Excellent Response to the GORE-TEX Experience Tour
The 4 participants selected through Facebook to participate in the “Watch bears in wilderness” competition were unanimous in confirming the success of the wildlife event held last weekend in the Pyrenees.
The apparel of the entire team was provided by TERNUA, a Spanish brand that is particularly committed to the environment.
The participants spent four extremely hot, exhausting days rising at daybreak and trekking through the mountains on walks lasting for up to 14 hours. The purpose of the expedition was to sight brown bears in the region of the Valle de Arán (Catalonia-Spain) and find out first hand how they live in their natural habitat, as well as to improve the participants’ wildlife photography skills and techniques.
Accompanied by the biologist Iván Afonso, Environmental Director of the Conseilh Generau d’Aran, the wildlife photographer Javi Montes and the environmental technical agents of the Conseilh Generau D’Aran and the Bear Conservation Support Team (ESCO), Josh Key from England, Julie Theniere from France, Ylenia Vimercati from Italy and Marc Forteza from Spain were able to observe the habitat of the Valle de Arán bears and other wildlife in the region. To do this, they had to cross the Val del Torán, Estany de Corilha, Varradós, Serra de Escorjada and Saut deth Pish over a period of two days, all of which account for a total altitude gain of over 700 metres.
They walked through fir, beech, birch and pine forests with the difficult objective of sighting bears. On their route they wnt through some bear habitats, in one of which a female bear, apparently named Bambú, had been sighted 2 days earlier with her cub.
In their effort to observe the bears, the 4 winners had to wait many hours in the early hours of the morning and late at night, armed with a telescope, binoculars and special equipment. In addition, they observed bear excrement, scratches on trees and helped to inspect the hair traps and provided bait for the camera traps.
Wildlife in the Valle de Arán
This expedition with an expert biologist and a professional photographer also offered the possibility of observing other animal species (many of them protected) that live in remote areas in this region. During the two days, the participants were able to see and photograph different animals that live in the area, including the red deer at the start of the mating season, the bearded vulture, roe deer, chamois, capercaillie, golden eagle, short-toed eagle, vulture, common kestrel, black woodpecker, northern goshawk and common buzzard.
The English participant Josh Key said the expedition was “extremely positive”. He regarded it as “an excellent opportunity to see this remarkable wildlife and compare conservation and environmental methods, which is very important for my professional future”.
The Italian participant Ylenia Vimercati summed up the expedition as “a vital experience” in which she “was able to form part of a team of nature experts” and added that she would “never” forget it.
The French participant Julie Theniere commented “My dream has come true. I have been able to approach animals I had never seen before. It was very exciting. I feel exhausted but content”.
The Spanish participant Marc Corteza said “I had been in this region before, but never with a team of wildlife professionals. They have taught me a great deal about the animals and their habitat. It’s been a real pleasure.”
To get an impression of the project, watch the video at La Vanguardia.
GORE-TEX Experience Tour, sowing the seed of sustainability
The bear sighting expedition in the Valle de Arán is part of a much larger project which GORE-TEX started three years ago. Every year, the GORE-TEX Experience Tour organises nature expeditions all over Europe. The particular way in which the team members are selected enables a rewarding interaction between different people and cultures.
The last event in Spain was organized in 2011, when six women had the honour to take part in an expedition to the Aneto with the mountaineer Edurne Pasabán.