Natural paradises in the province of Pontevedra

What luck! Today is an excursion! A walk by sea and by land? A hike in the mountains? A walk among centenary trees? Where to start to immerse ourselves in the wildest Pontevedra? Our specialty is to find the best destinations, like these:

Parque Nacional das Illas Atlánticas. The Atlantic Islands give the Rías Baixas their sweet character, protecting them from the direct force of the ocean. There are four archipelagos very close to the mainland, from north to south: Cortegada, Sálvora, Ons and Cíes.

And how can we get close to them? In high season (Easter and between May 15 and September 15) there are regular routes to Ons and Cíes. The other way to get to know the islands is by contacting the shipping companies directly or by private boat. In any case, with authorization. In the Cies and Ons we also have the possibility of staying overnight.

The archipelago of Cortegada belongs to the municipality of Vilagarcía de Arousa, and is well tucked into the estuary, very close to the mouth of the Ulla. It is a group of flat islands and islets, with lots of vegetation. The island of Cortegada, once inhabited, preserves the remains of a village and a chapel, and a forest of huge laurel trees of great interest. The island of Malveira Grande, on the other hand, has a very well preserved forest of cerquiños (Quercus pyrenaica). They are connected to the ports of Vilagarcía and Carril.

In the municipality of Ribeira is the island of Sálvora, characterized by rocks and beaches of dunes and granite boulders. To the north is the village of Sálvora, today deserted, and the lighthouse. It is close to many ports: O Grove, Aguiño, Ribeira, Boiro, A Pobra do Caramiñal, A Illa de Arousa, Vilagarcía de Arousa and Bueu.

Opposite the Pontevedra estuary is the archipelago of Ons, formed by the island of Ons, populated, and Onza, all of it reserve. The area is rich in cliffs, caves, such as the terrifying Buraco do Inferno, sandy beaches, legends and rich octopus. In high season there are routes from Bueu, Sanxenxo and Portonovo.

The southernmost archipelago is the Cíes, in the municipality of Vigo, at the mouth of the estuary. It is composed of the islands of Faro, Monteagudo and San Martiño, and four islets. They show a more abrupt side facing the ocean and another facing the estuary with extensive sandy beaches, such as Rodas beach, which joins the islands of Monteagudo and Faro. On these islands, in addition to the natural heritage, we find remains of forts, monasteries and even salting factories. Regular transport leaves from Vigo, Cangas and Baiona.

Monte Aloia. In 1978 it was named the first natural park in Galicia. Today, it is the smallest of them (746 ha). It is located on the southernmost peak of the O Galiñeiro mountain range, and belongs to the municipality of Tui. It is a very complete mountain, with many trails to walk, picnic areas, viewpoints …. Perhaps the busiest is the Alto de San Xiao, 631 m, from where you can see the valleys of the Miño and Louro. Surrounding the high, are the archaeological remains of a mysterious cyclopean wall, of which its origin and function is unknown, of 1,250 m perimeter.

There is an interpretation center in the old forestry house, designed in 1921 by the engineer Rafael Areses, the main reforester of the environment, thanks to which we find very curious species. By the way, a self-guided botanical trail starts here. In total there are 8 self-guided routes and the possibility of arranging guided tours. Throughout the mountain we find vestiges of the past, such as the castro of O Alto dos Cubos, and of ethnographic interest, such as the mills. There is also a chapel from the 18th century. From the top we have good views of the Baixo Miño, Val Miñor, A Louriña and even the Cíes.

Fraga de Catasós. The province of Pontevedra is the one with more “unique trees” in Galicia. Some of them are even “natural monuments”, such as the Fraga de Catasós, located in Quintela, in the municipality of Lalín. Here we discover a formation of chestnut trees considered to be the largest in Europe. They are between 225 and 250 years old, and are especially vertical, some reaching 30 m in height. They are unique specimens, worth seeing. They are also literary, a source of inspiration for Emilia Pardo Bazán, when she came here during the seasons she spent in the pazo of the Quiroga family, then owner of the forest and the writer’s in-laws.

Not all are chestnut trees, there are also carballos (oaks). In fact, the forest is also known as Carballeira de Catasós or Souto de Quiroga. In the past, the species of the fraga were great producers of chestnuts and wood destined for furniture and beams of the pazos of O Deza. The fraga is small but exquisite, like the best snacks. There is a short circular route, 1.6 km long, that borders the forest. It is well signposted, to walk it at ease, even with a bike, ideal to do with the family. We have the option of stretching it up to 4 km.

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