This is a place full of dark secrets. Embedded in the valleys of the River Sil, the mountains of A Lastra and their limestone peaks are a rarity in the Galician landscape, where granite prevails.

 

Pala Cumbeira, Pala da Zorra, Pala Pereda, Pala Cubelas... In the park, there are numerous caves – which are called "palas" here – and this is why it has become a place of pilgrimage and for speleologists and amateurs. In these caves – a magical kingdom of stalactites and stalagmites – are some of the largest colonies of bats in Spain. The park is also a bird refuge.

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The flora of Enciña da Lastra is somewhat peculiar in Galicia, as it has certain Mediterranean features.. Forests of holm oaks, chestnut trees, meadows fragrant with the scent of wild thyme, and over 25 species of orchids. In Galicia, nature has its quirks.

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The Sil treasure

The Lastra mountain range is the natural east of Galicia. Here the holm oak has its own history. It tells about the Mediterranean climate and the limy soil it needs to exist. It is for this reason that it is scarce in the rest of Galicia.

It gives its name to the Natural Park, for it seems that in years gone by a massive holm oak acted as a guide to travellers in these parts. It is only a story, but a holm oak like the one in the past can be admired on land near the Covas cemetery, and is recognized as a Singular Tree.

Accompanying the holm oaks we find other Mediterranean species: cork trees, rebolos (oaks with a small trunk), almond trees and olives. There are also chestnut trees, and a mention of them takes us back two thousand years. Then, the Romans transported gold from this region to enrich the Empire. In exchange they left two treasures: their language and the chestnut trees, masterly elements of this landscape.

Nobody can remain indifferent to the beauty of the mountain towers of Penedos do Oulego, the shape of the Val do Inferno ravine, the sheer slopes of Pena Falcueira. The Sil divides this mountainous system forming a steep-walled gorge. The Covas straits constitute an aesthetic experience for the travellers who cross the region by train.

And the interior of this land will still surprise us with its palas, a word of pre-Roman origin which means caves. Here are located the biggest network of underground caves in the region and the largest colonies of bats living in the close to two hundred registered fissures and caves, some of which are extremely long, such as the Cova da zorra (600m), or landmarks in Galician potholing, such as the pala of Xilberte, the pala of Pombo, la pala of Trasmonte or la pala of Tralapala.

Not to be Missed

The journey itself, along the local roads that join the small villages in the interior and along the borders, shows the beauty of the landscape. The Park has areas of restricted access. It is necessary to contact potholing associations in order to be able to explore the caves.

Covas and Biobra, where the Visitors’ Centre is located, are both of special interest in this area. The route between Vilardesilva and Covas runs along the right bank of the Sil, taking us to the river gorge with incredible narrow passes that dam up the waters and act as hunting places for birds of prey.

On the other hand, we can go to the Penedos of Oulego along a very demanding path which uses forest trails to show us hidden natural scenic paradises which are the best kept secret of the hard eastern mountains.

Outstanding Nature

There are outstanding holm oak woods, chestnut groves and Mediterranean scrubland with special characteristics, such as fields of wild thyme. Flowering plants endemic to limy soil and other rare plants like the more than 25 species or orchids.

The gorges and sheer river passes are the habitats of birds of prey and other birds which make the Park an interesting ornithological refuge. It has the largest concentration of nesting birds in Galicia, and large colonies of bats live in the caves.

 

Useful information

Location

  • In the Rubiá municipality, belonging to the Ourense region of Valdeorras, bordering El Bierzo (León).

Area

  • 3,151.67 hectares.

Access

  • The 120 Ponferrada-Ourense road and the train line cross the Park by Covas. The local OU-622 road circles the mountain from the N- 120 towards the north. There is also a turnoff towards Biobra.

Services

  • In the area, outside the Park.

More information

  • Natural Park Office, Visitors’ Centre. Biobra (tel. 988 324 319).

Facilities

  • Animal observation stations.
  • Potholers’ shelter in Covas, with sports licence.
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