Would you like to learn about and photograph over 45 species of orchids? In this article Juan Arguisjuela of Silvestres Ezcaray explains the natural botanical secrets of the Sierra de la Demanda Mountain Range, among them, our name: Androsela.
The Natural Region of the High Oja Valley is located in the southwest area of the autonomous community of La Rioja, at the foot of the best-known rock mass of the Sierra de La Demanda Mountain Range. Its modest topography is mainly characterized by the a remarkable group of mountains whose summits often exceed an elevation of 2,000 meters, reaching its highest altitude at the Pico San Lorenzo, which, at 2,270 meters is considered the king of the Riojan Iberian region.
The amazing natural wealth that is captured this valley still manages to remain inextricably linked to deep historical and cultural roots materialized in varied mountain landscapes which are unique and incomparable. This is thanks to the privileged geographical positioning of this region, being strategically located in the central part of the northern third of the Iberian Peninsula. Along with the tough conditions imposed by the characteristic bio-climate of the high Mediterranean mountains, we must also take into consideration, due to its proximity, another weather imprint that comes from the North and favors a Euro-Iberian type Atlantic climate. The great environmental diversity that the influence of these conflicting climates generates is magnified by the peculiar topographic and geological conditions found in the Sierra de la Demanda Mountain Range. These contrasts in altitudes, orientations, and exposures, the different rock outcrops, and the soil typologies… are converted into a sum of factors that favors the existence of an outstanding community of exceptional flora and fauna. And what is most important is that all of this occurs in an extremely reduced territorial border, where the associated biodiversity values are among some of the highest in the Iberian Peninsula as well as Europe.
Among the more than 1.000 plant species catalogued in the area, we highlight two aspects of maximum interest. On the one hand, we must emphasize the singular presence of an endemic, and therefore unique, population of a species of primulaceae linked to the high mountain areas of the Sierra de la Demanda Mountain Range, known as the Androsela Rioja that has a few hundred individuals spread over two areas. On the other hand, the amazing diversity of wild orchids that can be seen in the heart of the multiple valleys and mountains should be noted. There are more than 45 species with more similar varieties. That ends up being one of the highest and most interesting amounts for the whole Iberian Peninsula, and makes this valley a ubiquitous, must-see reference within the national and international orchideological community.
Silvestres Ezcaray, a company specialized in natural, observational tourism, proposes a series of guided visits in order to be able to see and photograph the greatest number of species when in bloom and in their natural habitats: itineraries through forests, wet meadows and erosion thickets. And what better way to enjoy the spring weather than in the Riojan village Ezcaray, immersed in a landscape like no other. And, of course, our visits are always with respect and admiration, ensuring the preservation of the species and their natural environment.
The months of May and June are the best time to enjoy this activity, as these months are when the greatest number of species are in bloom. The visit could be over a whole day or over the course of two consecutive mornings. It includes an interpretive guide who knows the territory and transfers in an off-road 4 x 4. Groups of 2-8 people.
For information and reservations for natural activities in the Sierra de la Demanda Mountain Range contact: