The Serra del Montsec is a limestone mountain system that is more than 40 km long and covers a total area of 18,696 hectares, spreading across the districts of La Noguera and El Pallars Jussà.
The rivers of La Noguera Pallaresa and Ribagorçana have left their mark on the landscape in the form of the spectacular gorges of Mont Rebei and Terradets, which now divide the sierra into three separate parts. From west to east, these are: Montsec d'Estall, and Montsec d'Ares and Montsec de Rúbies
Situated directly to the north of the town of Àger, Montsec D'Ares, with over 180 caves and caverns and its abrupt faults, also contains important fossil deposits. The north-facing slope of Montsec d'Ares, in the district of El Pallars Jussà, guards an important medieval architectural heritage, which includes historic remains at Sant Esteve de la Sarga, Alsamora, Castell de Mur and Guàrdia de Noguera.
The open spaces of the south side of the mountain range provide a playground for adventure sports. There is a wide range of aerial activities on offer in the Àger valley.
The quality of the skies of Montsec has recently prompted the establishment of the Parc Astronòmic Montsec (Astronomical Observatory), near Àger. This facility offers visitors the chance to discover more about the sky, nature and the history of Montsec.
Located at the easternmost extreme of the mountain system is Montsec De Rúbies. The Eurosiberian-submediterranean nature of this area has allowed the
development of a rich biodiversity of
flora and fauna.
The south-facing side of Montsec de Rúbies is a zone containing important palaeontological remains, which include sites at the Meià quarry and at Cabroa. This very rocky area is also ideal for climbing and potholing, and there are several quite unique natural features such as the Buli hole.
On the cooler and drier north-facing side, the predominant vegetation is scrub, which hosts a wide range of Mediterranean aromatic plants. Zones such as the Barcedana valley, Llimiana and Bonrepós are all areas of outstanding natural beauty located on the north-facing side of Montsec de Rúbies.
Within the Montsec area, there are two zones that enjoy special protection:
The Reserva de Fauna Salvatge (Wildlife Reserve) de Sant Llorenç de Montgai
This Reserve occupies 468 hectares located in the municipalities of Camarasa and Os de Balaguer, an area that also contains the Partidor de Gerb (skimming/dividing wall) and the Embassament de Sant Llorenç (reservoir). Here, it is possible to find a number of relatively rare species of fauna, including the capercaillie. The most representative species are the bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus), the common vulture (Gyps fulvus) and the Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus).The golden eagle, the eagle owl and the peregrine falcon also prowl the area.
The most numerous mammal species found in this area are the wild cat (Felis sylvestris), badger (Meles meles), fox (Vulpes vulpes) and wild boar (Sus escrofa).
The Pyrenean chamois (Rupricapra pyrenaica) is also an occasional visitor to the area.
It is possible to get a closer view of the birds in the area by visiting the "Casal dels Voltors" (House of the Vultures), two chambers located in their feeding and nesting areas, a spot where these birds, the inhabitants of one of the region's beauty spots, can be observed in their daily life.
The Reserva Natural Parcial (Partial Nature Reserve) de la Noguera Ribagorçana-Mont Rebei.
This nature reserve occupies an 11 km stretch of riverside. It received its nature reserve status on account of its water predator, the otter.
The scree slopes and precipices of the mountain range provide excellent hideouts for the birds of prey that fly over Montsec both during the day and at night. These include the peregrine falcon, the vulture, and the golden eagle.
The abundance of water in the reserve has permitted the existence of an important number of aquatic species of fauna as well as bird species including the mallard, the grebe and the grey heron. The most significant fish species include the autochthonous carp and barbel and the more recently introduced black-bass, which is found in the reservoirs.
Looking west over launch
Looking east towards Montsec De Rúbies
Montsec Observatory with snow covered Pyrenees behind
The local experts