Awarded UNESCO Biosphere designation in 2000, Somiedo is a beautiful and little-known treasure in the south of Asturias, Northern Spain. The park is formed of forest-cloaked hillsides and rugged mountain peaks interspersed with flowing rivers and meadow pastures. It is a wet and mild region with moss- and lichen-clad white and Pyrenean oak trees bearing witness to the purity of its air. Rainfall is quite high and, as a result, the vegetation is particularly lush and green and far from the image most have of a Spanish landscape.
The park is rich in fauna and flora with over 100 bird species present, including griffon vulture, eagles, goshawk and honey buzzard. Among the many mammal species are chamois, wild boar, red and roe deer, wildcat and wolf. Somiedio is particularly noted for its population of brown bears which can be observed in August and September feeding on seasonal berries and hazelnuts in forest clearings and open hillsides. There are at least 20 bears that live within accessible valleys and sightings – although mostly through telescopes and binoculars – are highly rewarding.
When the weather is sunny, the park can be a good place to spot many reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates including numerous butterflies.