With more than a thousand hectares of protected areas, the regions of Barcelona are the ideal destination for losing oneself in nature. But before you reach for your backpack, let’s talk about the flora and fauna and everything you have to do in order to enjoy an environmentally responsible visit. If you follow the five general rules listed below, you’ll be helping to conserve nature for future generations.
1. Park your car
To be green, it’s important to travel green. So if you don’t possess an electric car, you should travel to natural areas using a means of transport that pollutes as little as possible. Travel by train and bus, making the most of the integrated public transport services of the Montseny and Sant Llorenç del Munt i l’Obac natural parks. Once you get to the park, show off your horse riding skills, get on your bike or, better still, walk! There’s an extensive network of waymarked routes for hikers in the regions of Barcelona.
2. Respect nature
Walking in the mountains and observing wildlife is a highly enriching activity. However, don’t forget that wildlife —as the name indicates— is untamed, which is how it should be. Accordingly, don’t try to domesticate it, alter it or remove it from its habitat. It’s extremely important not to cut flowers, take away minerals as souvenirs or gather seeds to plant in pots: seeds are a source of food for insects and birds, without which new plants cannot grow. Resist the temptation to approach animals, especially birds nesting in trees, since you could disturb them and make them leave. Don’t feed animals or attempt to touch them; you could unwittingly create health problems for them. Are you dying to see some indigenous wildlife up close? Head to an animal reserve or visit one the animal recovery centres located in the regions of Barcelona.
3. Don’t go off trail
The routes of natural parks are waymarked for two main reasons. The first one is to make sure you don’t get hurt or lost: no one wants you to fall off a cliff or to head into a forest and not find your way out. However, the second reason is related to preserving biodiversity and conserving the landscape: walking off trail causes erosion, harms the flora and disturbs the animals. So always follow the waymarked paths. Don’t take short cuts or go cross country and, obviously, don’t camp outside the designated areas: you can only camp in places designated or specially created for this purpose. But don’t worry! You’ll find plenty of campsites that fulfil environmental sustainability criteria in and around the twelve natural parks of the regions of Barcelona. Check them out and you’ll be able to show off your eco-tourist credentials!
4. Look after yourself as well
Is adventure your thing? There are plenty of places in the protected areas of the regions of Barcelona where you can go for an adrenaline rush. Montserrat Mountain, for example, is known as the Catalan Mecca for climbers, thanks to its beautiful rock faces. If you enjoy via ferrata routes, head to the legendary Puigsagordi Hill. Meanwhile, Guardiola de Berguedà is a fabulous place to go for canyoning. However, whatever you do, make sure you adopt all the necessary safety measures. If you’re heading out on your own, always let someone know about your plans. Take enough food and water, warm clothing, a torch, a waterproof jacket and anything you might need in an emergency. Before you dive into water, check its depth, temperature and the speed of the current. And make sure your mobile phone is fully charged; even if you reach a remote part of the park where there’s no signal, you can use your phone’s torch or compass functions.
5. Don’t play with fire
Anything you take with you to the park must leave the park with you. So don’t throw away or bury any litter and, if possible, take a bag with you in order to pick up any litter you come across; it’s not compulsory but the park staff will be delighted to see you looking after nature and might well share with you the location of their secret paradise in the park, or at least tell you where their favourite picnic spot is. Picking up other people’s litter is a request but keeping fires under control is your obligation. Be aware that in natural parks you can only light a fire in designated barbecue facilities — and not always, since there are periods of the year when lighting a fire is strictly prohibited. If you’re unsure, request information from the park staff or a rural officer! It’s extremely important to check whether there are any fire restrictions in place before striking the first match.
- Please note: Each protected area has its own regulations! If you have any doubts, head to the park office or visitor centre to clear them up. While you’re there, ask for the weather forecast, route suggestions, maps of trails or whatever else you need... The staff know the terrain like the back of their hands and are well aware of the importance of leaving a positive imprint on nature.
Natural Parks Network of Barcelona Provincial Council
Routes of the Natural Parks Network
Campsite guide of the Government of Catalonia