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8 Nights – from Aneto to the Atlantic

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BOOKING THIS TRIP

  1. BEFORE booking your trip, please read this summary of the booking process: Reservations and Payment Explained.
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9 Days, 8 Nights
Max People : 14

In 2019 we are running this trip for small groups on a private or custom basis only, on the dates of your choosing between early June and mid-October.

Contact us for more information and to request a quote.

Iberian Adventures > Destinations > Pyrenees > 8 Nights – from Aneto to the Atlantic
Tour Details

A Guided Trip – 9 Days & 8 Nights

This carefully crafted 9-day hiking tour explores the best of both sides of the border along the mighty Pyrenees—the huge natural barrier that divides the Spain & the Iberian Peninsula from France & the rest of Europe. We’ll be visiting iconic Pyrenean spots and hiking classic trails in Spain and France.

We begin in the ancient kingdom of Aragón, in the Central Massif, home to greatest concentration of 3000m+ peaks in the entire range and work our way westward to end at the Atlantic Ocean, where the Pyrenees finally drop down to the rugged coast on the Bay of Biscay in the Basque country.  We’ll marvel at truly spectacular topography including Spain’s most impressive canyon, and Europe’s highest limestone mountain, before crossing over to France for a couple of days to visit spectacular topography of cirques, waterfalls and an extinct volcano. All of our hikes take place in national parks and other protected areas in both Spain and France and much of it within a unique UNESCO World Heritage site & Biosphere Reserve that spans the border.

Duration:

9 Days, 8 Nights

Meeting Point:

Zaragoza. Many daily connections by high-speed train from Madrid and Barcelona).

Ending Point:

Hondarribia. 30 min from Biarritz (France) with international airport. 1 hr drive from Bilbao (Spain) with international airport.

Walk Difficulty and Terrain:

Moderate – mostly gently rolling terrain / occasional steep ascents. Surfaces range from hard-packed earthen paths and dirt or farm or forestry tracks to ancient paved trails and rocky mountain paths – very occasional short sections on quiet surfaced back roads.

Daily distances & times:

6 – 17 km / 4 – 10.5 miles. Most days are about 4 to 6 hours of walking, elevation gains ranging from 400 to 1000 m.

Accommodations:

In larger towns we use quality 3* or 4* hotels in restored historic buildings in great locations in the old cities. For the rest of the trip where we stay in rural areas, we use 2* to 3* or equivalent small family-run hotels and rural inns in stylishly restored historic buildings, all rooms with en-suite facilities and modern fittings. All properties are personally chosen for their comfort, character, location and overall quality.

Available Dates:

Mid-May to end October.

Group Size:

4 – 12

Price:

Contact us to request a quote for your custom or private group!

Price includes:

8 nights accommodation

8 breakfasts, 7 picnic or tapas lunches, 4 dinners with local wine and bottled water. 3 nights to explore on your own.

Full-time support vehicle

Train station/airport pickup in Zaragoza on Day 1

Experienced bilingual trip leader

Local mountain and/or nature guides as required on certain days by itinerary.

Other:

Extra nights in standard hotels at start and/or end of tour are also available. Please consult us for prices and availability.

If you aren’t in a hurry and want to see more of the area or another part of Spain, consider hiring a car and driving from Santiago along the coast to France, across the country to Madrid or Barcelona, Andalusia, etc. We can help you to plan your itinerary. Ask us!

Highlights

Hikes in the most spectacular regions of Spain’s and France’s Pyrenean territories: Spain’s Posets-Maladeta Natural Park and Ordesa & Monte Perdido National Park; France’s Pyrenèes National Park.

Glorious views, exuberant flora and abundant fauna: the Pyrenees offer some of the world’s finest locations 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 the world’s rarest birds of prey.

Picturesque villages: our overnight bases range from a medieval stone village deep in the mountains with ancient churches, cobbled streets and traditional architecture to a quaint Basque seaside fishing village.

History, culture and art: throughout the trip you’ll be immersed in an environment that reminds you of this region’s fascinating past.

Excellent gastronomy: a diverse variety of cuisine combining fresh products from the mountains and valleys and sea (never far away), washed down with the excellent local wines.

Itinerary

Day 1Arrival in Zaragoza. Transfer to Benasque. Hike in Posets-Maladeta Natural Park

10:00 am pickup in Zaragoza, capital of the historic kingdom of Aragón, and site of the 2008 World Expo, with its baroque Nuestra Señora del Pilar basilica, a famous pilgrimage site and various Mudéjar-style landmarks, combining Islamic and Gothic architecture. Transfer northwards through increasingly spectacular scenery to the historic stone-built village of Benasque, with a fabulous setting in the remote Benás Valley, in the heart of the Posets-Maladeta Natural Park, a protected area with the greatest concentration of 3,000 meter peaks in the entire Pyrenees, including the 2 highest of all – Aneto and Posets. Benasque is home to the headquarters of the Spanish Mountaineering School and many refer to it as the Spanish Pyrenees version of Chamonix. We’ll stop en-route for lunch and on arrival, we’ll check into our charming hotel and set out to explore the twisting streets and go out for an afternoon warmup hike.

Transfer time: approx. 3 hrs
Hike: Approx. 3 hrs. 400 m / 1312 ft
Overnight for next 2 nights: Benasque.
Meals: Dinner included.

Day 2Hike in Posets-Maladeta Natural Park

This area probably offers more options of differing levels of difficulty and views, etc than any other single base anywhere in the Pyrenees. Short transfers required. Depending on prevailing conditions we have many choices:

– Mountain Huts – 2 different options to visit manned huts in impressive settings, starting point for many classic climbs to the many 3,000 meter plus summits all around them.

