La Garrotxa, Catalonia’s volcano country

Through Catalonia’s volcanic landscapes

The Journalist and extremely adventurous traveller Tim Moore has written a post telling his experience through Catalonia’s volcanic landscapes.  He encounters a zombie army of life-sized plaster martyrs, children fishing for moons and a hot air balloon drifting over forested green craters.

Then I’m driving north-west into La Garroxta, between the low, green, poppy-speckled domes of the extinct volcanoes that symbolise the region, and up to the sleepy cluster of dark wood and pantiles that is Els Hostalets d’En Bas.

An old lady tends the geraniums on her balcony, chatting to a neighbour paused on the terracotta paving below. Behind them, the town’s trim little church spire jabs into the blue heavens; looming above and all around towers a flank of rock-topped rolling green. Gazing down from its hazy, distant brow – impressively, and just a little horribly – stands the venerable, craggy chapel of Sant Miquel de Castellò, target of an expected stroll that’s just been upgraded to a perpendicular hike

                               
 

Reward for a sometimes unsightly scrabble through the dappled steepness is a mighty panorama: bright green smallholdings sprawled across the floodplain far beneath, girdled with cork-like walls of rock and the distant, snow-veined Pyrenees. The more benign return loop takes me through tilted pastures of yellow broom and buttercups, my path lined with almost preposterously fragrant flowering thyme. A symphony of crickets and lizard scuttle accompanies me back down to earth; in three hours, the only fellow mammals I encounter have bells round their necks. Back down by the car, gazing flintily up at my conquest, I realise I’ve somehow completely bypassed the chapel.

As the dawn mist clears I’m gripping the edge of a wicker basket, and watching a big green field shrink rapidly beneath me. A balloon ride is the only way to appreciate La Garroxta’s volcanic landscape, and our pilot Toni is soon pointing out the neatly cratered cones that nose up between the bean fields below. The occasional dragon’s roar of the gas burner above us punctuates a gigantic, eerie silence as our jaunty round shadow passes over cow pastures and the terracotta patchwork of village roofs. It’s a mesmeric experience, particularly after Toni sends a cava cork flying into eternity and the uncharted effects of pre-breakfast alcohol kick in. Then we’re brushing the treetops and, through some miraculous feat of advanced balloonsmanship, touching neatly down on a country lane, right next to our waiting support vehicle.

This is only part of the article. If you want to read it :Tim Moore -Catalonia’s volcano country

Do you want to enjoy a hot air balloon over the Catalonia’s volcanoes? It’s an experience to be lived!

For more information: Vol de Coloms