«This is paradise!»
When arriving to La Vera de Gredos, what most surprises the visitor is the exuberance of the surrounding nature. “This is a paradise!”, the visitor tends to add when taking a first walks in the countryside. Few places in Spain offer such an impressive variety and plant wealth in such a limited space, no more than 888 square km!
Thanks to its geographical location -in the foothills of the southern face of the Sierra de Gredos-, the differences in altitude, the microclimate and the water courses, we can find varied floors and strata of vegetation. It is estimated that only in the mountains of Losar de la Vera there are 1,400 different plant species, both herbaceous and arboreal as well as shrubs. This great variety and richness of vegetation forms a dazzling landscape: oak groves, olive groves, pine groves, rockrose fields, meadows, hills, dry land, irrigated land, subtropical fruit orchards …
The landscape is marked everywhere by crystalline waters, those of 47 gorges, of rivers, streams and channels that irrigate the land and form natural pools between granite stones where you can cool off in summer. The Tiétar river, which delimits the southern end of La Vera de Gredos, collects these waters from the gorges, thus maintaining its flow all year round.
La Vera de Gredos is made up of three different natural environments: the foothills of the La Vera mountains, similar to a Mediterranean forest; the slopes of Gredos that constitute ambushed orchards; and the southern peaks of the Sierra de Tormantos, the cradle of water.
In winter, the peaks of the Sierra de Tormantos are usually covered with snow that can remain until May. From 1,000 meters to the 2,591 meters height of the Almanzor, the highest peak in the region, we enter the kingdom of mountain goat, golden eagle, peregrine falcon and griffon vulture. The surface is covered with yellow broom, broom, heather and higher up we discover high mountain pastures with dizzying granite cliffs.
The landscape softens on the slopes of Gredos. There are extensive oak forests, centenary chestnut trees and areas of shrubbery, where olive groves and cherry trees grow..
You can find a variety of trees of great interest, such as the yew or horse oak. The slopes are furrowed by gorges that form natural pools, ideal refuges for the native trout, the green-black lizard or the Iberian desman, a type of vole. We can also run into impressive waterfalls such as the Chorro de Ventera in Villanueva de la Vera with more than 80 meters of free fall.
La Vera de Gredos is also a pasture with holm oaks, cork oaks, pine forests, hay meadows where water, an emblematic protagonist of the area, passes by leaving streams and puddles, which also allow the concentration of various crops such as tobacco or peppers.
But this ecosystem is fragile. Many defenders of the area try to protect this paradise by working towards having the area declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, since it meets all the requirements, in addition to being surrounded by two important reserves such as the Sierra de Béjar and the Parque de Monfragüe.