July 13th to 21st, 2013
August 10th to 18th, 2013
September 7th to 15th
This tour can be personalized in different dates or with a duration adjusted to the requirements of the traveller (the tour can be shorter or longer). Please contact with the organization by firstname.lastname@example.org
Goals of the trip:
Combining easy hiking routes and vehicle journeys we will make a complete tour around the National Park of Picos de Europa, visiting its three massifs, identifying and analyzing the elements of its landscape. Through a circular itinerary for a week, with origin in Cangas de Onís, we discover how the rocks that compose this mountainous massif have been formed and we will get to understand the powerful forces who have raised these mountains in the context of the Cantabrian mountain range. In addition we will get to undertand the processes that have shaped the current relief of the Picos de Europa. We will visit some remains of mining in the Park, than during the last century and a half has modified the original landscape in search of minerals such as Zn, PB, Mn.
The first days we will visit the limestone areas that make up the upper parts of the National Park, located within the geological unit of the Picos de Europa. The last days we will leave the calcareous territory arriving to the valleys of Liébana (Cantabria) and Valdeón (León) where we will identify the different types of rocks and processes that characterize the geological unit of the Pisuerga-Carrión. Back to Cangas de Onís we will cross the Beyos Gorge, builded by the River Sella.
Items of interest
Karst, glaciers, river dynamics, snow avalanches, landslides, flooding risk, plate tectonics, stratigraphy, tectonics, fossils and mining.
Picos de Europa is one of the main limestone reliefs of the Iberic Peninsula. This National Park, the second in extension of Spain, consists of three massifs separated between themselves and their environment by the Sella, Cares, Duje and Deva rivers. These rivers have carved impressive gorges such as the Cares, La Hermida or Los Beyos.
The dominance of limestone produced his isolation of the rest of the Cantabrian mountain range due to differential erosion phenomena, constituting a great relief which rises between the less resistant rocks that surround it and which forms the Onís, Cabrales (Asturias), Valdeón (León) and Liébana (Cantabria) valleys.
The presence of limestone has been strongly conditioned its landscape in which the karst dissolution processes, acting for the past thousand years, has configured a relief in which the limestone, dolines and deep underground galleries are the main elements.
During cold periods of the history of the Picos de Europa, Earth were occupied by large masses of ice that, in turn, contributed to the higher parts modeling, generating large and deep cirques and basins, sharp edges and polished surfaces.
The type of rocks in the National Park is responsible for the general relief of Picos de Europa, conditioning the aspect of its landscape, the presence or absence of superficial waterways and vegetation on them settling.
Calcareous areas, formed by erosion-resistant rocks make up the higher areas of the Park and are characterized by the absence of vegetation due to its altitude and the strong temperature contrast. It is in these sectors in which we can observe the main glacial features, numerous and varied karst elements as well as other forms and processes associated with periglaciar environments. As limestone is a permeable rock, the circulation of the water in these areas is done mostly underground, finding in the Picos de Europa thirteen of the deepest caves in the world, which is why Picos de Europa is a paradise for the caving.
The lower areas, located on the periphery of the three massifs, are constituted by softer rocks, mostly slates and sandstones, easily erodible materials that generate fertile soils on which grows a variety of vegetation, forming large forest. The waterproof nature of slates produces in this area the main watercourses and will be in these low parts where we will see the fluvial dynamics and its interference with the human uses.
In recent centuries the human influence is reflected in the Park, still relevant archaeological remains, some of which will visit, such as the necropolis of Monte Corona, the dolmen of Santa Cruz in Cangas de Onís or the burial mounds of Vegabaño. In modern times the human activity includes the remains of intensive mining activity, which sometimes has profoundly changed the configuration of the Picos de Europa landscape.
Day 1 (Saturday).- Arrival at Cangas de Onís. People from other countries or that require a transfer service to reach the meeting point, check with the organization in email@example.com.
Accommodation and dinner in Cangas de Onís. Before or after dinner will take place a power point presentation of the tour and an introduction to the Picos de Europa, which will explain the elements and processes that we are going to observe throughout the trip.
Accommodation at Cangas de Onís.
Day 2 (Sunday). Lagos de Covadonga (Western Massif or Cornión Massif). After breakfast, we will visit Casa Dago (Visitor Centre) where we will make an explanation of the tour we will follow the next few days helped by a model that is exposed in the entrance. Stop in Covadonga Sanctuary where we can visit the sanctuary, the Santina Cave and the cascade spring by the 7 pipes fountain. From there we will take the road to the Lakes of Covadonga, one of few lakes in the Picos de Europa National Park. There we will visit the Buferrera Visitor Centre where there are exhibitions that will bring a better view about the natural environment, the orography and the history of the Park. In this environment will be held a short hiking route, about 2 hours long, while we explain the major glacial features that are found on the front of a glacier system, we will visit the remains of the mining activity in Buferrera and we will make observations in Vega de Comeya, where there was a peat exploitation.
