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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)

The Lakes of Covadonga

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Looking for a Hotel near Covadonga?

A road winds from the religious playland of Covadonga through a mountainous landscape, and ends at Enol and Ercina, twin glacial lakes separated at birth by a hilly clump of land.

Asturien

The lakes are only twelve kilometers away from Covadonga, but the steep, curvy drive requires 30 minutes to complete, and even more than that on busy days. Los Lagos de Covadonga are a popular destination; a gratifying breath of fresh air after the overly religious, incense-impregnated atmosphere of Covadonga.

Although the amount of tourists detracts from the sense of tranquility Enol and Ercina might otherwise possess, they’re still worth visiting. A number a hiking routes pass by, and there are tables for picnics.

Location on our Day Trips Map

Sheep Spain
Spanish Cows
Big Wall of Spain
Asturias
Picos de Europa
Picos Casa Rural
Largo Asturias
Ercina
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October 13, 2010 at 5:09 pm Comment (1)

Mirador del Fito

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The road between Colunga and Arriondas winds through the Sueve mountain range. Midway through the drive, is a viewpoint called the Mirador del Fito, which offers an incredible view of the ocean, valleys and the Picos de Europa in the distance.

When we arrived yesterday morning, a heavy fog had enveloped the valley below, and the scene was of breathtaking beauty.

Location of Mirador del Fito on our Day Trips Map

Hostels in Spain

Fito
Mirador Del Fito
Picos de Europa
Coast Asturias
Asturias Fotos
Asturias Spain
Fog Asturias
Mountains Asturias
Over The Clouds
Herbs Asturias
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October 10, 2010 at 1:36 am Comments (2)

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)

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)

Our Arrival in Oviedo

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The drive from Valencia to Oviedo is a long one, so it’s lucky that the Spanish countryside is so beautiful. We needed seven hours to reach Salamanca, where we grabbed a beer in the massive Plaza Mayor, and spent the night. Before leaving the next morning, we had time to explore the cathedral, which must be the only church in the world that has a space-walking astronaut sculpted into its facade.

From Salamanca, we took the highway through the high, dry plains of Castile and León. As we progressed further north, the terrain became more hilly and we soon found ourselves in the mountains. The poetically named Embalse de los Barrios de Luna (Reservoir of the Neighborhoods of the Moon), awaited us at the end of one of the many mountain tunnels, offering up a gorgeous panorama. The sparkling water below us in the mountain’s valley was breathtaking, especially after the hours spent driving through arid plains.

As we passed into the Principality of Asturias, we were greeted by the clouds which would be our constant companions during for the next three months. But the abundant rain makes for a verdant landscape, and the downhill drive into Oviedo seemed to pass in a heartbeat. Without much difficulty, we were able to find our apartment, which was within sight of the train station, and ten minutes from the city’s historic center. Perfect.

The move from Valencia and the long drive were exhausting, but we were anxious to go explore Oviedo and Asturias. From August to the November of 2010, this blog was updated almost daily with our experiences, and impressions of the city and its people — impressions which would evolve a lot over the course of 91 days. Make sure to follow us on Twitter for real-time updates on what we’re up to, now. Hope you enjoy our pictures and anecdotes from Asturias!

And if we have any Ovetense readers, please leave comments with your insider tips on restaurants and other interesting things to do!

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July 31, 2010 at 7:13 pm Comments (5)
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.
For 91 Days