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The Ruta del Cares: Seven-Hour Megahike

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The Picos de Europa are a huge mountain range that straddles the border between Asturias, Cantabria and León, just twenty kilometers from the ocean, and a paradise for mountain climbers, nature lovers and hikers.

Sun Hike

Juergen and I fall into that latter group for sure, so we embarked on the most famous hike through the Picos: The Ruta del Cares. Connecting the tiny villages of Poncebos and Caín, it’s a 24km, seven-hour roundtrip hike. That’s a lot, but the seven hours are packed with breathtaking nature, and fairly easy.

The river Cares has carved an immense and exhilaratingly narrow canyon into the Picos. The route travels alongside the river, high up into the mountains, through tunnels and along cliff faces. It was developed in the early 20th century for workers of the Electra de Viesgo company, who needed to reach the canal which still runs between the two villages. The hike has since become incredibly popular, and welcomes over 200,000 adventurers a year.

The Ruta del Cares starts with a long ascent, and before long we were high above the river. It leveled out from there, as we entered the canyon. I experienced some mild vertigo. In such a narrow canyon gap with sheer cliff faces towering high over your head and the river so far below, it’s easy to become disoriented.

There were long stretches through dark tunnels, over bridges high above the river, and we passed by a few waterfalls. By the time we reached Caín, we were exhausted but in great spirits. The first half of the hike had gone quickly by and, after a quick lunch, I didn’t dread the thought of returning the same way. The chance to see the canyon again was a powerful incentive.

If you’re fit enough and enjoy the outdoors, don’t miss this hike. But try and pick an off-season day during the week, as the route is truly popular and, on summer weekends, the number of people can be overwhelming.

Location of Poncebos (Start)
Plan of the Hike in Wikiloc
Detailed Info in Spanish on the Hike

Mist Land
Rio Asturias
Rio Picos de Europa
Picos de Europa Hike
Ruta del Cares
No Bikers Allowed
Dizzy
Dangerous Hike
Gefahr Wandern
Hiking Routes Picos
Fall Asturias
Exciting Hike
China in Spain
Hiking
Tunnel Hiking Asturias
Welcome to Leon
Waterfall
Wandern Asturias
On Nom Nom
Wet Land
Wet
Splish Splash
Sidra IN leon
Wandern
Picos de Europa
Play of Light
Travel Stock Photographer
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October 20, 2010 at 8:39 pm Comments (6)

El Lago del Valle in Somiedo

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Looking for a Hotel in Somiedo?

During our recent day trip to Somiedo, we found ourselves with time for a long walk. After parking our car in Valle del Lago, we hiked to Lago del Valle. Now that’s some clever toponymy.

Somiedo Lake

Uninspiring name aside, the Lake of the Valley is a beautiful bit of nature. The hike takes about 90 minutes if you walk without pause, and is enchanting from beginning to end. Following the low-lying valley, the walk is easy enough and affords views of mountainsides, beechwood forests and a small river. We walked by teitas, the stone huts with straw roofs so indicative of Somiedo, and past herds of cattle.

Eventually, we arrived at the lake. Almost completely enclosed by mountains, and with a small island in its center, it’s far enough away from civilization to be quiet and unspoiled. The Lago del Valle is the largest lake in Asturias, but still small enough to walk around in 30 minutes. We sat for awhile on the shore, under the searing sun, before heading back to the village, and soaked in the nature. It’s amazing how rejuvenating a place like this can be.

Location of the Lago del Valle on our Day Trips Map

Somiedo See
Asturias
Hiking in Spain
Lago del Valle
Lago Somiedo
El Lago Del Valle Somiedo
Aqua Somiedo
Natura Asturias
Lago Asturias
Super Cute Frog

Best way to explore Somiedo

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September 18, 2010 at 6:12 pm Comments (5)

Visiting the Somiedo Natural Park

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Looking for a Hotel in Somiedo?

We chose an excellent day to visit the Somiedo National Park, found a couple hours south of Oviedo. The sun was bright and the weather warm. With a refreshing breeze coming from the north, it was a perfect early-autumn day, putting us in great spirits and bringing out the most beautiful aspects of the park.

Somiedo Photos

Somiedo is both a municipality of a couple thousand people and a Natural Park, part of which has been declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. With mountains reaching over 2000 meters, a rich diversity of fauna and flora, and a scarce human presence, it’s an uncommonly lovely region.

The most famous inhabitants of Somiedo are the endangered Cantabrian brown bears. Though they reach up to two meters in height and 200 kilos in weight, the bears are timid and had been on the verge of extinction due to poaching and human encroachment. But recent conservation and protection efforts have seen their number grow. We were on the lookout, but I think actually spotting one is nearly impossible. The bears have learned to stay away from humans.

Cattle farming is the way of life among somedanos, as the few people who live in the park refer to themselves. Theirs is a pastoral lifestyle straight out of the 1700s. Farmers still moved their herds by foot across the mountains and valleys, and make use of cabins called teitos, which are stone buildings with a thatched straw roof: a construction unique to Somiedo. Spotted across the valleys, teitos blend in well to the stony landscape, suggesting a human presence that exists in a respectful relationship with the Earth.

