Short of ideas for a family day out or simply want to get your children out of the house? We take a look at some exciting places to take the kids:
Rucs del Corredor is a donkey refuge in Canyamars Valley in the Montnegre and El Corredor national park. The organisation was established in 1996 by Joan Compañó and Paloma Vicente, dedicated to the conservation and recovery of the dwindling local asinine species. It is reported that there are currently around only 400 of the Catalan breed left in the region, a staggering statistic when compared to the 50,000 in existence at the end of the 19th century.
However, organisations such as Rucs del Corredor have helped to raise awareness of the issue and els burros catalans have consequently been recognised as a symbol of Catalunya, evident in the ‘Planta’t el burro’ (‘show off the donkey’) campaign, which strengthened an affinity between the local population and the docile creatures whose traits of hard-work and the strength to endure great hardships were associated by many with the struggle for national identity.
Rucs del Corredor is strongly committed to re-integrating the donkeys into productive roles for the community, a function that was largely eradicated in the Industrial Revolution, which saw the likes of tractors and machinery fulfil tasks previously done by the donkeys. Therefore, the sanctuary runs educational workshops for children, such as the ‘Know the donkeys’ scheme, to ensure that these traditional practices are not forgotten. Designed to give children direct contact with the animals, Rucs del Corredor hopes to create both respect and affection so that children can learn and take a profound interest in the characteristics and functions of the donkeys. As well as the basics such as grooming and feeding, there is a wide range of other activities to enjoy, whether it be a leisurely donkey ride through the Maresme countryside or gaining your very own donkey driving licence. Have you got what it takes to plough furrows, transport filled jars without dropping water on the obstacle course and collect firewood to be carried on the donkeys’ backs? Whichever you choose, a day at the refuge is a great way to engage with nature and help protect one of Catalunya’s longest-living species.
Another way to get up close and personal with animals is to visit La Fageda farm in Santa Pau, a small village in the volcanic zone of La Garrotxa. The farm, which is open on weekends and public holidays from 10am-1pm, offers guided tours (book in advance) which show you the everyday behaviours of the animals and provides an informative and eye-opening experience designed to explain how they function for our societal needs.
The tour includes seeing the milking parlour (the cows produce on average 30 litres of milk daily) and the farm’s factory to explain how milk is transformed into yoghurts and other desserts. At the end, you will have a chance to taste these products and there is an audiovisual presentation about how La Fageda functions as a business. The tour lasts approximately one hour and is free of charge.
A SMALLER PERSPECTIVE
Ever wanted to visit all of Catalunya’s most creative and spectacular attractions in one day? Well you can at one of the world’s largest miniature parks, Catalunya en Miniatura, only 13 kilometres from Barcelona in Torrelles de Llobregat.
Featuring 150 intricate scale models of palaces, churches and famous buildings, it takes you on a journey to experience the cultural and architectural majesty that Catalunya has to offer, showcasing the most representative landmarks of the area. The Camp Nou, the innovative works of Antoni Gaudí, the mountains of Montserrat and the Monastery of Poblet to name but a few, have been meticulously reconstructed (the 1:33 scale model of the Sagrada Família took 13,000 hours to complete) to provide families with an enjoyable cultural experience with plenty of great photo opportunities.
A journey exploring all of the miniature models of the various comarques of Catalunya takes around two hours of walking although there is a chance to hop on the mini-train (€1.50), which takes you through the park at a relatively quicker pace.
There is also a woodland adventure park, El Bosc Animat, within the grounds that offers fun-filled treetop adventures such as zip-lining and canopy bridge-walking, providing aerial views over mini-Catalunya.
GNOME AND AWAY
Only an hour’s drive away from Barcelona lies Gnomo Park, a gnome-themed amusement park, hidden amongst a Mediterranean pine forest on the outskirts of Lloret de Mar. Said to be inspired by the Spanish animated television series David El Gnomo, the park has a plethora of exciting activities to keep the whole family entertained.
Open on weekends and public holidays throughout the year but also weekdays during Semana Santa and between June and September, the adventure playground is free to enter and you only need to pay for the activities that you wish to do. Designed to provide children of all ages with an action-packed day full of fun and laughter, the park is equipped with a small aquatic park, mini-golf course, bowling, gnome farm and craft workshops, plus much more, ensuring that there really is something for everyone to enjoy. The gnome restaurant cooks up a tasty range of Spanish and international dishes but there is also a shaded picnic area if you want to bring your own food. A soft indoor recreation area and outdoor playground makes the attraction baby-friendly while there is also a bar so that adults can kick back and relax. Just make sure you don’t get lost in the maze!
Rucs del Corredor—www.rukimon.com. Open weekends and holidays between 10am and 2.30pm in addition to Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays in August only. Donkey driving licence programme: adults €12, children €11, under 4s free
Catalunya en Miniatura—www.catalunyaenminiatura.com
Adults €11, children between 4-12 €8, retirees €8
El Bosc Animat—www.elboscanimat.com.