In the year 2000 was declared Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO and is currently the most protected natural area of the entire Principality. To see it you have to have a special permission and only twenty people per day are allowed to visit. In addition to being the symbol of an entire region, Muniellos is also the most extensive forest in Asturias, the largest oak grove in Spain with more than 5.000 hectares, and one of the best preserved Atlantic forests in all of Europe. Access to Muniellos is almost a privilege, which makes us feel like castaways in an unusual island, located in the extreme southwest of Asturias, on the cordales that separate the councils of Ibias and Cangas del Narcea.
The forest integrates three complete mountains: Valdebois, Muniellos and La Viliella. The first is located entirely in the council of Ibias and the other two in the Cangas del Narcea. An extraordinary natural reserve contains the greatest biological diversity of the Cantabrian mountain range, with an overwhelming proliferation of fungi, lichens, as well as some 400 species of mushrooms. Oak trees of different types and up to six meters in perimeter, beech and birch, in the darkest areas, dotted by the continuous presence of holly trees and yew trees. Riparian species such as ash and poplar are mixed with hazel, rowan and boxwood. Undoubtedly, its natural heritage is so immense that it deserves the authentic name of forest, an infinite forest, because although it has territorial borders it does not have them in content or in its high degree of naturalness. Muniellos sits on a Paleozoic substrate about 500 million years old. his glacial origin can still be seen in the famous lagoons of Pico de la Candanosa, that hide between valleys, paths and peaks. The ascent to these lagoons: La Peña, Grande, Fonda and La Isla make up one of the routes of maximum interest among hiking lovers. The lagoons are located above 1.400 meters of altitude, surrounded by a circus of ancient mountains, and in its waters all the shades of the forest are reflected.
In Muniellos it rains a lot, which facilitates its constant regeneration. A very high rainfall and a temperature of 10 degrees in the mid-mountain and below 6 in the region of peaks, helps to conserve a constant basic humidity for the development of so many kinds of life in its bosom. Snow is frequent during the cold season, staying much of the winter in the higher areas and providing more vital water to this territory passed through water. The three valleys of the great forest: La Candanosa, Las Gallegas and La Zreizal, converge on the Muniellos river which, after overcoming the narrow Tablizas gorge, join the Narcea river. A multitude of streams and streams converge in these three valleys, as many as there are days in the year, according to a popular saying.
Muniellos is camouflaged in different ways to the rhythm of the seasons. The fog, the inclemency and the ice give way to spring, when the forest explodes in a thousand colors. Summer is the time of greatest influx, but the forest shows all its splendor in spring and autumn. April and May, on the one hand, and October and November, on the other, are the best months to discover it. However, winter is the best time to observe the fauna: more than one hundred and sixty species to admire. The leaves have fallen, roe deer, chamois, wild boar, foxes, medium peaks or wild cats are more within reach of our binoculars although they are elusive in the recesses of the forest. Wolves, bears and foxes occupy their space in the undergrowth, more hidden from human eyes, but we do see the flight of the goshawk, occasionally the golden eagle, and the abundant presence of otters along the multiple waterways. In this territory we can also delight ourselves with the largest and most stable population of grouse in the entire Asturian mountain range.
How to get there:
To get closer by car you have to go from Cangas de Narcea to Ventanueva. The main access to this area is from the AS-211 Regional Road, which connects with the AS-15 Regional Highway at the height of Ventanueva and goes through the Port of Connio to San Antolín de Ibias. A 3 km scarce of Ventanueva is located the town of Moal, where a road starts in just over four kilometers leads to Tablizas, where is the House of the Guard, who will receive us and to which we will give permission to visit to start the tour.
There are two possible itineraries, one longer, steeper and more beautiful in which one gains more height and the perspectives are much wider, of some 10 Km., And another shorter more flat except for the final slope, which goes through the bottom of the valley, about 6,5 Km. Both have their origin in the house of the Guard and end in the Lagunas, so unless the physical faculties do not allow it, the normal and prettiest, is to go for the longest and return for the short one.
Permissions and contact addresses:
The visits must be authorized by the Ministry of Environment, allowing a maximum of 20 visitors per day. The application must be accompanied by the name, surname and ID number of each member of the group, and the group owner must also provide a photocopy of the ID, an address and contact telephone number.
The phone to request the authorization to visit the reserve is the 985 279 100 or online, on the website of the Principality of Asturias reservation request