The Area

Casa Rafela is located in a small village that overlooks a broad valley called the Conca de Tremp. The valley’s river, the Noguera Pallaresa, rises in one of the highest valleys in the Pyrenees, at the Pla de Beret, which is the centre of the top ski resort of Baqueira Beret. During its energetic 150 kilometre trajectory the Noguera Pallaresa runs through varied landscapes: from its source in the high Alpine pastures of the Pyrenees the river soon dives among dense pine forests, while along the banks cattle graze in its lush water meadows.

The upper reaches of the Noguera Pallaresa valley are a treat at any time of year, not just the early autumn!
The river and its many lakes offer a huge variety of watersports

The river’s course soon veers due south and gouges deep valleys through the granite ranges of the high Pyrenees. From about half way along its length, however, limestone predominates and the landscape changes dramatically.

The Sierra de Montsec is bisected by the Noguera Pallaresa at the spectacular Terradets ravine, overlooked by the XII century fortress of Sant Gervais
Despite its immense size, the Montsec is easily accessible and hosts some of ‘Our Favourite Walks’

Here, the river crosses huge sierras that traverse east to west, forming spectacular ravines in the process. Between these sierras the valley is broader and lighter and the landscape has a more Mediterranean feel. Local agriculture is based on the cultivation of fruits and arable crops, and vineyards and olive groves dot the landscape. Finally, the river passes through the Sierra de Montsec (whose seventy kilometre length make it the largest single mountain structure in the region) before joining the large river Segre and on down through the central plains to reach the Mediterranean at the Ebro delta.

The Montsec attracts climbers from all over the world to scale the cliffs on its southern slopes
The Noguera Pallaresa finally joins the Segre below the huge Pressa de Camarasa hydroelectric plant. From here it’s a case of, ‘Over the hills and far away, all the way to the sea!’

Our comarca, roughly equivalent to a British or U.S. county, spans the area from the Sierra de Montsec in the south right up into parts of the high Pyrenees at the Val Fosca (the Dark Valley) and is unique in its breath of landscape and varied geology. For a preview take a look at the short aerial video clip on the right-hand sidebar. With its location right in the centre of this area Casa Rafela has some very distinct advantages as a base for holidays to suit all tastes:

  • There are two very varied landscapes and climate zones within a short distance: the ‘Alpine’ region of high Pyrenees, the colossal limestone sierras, known as the Pre-Pyrenees. (see bottom of this page for summary)
  • There is a well-developed infrastructure around leisure and tourism. These range from the wide variety of ‘high octane’ activities like white water rafting, to more gentle pursuits in the region’s amazing nature reserves, especially the spectacular Aigüestortes National Park.
  • For the more gently disposed the region’s rich cultural heritage, including UNESCO listed sites such as the Romanesque churches in the Val de Boi or the array of XII century castles and monasteries along what was once a hotly contested border between the Moorish Caliphate of Andalusia and Christian Europe, all set in beautiful countryside and easily accessible by car – or on foot from our own front door!
  • Although the region has the sense of being in a ‘Lost World’ it has excellent communications with the rest of Spain, especially the Mediterranean coast and Catalonia’s great capital, Barcelona; and with France, just a couple of hours drive away over the border. But at the same time it preserves its distinct character and identity – perhaps best exemplified by its rich local cuisine!

From the terrace of Casa Rafela one looks out over the high Pyrenean peaks about 50 kilometres to the north and the Sierra de Montsec close by to the south – the image in the header simply doesn’t do the view justice! While virtually all of the mountain ranges in view are nature reserves of one category or another our immediate vicinity is more homely. The open woodland, which is mostly composed of evergreen Alzina (Holm oak), is interspersed with meadows and orchards. Directly below the cottage the land falls gently down to the valley floor, some 300 metres below. The local market town, Tremp, is to be found some 10 kilometres away above the riverbank. The valley immediately below Figols is of interest to geologists, however, and as such it is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and is amongst the most stringently protected environments that exist in Europe!

Fígols lies on an escarpment under its own important sierra, La Terreta, which forms the western boundary of the ‘comarca’ of Pallars Jussà

In short, there is something for everyone at Casa Rafela. So much so in fact that over the years we have amassed a great deal of information about the region and its facilities, enough to write a book perhaps, and far too much for a small web site like this. Hence the link in the tab menu to ‘The Book!’ All of the above features are described in much more details there, including links to yet further sources on information. Please take the time to browse through its pages and please do ask if there is anything that doesn’t appear!

Fígols Weather Summary

Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sept Oct
Temperatures (ºC)
Daily average 11 15 19 23 22 19 14
Average maximums 18 22 27 31 30 27 21
Record Maximums 29 34 39 41 41 39 31
Note that these statistics are taken from summary tables courtesy of the Catalan Institute of Meteorology for the years 1961 – 90. Full details and statistics are given in the ‘Landscape and Climate’ chapter of The Book!
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    All material in this web page is subject to copyright: © 2012 Simon Rice. The downloadable guides are free to use.
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