This amazingly agile animal is generally found above 1,500m and as a mountain dweller is very well adapted to living in the rugged, rocky landscape of the Picos de Europa.
A fully grown chamois reaches a height of about 75 cm and weighs about 50 kg. Both males and females have short horns which are slightly curled backwards. In summer, the chamois' fur has a rich brown colour which turns to a light grey in winter. Distinct characteristics are a white face with pronounced black stripes below the eyes, a white backside and a black dorsal strip. Chamois can reach an age of up to 20 years.
The hooves are thin and highly versatile, capable of running with extreme agility over difficult rocky terrain as well as snow and ice fields. This agility is due to the unique design of the cushions that occupy the central part of their hooves
Chamois are social animals that move in small groups in search of mountain pastures. These groups are formed only by males (which may be solitary) or only by females and their offspring, which only meet during the mating season.
Their sight, smell and hearing are excellent. This helps them quickly identify their predators, including bears, wolves, lynx and men. Other dangers to the chamois are avalanches, to the extent that it is not uncommon to find whole herds killed by avalanches at the time of thaw.
In the national park of The Picos de Europa there is an estimated population of about 5,000 individuals. Although they are active throughout the day the best time to see them is in the morning or early evening. One of the (relatively) easier walks where there is a good chance of seeing them is from Pan de Carmen near the lakes of Covadonga up to the Ordiales viewing point. (More information on this walk and others on the self guided walking section of our web page)
Walking up to the Ordiales view point with chamois admiring the views!