The Best of the Catalán Pyrenees

A Self-Guided Trip – 8 Days & 7 Nights
This exclusive itinerary explores Catalonia’s Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici National Park and L’Alt Pirineu Natural Park. You’ll spend the week at 3 different overnight bases, each in an ancient Catalán mountain village, allowing you to closely experience traditional culture and get a sense for the area’s fascinating history. Best of all, you’ll have enjoy classic hikes in some of the most spectacular and remote terrain in the entire Pyrenees, the massive natural boundary between France and Spain.

  • Parque Nacional de Aigüestortes I Estany de Sant Maurici  – this is the crown jewel of Catalonia’s protected areas, the only national park within its territory, this is a wonderland of shapely granite peaks and hundreds of glacial lakes.
  • Parque Natural de L’Alt Pirineu  – without the fame of the neighboring national park, this is Catalonia’s largest protected area, home to its highest peak as well as the largest mountain lake on the southern slopes of the Pyrenees. Wild terrain, heavily forested valleys and pristine rivers make splendid walking terrain, with plenty of fauna and flora to delight the naturalist-hiker.
  • Medieval mountain villages – our itinerary includes overnights and visits to various of these stone-built cradles of authentic rural Catalonian culture. You’ll be able to observe traditional lifestyles, architecture and customs, where local inhabitants harvest their fruit and vegetable orchards, and tend their livestock as in years gone by.
  • Vall de Boí - your overnight base for the 1st 3 nights of the trip, the valley’s 9 Early Romanesque churches are the densest concentration of Romanesque architecture in Europe, designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
  • Glorious views, exuberant flora and abundant fauna – a nature photographer’s dream. A great location for alpine flowers, including the famed Eidelweiss. Marmots and chamoix observe us from rocky perches and birds of prey soar overhead, including the Lammergeier – one of Europe’s rarest birds of prey.
  • Daily hike options of varying lengths, elevation gain and technical difficulty allow you to choose depending on the days weather, and your level of fitness and desired challenge. This is no boot camp! We aim to provide an enjoyable trip to suit the needs of any hiker with a minimum of experience and fitness.
  • A world-class mountain environment  – within the Spanish mountaineering and climbing community, the Catalán Pyrenees is considered one of the country’s prime locations, and is the setting for training courses run by top outdoor schools for ice climbing, alpine and ski mountaineering, traditional and sport rock climbing, via ferrata, parasailing, mountain biking, etc.
  • Local guide option – a great way to access more adventurous terrain and learn more in-depth about the area’s fauna, flora etc. is to hire a locally born and raised professional mountain guide for a day (or more). We’ll arrange it for you!
  • Begin & end in Barcelona – explore the architectural, culinary and cultural jewels of Spain´s most dynamic city.

Suggested itinerary prior to Iberian Adventures trip – visit Barcelona

Arrival in Barcelona. Enjoy exploring this vibrant Mediterranean port city. Highlights include at least 8 architectural sites featuring the Catalan Modernisme Style which have been awarded UNESCO World Heritage status such as La Sagrada Familia, Parque Güell and Casa Milá. If it’s your first visit, we recommend more than 1 night – ask us for hotel suggestions. You could also visit after the hiking trip.

Day
1

Transfer to Vall de Boí – Hike to explore local villages

Morning transfer to the picturesque stone-built village of Taüll in time for lunch. At 1489 m/ 4885 ft. above sea level, Taüll is in the Val de Boí a narrow, steep-sided valley that is a principal gateway to Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici National Park. The remoteness of this area is demonstrated by the fact that the Moorish Conquest of Spain did not penetrate this part of the Pyrenees.

After lunch, visit the 16th C Romanesque St. Climent church and then choose from several options to follow trails among vegetable patches, orchards and mixed forest to visit other quaint villages of the valley.
Approx. Distance & Elevation Gain/Loss: 3.4 – 5 km & + 80-190 m / — 205 m
Overnight: 2* (3* equivalent) hotel in Taüll

Days
2 & 3

Hiking in the national park – Aigüestortes sector

Choose from several options ranging from easy to more challenging. These hikes provide the perfect introduction to the granite and aquatic treasures of the Parque Nacional, whose glacial origin is evident in the labyrinth of meandering streams and over 200 lakes giving rise to its name “Aigüestortes” meaning “twisted waters” in the local dialect. Hike options include the exploration of the Sant Nicolau Valley with its black pine forests and crystalline torrents; a hike to the spectacularly situated Ventosa i Calvell mountain hut where you can drink a tea or coffee and chat with the warden; visits to various glacial lakes or a nontechnical summit ascent.

Approx. Distance & Elevation Gain/Loss: ranging from 8.5 – 16 km & + 320-960 m / — 320-960 m
Overnight: Taüll

Day
4

Traverse across Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici National Park

Today you’ll hike to your new overnight base in Espot, on the eastern side of the national park. This is a classic route crossing the park from west to east following a section of the trail used in the famous “Carros de Foc” (Chariots of Fire) hut-to-hut race that is now a fixture on the international trail running circuit – created back in the 1980’s by bored national park mountain hut wardens during low seasons, as a quick way to go to visit each other. Optional easy ascent to summit of Pic de Potarró en-route.

