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The mountains of the Spanish Pyrenees rise to their most dramatic in the high central region. Lush pine forests spill down the sides of sweeping glacial valleys, rivers twist, bend and tumble dramatically and majestic vultures seem to accompany your every move as they soar up ahead. Welcome to the mountains, your playground for the next week.
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There are various possible start points for this itinerary, Barcelona, Girona and Zaragoza being the most obvious ones. If starting from Bilbao, we'll reverse the running order. Either way, you're headed for the small village of Taüll, nestled at the foot of the valley slopes and divided in two by a ravine. This afternoon your Pura guide will come to your hotel to talk you through the maps, discuss your plans and answer any questions you may have. Dinner is included during your stay here.
Your first full day brings with it a memorable hike as you walk through the beautiful alpine scenery of the Aigüestortes National Park. The name means ‘twisted waters’ and the park is full of lakes, streams and waterfalls as well as high peaks and wide valleys. Later on you'll have time to properly explore the Romanesque churches of the Boi Valley, extending the interest from the natural beauty to its rural architecture and tales of a fascinating past.
Move westwards today as you leave behind your first base and cross from valley to valley, from Catalonia to Aragón. You're walking to the spectacular Forau de Aigualluts, where the melting waters of the largest glacier remaining in the Pyrenees forms a spectacular waterfall, before sinking in the rocks to travel underground towards the French watershed. Continue on to the medeival town of Ainsa, where you stay right on the main square and have a special tasting menu included tonight.
Today is spent in the company of your Pura guide, who will come to meet you at your hotel this morning and spend the day with you. The exact activity will vary depending on your main interests and the weather forecast, but you can choose from full day hiking routes to easier trails focusing more on the culture or wildlife of the area.
Another of our local partners takes over guiding duties today, coming to meet you at your hotel this morning for one of our favourite activities in the region. The high Spanish Pyrenees is one of the very best places for eBike excursions of all levels. It is a fun, easy and highly addictive way to explore and cover a large distance in a relatively short space of time. The bikes are easy to use, working pretty much in the same way as a normal bike, but with varying levels of support propelling you along. Should you prefer, today could instead by dedicated to canyoning.
This morning it is a short drive to the start of your walk at the Pradera de Ordesa. Ahead lays perhaps the most spectacular day walk in all of Spain. From here you will follow the Arazas Valley past beautiful waterfalls and through beech forests into a dramatically steep-sided valley, dominated by the summit of Monte Perdido. As you approach Monte Perdido the path flattens to reach the famous Cola de Caballo (Horse's Tail) waterfall. At this stage you deserve a rest and your next hotel in Lárrede is the place for it; truly comfortable rooms, great food and memorable views.
As you continue to move westwards, you're now in the Tena valley, which offers a wonderful choice of hikes of different difficulties. If you're feeling ambitious, you could hike up to reach the high summit of the Anayet peak or even cross briefly into France for a beautiful hike towards the old volcanic peak of Midi d'Ossau. If you're feeling lazy, you can instead swap your boots for a towel and enjoy the balneario (bathing house) of Panticosa.
Depending on your flight times and departure point, you have a number of options before you hand in your car keys and head for home. On the way to Zaragoza you could swing by the Mallos de Riglos - a destinctive group of red rock towers surrounded by Mediterranean orchards. More or less on the road to Barcelona is the attractive medieval village of Alquézar overlooking the plains of Huesca. En route to Bilbao is the Arbayún Gorge - a small yet dramatic corner of cliffs and forest which is incredibly rich in birdlife.
Note: This is just an itinerary idea and we'll therefore tailor everything to you.
Flexible departures: Book now for autumn travel, secure in the knowledge that we offer you the freedom to defer your trip, until the point your balance is paid, to any available date before the end of 2021.
Ensuring your safety: Please rest assured that your safety is always our top priorty. Our partners will all follow the strict guidelines set out by the Spanish government to ensure your safety whilst travelling, and we will fully support them to ensure they are able to do so. As this holiday largely takes place in rural Spain, out in the open trails of the countryside, if you follow the same common-sense precautions you'd take at home, this trip will likely to be very much as it was pre-Covid – give or take a disinfectant wipe.
How would you like us to tailor it you? We can add a night here, chop one off there, throw in some extra activities or guiding or really go to town and loop in some walking in Catalonia or the Picos de Europa if you have the time to spare. We have this 7-night itinerary and our 14-night Pyrenees Uncovered trip showcased online, but really they are both intended to serve as starting points to getting a trip that's just right for you. Or you can take them as they are, naturally. Let us know your plans, dates, ideas, hopes, fears or anything else you wish to share and we'll share some ideas back.
Spring, early summer and autumn are some of the best months for this trip, where temperatures, in the mid-20°s during the day on average, cooler at night up in the mountains of course.
May and June are beautifully green, the weather very good in the main and the water levels in the rivers at their best. In October and early November, the autumnal colours are a true sight to behold in the forests of the Pyrenees.
The price is per person based on two sharing and includes:
First-class accommodation with breakfast and some lunches and dinners
Mid-size vehicle hire
Guided excursions as described
Pyrenees Holiday Guide with personal recommendations
Spain driving guide
Detailed walking notes where appropriate
Pura’s expertise, local contacts, support and advice throughout
International flights are quoted separately for this holiday. Best routings are into and out of some combination of Zaragoza (ZAZ), Barcelona (BCN) or Girona (GRO).
The hotels on this trip tend towards the premium end of the scale, which is to say that they are the perfect places to rest up and relax on what is an active holiday with a strong focus on walking.
Throughout you should expect small rural guesthouses, with a warm welcome, characterful and comfortable rooms and often a delicious homecooked meal made with local ingredients.
Pura co-founder Diego Martín was brought up in and still lives in the mountains of Northern Spain. His first-hand knowledge and understanding of the history and culture of the Pyrenees has been instrumental in designing a tour which not only showcases and protects its natural beauty, but also financially benefits the hoteliers, drivers, guides and restaurateurs that make their home here. Working directly with them ensures they receive maximum benefit.
Diego has also worked extensively with an organisation dedicated to the protection of bearded vultures, which you can visit as part of your Pyrenees tour. The cultural aspect of this holiday is a very significant part of its appeal and is the reason why we are sure to include time with our local guides at key moments in the journey.
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