THE PYRENEES ARE CALLING. I MUST GO!
The Pyrenees is a range of mountains in southwest Europe that forms a natural border between France and Spain. It separates the Iberian Peninsula from the rest of continental Europe, and extends for about 491 km (305 miles) from the Bay of Biscay to the Mediterranean Sea.
The word Pyrenees comes from the mythological daughter of Atlas, Pyrenean. According to the Greeks, the Pyrenees were named after Pirene, a young woman from the region that Hercules took with him on one of his journeys and when she died, he accumulated stones to seal her grave.
The Spanish Pyrenees are part of the following provinces, from east to west: Girona, Barcelona, Lleida (all in Catalonia), Huesca (in Aragon), Navarra (in Navarre) and Gipuzkoa (in the Basque Country).
Physiographically, the Pyrenees may be divided into three sections: the Atlantic (or Western), the Central, and the Eastern Pyrenees. Together, they form a distinct physiographic province of the larger Alpine System division.
Most foothills of the Pyrenees are on the Spanish side, where there is a large and complex system of ranges stretching from Spanish Navarre, across northern Aragon and into Catalonia,
Today the Pyrenees only have 7 circus glaciers or small tongues above 2700 meters: Aneto, Balaitus, Vignemale, Monte Perdido and Maladeta on the Spanish side and Ossue or Troumouse on the French side.
The Central Pyrenees extend eastward from the Somport pass to the Aran Valley, and they include the highest summits of this range:
Pico d'Aneto 3.404 metres (11,168 ft) in the Maladeta ridge,
Pico Posets 3.375 metres (11,073 ft),
Monte Perdido 3.355 metres (11,007 ft).
Other popular summits for climbers and mountaineers are:
Cilindro de Marboré (3.328 m), Pico de la Maladeta (3.308 m), Vignemale (Pique longue) (3.298 m),
Perdiguero (3.222 m), Balaitous (3.144 m), Taillón (3.144 m), Pica d'Estats (3.143 m), Pico Argualas (3.046 m), Pic du Midi d'Ossau (2.885 m), Bisaurin (2.668 m), Pedraforca (2.506 m) Mesa de los Tres Reyes (2.428 m).
The flora of the Pyrenees comprises around 4500 species, of which 160 are endemic species.
The icon of the Pyrenean flora has always been the Edelweiss or flower of snow, that we find in the limestone high walls and terraces of Añisclo Canyon and the valley of Ordesa.
Oaks, boxwoods, chestnuts, yews, fir trees, wild pine, black pine and beeches are very common. Above 2000 or 2500 meters level pastures and alpine vegetation predominate.
In total there are about 42 species of mammals in the Pyrenees including brown bear, chamois, deer, wild boar, mountain goat, marmot, ermine, squirrels,hedgehogs and the endemic Desman of the Pyrennes, a strange nocturnal insectivorous.
Among the birds, the bearded vulture is very remarkable. Extinct in most of Europe, it is in the Pyrenees where the species has found its last refuge, currently expanding and providing specimens for breeding and recovery projects in the Alps. We can also find royal eagle, kites, hawks, kestrels, owls, griffon vulture and black vulture.
In the forest, the capercaillie, in clear danger of extinction and very affected by mass tourism, seems to be in decline when speaking about the Spanish side (4 males in Navarre, 75 in Aragon and about 450 in Catalonia), and well preserved In the French area (around 3500 males). Next to it, about 120 species of small birds, among which stand out one of the most appreciated Pyrenean species, the white partridge.
The Pyrenees has abundant populations of reptiles and amphibians, among them the viper asp, the Pyrenean triton, the salamander and the red frog. There are several types of snakes, including the bastard snake.
HIKING, TREKKING AND ADVENTURE TOURS IN PYRENEES
Both sides of the Pyrenees are popular spots for mountain sports such as hiking, mountaineering, canyoning, via ferrata, rock climbing and skiing during the 4 seasons. Nevertheless, there are activities suitable for all levels and ages. Just ask.
Hiking is the most popular activity in the Pyrenees. The whole range is crossed by many different trails, both short (PR) and long (GR).
Two main long-distance footpaths run the length of the mountain range: the GR 11 across the southern slopes, and the french HRP which traverses peaks and ridges along a high altitude route. In addition, there are numerous marked and unmarked trails throughout the region for hiking and trekking.
You can explore a superb scenery through high summits above 3.000 meters altitude, dense ancient forest, stunning canyons and gorges, deep valleys, mountain lagoons and glaciers.
The Pyrenees has even more to offer. Towns and villages with unique character, home to works of art, unusual monuments, age-old folklore, rich gastronomy, national parks, spa resorts, traditional fiestas...
There are a host of good reasons to discover this area, where nature speaks for herself. The Pyrenees are calling you. You must go!
Are you ready to discover it?
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