Approx. Distance & Elevation Gain/Loss: 15.5 km & + 640 m / — 540 m
Overnight: 3* hotel in Espot

Day
5

Hiking in the national park – Estany de Sant Maurici sector

Today you have a choice of several great hikes on the eastern side of the National Park. Some require a short transfer, easily and economically provided by the park’s 4×4 taxis based in Espot. Hike options include classics such as the trail to the Amitges Hut, an ascent to easy summits such as Pic de Ratera for incredible views; or a hike to the beautiful lakes such as Estany Negre or those in the Valle de Subenuix.
Approx. Distance & Elevation Gain/Loss: ranging from 10 – 21 km & +/- 375-1020 m
Overnight: Espot

Day
6

Explore the villages of the Aneu Valley

A short morning transfer to your next overnight base in La Guingueta d’Aneu. Choose from 2 fascinating walk options on medieval trails linking typical mountain villages. Along the way, you’ll have a chance to observe traditional agriculture and architecture, as well as an abandoned village or two, Romanesque churches and chapels and ancient stone bridges. The walks end at your hotel.
Approx. Distance & Elevation Gain/Loss: ranging from 10 – 14 km & +215-595 m / -390-595
Overnight: La Guingueta d’Aneu

Day
7

Hiking in the Parque Natural de L’Alt Pirineu

Your final day of hiking. Choose from several excellent route options, depending on your desired level of difficulty and the local conditions. One of our favourites is a classic circuit linking several remote lakes – with an optional easy summit ascent of Pic de Ventolau – where you’ll enjoy splendid views and plenty of fauna and flora in some of Western Europe’s wildest terrain. A splendid way to end your week in the Catalán Pyrenees!
Approx. Distance & Elevation Gain/Loss: ranging from 10 – 14 km & +215-595 m / -390-595
Overnight: La Guingueta d’Aneu

Day
8

Departure and end of tour

You can take a bus (or taxi) to Lerida (2 hours by taxi 3 hours by bus), and from there a fast train (1 h 20 min) to Barcelona or other destinations.

Includes:

  • 7 nights accommodation
  • 7  breakfasts, 3 generous picnic lunch bags, 3 dinners with local wine & bottled water; other nights explore on your own.
  • Detailed daily route notes, 1 high-quality topographic map and colour photocopied supplementary topographic maps with daily walking routes marked. Hotel contact information, some local city and town maps, public transport schedules and other information necessary to complete your personal itinerary. One set per room.
  • Telephone numbers for local English-speaking contact for help in event of emergencies, etc
  • All luggage transfers between all 3 overnight bases (Days 2 – 7).
  • Local transfers to walk start points as needed on Days 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 and 7.
  • Local transfers to walk start points ARE NOT INCLUDED on Day 5 (when based in Espot).
  • Pickups and transfers from walk end points to return to your hotel are NOT included and will be at your own expense. Hikes will always end at a locations where you can get or call transport. In most cases such transfers will cost between 5.50 euros to 10 euros per person using the national park 4×4 taxi service. In other cases, transfers could cost more. However, we have designed all walks to end at a reasonably close distance from your lodgings. Consult us for more details.
  • Airport transfers or travel to and from tour start and end points are NOT included. (see Dates & Details).

OPTIONAL OVERNIGHT AT A MOUNTAIN HUT

The high mountains of the National Park are best explored by using the one of the many manned mountain huts as an overnight base. A supplemental charge of approximately 30 euros per person will apply. Ask us for more information

OPTION TO HIRE A PROFESSIONAL MOUNTAIN GUIDE FOR A DAY OR MORE

Hiring a local expert mountain guide will add great value to your experience. Our guides are locally born and raised and have in-depth knowledge of local culture, fauna, flora, geology, etc. Costs range from 140 to 180 euros per day. Ask us for more details.

Itinerary
Price per person in twin/double rooms: from 895€

Single room supplement: from 125€

Discounts available for groups of 3 or more.

  • Duration: 8 Days, 7 Nights
  • Start Point:  Taüll  (265 km NW of Barcelona).
  • Transfer options to start point: public bus from Barcelona to Pont de Suert (approx. 3 hr 30 min) + local taxi to Taüll (25 min) OR we can arrange a taxi to pick you up in Barcelona (3 hr 30 min). Consult us for prices and more details.
  • End Point:La Guingueta d’Aneu.(255 km NW of Barcelona)
  •  Transfer options from end point: You can take a bus (or taxi) to Lerida (2 hours by taxi 3 hours by bus), and from there a fast train (1 h 20 min) to Barcelona or other destinations. We can also arrange a taxi transfer direct to Barcelona (there is a daily service; 3 hr 30 min). Consult us for prices and more details.
  • Walk Difficulty and Terrain: Spring-Autumn: B+ to C-    Summer: B+ to D-
  • Daily distances: 8 – 17 km /  5 – 10.5 miles
  • Accommodations: Family-run 2* or 3* or equivalent hotels in Taüll, Espot and La Guingueta d’Aneu. Our criteria always focus on quality of “character” (historical and/or traditional-style buildings where possible), location and service with a preference to local family-run enterprises. Good food is also a must!
  • Summer Itinerary Dates: June 1 – Sept 30.

CLICK HERE to see a photo gallery of pictures from our trips in the Catalan Pyrenees!