National Geographic symbolises a commitment to the natural life of our planet. With well over one hundred years of history, National Geographic has become the most important scientific and educational organisation in the world. Its name is associated with major figures and milestones in exploration and research, like the first expedition to the North Pole (Robert Peary, 1909), and Hiram Bingham’s discovery of Machu Picchu in 1911, which has since been named a World Heritage Site and one of the New 7 Wonders of the World.
Its great accomplishments also include the explorations of oceanographer Jean Jacques Cousteau (1952); the chimpanzee research of primatologist Jane Goodall (1962); and sea explorations including the discovery of the remains of the Titanic (Bob Ballard, 1985) and the descent into Challenger Deep (James Cameron, Mariana Trench, 2012), the deepest point in the Pacific Ocean. This is only a small sampling of the enormous exploration and dissemination work that the National Geographic Society has carried out since it was founded in 1888.
Andorra, located in the heart of the Pyrenees, covers 468 km² in area. Ninety percent of its territory is natural spaces, of which 10% have been declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites. A country to discover. Andorra has an unbeatable natural setting that we want to show you with National Geographic. Join the adventure to explore the most remote spots in our country, revealing the secrets of the Principality’s mountains and valleys and discovering the hidden side to our nature. National Geographic’s Andorra project spans an entire year to be able to capture all the seasonal changes in wild flora and fauna in intricate detail. The light, the colours, the sounds, the heat and the cold, the day and the night... The mountains remain constant through the sun, the rain and the snow. Some species migrate. Others hibernate in winter, not to awake until spring. Life continues inexorably on.
Winter in the mountains and forests of Andorra is a time of silence. The magic of the snow and the cold with its strong magnetism seem to halt any sign of life. Nothing could be further from the truth. Under this apparently motionless frigidity, life continues flowing at a different pace: slower, but persistent.
National Geographic will show us species whose life cycles do not stop in winter. These animals are better equipped to withstand the severity of the season, and have ultimately been able to adapt to the environment.
They include the rock ptarmigan, with winter plumage that protects it from strong storms, low temperatures and snow in the heart of the forest. And the majestic bearded vulture, which takes flight to scan its territory when weather permits. And we can’t forget the Pyrenean chamois (isard), which abandons the highest peaks with the arrival of snow to find shelter in wooded areas at lower elevations.
Their habitat is also in flux, with storms, snow and low temperatures sculpting a unique and wildly attractive landscape.
With the change of season, snow gives way to the green that gradually takes over the forests and meadows. The mild temperatures make for very active animal life. It is a time for courtship rituals, mating and raising young. The silence of winter is shattered by a thousand and one sounds from birds and other species, giving us another example of the explosion of life ushered in by the good weather.
The National Geographic team will focus on capturing images of the wood grouse, a particularly elusive species that is difficult to capture on camera. Other subjects will include nesting birds like the black woodpecker and the boreal owl as they care for their offspring. It will also track roe deer, which are rarely seen beyond their protective natural habitat of Andorra’s dense forests. Easier to observe are marmots, as they hibernate in dens located in alpine meadows dotted with blocks of scree. These animals are not difficult to see as they don’t wander more than a few meters from home. While roe deer don’t like open fields, marmots, on the other hand, never go into the forests.
And in summer we can watch the families grow with the arrival of baby birds and animals, with more images of the chamois and marmots. We will also witness the new seasonal plumage of species like the rock ptarmigan.
National Geographic will also feature the migration of the herds of horses set free in the alpine meadows, where they will remain until late autumn.
The springtime and summertime meadows cloaked in green and dotted with colours, and the glacial valley lakes, is a moment worth living. With its images and videos, the National Geographic team will give you the opportunity to see them like never before.
The scorching heat of summer gives way to the warm breezes that announce the arrival of autumn. The colours washing over our forests reach one of the most spectacular moments of the year. The appearance of fog, humidity and the first snowfalls return to mark the natural cycle of life. Migratory birds like raptors and cranes set flight towards warmer latitudes to spend the winter. Every species prepares for the winter cold.
You shouldn’t miss the chance to enjoy first-hand the spectacular natural setting of our mountains and valleys at this time of year.
The National Geographic team will record many of the moments of this crucial season. These include the migration of raptors and cranes, and the preparations taken by red squirrels to store fruits and seeds to feed on all winter. The transformation of several bird species like blackbirds and thrush will also be highlighted. Between October and November we will also be able to witness the rutting season of the Pyrenean chamois (isard), one of our most iconic mountain species.
One of Andorra’s most spectacular natural treasures is without a doubt the Madriu-Perafita-Claror Valley, declared Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO for the great value of its landscape. National Geographic will capture in images the metamorphosis of this privileged setting with the arrival of autumn.
All this field work is possible thanks to the professionals involved in the project. The “Natural Andorra” work team is led by photographer Jaime Rojo, a National Geographic Explorer and Senior Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers. He has more than ten years of experience photographing nature and the environment. His work has won him prestigious international awards like the World Press Photo and Wildlife Photographer of the Year.
He is joined on this adventure by Marc Mossoll, a biologist and professional mountain guide with more than fifteen years of experience working in the Pyrenees in France, Spain and Andorra. His company Pirenalia specialises in audiovisual productions of nature in alpine environments. Rounding out the team is Edgar Madrenys, a nature photographer and technician specialised in handling wild fauna with mountain guides. The Pyrenees have been his second home for more than a decade, and he is part of the Pirenalia team.