– Passes to France – 2 different options, follow ancient trails used by smugglers, bandits and travellers to cross high passes between France and Spain, offering fantastic views throughout.

– Pico Salvaguardia – an easy, non-technical ascent to a summit right on the France-Spain border, a fantastic viewpoint over the highest peaks in all the Pyrenees.

Hike: Approx. 5 – 7 hrs. 600 – 800 m. (1969 ft – 2625 ft)
Meals: all included.

Day 3Transfer to Torla and hiking in the Ordesa Canyon & Monte Perdido National Park

We transfer westward, stopping en-route to visit the historic walled town of Aínsa perched on a hilltop at the strategic confluence of the Ara and Cinca rivers. Our destination is the ancient stone-built village of Torla, main entry point to the Ordesa Canyon & Monte Perdido National Park, part of a larger area designated by UNESCO as a World Natural Heritage site—an “outstanding mountain landscape”—spanning the contemporary national borders of France and Spain, centered around the highest limestone mountain all of Europe (3rd highest mountain in the Pyrenees), Monte Perdido (3,352 m/10,997 ft) and including two of Europe’s largest and deepest canyons and three major cirque walls. Afternoon hike in the national park.

Transfer time: approx. 2 hrs
Hike: 7.3 km/ 4.5 mi. 2 – 3 hrs. + 475 / – 160 m (+1558 ft / – 525 ft)
Overnight for next 2 nights: character hotel/inn in Torla.
Meals: all included.

Day 4Hiking in Ordesa Canyon & Monte Perdido National Park

Depending on prevailing conditions we have many choices including:
– Fajas – 2 different options for circular hikes along “fajas” – lovely ledge-like trails along the Ordesa Canyon walls, offering amazing views. Shorter and longer options are available.
– Waterfalls – 2 different classic hike options in Ordesa Canyon, to visit some of the many beautiful waterfalls, that are among the highlights of Spain’s most famous Pyrenean national park. On these hikes you’ll experience wildflowers galore and a succession of lovely waterfalls. Fauna you are likely to see include marmots, chamoix and the Lammergeier – or Bearded Vulture, one of Europe’s rarest birds of prey, which makes its home here in Ordesa.

Short (20 min) transfers to start/end points.
Hikes: from 9 – 19 km; 4 – 7 hrs ; +/- 630 to 810 m (+/- 6100 – 2657 ft)
Meals: breakfast and lunch included. Dinner on your own.

Day 5Hike across the border to France’s Pyrenees National Park and the Gavarnie cirque

Today we’ll hike over to France, but no passports required! A short transfer brings us to a medieval bridge where we begin our hike up over a pass (2273 m / 7457 ft) and down to the town of Gavarnie at the foot of the massive cirque of the same name, on the French side of the Pyrenees. En-route we’ll see continental Europe’s longest waterfall.

Transfer time: approx. 25 min
Hike (depending on detours): from 13 to 17.2 km/ 8- 10.7 mi. 5 – 8 hrs. + /- 1000 – 1100 m (+/- 3281 to 3609 ft)
Overnight: 2* hotel/inn in Gavarnie or Luz.
Meals: all included.

Day 6Midi D’Ossau - hike in France’s Pyrenees National Park

A morning transfer up to a high pass and border crossing at the Col du Portalet, a frequent end of stage in the Tour de France bike race. A superb setting for the start to our hike in the environs of the iconic Midi d’Ossau, one of the most famous mountains and coveted summits for climbers in the Pyrenees. Our circular hike takes us to a lower nearby peak (2487m / 8160 ft ) offering unparalled views over the Midi and many other of the area’s many 3000m+ summits. Later we transfer to the historic mountain town of Jaca, once capital of a powerful Pyrenean kingdom and important stop on the Aragonese variant of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route. Nowadays this attractive town is the base of training operations for Spain’s military and mountain search & rescue teams as well as a dynamic hub of outdoor activities in this region. Jaca tried (and failed) 3 times to host the Winter Olympic Games!

Total transfer time: approx. 3 hrs 30 min
Hike: 13.5 km / 8- 8.4 mi. 4 – 6 hrs. +/- 990 m / 3248 ft
Overnight: 3* hotel in Jaca.
Meals: all included.

Day 7Hiking on the Pilgrim’s Way - El Camino de Santiago & the Holy Grail

A short morning transfer (20 min) to the start point of our fascinating historical hike on the oldest variant of the famous “French Way” of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route. An easy ascent through mixed forest and great views towards the Cental Massif in the distance reward our efforts on our way to one of the most interesting and spectacular monasteries in all of Spain – San Juan de la Peña, said to have harboured the Holy Grail during the middle ages. After we enjoy a guided tour of the monastery, we have lunch, then transfer to our overnight destination.

Hike: 6 km / 4 mi. 2 – 3 hrs. +/- 650 m / 2132 ft
PM OPTION A. After lunch we transfer to our overnight lodgings in Pamplona.
Transfer time: approx. 1 hrs 30 min Overnight: character hotel/inn in Pamplona Meals: all included.

Day 8Option B: Transfer to Basque Country and hike near coast.

Explore Pamplona in the morning, then transfer to begin our final hike, to the summit of La Rhun, right on the Spain-France border and the last mountain of the Pyrenees. From the summit we take the cog railway ( http://www.rhune.com/uk/index.aspx) back down and then transfer to our overnight destination in the lovely little coastal border town of Hondarribia in the Spanish Basque Country. You’ll have the rest of the day free to explore on your own before meeting for a farewell dinner of tasty Basque cuisine.

Transfer time: approx. 3 hrs
Hike:, approx. 2 – 3 hrs. +/- 400 m
Overnight: 4* Historic Parador in Hondarribia.
Meals: all included.

Day 9Departure

Tour ends with breakfast.

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