The Area in Detail

Our area is based on the course of the river Noguera Pallaresa, with an important ‘extension’ into the adjacent valley of the river Noguera Robagorçana, which forms the border between Catalonia and Aragon. The Noguera Pallaresa rises at the Pla de Beret (1,860m) among the highest Pyrenean peaks. Its source is on the watershed between Spain and France. Indeed, the source of the Garonne (Garona in Spanish) lies just a stone’s throw away. From here The Noguera Pallaresa flows 154 kilometres to its confluence with the Segre, the most important river in the province, at the point where the mountains end and the great fertile plains of the Pla d’Urgell begin. To get a quick idea of the area the Catalan Government has made a short video that includes some fabulous aerial photography.

During its brief but energetic life the Noguera Pallaresa tumbles and carves its way through three very distinct zones: The High-Pyrenees dominate an enormous landscape, snow covered for much of the year. Below the tree line, around 2,000 metres, densely wooded slopes support many Alpine species of flora and fauna. Much of this region is protected under the auspices of the Parc Natural de l’Alt Pirineu, which covers nearly seventy thousand hectares, in addition the fabulous Parc Nacional d’Aigüestortes i de Llac de Sant Maurici is found here.

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View over the Estany de Sant Maurici, which gives the eastern portion of the National Park its name.

Further south the landscape softens slightly in an area that, for want of a better name, we call the ‘Mid-Pyrenees’. Here remote mountain communities seem locked in time in hidden valleys, tending their cattle and tilling the ancient meadows. It is a region of dense deciduous woodland, a favourite haunt of mycologists in the autumn, and where myths and legends seem to come alive! Finally, the Pre-Pyrenees region is marked by rugged limestone cliffs, which rise amongst ‘Encina‘ (Alzina in Catalan), a typically Spanish vegetation of open woodland and heath where the native evergreen Holm Oak (Quercus Ilex) prevails. Here, in the area around Fígols, the typical Mediterranean ‘triad’ of wheat, vine and olive production predominates, along with the rearing of sheep and goats. The Pre-Pyrenees end on the southern face of the massive Serra de Montsec, shortly beyond the confluence of the Noguera Pallaresa and the Segre at Camarasa.

In addition to the Montsec, the Serra de Boumort dominates our immediate landscape and together they form the borders of the Conca de Tremp. The Noguera Pallaresa cuts through these ranges in the spectacular gorges of Collegats and Terradets. The Conca de Tremp was once an inland sea, trapped between great land masses as the Iberian techtonic plate struck mainland Europe, some 40 – 50 million years ago. That was the epoch when dinosaurs roamed and their remains are easily found in the neighbourhood. Today, geologists come from all over the world to work at our local Science Museum and to study the unique variety of features – furthermore, even amateurs can find fossils with ease! Casa Rafela looks southeast over the Conca and has spectacular panoramic views over the Boumort and Montsec mountain ranges and even right up to the High-Pyrenean peaks of Estats and Montcalm.

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The pretty and historic village of Peramea is typical of the higher moutain valleys.

Just to the west of the Noguera Pallaresa, over the Serra de Montllobar on whose flanks lies Fígols at 750m, the valley of the river Noguera Ribagorçana forms the remote Alta Ribagorça ‘comarca’, or county. This frontier area is quite different in character to the twin ‘comarcas’, Pallars Jussà and Sobirà The region is important, however, in that it is host to some superb wildlife reserves; the Congost de Mont-rebei ravine, the La Terreta nature reserve, which specifically supports a large population of vultures, and also the western portal of the Aigüestortes National Park. If that’s not enough the UNESCO World Heritage listed Val de Boi with its unique and astonishing collection of Romanesque architecture, is to be found there.

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The entrance to the Congost de Montrebei. The vertiginous path through the ravine is one of the most popular of our collection of Our Favourite Walks. For more pictures check out the on-line guide!

Our local market town is an important centre for the region, but due to its remoteness Tremp provides much more in terms of shops and services than its size would indicate. In fact it is a pleasant town with quiet shady squares, lots of shops in its mediaeval centre and it even boasts its own ‘Rambla’ – although it doesn’t even try to compete with that of Barcelona! Tremp is just a fifteen-minute drive from Casa Rafela so it is very convenient. Market day, Mondays, has an air of bustling activity, otherwise Tremp is an ideal place to sample the Catalan way of life – everyone has plenty of time and, armed with the guide to ‘Our Favourite Shops’ plus our glossary of cooking ingredients and methods, one can really get a sense of the place!

The region also has more relaxing aspects for holiday making - the lakeside bar, or  'Xirunguito' is totally tranquil!

The region also has more relaxing aspects for holiday making – the lakeside bar, or ‘Xirunguito’ is totally tranquil!

The area offers a huge variety of landscapes and environments within a relatively small radius of Casa Rafela – with the exception of the more remote valleys of the High Pyrenean area all are within an hours or so’s drive. Although the Tremp area is primarily geared towards agriculture and the service sector there is a trend towards developing tourism as an adjunct to the traditional ways of life; an essential prop to the local economy in fact. So although there is no way the area could be called ‘touristy’ there is plenty on offer for the holidaymaker. The nearby areas in the High Pyrenees, however, are geared to tourism in a fairly big way, but this is based entirely on the natural environment, both in the sense of the wonderful natural history and in the use of natural resources for numerous outdoor sports and activities.

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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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  • Generalitat de Catalunya

    Casa Rafela is a registered self-catering holiday accommodation. Nº HUTL-000734

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