Although the Valley was internationally recognised for its cultural value, its natural heritage is also fantastic.
The essential interest of this valley of glacial origin, which drains the largest secondary basin in Andorra, is mainly in the high density of features of natural and cultural heritage value that are concentrated, in an excellent state of preservation, in a relatively small surface area of 4,247 hectares. This basin is defined by the River Madriu and its most important affluent, the Perafita, which converge in Entremesaigües.
The firns have modelled the relief of this area, which is varied and spectacular. The result is a large diversity of conditions and microclimates, derived from the variations in altitude (a difference of 1,845 metres between the tallest part and the lowest part of the valley) and from the way it faces (a huge difference between sunny sides and shady sides due to the east-west layout of the main valley).
Water also plays an important role in the valley, and there are numerous ponds, rivers and streams, small waterfalls, marshes and swamps.
From anywhere in the valley, you can enjoy the beautiful views just by looking around you. Some places from which you will get a good angle of vision are Coll Jovell, with a great view over the Ràmio zone, the Tosa de Braibal, the Port de Vall Civera, the Port de Perafita, the Portella Blanca and the Torre dels Soldats. The mountain peaks include La Portelleta, Els Estanyons, La Maiana, Montmalús, L’Áliga and La Collada de Gargantillar.
This rich, varied landscape can be divided into three sections:
- above the tree line, which is over 2,400 metres, where desert-like landscape with high mountain meadows, ponds and geomorphological forms prevail,
- the slopes, consisting of compact forests, with a sharp contrast between the shady sides and the sunny sites, and with avalanche corridors on the steepest slopes,
- the bottom of the valley, etched with the water of the Rivers Madriu and Perafita, showing the ongoing dialogue between man and nature, between the scarce natural resources and the use that the inhabitants of the valley make of them to survive.
Thanks to the great variety of the countryside, a large selection of habitats and of fauna, with specimens that are under threat and even in danger of extinction, can be found in the Madriu-Perafita-Claror Valley. This, along with the diverse plant species and the habitats that are listed, confirm the fragility of the cultural landscape of the valley, which requires great caution to be taken when planning any action to be carried out in it.