Sierra de Guara National Park, Spain

The Sierra de Guara is what’s known as a mountain massif in the province of Huesca, the most northerly province in the autonomous community of Aragon, Spain. Its highest point is Tozal de Guara (2,077 m).

It seems noone really goes to Sierra de Guara, except a fanatical bunch of climbers who repeatedly spoke of the Canyon in glowing terms as “…a world class climbing destination possibly the best sports climbing destination in the world.”

It took about three and a half hours to get from Barcelona to Rodellar, where we were staying, and one of the few human settlements within the park. Rodellar is a sleepy little town perched on top of a canyon wall with spectacular views down into the Canyon and over the surrounding Massif. Apart from a few locals and the crazy climbers, all you’re left with are the most beautiful vistas and…silence.

We saw eagles, vultures, mountain goat and wild boar in our short time there, and spent hours wandering through the river valley marvelling at the other-wordly landscape, surrounded by the sweet smell of wild Rosemary and Lavender.

In terms of activities, the climbing in Rodellar is not really for beginners, although we did manage a terrifying ‘Via Ferrata’ which involved scaling some rusty iron rungs banged into the canyon wall, kitted out with helmet, harness and ropes.

In the Summer it’s a top Canyoning spot – Canyoning basically involves donning a websuit and hurling yourself down the river canyon – sliding and jumping from rocks, swimming through underwater tunnels, and leaping off precipices into plunge pools.

We stayed in a ‘refuge’ called Refugio Kaladraka, perched in a spectacular location right on top of one of the Canyon walls. The people were great, the climbers friendly, it was cheap and very, very beautiful… Did I say that already?

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Podcast: Basque Country & Ordesa National Park, Spain

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I made this podcast around Easter on a 1500KM road trip from Barcelona to the Basque Country (País Vasco), then on to the beautiful Ordesa and Monte Perdido National Park in the Spanish Pyrenees. The trip takes in various locations including San Sebastian, Bilbao, Mundaka, Biarritz (in France), Torla, the Cola de Caballo trek and Cañón de Añisclo.

Ordesa and Monte Perdido National Park (in Spanish Parque Nacional de Ordesa y Monte Perdido) has been included since 1997 by UNESCO in the Biosphere Reserve of Ordesa-Viñamala. It is also part of the cross-border Pyrénées – Mont Perdu World Heritage Site.

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Photos of the Basque Country, Spain.
Video showing MONSTER surf in Mundaka, Spain
Wikipedia article on Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park.
The Basque Country
Cañón de Añisclo (in Spanish)
San Sebastian
Eduardo Chillida

Photos of the Basque Country, Spain

Video: Ob Luang National Park

Ob Luang national park is about 105 kilometers from Chiang Mai and is a very worthwhile day trip. The park is famous for its gorge through which the Mae Chaem River flows. It is also known as the "Grand Canyon of Thailand".

A footbridge across the gorge 500 meters downstream makes a walk through the natural trail possible. The walk passes an ancient burial site (Land of Prehistoric Human), the remains of which are in the National Museum in Chiang Mai. They found human bones, beads, wrist rings, clay bowls, tools, weapons, etc. You can also see ancient rock drawings from about 2500 -3000 years ago and an amazing view over the valley can be enjoyed from the rock outcrop above at Doi Pa Chang.

Ob Luang is furthermore known for its water rafting. While we were there the river was not particularly high but it was definitely forceful, with a strong current and plenty of water to enjoy a wild water rafting trip. When there is less water it is also possible to enjoy canoeing and kayaking.

The National Park covers a total area of 553 square kilometers of steep forested granite hills, adjoining the much higher mountains of Doi Inthanon Park to the northwest. The elevation ranges from 200 meters to 1,656 meters along the Mae Chaem River to the northeast. The Mae Chaem River originates from the mountain range in Mae Hong Son. It is running along steep cliffs, knolls, and valleys and has some islands as well as sandy beaches on the side.

The National Park Office has tents and sleeping equipment for visitors to rent (although tents have to be put up no later the 6 pm). Contact Ob Luang National Park, P.O. Box 2, Hang Dong Sub district, Hord District, Chiang Mai 50240. Tel: 053-229272.

How to get there

Traveling from Chiang Mai, take the road number 108 to the town of Hot. At Hot take the Hot – Mae Sariang road. After 17 km you will reach the park’s headquarters. Total distance from Chiang Mai is 105 km.

Doi Inthanon – The highest mountain in Thailand

This weekend we hired a mini-van and drove from Chiang Mai to Doi Inthanon National Park – one of the oldest National Parks in Thailand. Doi Inthanon (2,565m) itself is the highest mountain in Thailand and is also known as “The roof of Thailand”.

Due to its elevation, Doi Inthanon offers a wide variety of ecological habitats, and is therefore home to a significant amount of plant and animal species. There are supposed to be nearly 400 bird species (the highest number of any national park in Thailand), black bears, and various different monkey species.

Doi Inthanon - Vachiratharn waterfall

On the lower slopes of Doi Inthanon, near the Karen hill tribe village of Ban Sop Had, are the Vachiratharn waterfalls (named after the Thai Prince), where the river Vachiratharn tumbles over a granite escarpment. We were treated to an amazing view when we arrived here as the water vapour caused by the water cascading over the rocks had formed a striking rainbow – see the photo above.

It was rather cool at the summit (13 degrees C), and there isn’t a notable view from the summit itself, but there are a couple of interesting walks you can do, including the Ang Ka nature trail walk. ‘Ang Ka’ means Crow’s Pond in Thai, and it is considered the highest natural water catchment in Thailand. These walks are particularly interesting as the trees are covered in hanging moss and lichen giving them a unique character.

On the way down the mountain, we stopped at the two Chedis built in honour of the King and Queen of Thailand. It was from here that we got the best views of the surrounding countryside (see photo).

A few friends of ours have previously visited Doi Inthanon from Chiang Mai, and they had told us that they saw relatively little from the summit, as for much of the year the mountain is shrouded in mist. We may have been lucky – or it could have been due the time of year (November) – but the weather and views were superb, helping to make it a really memorable day trip. Highly recommended but check the weather first!


Doi Inthanon is located about 2 and a half hours’ drive South-West of Chiang Mai. Head down highway 108 towards Chom Thong then follow the signs to Doi Inthanon. Foreigners pay 400THB entry to the national park, and residents/Thai people pay 40THB. It is possible to stay the night in cabins at Doi Inthanon National Park – more information on the park and accommodation can be found on the National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation department website.

Sound file: Ob Khan National Park, Chiang Mai

[audio:|titles=Sound file 02: Ob Khan National Park Chiang Mai|artists=Earthoria]
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Ob Khan national park is one of our favourite local getaways. It’s about 30km South of Chiang Mai, and takes between 45 minutes and an hour to reach by motorbike. It’s a great spot for a picnic, or simply to cool off on a hot and humid Chiang Mai day. You can in fact also camp there very cheaply – they will even rent you camping gas cookers to cook with.

Ob Khan National Park, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Getting there: Just head out of Chiang Mai South down Canal Road towards the Samoeng junction, and carry on. After a few more kilometers (at the time of writing down alternating sealed and unsealed dusty roads) you reach a turn off on the right with a fairly hard-to-see sign to ‘Ob Khan National Park’. Take this turn off, and make your way along a winding road through villages and country side for about another 10 kms. The last few kilometers wind their way through some beautiful National Park hills and valleys alongside the river Khan.

Resources: Thai National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department
Chaing Mai, Chiang Mai, or Chang Mai – how to spell it!