The towering cliffs and crags that rise from the Sil river, mysterious forests and grand vineyards cultivated on terraced vineyards since time immemorial are some of the most scenically unique enclaves in Galicia which host a good number of highly attractive species.

Birds among rocks, forests and vineyards

Practically since its entry into Galicia to its confluence with the Miño, the Sil river opens from the east to the west embedded in a deep valley that separates the provinces of Lugo and Ourense. Much of this section is dominated by large walls and granite crags that plummet over the waters of the now-dammed Sil river. 

The south-facing slopes enjoy significant sunshine that for centuries has enabled the cultivation of vineyards, many of which on small farms that have practically opened between the rocks. The natural vegetation growing on these sunny slopes consists of oaks, cork oaks, strawberry trees and other Mediterranean species, while the north-facing slopes are home to well-preserved oak (occasionally mixed with chestnuts) due to its vertiginous drop. At the edges, small villages surrounded by fields and pastures complete the general setting of an area of great environmental diversity

The routes
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"Peregrinus" route by car

BEST TIME

From April to September

DISTANCE

56 km

DURATION

4 hours

DIFFICULTY

None

COUNCILS

A Teixeira, Castro Caldelas, Nogueira de Ramuín, Parada de Sil

PATH

Parador de Santo Estevo - Parada de Sil - Castro Caldelas

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Key points on the route:

  1. The first section runs through woods and countryside and down to the canyon (1). peregrine falcons and other raptors such as the black kite and european honey buzzard can be seen there.
  2. The second section continues along the top of the canyon where many forest and agricultural-related species can be seen, such as the northern goshawk, common kestrel, eurasian bullfinch and eurasian nuthatch. After passing Cimadevila, there are two lookout points (2, 3) over the spectacular stretch of canyon. A stop there for a while in mid-morning usually provides a chance to see birds of prey such as peregrine falcons.
  3. From Parada de Sil the route approaches the “Os Balcóns de Madrid” (4) viewpoint which provides a spectacular view perfect for watching peregrine falcon, booted eagle and northern goshawk.
  4. Up to Castro Caldelas the slopes soften and rock gives way to forest and vineyards. In the vicinity of the villages barn swallows and house martins are abundant. Less frequent is the red-rumped swallow and many other small birds. black kites are a near constant presence on the route, attention should also be paid to the appearance of european honey buzzards.
  5. In Castro Caldelas (5), at the end of the route it is worth climbing the towers of the castle. The sunsets in spring provide a spectacular chance to see hundreds of common swifts just a few metres away.

"Gentilis" route by car”

BEST TIME

From April to September

DURATION

2 hours

DIFFICULTY

None

COUNCILS

A Teixeira, Castro Caldelas, Monforte de Lemos, Sober

PATH

Amandi - Doade - Castro Caldelas

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Key points on the route:

  1. In the surroundings of Amandi (1) and even after Doade, the route runs between woods and crop areas where, with some luck, goshawk and turtle doves can be seen, among others.
  2. Past Doade, the route enters a stretch of canyon profusely covered with vineyards (2) where the black kite and common kestrel are common.
  3. In the area around the bridge over the Sil (3) river a stop is recommended to see peregrine falcons, common kestrels, ravens and house house martins.
  4. The section then runs between forest and vineyards. In the spring, stop at any of these groves to hear the iberian chiffchaff and western bonelli's warbler.

"Meridionalis" route on foot

BEST TIME

From April to September

DISTANCE

7,5 km, one way

DURATION

3 hours (one way)

DIFFICULTY

Low

COUNCILS

Parada de Sil

PATH

Parada de Sil - Mosteiro de Santa Cristina

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Key points on the route:

  1. Between Parada de Sil and the "Os Balcóns de Madrid" viewpoint (1) numerous species associated with agricultural environments can be seen, such as turtle doves, swallows and cirl buntings.
  2. It is worth pausing at the lookout - from there one can see peregrine falcon, booted eagle and short-toed snake eagle.
  3. Between the viewpoint and the villages of Portela (2) and O Castro (3), southern grey shrike can be seen with a little luck. The section runs to the edge of the canyon with great views and the chance to see northern goshawk, peregrine falcon and short-toed snake eagle, among others.
  4. From O Castro to the Santa Cristina monastery (4), forest species such as the eurasian nuthatch, iberian chiffchaff and great spotted woodpecker are common. At the monastery stop to watch the canyon to see black kites and red-rumped swallows.

"Solitarius" route on foot

BEST TIME

From April to September

DISTANCE

2 km, one way

DURATION

1 hour (one way)

DIFFICULTY

Low

COUNCILS

Sober

PATH

Miradoiro da Cividade

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Key points on the route:

  1. Not far from the village of Ferrón, the route starts from the northern rim of the canyon (1) and runs at all times along its edge. blue rock thrush, red-rumped swallow and peregrine falcon, among others, can be seen.
  2. At the viewpoint (2) it is good idea to stay in wait for a while to see these species. With some patience other raptors such as the booted eagle, short-toed snake eagle and woodlark can be seen.

 

"Gallicus" route on foot

BEST TIME

From April to September

DISTANCE

425 m, one way

DURATION

Fifteen minutes (one way)

COUNCILS

Sober

PATH

Santuario de Cadeiras - Miradoiro

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Key points on the route:

  1. In the area around the monastery (1) short-toed treecreeper, eurasian blue tit and black redstart can be seen
  2. At the viewpoint (2) it is worth stopping to observe the environment since it is a good place for short-toed snake eagle, peregrine falcon, blue rock thrush, red-rumped swallow and, on rare occasions, griffon vulture.
The birds

Some of the most characteristic birds of the Canóns do Río Sil are cliff birds, i.e. species associated with rocky crags and cliffs. Due to its vast presence, the peregrine falcon tops the list. Less common cliff birds are the blue rock thrush and scarce and difficult-to-find eurasian eagle-owl, much like the elusive golden eagle. However, the forests and surroundings are also home to other raptors such as the european honey buzzard, booted eagle, goshawk and short-toed snake eagle. Among the smaller birds are the eurasian crag martin and red-rumped swallow. On the river, great cormorants and grey herons are common sights.

Tips and resources
  • The roads are difficult and thus require the driver's attention.

  • As early as spring, sunshine can be very strong. When going on a hike bring sunscreen and water.

Arriba