Somiedo Nature Reserve: a green paradise in northern Spain
Parque Natural de Somiedo
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Think of a nature area with evocative landscapes. Sounds appealing? Concentrate on the thought of millions of beach and oak trees, glacial lakes, river valleys... You are now in Somiedo Nature Reserve, Region of Asturias, which has the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve designation and is one of Spain's most beautiful settings. What can you do here? Discover traditional cabins, visit an eco-museum, go hiking, skiing... and, above all, feel free. Take note:
If you come to Asturias, in northern Spain, some 300 square kilometres of beautiful landscapes await you at the Somiedo Nature Reserve. It comprises five main valleys: Sapiencia, Valle del Lago, Puerto de Somiedo, Las Aortas and Cigüeñas. When you arrive you will be surrounded by meadows and peaks reaching almost 2,000 metres above sea level, with deep, unspoilt valleys. A real treat to look at, with all the different tones of beech and oak trees, and the region's inherent, wild charm.
Don't miss a single detail. Walk on the trails, see lakes and gorges, relax on the bank of a river, listen to the sound of cowbells and feel the delightful, cool breeze from the Cantabrian mountains on your face. Looking for a perfect setting? Head up to the Príncipe Viewpoint and you will have stunning views of special areas of the Reserve such as Cornón peak and the Mumián "braña" (high pastureland).
Nature lovers, don't forget that this Reserve is home to one of Europe's largest populations of bears in liberty. The Brown Bear Foundation has an information centre in Pola de Somiedo, where you can contract the services of specialised guides for your trip to the Nature Reserve. Furthermore, throughout Asturias there are other Biosphere Reserves such as Muniellos, Oscos-Eo, Redes and Picos de Europa.
The experience of traditional culture
The valleys of Somiedo Nature Reserve also have a surprise in store. Throughout these valleys you will find what are known as "teitos" - stone cabins with thatched roofs that have served as shelter for hundreds of regional herders. Around 500 of these unusual constructions remain standing to this day, with straw beds, kitchen and stable.
Would you like to know more about this traditional way of life? Then visit the Somiedo Eco-museum. It has two centres (Pola de Somiedo and Veigas), where you can see tools used by traditional craftsmen and women such as clog makers and thread spinners, and there are three houses that explain the evolution of these dwellings in the region. Furthermore, April-October you can see the "vaquieros de alzada", the last Asturian nomadic livestock farmers who cross the valleys with their herds each year. They are bound to tickle your curiosity.
A world of activities
If you like excitement and sport, then at the Somiedo Nature Reserve you will find a whole lot more than peace and quiet. There are twelve fully signed routes that cover the area's lakes and mountains. You can do them on foot, by bike or on horseback, whichever you prefer. If you opt for horseback, then there are special routes for groups and horses available for children. What is more, in this Reserve you can go fishing and cross-country skiing - a little over 30 kilometres away is the Leitariegos ski resort.
If your thing is good food, here you can enjoy roast meats, cured meats and the delicious, typical beans of Asturias. Whetting your appetite? Then make a note of this date: in mid-August, in Pola de Somiedo, there is a market with crafts and typical products, accompanied by traditional Asturian music that you are sure to love.
Somiedo Nature Reserve has a Visitor Centre where you will find all the information you need. Don't think twice, leave the stresses of city life behind for a few days. Come and fall in love with the mountains and distant horizons of this Nature Reserve. You can stay in attractive country house lodges and restored hotels, and most importantly, you will have access to one of Spain's most beautiful and best conserved nature reserves.
If you found this article interesting, get more information at: Lagos de Covadonga, a legendary paradise Asturias, a summer paradise for active/adventure tourism