Picnic in Covadonga Lakes.
Accommodation and dinner in Arenas de Cabrales.
Landscape elements: Sanctuary of Covadonga, glaciers, moraines, peat bog, mining.
Day 3 (Monday).- Bulnes (Central Massif or Urrieles Massif). From Arenas de Cabrales we will go to Puente Poncebos, starting point for the mythical route of Cares by Asturias. In Poncebos we will take the subway to Bulnes, one of the most recondite villages of Picos de Europa. In Bulnes we will approach until a small viewpoint from which, if weather conditions let us, we will have good views of the emblematic Naranjo de Bulnes. From this location we will identify the position of the major glaciers who occupied the Central Massif of Picos de Europa. We can optionally walk up to Bulnes de Arriba to make some remarks on the Canal de Amuesa. The drop will be walking on a path which until 2001, year of construction of the subway, was the only access to this population.
Picnic in Bulnes.
Accommodation and dinner in Arenas de Cabrales
Landscape elements: pans of giant, gorge, stratigraphy, tectonics, glaciers, snow avalanches and rocj avalanches.
Day 4 (Tuesday).- Mining in the Eastern Massif (Ándara Massif). We will drive until the Escarandi Hitu. There we will carry out an excursion of 5 hours where we will observe the consequences of the intense mining activity that has taken place in this massif, among which stands out the disappearance of the Andara lake, unique lake of this massif. The multiple holes and the remains of the mining facilities will make us understand the hard working conditions of the miners and their families. Some of these facilities were used as recreational accommodation by some Spanish nobles as King Alfonso XII and his sister Doña María Isabel in 1881, as reminds of this visit it exits a large stone graving. Will also visit an outcrop of crinoids fossils (ancient echinoderms marine, similar to the current sea lilies), the most abundant fossils that can be observed in Picos de Europa.
Picnic in the Vegas of Ándara.
Accommodation and dinner in Sotres.
Landscape elements: mining, History, glaciers, fossils.
Day 5 (Wednesday) Puertos de Áliva
We will cross from North to South the Picos de Europa mountains through the Duje Valley, ancient glacial valley where we can find the major moraine of all the Cantabrian Range (Llomba del Toro), with more than 4 km long preserved. In the Invernales del Texu we can observe the proglaciar system and the frontal moraine of the ancient glacier of the Duje. We will also do a stop on the ridge of moraine to closely watch the spectacular erratic block of El Castillo. Already in Puertos de Áliva we will make several observations on the position of the Duje and Las Salgardas glaciers and we will remember the different elements of a glacial valley.
From Áliva we will walk to the upper station of the Fuente Dé cable car to talk about the front of the Picos de Europa Unit, Peña Remoña stratigraphy and Liordes mining. We also will speak about slope dynamics in La Vueltona.
We will descend through Nevandi Valley passing by Invernales de Igüedri towards the Liébana Valley, leaving the geological unit of the Picos de Europa and reaching the Pisuerga – Carrion Unit, characterized by different kind of rocks that produces a strong change in the landscape.
Down towards Potes we will make a stop in Santo Toribio de Liébana, Franciscan monastery where is the Lignum Crucis, according to Catholics the large piece of the cross which Christ died. From there we will have a good view of the front of the Picos de Europa Unit and we can comment on the slope dynamic and the type of rocks that appear in the Liébana Valley.
Picnic in the Áliva environment.
Accommodation and dinner in Potes.
Landscape elements: glaciers, mining, tectonics, stratigraphy, natural hazards, Santo Toribio monastery.
Day 6 (Thursday) - Valdeón Valley
Departure to the Valdeón Valley (head of the Cares River in the León province). We will make a brief stop in Puerto de Pandetrave (1562 m) where we will discuss about tectonics, stratigraphy and current developments in this area.
We will do a short hiking route to the Puertos de Montó where we will see some types of rocks of the Devonian period, very rare in the substrate of the Picos de Europa, as well as several rock glaciers, typical elements of periglacial environments.
Food type picnic in the environment of Valdeón
Accommodation and dinner in Posada de Valdeón
Landscape elements: tectonics, stratigraphy, slope dynamic, River dynamic, periglaciarism.
Day 7. (Friday)- Ruta del Cares
In our way to Cain, starting point of the Ruta del Cares by León, we will remember the flooding suffered by the Cares Valley in 1981. Brief stop at the Tombo Viewpoint where, in addition to obtain an overview of the Cares Gorge, you will see a limestone with corals more than 300 million years old.
