A glacial valley in the autonomous community of Aragon in Spain, the Ordesa Valley is part of the Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park. Situated in the Spanish Pyrenees, it has a moderate climate and is well known for its waterfalls and wildlife.
The valley stretches for 15 km (~9 mi) and is U-shaped, carved out by glaciation. Walking throughout it is superb. There is a track which runs its length alongside the meandering rivers and waterfalls. Limestone cliff walls loom either side of the valley stretching up to 800 m (2,625 ft) and eroded into ledges (or ‘fajas’ in Spanish) , some of which are walkable. Vegetation includes dense, humid beech trees, firs and pines at lower levels contrasted with the silver-grey limestone cliffs above them.
Framed at the end of the valley is Monte Perdido, the third highest mountain in the Pyrenees at 3,355 m (~11,007 ft). The receding glacier on its north side is a visible reminder of the ice that formed this landscape.
Ordesa has one of Europe’s largest populations of chamois and these can often be seen scrambling up the steep valley sides. Less apparent unfortunately is the Cabra montes, or Spanish Ibex, the species the park had hoped most to protect – it’s thought there are only 15 of these left in the territory. You may see the Lammergeier, or Bearded Vulture: the Spanish Pyrenees are home to the largest remaining population of these fine birds.
Because of the fragility of the landscape, there are strict limitations on activities that can be undertaken here. Fishing, swimming, mountain biking and watersports are not permitted, nor is camping or making fires. As tempting as it may be, the area is not open to winter sports either. But the true beauty of the area is best experienced on foot anyway.