Despite its small area, Andorra is home to a wide variety of activities with which to fill an ecotourism holiday. Located in the Pyrenees, between France and Spain, Andorra is most commonly known as being a tax haven and a skier’s heaven, but summertime in Andorra is just as appealing due to its numerous ecotourism routes, impeccable nature reserves, and dramatic valleys and mountains.
The government maintained ecotourism routes in the parishes of Encamp and Sant Juli? de L?ria contain recommended trails that are typically guided with a professional provided by the tourism association of the district. Most ecotourism routes are only open until the middle of October, but until then, hikers and nature enthusiasts can enjoy some excellent trails.
In Sant Juli? de L?ria, the high elevation of the Woodcutters Trail is home to many butterflies, including the delicate, antique-looking Apollo butterfly. While Sant Juli? de L?ria is more dominated by forests, Encamp’s landscape is scattered with lakes of all sizes. The Pessons cirque is one of the most impressive collections of lakes in Andorra, and hikers on this ecotourism route may get a glimpse of native amphibians and water birds.
In northwest Andorra, Comapedrosa peak, the highest peak in the Principality, dominates the landscape. The peak and its surrounding have been designated a nature reserve, and thus is filled with interpretive walks, discovery hikes, and, of course, an ascent of the mountain. Fortunately, the Comapedrosa Valley Municipal Nature Reserve is accessible to all levels of hiker, so long as they remember to abide by reserve guidelines and treat the area with respect.
Further north towards the French border is Andorra’s botanical paradise, Sorteny Valley Nature Reserve, which is home to over 700 species of flora and fauna, a number of which are indigenous to the region. Because of its impressive and special ecology, the reserve is also instrumental in education and conservation efforts of the region.
The three narrow valleys that cut their way through the rugged Pyrenees make for some spectacular scenery and exploration opportunities with Andorra’s professional nature guides. The Incles Valley, located in Canillo parish, is dominated by pine forests that melt away as you climb in altitude, opening up into a rugged, rocky expanse.
It’s a mouthful, but the Madriu-Perafita-Claror Valley is worth it. The Fontverd Trail forms the core of the valley, and the most appealing elements of the trail – the meadow, canal, and woods, converge together to create a truly impressive situation. In addition to the flora, the Fontverd Trail is home to three different types of woodpeckers – the great spotted, the green, and the black – dappling their familiar noises into the surrounding pine forest.
Ecotourism in Andorra
What’s lovely about Andorra is that most of the trails and parks are relatively under-visited, meaning you’re likely to be able to spend your time in peaceful solitude, marvelling in your surroundings. The pure, natural beauty of the mountains, trails, and valleys are sure to make your ecotourism holiday in Andorra an impressive and memorable one.
Photo Credit: Rafael Gomez