Mª José Prieto
“Nature for the senses” begins its journey at the Parador de Cangas de Onís. The project will cover around twenty Paradores, continuing with those of Bielsa and Villafranca del Bierzo.
It is not surprising that the Benedictine monks who walked the paths of the mighty Asturian mountains found in the monastery of San Pedro de Villanueva the longed-for peace that only nature can yield to the spirit.
At the foot of the Sella River, in bucolic tranquility, stands this magnificent monastery, home to the Parador de Cangas de Onís, one of the most emblematic buildings of the Asturian Romanesque. Its sturdy silhouette on par with the landscape’s grandeur, a profile created by the impressive Picos de Europa.
This earthly paradise is the starting point for the “Nature for the senses” program that Paradores is launching to contribute to sustainable tourism. The activities will showcase rural life through the local companies and institutions participating in the project.
The apothecary and other secrets of the monastery
The relationship between the Romanesque abbey and nature is indissoluble. The monks obtained food and natural remedies in the late eleventh century from its green meadows when natural medicine was the only one available. Visitors will discover, through the monastic apothecary, the flora of the area and its properties.
The Sella river and the treasures of the Asturian kingdom
The event invites you to discover the incredible value of the cultural and natural heritage of the Parador’s surroundings, from the history of the Asturian kingdom to the charms of this natural paradise, with treasures such as the Sella River, one of the great salmon rivers of Asturias, or the sublime spectacle of the Picos de Europa.
Sheepdogs and sheep xaldas
Since ancient times, shepherding was the primary way of life in the Asturian mountains. The shepherds, accompanied by their inseparable dogs, got their sustenance with the meat and wool obtained from the xaldas sheep, the Celtic breed that grazes on the green slopes. The experience will allow you to learn about the work of the border collie dogs, authentic artists in livestock handling.
Bearded vulture mountains, the kings of the sky
The bearded vulture is the king of the Picos de Europa National Park sky. This experience encourages you to learn about the life of necrophagous birds and their relationship with livestock to maintain the ecosystem. The species is protected by the bearded vulture recovery project, included in the National Catalogue of Threatened Birds.
Shepherds and flavors of the sheepfold
This experience allows visitors to share snippets of life with shepherds of Picos de Europa. Visitors will be able to see the sheepfolds and huts used for a millenary trade, today in danger of extinction, and taste the cheeses and other typical products related to shepherding.
Forest bath: connect with nature
If you need to reconnect with yourself, this is the experience for you. Stop, become aware of your surroundings, walk through the forest, and experience nature with all five senses. Enjoy the healing power of the woods and discover unusual ecosystems. Also, why not hug a tree and feel its comforting effect.
The Beyos Gorge and its secret corners
The cheese of Los Beyos is as tasty as enchanting is the place that gives it its name. The tenacious Sella River has carved the limestone rock, sculpting the impressive gorge of Los Beyos. This activity invites you to discover the history of a place marked by its fascinating orography. Its inhabitants have had to take advantage of the natural resources available to them: livestock, milk, chestnuts… Everywhere you turn, you can feel the heartbeat of nature.
The Ponga Gorges and other hidden treasures
There are few strongholds left on the planet isolated from the clutches of progress. The orography of the Ponga Natural Park favored the social and natural isolation of one of the most inhospitable environments of the Asturian mountains. The retreat has generated an ideal oasis for biodiversity. Meet the typical architecture of these valleys, the beyuscos hórreos (raised granaries), and the hidden gorges.
The Jurassic coast, a kingdom suspended in time
From prehistory to legend, the Asturian coast is pierced by caves and contours that speak of Jurassic species and ecosystems that have persisted for millions of years. The vertiginous cliffs, sea caves, gorges, and beaches reveal how the Picos de Europa came to be.
The chamois, king of the park
Between valleys of glacier tongues, sheltered by the stunning landscape of the Picos de Europa National Park, lives the king of the mountains: the chamois. The experience invites you to a trip in a 4×4 vehicle led by an expert guide. In order to contemplate nature in all its splendor, the route starts early in the morning, that’s why, at mid-morning, you’ll enjoy a well-deserved “second breakfast” or an excellent picnic previously prepared at the Parador. You will be able to take pictures and observe with binoculars the king of the Park. Enjoy unforgettable moments watching the groups of females with their young or the fights between males in mating season.