The Pyrenees Sights



Parc Nacional d'Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici

Parc Nacional d'Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici Review

A nature lover's paradise, Catalonia's only national park encompasses a dramatic landscape that was shaped during 2 million years of glacial activity. Carved out jagged peaks, steep rock walls, and an abundance of crystal clear waterfalls, lakes, and high mountain terrain lie in the shadow of the twin peaks of Els Encantats. More than 300 glacial lakes and lagoons trickle through forests and meadows of wildflowers to the meandering Noguera River watercourses: the Pallaresa to the east and the Ribagorçana to the west. The land range sweeps from soft lower meadows below 5,000 feet to the highest crags at nearly double that height. The twin Encantats measure more than 9,000 feet, and the surrounding peaks of Beciberri, Peguera, Montarto, and Amitges hover between 8,700 feet and a little under 10,000 feet.

The nine mountain refuges range from the 18-bed Besiberri—the highest bivouac in the Pyrenees at 9,174 feet—to the 70-bed Ventosa i Calvell, at 7,326 feet at the foot of Punta Alta. Between June and September these mountain accommodations fill with tired and hungry hikers sharing trail tips and lore and it is essential to make a reservation.

The park has strict rules: no camping, no fires, no swimming, no vehicles beyond certain points, and no unleashed pets. There is access from the Noguera Pallaresa and Ribagorçana valleys and from the villages Espot to the east and Boí from the west. Though driving inside the park is not allowed, it is possible to organize a taxi in Boí or Espot. For information and refuge reservations, contact the park's administration office, Casa del Parque de Boí.

Updated: 06-12-2013

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