From high-altitude shepherding to nature tourism.
The Picos de Europa are an enclave of extraordinary scenic, biological and emotional wealth, with the peculiarity of being the only National Park in Spain with a settled population within its territory.
For centuries, the shepherds of the Picos de Europa have been shaping the landscape of the National Park, coming up in the summer season from the valleys to the mountain pastures where there was an abundance of food for the livestock.
And so, little by little, they made paths with their footsteps, built huts to shelter their livestock, cleared scrub and created pastures until they gave shape to the beautiful “Majadas de Picos”, thus contributing to create a balanced ecosystem and a circular subsistence economy.
Today, life in the Picos de Europa is torn between preserving age-old traditions and adapting to progress. Between the duty to preserve the impressive natural heritage and the need to improve the living conditions of the more than a thousand people who live in the remote villages that dot the National Park.
The growing boom in Nature Tourism is a stimulus for the local economy and a way of disseminating the ethnographic heritage of the villages, but it also jeopardises the environmental conservation of this 67,455 Ha Biosphere Reserve.
How can we contribute to leave the least possible impact and enjoy the mountain and nature in a responsible and sustainable way?
Every little stone is in its place, the fossils are part of the Park and the high altitude flowers may be endemic.
Don’t go near the animals, they are in their environment. They can throw stones.
Try to avoid seasonality, each season is unique and amazing.
Don’t take unnecessary risks if you go hiking or climbing, hire the services of a professional guide.
Check your equipment and take plenty of water. You are in a high mountain area, weather conditions can change suddenly.
Use regulated public transport (high season) to access the excursions.
Remember that it is very important to have a Mountain Federation Licence.
Have a drink in the refuges, stroll around the markets, chat with the locals and be sure to try the artisan cheeses with P.D.O. Cabrales, Gamoneu and Beyos.
And above all, try to leave each place better than you found it on your way…