The orchids of la Garrotxa

02 Nov
Thus, here we find low-lying thermophile holm-oak forests, as well as beech forests and extensive western holm, downy and pedunculate oak forests, along with well-preserved riparian woodland and even stands of yew. Today, the landscape is essentially dominated by forests since the years in which this county was eminently rural in nature and its forests were heavily exploited to make wood charcoal are now a thing of the past.

Nevertheless, there are still a number of open areas in this county that are havens for biodiversity. And the jewels in the crown of the plant kingdom here are very often the orchids. When we talk of orchids, the first things that comes to most people’s minds are the exuberant tropical plants sold in flower shops to decorate homes and offices. Nevertheless, if you go for a spring walk in La Garrotxa you will see a number of smallish flowers, often grouped in dense flowerheads that are nothing less than wild, native orchids. Over the years, fieldwork carried out in La Garrotxa by members of the local delegation of the Catalan Institution of Natural History have located over 50 species or orchids, all of them of extraordinary beauty. Aside from their visual elegance, orchid flowers are a fabulous stage on which to observe numerous evolutionary adaptions of flowers and insects that have perfected highly specialized pollination mechanisms. Charles Darwin used orchids to back up his ideas on evolution and natural selection and to refute creationist ideas.

Trescàlia offers you the chance to discover the wonderful world of wild orchids by spending a weekend away in La Garrotxa that includes food and accommodation, as well as the excursions in search of the county’s many orchids. We suggest you arrive on Friday afternoon and check into whichever of the many different places to stay on offer that you have chosen. You can choose a hotel in Olot, or a more rural hotel, farmhouse-style accommodation, an apartment, a campsite or a youth Hostal. On Saturday morning you will be met by your expert guide who will take you off into the mountains of the Serralada Transversal, one of the best-known areas for wildlife in La Garrotxa. In its meadows and pastures you will discover a series of orchids that you will have time to observe, photograph and enjoy. At the same time, you will get a chance to take in all the other flowers in the area, along with the butterflies, birds and the other creatures that the county has to offer. On the way back to your accommodation there will still be time to stop in a different type of habitat to look for a different type of orchids. In the evening, you will be free to enjoy any of the many cultural activities that La Garrotxa has to offer, or to go and explore some of the delightful villages hidden away in the mountains of this county.

The next day you will head for the southernmost part of the county to look for more orchid-rich habitats in the valley of El Llémena or perhaps in the high pastures of the Hostoles Valley. And having completed two days of orchid observation, at the end of the day the group will make a final count of the species you have seen.
All are welcome to take part in this activity — from those who travel alone, to familes with children and groups of friends. The walks are simple and no previous knowledge of flora and fauna is necessary. Just come along with an open mind and a desire to learn, and let yourself be shown some of the natural delights of La Garrotxa by one of our best naturalists.

The main aim of Trescàlia is to bring people into closer contact with nature by offering them different products related to walking, natural history and landscape. On our webpage you will find a whole series of excursions designed to discover La Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park, including 7/8-day routes that take you from the Pyrenees to the sea, ideas for routes for discovering the Romanesque churches of L’Alta Garrotxa, circuits that follow in the footsteps of the Trepitja Garrotxa ultra-endurance race, and special activities for birdwatchers and butterfly lovers. We also offer photographic weekends with some of the best local photographers, trail-running routes that will take you into some of the most hidden-away parts of the region, and many other ideas that all have in common the age-old trails that since time immemorial have criss-crossed La Garrotxa and its mountains and valleys. Our routes run from the final flourish of the Pyrenees at Cap de Creus to the highest peaks of the eastern Pyrenees, through the Empordà plains, across the volcanic rocks of La Garrotxa and the streams and meadow of the much-loved Vall de Núria, always with the idea of appreciating nature in mind.