Uncover Spain sustainably: Thrills in Picos de Europa

Picos de Europa is one of the best examples of being the spectacular park in Spain which is a land of diversity and sheer beauty. Complete with intricate caves, imposing limestone peaks and stunning river gorges; the Picos de Europa is the perfect place for any walking or trekking enthusiast. Journeying past the vast glaciated valleys, you’ll find a rich variety of flora, fauna and mountain wildlife along the way, giving the adventurous ample opportunities to engage in sustainable, low-impact related activities such as rock scaling, canoeing and more. Read on to discover our top places in the Picos de Europa for taking part in these exhilarating activities.

Canyoning in the Rubo Gorge

Looking to get waist deep in nature? Canyoning offers the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in your surroundings, so why not try your hand at sliding down chutes and walking through rock pools while taking in the breath-taking scenery in the Rubo Gorge. 

At Exodus, we ensure to tread lightly when trekking through the Picos de Europa to preserve the beautiful landscapes. To find out more about how we travel sustainably across the world, click here.

Trek through the Cares Gorge

With the Picos de Europa being Spain’s third highest mountain range, the chiselled cliffs of Cares Gorge offer a tranquil walk, boasting picturesque views of green foliage and tangled vines that run deep into the heart of the canyon. This serene environment is a perfect natural habitat for the rare and beautiful wall creeper bird and during the springtime, is carpeted in wildflowers.

Canoe along River Sella

Flowing through the beautiful region of Asturias from the Picos de Europa to the Bay of Biscay, this river is renowned for its annual canoeing competitions. Dating back to 1930, the River Sella is one of the most popular regions in Spain to pick up a paddle and enjoy canoeing down its cobalt blue waterways. Aside from it being a great way to experience the Asturian countryside, it’s also good for a bit of friendly competition between you and your group of like-minded travellers.

Go Caving in Altamira

Apart from the spectacular scenery, why not delve into the history behind the region on your trip, with a visit to the intricate Caves of Altamira. Hidden underground, outside the historic town of Santillana del Mar in Cantabria take the opportunity to discover its display of prehistoric parietal cave art by crawling, walking and squeezing through its impressive network of pathways. Discovered by amateur archaeologist, Marcelino Sanz de Sautuola in 1879, this protected UNESCO site is home to Palaeolithic paintings of horses, bison and deer, amongst other animals as well as symbols and handprints.

Walk to the summit of Peña Maín

When you’re in the region, try summitting the Peña Maín, standing 1,500 meters above sea level, this peak offers one of the most classic viewpoints of the Picos de Europa. Starting our ascent close to the village of Tieve, we get to take in this view for ourselves with an exhilarating trek up into the Maín range and if you’re lucky encounter incredible wildlife, from Golden eagles and Griffon vultures, to Cantabrian brown bears and the elusive Iberian wolf. 

Visit the lakes of Covadonga and admire its Picos flora

You can’t trek across the Picos de Europa without seeing the beautiful Picos flora and taking in the views overlooking the lakes of Covadonga. Venture towards the Centro de Visitantes Pedro Pidal and the interesting old mine tracks of Minas de Bufferrera, while hearing the sound of cow bells clanging along the way. With a great selection of routes available, we’d recommend taking some time exploring the neighbouring woods and meadows.

At Exodus, we know that travel enriches our own lives, and we are also very conscious of the positive impact we leave on the people and places we visit – and the Picos de Europa is no exception. Staying true to our vow of travelling sustainably, we tread lightly across the landscapes and engage with local communities along the way, to ensure we walk away with the most authentic experiences. 

If you want to truly make this a real sustainable adventure, why not look into taking the train and experience more of Spain along the way? You can get from London to Bilbao in a day and a half, with an overnight stay in San Sebastian, making this route the perfect introduction into Spanish culture, while minimising your impact!

Inspired to visit the Picos de Europa? Take a look at our Picos Mixed Activity Week or Walking the Picos de Europa.

If you’d like to see more about what sustainable projects we’re currently running with the Exodus Travels Foundation and how we travel sustainably on our trips, click here.

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