scale. With its snowed granitic needles and its “U” valley one have the sensation of being in much higher mountain.

The highest summit is the Almanzor with 2,592 m (8,504 ft). If you want to know more about the origin of the name Almanzor, please visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Almanzor

Sierra de Gredos is a lovely place to go for a walk, both during the winter or summer time.

Although during the winter is usually completely covered with snow, the walk from the parking area called Plataforma until the mountain hut Elola is well marked and there is always quite a lot of people doing it, especially during weekends.

But if you want to climb to the Almanzor summit or similar, you better know what your doing or hire a mountain guide. I can’t remember how many time I climbed this summit with clients and quite often we find people in trouble during the way up without proper guidance … please don’t do that.

Just the walk until the mountain hut is already a wonderful memory and in the mountain hut you will find something very important: beer 🙂

Have fun.

David Monteiro

Location: Hoyos del Espino, Spain

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Active vacations in the Pyrenees

We look at the Pyrenees as a great natural border between Spain and France, a border with about 400 km of mountains that frequent exceeds 2000m of height.

It is in this mountainous chain that you can find the highest peak of mainland Spain, is the Aneto peak with 3.404m high. This peak is located in Natural park Posets-Maladeta near the Benasque, a small village of the province of Huesca, autonomous community of Aragón.

The landscapes that we can find in the Pyrenees very are diversified and, if you consider the great differences of scenes between the stations of the year, the diversity will be even wider.

With more than 400Km’ extension and with such diversity of landscapes, I find always quite odd when someone tells me that knows the Pyrenees having been there once or twice … that is, at least, very strange… is the same as to know the Museum of the Louvre in one hour.

I do not intend to cover all the diversity and extension of the Pyrenees in this post, such task was ridicule, but only to awake your curiosity concerning these mountains.

In this mountainous chain you will be able to find several Parks, National and another type of protected Natural areas where each one of these areas has its proper beauty and you will easily find many reasons for a visit.

Between those protected areas, I will write more frequently about the following:

– National Park of Aigüestortes;

– National Park of Ordesa and Monte Perdido;

– Natural Park of “Sierra y Cañones de Guara” (Pre-Pyrenees);

– Natural Park of Posests and Maladeta

Also I do not intend to all cover the type of activities that you can do around here but only to tell a few stories and some curious things that happened during my tours.

I will be writing about walking, trekking, via ferratas, wine, gastronomy, History and culture in general.

I will also waiting to guide you in the Pyrenees to live some adventure.

David Monteiro