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, trails and peaks. The ascent to these lagoons: La Peña, Grande, Fonda and La Isla make up one of the most interesting routes among hiking enthusiasts. The lagoons are located above the 1.400 meters of altitude, surrounded by a circus of ancient mountains, and in its waters all the tonalities 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 middle mountain and below the 6 in the region of summits, helps to conserve constant a basic moisture for the development of so much life in its midst. Snow is frequent during the cold season, reaching much of the winter in the highest areas and providing more vital water to this territory passed by water. The three valleys of the great forest: La Candanosa, Las Gallegas and La Zreizal, converge on the Muniellos River, which, after crossing the narrow gorge of Tablizas, join the Narcea River. In those three valleys converge in turn a multitude of streams and streams, as many as days have 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. Fall leaves, roe deer, chamois, foxes, medium beaks or wildcats are more within reach of our binoculars although they are elusive in the mysteries of the forest. Wolves, bears and foxes occupy their space in the undergrowth, more hidden to human eyes, but we do see the flight of the hawk, occasionally the golden eagle, and the abundant presence of otters alongside the multiple water courses. In this territory we can also delight, with the largest and most stable grouse population of 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