It listed as an area of natural interest by the Generalitat de Catalunya in 2001, the declaration of Natural Park of Els Ports and the Partial Natural Reserve of Fageda Retaule recognized the value of this area south of Catalonia, only surpassed in extension the Cadí-Moixeró.
Located between three autonomous communities, Catalonia, Aragon and Valencia, this limestone massif of eight hundred square kilometers has been granted the title of being one of the best places in Europe for its exotic fauna and flora, although too often in endangered.
Not surprisingly, their geographical location allows them to be both African plant species such as Nordic. In addition, its geological formations draw a typical landscape with many natural resources they have been exploited since the first settlers to today.
The gates to the park
Roquetes hosts the main information point of the Natural Park and is the gateway to the mountain Mont Caro, the highest altitude of Els Ports. The village is well connected by the AP-7 motorway and the Ebro Axis.
The town of Arnes, bordering Teruel, is also a good chance to enter the park through the parking Estrets.
Like all areas of great biological wealth, the use of resources for survival made this enclave was occupied by settlements from the time of the Iberians, as shown by a Iberian-Roman road four meters located in the municipality of Horta de Sant Joan. Centuries later the Arabs would establish the first to exploit wood from virgin forests.
The twelfth and thirteenth centuries brought Christians, who continued exploitation of natural resources of this paradise, especially timber and agriculture. Since then was such emigration to the park, the city of Tortosa decided to retain this territory legally through forest guards, which would remain there until the seventeenth century. The enclave would still commonly used two centuries later, when it was decided to privatize it. Until today.
stunning landscapes with an erotic geology
Els Ports is a system fault, crossed by large rivers that dig deep gorges its path. Its mountains stand out for its uniqueness and high, being the highest peak of Mont Caro, with 1,447 meters.
Another main summit is known as Tossal dels Tres Reis (1356 m), whose name symbolizes the place where they met, in the Middle Ages, the kings of each of the three territories where the park is located. Legend says that the monarchs decided to negotiate on this site, because it allowed them to do so without the need to leave the lands they ruled. In this area other high mountains we found are The Negrell (1343 m), Muela de Cati (1326 m) and Punta Torroja (1246 m).
One of the most characteristic elements of Els Ports are rock formations that draw whimsical, genuine and some even erotic geological forms. Of these, they highlight the rocks of Benet, very showy stones that have been converted into the true symbol of the municipality.
Also noteworthy is the Ventador, perhaps the most striking area around the park. His impressive set of chasms, vegetation, the swift waters of the river Canaletes slow contrast with those who die in ditches, ravines, etc., leaves any visitor speechless at such beauty. Salto de Satorres not indifferent, an ingenious combination of nature and man to harness the hydropower of the river.
And it is not surprising diversity of nature in an area with large climatic contrasts, where winds of up to 150 km / h can be reached in the most unexpected moment.
With more than 1,000 different species, the Natural Park of Els Ports stands out for its beech forests, protected by the Partial Natural Reserve of Els Ports beech forests. The huge set of beech is so impressive that it became necessary to provide it with special protection against possible threats.
It is not only striking for the large number of these trees, but because they are themselves curiously wetter and colder climates. For this reason, the beech forests of Els Ports are located in the ravines funds and facing north, giving them specific characteristics that distinguish them from others you've Europe, which usually grow in plains.
Besides the scenery, beech forests and geological forms, one of the attractions of the park is its diverse animal community, in which the population of wild goats stands out as a species of the peninsula.
And with a little luck, it is likely that we find eagles, hawks, owls, turtles, snakes, otters, lynxes, wildcats and many others, and especially with one of the largest communities of aquatic animals community. A fact, half of amphibians and reptiles in Catalonia is in this park.
ideal space for sport
The varied landscape of Els Ports Natural Park makes it an excellent place for outdoor sports. Hiking, climbing, bungee jumping, hiking, canyoning, hang gliding, etc. In addition, the itineraries on foot, bike or car 4x4 are one perfect plan for the whole family.
Climbing enthusiasts can not miss these rocks from a height of 925 meters above sea level, well - known (and climbing) in this area. Also other points we recommend for this activity as Llastra, Pure and Punta Escofet.
Hikers have here an inexhaustible place to miss, however, we recommend the perhaps most famous route of Estrets. A five kilometers with a small drop of 70 meters is perfect for the little ones. To do it, you can start parking in the south of La Franqueta or of Estrets (near Arnes ) within the park itself.
Another good way to visit this huge natural extension is through greenways, paved roads previously formed part of the railway of Tortosa.
Hostel and Environmental Education Center of the Natural Park of Els Ports
Recently, it has opened the hostel and Environmental Education Center of the Natural Park of Els Ports, in the municipality of Alfara de Carles, part of the Xarxa Catalana d'Instal·lacions Juvenils (XCIJ). A good idea of expanding recreational offerings park, while sensitizes on protected land values.
More in the Natural Park of Els Ports
If all that we've had on this route do not have enough, do not worry, the Natural Park of Els Ports offers many more possibilities for everyone, public and types of activity. Therefore, we recommend discovering the route cave Picasso, if what you want is to walk through the park but also learn more about the painter Pablo Picasso. Another option is to visit the towns in the area Getting into Terra Alta. And if you are of the opinion that nothing better than a good meal with good wine, you will also find what you need to know the landscapes of wine DO Terra Alta.