The county of Sobrarbe in the heart of the Spanish Pyrenees is a paradise for those who enjoy the great outdoors. Spectacular scenery, unique geography and geology, an abundance of flora and fauna and proud local traditions, provides something for everyone, whether you’re an avid walker, bird-watcher, photographer, foodie or extreme adrenalin junkie.
Keen walkers will be spoilt for choice. Long distance walking routes such as the GR11 traverse the Pyrenees from West to East and take in some stunning Aragónese scenery including Ordesa and Valle de Pineta. whilst other shorter GR routes such as the GR1-19 and PN1-11 visit breathtaking landscapes of the Añisclo canyon, Monte Perdido and Sierra de Guara.
Aínsa hosted a stage of the Enduro World Series mountain bike championships in 2015 and this is due to return in September 2018. There are over 50 managed cycle trails and the region is home to some top quality road cycling too, with stage 15 of the 2016 Vuelta (Sabiñánigo to Formigal) passing through the nearby villages of Linas de Broto and finishing in the ski resort of Formigal.
Some of Europe’s best sport climbing can be found in this region including the limestone routes of Rodellar in Sierra de Guara, Peña Montañesa and Ligüerre de Cinca. Via ferratas such as Sorrosal, Foradada del Toscar and Castellazo provide an alternative experience for people of all ages.
There are a number of organisations offering treks for riders of different abilities including stables in Sarvisé near Torla (all year round) and Boltaña during the summer months. Treks range from 1 hour to a full day.
The Somontano wine region is nearby with most of the wineries located in close proximity to the town of Barbastro. The Somontano Wine Route brings together the best of the local vineyards, food producers and tourist establishments and 1-2 hour wine tasting tours are offered by many wineries.
Aínsa holds La Morisma, on the first Sunday of September every even year, when the battle between the Moors and Christians is re-enacted. The Castilllo de Aínsa International Music Festival is held in July every year along with other horticultural and farming fairs in February and September. Other events include Punchacubas (local artisan wine tasting) in December and Las Nabatas (making and sailing traditional rafts in the river Cinca) in May.
The rivers of the Pyrenees are a paradise for water sports enthusiasts. From springtime onwards, the melt waters from the mountains fill the rivers and provide some great white water fun. The lakes of Mediano and El Grado, complete with partially submerged villages and beautiful canyons provide a more tranquil way to explore the area.
There are four Spanish ski areas within 1-1 ½ hour’s drive including Cerler, Panticosa, Formigal and Candanchu along with numerous others just over the border in France such as Piau Engaly and San Lary.
This is one of the most popular sports in Sobrarbe thanks to the area’s distinctive geology and rich selection of accessible canyons such as those found in the gorge at Escuaín, Cañón de Añisclo and Valle de Vió. Guided excursions are a must and there are plenty of local operators who provide the equipment and expertise to ensure an unforgettable day out.
In recognition of its outstanding geological heritage, the area of Sobrarbe has been part of the UNESCO network of European Geoparks since 2006. The rocks, canyons and rivers here tell the tale of Sobrarbe’s epic geological history; the results of which are absolutely breathtaking. From vivid turquoise lakes to other-worldly rock formations; even the casual observer cannot fail to wonder what immense forces were behind the creation of this truly magnificent landscape.
The difference in altitude between the mountains and lowlands creates diverse climates and habitats for the trees, flowers and animals that live here. Large raptors are abundant and can be seen year-round circling above farmland and canyons. Other wildlife includes wild boar, goats, deer, marmots, bats, salamanders and snakes (although only one poisonous variety). Sobrarbe is also noted for its wild mushrooms and many local varieties are showcased in the seasonal Aragónese cooking. But beware – there are many toxic varieties and, as the local saying goes “all mushrooms are edible, some only once”.
This area is a bird paradise and home to many species of birds including the Bonelli’s eagle, Egyptian vulture, Griffin vulture and Bearded Vulture (Quebrantahuesos), Black and Red Kite, Black Woodpecker, Boreal Owl and Wall Creeper. Ten ornithological routes across Sobrarbe and neighbouring Ribagorza provide a great starting point for first-time visitors.
The local airfield in Mediano-Coscojuela provides a great destination for a fly-in from airfields in Spain and France. Set on the shores of Lake Mediano, and almost in the shadow of Samitier Castle, this airfield provides spectacular vistas over the local mountains and canyons. Non-pilots can also take girocopter flights from the airfield (organised in advance) to get a real sense of this rugged and beautiful landscape.
There are a number of local organisations that provide guided outdoor activities –
please let us know if you would like information in advance of your visit.