In the area of Monte Corona we will stop in the Chorco de los Lobos, an old wolf hunting trap to catch these beautiful mammals, once very abundant in these mountains. In this environment is a small medieval necropolis which was discovered when a small power station was built. In the Monte Corona forest, is located the Ermita de Corona where, according to the legend, was crowned Don Pelayo, after defeating the Muslim army at the Covadonga battle.
We will make a small tour on foot through the most spectacular part of the Cares Gorge, with walls of more than 2000 m in height than cross Picos de Europa from South to North. Taking advantage of the path of a conveyance of water maintenance, is has drawn one of the busiest Spain hiking routes. We will run the first part of this popular route where we will get surprised by the erosive power of the water and the work carried out by more than 500 employees who participated in the path construction.
Optionally you could visit Caín de Arriba, a walk that will take us more than one hour.
Picnic in Caín.
Accommodation and dinner at Posada de Valdeón.
Landscape elements: stratigraphy, tectonics, olistolitos, slope dynamics, river dynamic, fossils.
Day 8 (Saturday).-The Beyos Gorge
After spending the morning in Posada de Valdeón, visiting the Visitor center or buying typical cheese, we will take the road to lead us towards the Sajambre Valley. Brief stop in Panderruedas (1450 m) where we will have a complete overview of the Central massif of Picos de Europa. Once we passed Puerto del Pontón (1306 m), we will stop to learn about an olistolito (limestone block related tectonic activity which formed the Picos de Europa). More northward we will see the typical rock sequence of Ponga Unit, much more varied than that observed in the Picos de Europa and Pisuerga-Carrión units. We will reach Vegabaño, idyllic meadow surrounded by a fantastic beech forest where several megalithic funerary monuments, one of more than 200 recorded until today in the Picos de Europa, built along the IV and III Millennium BC (Neolithic and CHALCOLITHIC periods) have been located.
A last stop in Casielles village will allow us to see the huge stacking of limestones that produced the tectonic efforts that formed the Cantabrian mountain range.
Picnic in Los Beyos
Accommodation and dinner in Cangas de Onís.
Scenic interest: Archaeology, stratigraphy, tectonic.
Day 9 (Sunday).- Return
Breakfast and pick the luggage up. According to the journey of each program, time to walk through Cangas de Onís. In this village we can visit the market of crafts, clothes and food or take some pictures in the "Roman" bridge of the middle ages in which hangs the Cruz de la Victoria, coat of arms of Asturias which appears on its flag. You can also visit the chapel of Santa Cruz, first Christian church built on the peninsula after the Muslim invasion. It's a small chapel built in the year 733 on a tumulus in which stands a dolmen dating from 3,000 to 5,000 year b.c.
Material of observation:
Waterproof boots and clothes, warm clothes, binoculars and rucksack. Something to cover your head and sunscreen are also recommended. Camera.
Weather conditions in the environment of Picos de Europa are highly variable throughout the year. Also temperature and atmospheric conditions between the valleys and the mountains can change drasticly in hours. In general, from November to April-May can have snow in the Highlands, cutting the tracks for any of the programmed tracks. From June, temperatures rise and the sunny days increase, although mornings and afternoons are always fresh and at noon the presence of fog is no rare and produces low temperatures (14-15° C). With sunny summer days, temperatures are very nice even relatively high (20-24 ° C). In September the temperatures are lower and the rain days are increased, even it´s possible the first snow days. For all these reasons, it is advisable to carry 2-3 layers of clothing.
In hotels and mountain lodgings with cozy atmosphere, located in the environment or within the National Park. The basic option is a double room with private bathroom. The option of a single room requires a small surcharge (consult prices). Throughout the tour we visit the major towns of the area of influence of the National Park.
Included in the price. In general, breakfast and dinner in the accommodation places, food (sandwiches, fruit and water) in the field. You will enjoy the local cuisine with excellent products. Vegetarians or people with special regimes, please notify when booking the trip.
Degree of difficulty of the tour:
Some physical preparation is necessary. Daily activity includes hiking routes of moderate difficulty, suitable for people accustomed to walking and hiking (children under 10-12 years has to be accompanied by responsible adults).
Size of Group: maximum 5 people per guide.
Guide: Luna Adrados González, Geologist specialized in landscape interpretation (geomorphology) with more than 15 years of experience. He has participated in several research projects for the University of Oviedo. Co-author of the Geological guide of Picos de Europa National Park published in 2010 and author of the book "Costa oriental de Asturias. Un paisaje singular" edited in 2011.
Language of the tour: Spanish, English and French.
Flights not included
The price includes health care and accident insurance
Geología y paisaje de los Picos de Europa.