El Courel is Galicia's great nature reserve. Nearly all species except coastal ones are represented here. Being on the geographic and climatic border in between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. This mountainous element, through its inaccessibility has allowed the survival of native forests. The words of the poet Uxío Novoneyra will do this more justice than a simple explanation: "Courel, your peaks cry out from afar! Here you can hear very well, how small a man is..."
In these landscapes the provinces of Lugo and Ourense meetthe district of Bierzo from the neighbouring León. The margins of the river Lor and Lóuzara, Selmo and Sondón remain paralysed in deep valleys which are home to the oldest population settlements in Europe. But life continues to breath diversity and history. It was the human settlements that, through history, have explained the landscape and in this they also created beauty. The best example of this can be observed in the chestnut groves nearly always present around the villages.
These plantations were extremely important to Galicia before the introduction of the potato from America which substituted the chestnut as a rural ingredient. Another typical forest formation in O Courel are the meadows, referring to oak, beech, yew, birch and holly trees, and generally present at river sources. The most famous one is the Dehesa de A Rogueira, both for distribution and amount of species and water features. The fountains and woodland here are said to be amongst the oldest in the peninsula.
Folgoso and Courel municipality, O Incio, As Nogais, Pedrafrita do Cebeiro, A Proba do Brollon, Samos, Triacastela and Ribas de Sil, in the south west of the province of Lugo.
Pass O Courel from north to south via the LU-651 from where you can take the best detours to explore nature. You can get here via the LU-633 Sarria-Pedrafrita do Cebreiro where it links with the A-6 motorway and the old N-VI. From the south detour in Quiroga via <br>the N-120 Ponferrada-Ourense.