My journey started in the bustling Barcelona center, smack right in front of La Sagrada Familia cathedral. Surrounded by tourists and the buzz of street traffic, I had no idea that only a half hour later I’d be engulfed in a nature paradise – Montseny.
Designated by UNESCO as a biospere reserve, Montseny Natural Park is a flora-and-fauna-covered mountain range that staggers into the skies just inland between Barcelona and Girona. Reaching over 1700 meters in elevation, the rain-saturated landscape seeps H2O from every crevice — so much so, in fact, that 50% of Spain’s bottled water originates from the mountain fissures, rivers and lakes.
The classification as a “natural park” rather than a “national park” is a unique distinction. According to a Montseny park guide, since the Montseny land has been occupied and used for quite some time (since the Palaeolithic Age, to be exact), rather than taking a passive approach to its conservation – as with national parks – the government works proactively to ensure the evolving land use doesn’t harm the region’s ecosystems.
Take for example Sr. Farmer. Let’s say he’s got a herd of cows munching on a lush grassy pasture, just like they have for generations. But Sr. Farmer’s son isn’t super keen on the whole cow thing – I mean, he could be a DJ, astronaut or, say, travel blogger. So, chances are that when Pops retires, so will the cows. And, along with them, say “adios” to the entire ecosystem that was created around them. That’s not cool.
But natural parks like Montseny work to mitigate this problem. Filled with loads of animal and plant species, public funds are dedicated to researching, maintaining and supporting the fragile ecosystems. So, while much of the land is privately owned, careful checks and balances enable a more promising future for the area. And good news for the rest of us: a nature-filled playground for years to come.
In the coming weeks, I hope to share with you this little natural paradise only a short drive away from Barcelona and Girona. Grab a snack and some comfy shoes, because it’s going to be an active and very food-filled journey.
Disclosure: I’m traveled through Montseny as a guest of Turístics Montseny. Rest assured that I’m keeping it real – all opinions are entirely my own.