Nature in the Sil Canyon
The river Sil, with its source in the neighbouring province of Leon, is deeply set between two almost-vertical granite walls as it flows through this region; at some points, these walls reach a height of over 500 metres. Its waters, which gently make their way down through the backwaters produced by the region’s reservoirs, flow into the river Miño where the Canyon ends.
The river Sil became deeply set over thousands of years and due to two main factors: the gradual erosion of its waters on the riverbed and powerful geological processes linked to tectonic plates. This impressive relief, formed of vertical sides and numerous rock formations, creates a great number of hidden corners and virtually inaccessible areas. Located between the provinces of Ourense and Lugo, this region has a predominantly continental Atlantic climate but, at the same time, certain sections of the Canyon have a different micro-climate, with very Mediterranean characteristics.
These two characteristics make this area an excellent refuge for many animal and plant species, which find their ideal habitat here. We can see everything from tree species and plants typical of Atlantic forests - such as chestnut or oak trees - to other, much more Mediterranean plants in favourable areas, such as cork oaks or lavender. Several birds of prey, such as the peregrine falcon, the black kite and even the threatened golden eagle, also choose these steep hillsides to build their nests.
The river Sil is protected as a SCI, or Site of Community Importance. This classification is granted to areas across Europe with great potential for the restoration of their natural habitat, based on its richness and diversity. Moreover, it is part of the Natura 2000 network: a large collection of natural areas across Europe.
Whether you are nature lovers, intrepid adventurers or simply wish to discover this beautiful scenery, we recommend one of the certified Sil Canyon walking routes, such as PR-G 98 (Sil Canyon-Santa Cristina), PR-G 177 (Mao Canyon Route) or PR-G 180 (A Cubela Route)