Perafita is located in the Madriu-Perafita-Claror valley and was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2004.The Madriu-Perafita-Claror valley is partly situated in Escaldes-Engordany. A symbol of the parish, it is undoubtedly important to local residents who have lived for years off the agricultural resources of these mountains.
This valley is the largest secondary river basin in the country. It is 12 kilometres wide from end to end, with an average altitude of 1,855 metres; the lowest point is very near the centre of Escaldes-Engordany (1,050 metres) and the highest point is Portelleta peak (2,905 metres). In this valley very rare, and even endangered, animal and plant species can be found.
For many generations, local residents have intensely farmed and used the land for ranching. These activities have contributed to transforming the valley’s landscape and have given it many of the values recognised by UNESCO.
High mountain pastures are still used today for grazing by cattle during the summer months. A good example to their importance during earlier times can be seen in the development of the prices of cortons, which were auctioned off by city councils to ranchers for ranching and farming.
Perafita: Is a compound noun combining pedra (“rock”) and fita, from the Latin ficta, meaning “stuck”. The name refers to the rock stuck here in the earth to indicate the border between Andorra and Alt Urgell
The Entremesaigues route is located in the Madriu-Perafita-Claror valley in the Escaldes-Engordany parish. The parish extends along southeastern Andorra. It is bordered on the north by the Encamp parish and a bit of the La Massana parish, and to the west on the Andorra la Vella and Sant Juli? de L?ria parishes, with which it shares some vague borders.
Escaldes-Engordany is the newest of the seven Andorran parishes; it came about in 1978 through the division of a former Andorran parish. It has an interesting architectural heritage, represented by the 12th-century church of Sant Miquel d’Engolasters and the 10th-century church of Sant Rom? dels Vilars, as well as by the Els Escalls, Engordany, Tosca and Pla bridges. Among the many ancient monuments and modern-day buildings, one you won’t want to miss is Caldea, the largest thermoludic spa resort in southern Europe.
The Madriu valley is a glacial valley that runs east to west. Some of its intriguing vegetation includes the Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) and mountain pine (Pinus uncinata). The forest undergrowth is populated with alpenrose (Rhododendron ferrugineum) and bilberries (Vaccinum myrtillus). Among the common birds to be found in the area are the black woodpecker (Dryocopus martius), whose song you will surely hear, and maybe, with a little luck, you might catch a glimpse of his spectacular black plumage. And let’s not forget the great tit (Parus major) or the tree-creeper (Certhia sp.).
Entremesaigues: From the Latin inter ambas aquas, “between two waters”. A fitting name, as the huts in this place are found where
the Claror i Perafita river empties its waters into the Madriu river
Madriu valley route
The diversity of habitats that make up the Madriu-Perafita-Claror valley contribute to the presence of a large variety of animal species, which have found it to be an ideal home. The mountain passes that connect neighbouring countries are also natural corridors that increase the biodiversity of the area.
The Madriu-Perafita-Claror valley is home to unique colonies of animal species, such as the Pyrenean chamois (Rupricapra pyrenaica), a mammal with a pair of small straight horns, curved at the end, a ruddy brown coat and a white face with a brown strip from the nose to ears. You might also see the roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), which is known to inhabit the valley. The mouflon was introduced in 1991, and is now living in the sunny high mountain meadows and rocky areas. The males are distinguishable by their twisted and ringed horns. Some of the other species in the valley are wild boars, ermines, marmots, foxes, martens and the always-adorable squirrel.
Madriu: From the Latin mater, matrix, meaning “mother”. In front of Conflent peak rises Padern peak (from the Latin paternu, “paternal”). The fact there is a mountain – Padern peak (paternu) – at the entrance to the Madriu valley (mater), gives us a good idea of the thinking of the prehistoric inhabitants of these valleys, who considered them to be symbols of fertility.
The Fontverd route passes through the Madriu-Perafita-Claror valley, which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2004. It offers a light hike perfect for families and anybody who wants to enjoy the extraordinary landscapes. Throughout its history, the Madriu Valley has been important to the inhabitants of Escaldes-Engordany. This is especially true because of its natural resources, which have many industrial and commercial uses, including to meet basic food and health needs.
Mountain people used to be very knowledgeable about the medicinal herbs growing in the valley’s forests. The teas and poultices made by them were the initial treatments for both people and livestock, and were even like a first aid kit for pastors, messengers or anyone who had to spend a long time away from home. Found in this chemist shop of plants, is holly (Ilex aquifolium), whose leaves were used for diuretic and laxative teas. The common bearberry (Arctostaphylos uvaursi) was known to be the best remedy for kidney stones or diarrhoea, and was even used to heal wounds and prevent infection. The leaves of the wild strawberry (Fragaria vesca) were used to make tea, to fight against uric acid concentrations and arthritis while also helping to reduce high cholesterol levels. The scrambling rose (Rosa canina) was a very good remedy for acne and was mixed with bath water to tone skin.
Fontverd: Compound noun coming from the Latin fons (“fountain”) and viride (“green”). Indeed, in the region a water source has spilled out over a granite base “filter”, and this helps to give life to a spontaneous garden full of a variety of plants.
Maiana pass route
The Maiana route is one of the most spectacular routes in the Madriu-Perafita- Claror valley, as it passes by Entremesaig?es, the Perafita refuge and Maiana pass, with the option of visiting Nou lake. On the way down, you’ll pass by the Fontverd and R?mio refuges (typical groupings of huts found in Andorra).
The changing and varied silhouette of the Madriu-Perafita-Claror valley offers a long list of possible mountain activities for hiking enthusiasts. In winter you can ski, and come summer there is rock climbing and hiking.
Apart from the roads created to support the inhabitants in the Madriu area, there are two long-distance paths (GR) that cross the valley, along with the GRP trail designed by the Andorran Mountaineering Federation (FAM). Running at more than 100 kilometres, this trail follows the country’s entire crest line and has five stages.
On the journey you will find the Fontverd and Perafita refuges, as well as thecabins in Estall Serrer, La Farga and Perafita.
Maiana: Old form of the Catalan word mitja, meaning “middle”; the point between two well-defined extremes or places. It can also refer to division between two different properties or possessions.
Blau lake route
This route runs along the 2.1-hectare Blau (“Blue”) lake, misnamed becauseits waters are cloudy and slight greenish.
This quite technically difficult route will let you discover the Madriu Valley, a valley filled with many natural habitats that make up a good sample of the country’s ecosystems. In the Madriu valley there are three distinguishable natural surroundings: lower mountain, medium mountain, and high mountain.
The lower and medium mountain areas are the most common landscapes in the Madriu-Perafita-Claror valley, and here you can find vegetation that makes up the forest ecosystem. Conifers such as the Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris), along with the boxwood (Buxus sempervirens), bearberries (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi), common juniper (Juniperus communis) and wild strawberries (Fragaria vesca) domi nate the forests. Between 1,600 and 2,300 metres above sea level, the mountain pine is best suited for the surroundings.
In the subalpine and mountainous areas, there are abundant thickets of alpenrose (Rhododendron ferrugineum), vegetation that helps to fix the soil of the scree and other rocky areas on the mountain, but also helps to prepare the terrain for other species’ later growth. You may still find some oaks in the lower points of the valley. The aquatic areas make up their own ecosystem in the valley, which helps to spur the growth of certain forest formations, such as riparian forests. Flowing bodies of water and lakes, as well as springs and streams are common throughout the valley.
Madriu river: From the Latin mater, meaning “mother”. It refers to where the thermal waters spring out, which are just at the mouth of the Valira d’Orient river.
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