La Cerdanya is especially known for its ski slopes in winter and the rest of the year for its emblematic natural spaces, such as Lake Puigcerdà, Lake Malniu or the Sierra del Cadí mountains. But it also boasts a unique and singular area in which to enjoy nature: the botanical collection known as the Arborètum de Queixans, in Fontanals de Cerdanya, which invites you to take a walk through mountain forests from around the world.
Following the 1994 fire, the Catalan government repopulated an area of around two hundred hectares with more than 300,000 trees. Some 12 hectares were set aside for this large botanical garden, which is home to more than 120 different tree species, organised into five blocks or continents according to the geographical distribution of the species. Set in a mountainous setting, the proposed route is some three kilometres long and begins with the forests of the Pyrenees, continues through those of North America, and then on through forests from the rest of Europe, Asia, and finally, the rest of the world.
In the itinerary proposed by the Arboretum, visitors can also see trees from different forest environments, such as alpine, above 2,300 metres in altitude, subalpine, below 2,300 metres, montane and basal. Visitors are provided with information about each species planted and can also learn to differentiate between them through their elements, such as leaves, fruits and trunks. However, “it must be borne in mind that this is a project for the future, we still have empty areas and we do not want to create false expectations. In about 20 years, when it is finished, the Arborètum de Queixans will be a benchmark in Catalonia,” says the Fontanals local council, who also recommend a visit to the Arborètum because “it is a very beautiful walk and one that it is worth it for the unique views of the whole La Cerdanya plain.” The Arboretum is currently open and admission is free (all information at www.arboretumdefontanals.cat).
Yet, Fontanals is not the only place in Catalonia which has an arboretum to visit. Cabrils, for example, has the Arboretum of Catalonia which, with an area of 40,000 m2, contains most of the tree and shrub species of Catalonia in low, medium and high mountain environments and riparian forest (cabrils.cat). In the Arboretum of Manlleu (manlleu.cat, visitors will find simulations of the most representative forests from the Osona region: more than 1,200 feet of 70 different species and an orographic simulation of the hills of the Plana de Vic. Meanwhile, in Masjoan, in Espinelves, there are 56 different species of notable trees to discover - including some specimens of monumental trees of Catalonia (masjoan.com). In Lleida, there is the Dr Pius Quer i Font Arboretum, a large botanical garden belonging to the Lleida Agri-Food Science and Technology Park (PCiTAL). It has the four most important tree biomes on earth (boreal forests, deciduous forests, sclerophyllous and temperate forests) in up to 16 wooded environments (arboretum.parcteclleida.es).
out & about
The Cerdanya Ecoresort offers sustainable experiences. It is a tourist complex especially dedicated to family tourism that offers services for all tastes and ages and has a notably ecological bent: swimming pools, spas, guided excursions, a farm area and an activity park, wellness programmes, adventure activities, sports facilities, and so on.