During our trip, we also visited the majestic Lago del Valle, the largest lake in Asturias, which demands a long hike through the valley to reach.

Location on our Day Trips Map

Green Spain
Flowers Asturias
Fauna Somiedo
Hiking Somiedo
Nature
Asturias Paradise
Asturias Rocks
Asturias Montanas
Somiedo Cuevas
Asturias
Cows Somiedo
Cricket Sex
bug
Somiedo Road Trip
Somiedo Hiking
Somiedo Asturias
Somiedo
Straw Hut
Somiedo Hut
teito
Dinosaur Asturias

Everything Asturias

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September 12, 2010 at 1:18 pm Comments (7)

To the Top of Mount Naranco!

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Oviedo is bounded on the north by Mount Naranco, which stretches over five kilometers in length and reaches 634 meters in altitude. 634 meters? Pfah, that’s nothing… let’s climb it!

Jesus Sacred Heart Oviedo

And so we did. Starting from San Miguel de Lillo, a path winds up the mountain, through a forest and finishes at the top. It’s all uphill, but the path zigzags and isn’t too difficult. Unless, of course, you’re like us: stupid.

We thought we’d take a shortcut, since well-trodden trails are so boring. The little path shooting off through the shrubbery looked promising! Soon enough, the path disappeared but, clever as we are, we decided to push through the thicket anyway. Thorny branches were soon scraping our legs and arms to shreds. I clutzed through a spiderweb and, spotting its hairy owner crawling up my stomach, unleashed a deafening shriek of ladylike terror. Clever and masculine, yep that’s me.

Bloody and agitated, we eventually made it to the top, where we were greeted by a giant statue of The Sacred Heart of Jesus. With his arms open towards the city, Jesus seems to be embracing Oviedo, protecting it. Underneath the statue is a version of the famous Cruz de la Victoria, which features on the flag of Asturias.

Climbing the mountain was worth the effort for the incredible view over Oviedo and its valley. There’s no better place to get a sense for the layout, size and topography of the region. You can also drive up to the top of Mount Naranco, if you don’t feel like a hike. Either way, make sure to go on a sunny day; the panorama is unforgettable.

Location on our Oviedo Map

Bitchy Gease
Fairy Tale Asturias
Awesome Bug
Farn
Painful Hike
Oviedo Panorama
Sacrado Corazon Jesus Oviedo
Mountain Around Oviedo

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August 18, 2010 at 4:15 pm Comments (6)

Senda del Oso – Path of the Bear

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The villages of Tuñón and Entrago, found south of Oviedo, are connected by the Senda del Oso, a popular trail running through the valley carved by the Trubia River. Formerly a track for mining trains, the trail has been converted for recreational use and has a lot to recommend it: rapids, tunnels, cliffs, fountains, villages and, yes, bears.

We did the 22-kilometer walk on a Sunday morning, when the mist was still covering the tops of the mountains, and were amazed by the scenery. When you think “Spain”, mountainous and verdant Lord-of-the-Rings-landscape isn’t usually what pops into your mind. Although very long, the trail was easy — basically flat and endlessly entertaining.

Just south of Proaza, whose most impressive feature is a massive hydroelectric station, you come upon the enclosure of Paca and Tola — two rescued brown bears, orphaned as babies when a hunter slew their mother. They’ve been living in there since 1996, and are now twenty-one years old. We weren’t able to get too close but, even from afar, the bears were cute — playful and almost human-like in their actions. A male bear, Furaco, has been brought in for mating purposes, but the sisters apparently haven’t shown much interest in him. Poor Furaco. Maybe he’d have more luck with another type of bear.

By the time we reached Entrago, we were exhausted. We had time for lunch and a long siesta on a park bench, before the bus back to Oviedo. This was our first experience with the bus system in Asturias — it’s pretty good! Just €2,05 to Tuñón, and €3,75 on the way back. The buses are clean and comfortable, although the curvy mountains roads caused the kid next to me to vomit all over himself. Thanks for keeping it off of me, chaval!

You can find more information about Paca and Tola here and, if you’re so inclined, vote on which one will get knocked up first.

Location of the Hike’s Start on our Map

spooky stairs
spanischer friedhof
spanish flower lady
farming tools
drying asturias
jahr asturias
sidra fria
trubia
hiking break
nature asturias
asturias nature photographer
modern art asturias
crazy wasle
froggy
Asturian Cow
berries asturias
bear walk
hiking spain
Tunnels osos
wandern asturien
climbing asturias
clouds asturias
oso walk
Asturian Village
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August 9, 2010 at 5:03 pm Comments (13)
The Ruta del Cares: Seven-Hour Megahike The Picos de Europa are a huge mountain range that straddles the border between Asturias, Cantabria and Len, just twenty kilometers from the ocean, and a paradise for mountain climbers, nature lovers and hikers.
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