The itinerary is full of observation points and hides where visitors can watch the birds unseen.
Part of the itinerary coincides with the GR 92 path, which runs through the marshland.
Starting in Figueres, take the C-260 road towards Roses. At Castelló Nou, take the GIV-6216 road towards Sant Pere Pescador. About 3 kilometres from the turn-off, you will find a turn-off on the left indicating the Park’s Information Centre. A couple of kilometres beyond this point you will reach the El Cortalet Information Centre, which has a parking area and wooden picnic tables.
Enter the El Cortalet Information Centre, where you will find information about the Park and its flora and fauna, as well as options for itineraries on foot or on bicycle. We propose that you try the basic itinerary, known as the La Massona Route, which is suitable only for hiking on foot. As you leave the Information Centre, you’ll find a hide some 40 metres off to the left, called the Aguait de Quim Franch. It’s worth a visit, because from there you get a good view of the Cortalet lake. Turn back towards the Information Centre, and once you pass it, you’ll find a well-marked trail almost right in front of the Centre, which is the start of the walking itinerary.
Following the Route:
You simply can’t miss the route, because it’s well marked and you’re following a main trail lined by a wooden fence. You will come across benches where you can sit and take a breather, and hides. The trail passes through typical marshland vegetation (rushes, blue lilies, cord grass, mudflat grass, etc.) and bushes and trees like buckthorns, oaks, elm-leafed brambles, ash trees, and elms. About 45 minutes after starting out you will reach the turn-off that leads to Mas del Mata and the Torre Senillosa observation point, a cement tower that was used as a rice silo and offers the best view of the park. After visiting the lookout point, walk back to the main path and continue down it to the beach. The return trip is by the same path.
You can circle back to the starting point by walking along the beach trail up to Can Comes, and then returning to El Cortalet, where you end up at the first hide, the Aguait de Quim Franch. But the beach route is closed from April to June, because some birds nest in the sand. The other option is to go from El Cortalet to Can Comes and Empuriabrava (4.3 km). There are other routes through the park (some for expert ornithologists) that are worth inquiring about at the Information Centre.
The Empordà Marshes Natural Park, which is run by the Autonomous Government of Catalonia’s Department of the Environment, is made up of a number of lakes, paddocks and floodplains where the Muga and Fluvià rivers meet, forming a privileged habitat in the midst of the Costa Brava. It has three integral natural preserves (RNIs) (from north to south, the Estanys RNI, the Les Llaunes RNI and the Illa de Caramany RNI, a tiny island in the middle of the Fluvià river), and the rest of the Park consists of a “wetland of international importance” according to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. The Aiguamolls de l’Empordà Natural Park is one of the natural preserves where the largest number of animal species can be observed in Catalonia. Over 300 bird species have been identified, including close to a hundred that make the area their nesting place. These include the heron, the kingfisher, the flamingo, the moorhen, the coot, or the mallard. But the queen of the park is the white stork, which, thanks to a recovery programme which began in 1987, now has a population of 30 couples.
Observations and Recommendations:
, which was granted the status of Count’s Village, merits a visit, as it preserves its medieval ambience and boasts a number of interesting buildings, including the 14th-century Santa Maria church
, also known as “the cathedral of the Empordà”, or the Farinera Eco-Museum.
Just south of the park, next to the town of L’Escala
, the ruins of Empúries
unveil the first settlements of the Greeks and Romans on the Iberian Peninsula. Figueres
is the capital of the Alt Empordà region. This large town boasts the Salvador Dalí Theatre-Museum
, the most important point in the so-called Dalí Triangle, which is completed by Dalí’s house in Portlligat
and the Púbol Castle
, where his wife Gala lived.