Aigüestortes in the Catalan Pyrenees

It’s clear that as soon as we can travel, we will return to the Catalan Pyrenees area, specifically to the Aigüestortes National Park. The two most common entrances are well through the Vall de Boí, with its impressive romantic; or by Espot. Inside the park you can only stay overnight in the shelters, always with prior reservation, and it is the ideal place to return to exercise our legs after so many days of confinement. There are various routes, the easiest being around the Estany de Sant Maurici (with views of Els Encantats), up to Carros de Foc, a 55km circular route that connects the nine mountain refuges in the park, for which recommend 5-7 days.

The Aigüestortes and Lake San Mauricio National Park (in Catalan: Parc Nacional d’Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici; in Occitan, Parc Nacionau d’Aigüestòrtes e Estanh de Sant Maurici) was created in 1955 and is the only national park Spanish located in the autonomous community of Catalonia.

With 525,067 visitors annually (2015), the Aigüestortes and Lake San Mauricio national park is the eighth national park in Spain in number of visitors. It is located in the central part of the Pyrenees divided between four Pyrenean regions: Alta Ribagorza, Pallars Sobirà, Pallars Jussà and Valle de Arán, in the province of Lleida, encompassing, in its central part, territory of the municipal terms Espot and Bohí Valley.

The park has great biological value. The great unevenness that it presents originate the different ecosystems: meadows, crops and deciduous forests in the lowest elevations, evergreen forests in the middle elevations, and high mountain meadows and rocks in the highest elevations. Since it has been a protected area for years and its access is relatively inaccessible, it has preserved flora and fauna in a rather wild state. Despite everything, the human footprint is inevitable and the park is still exploited by livestock, tourism and hydroelectric plants.

Els Encantats are two of the park’s most emblematic peaks. The Petit Encantat (Small Enchanted) measures 2,738 meters and the Grand Encantat (Great Enchanted) 2,747 meters.

Its name, Els Encantats, is due to an ancient legend: «Legend has it that two hunters insisted on hunting the chamois in the forest, skipping Sunday mass. Their disrespect for religion enchanted them and eventually turned them to stone. ”

For lovers of adventure and hiking, I recommend going up to one of the 15 refuges that the park offers and spending the night there. You can’t lose it!

Once in the Estany de Sant Maurici you can go up to the Mirador del Estany, where you can enjoy magnificent views of the park. At this point you can appreciate the high mountain landscapes with sharp peaks and dizzying ridges. Nature in its purest form!
The park has more than 200 ponds in which to delight yourself.

One of the pleasures of the world is to feel free and at peace, and here you will get it.

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