A Guided Hiking Trip – 8 Days & 7 Nights
This tour explores both of Spain’s two very different national parks in the Pyrenees, both located in the biggest and central sector of the range: Cañones de Ordesa y Monte Perdido in the ancient region of Aragón and Aigüestortes I Estany de Sant Maurici, in the dynamic historic region of Catalonia.
The Parc Nacional d’Aigüestortes I Estany de Sant Maurici is the crown jewel of Catalonia’s protected areas and the only national park within its territory. This is a wonderland of shapely granite peaks and hundreds of glacial lakes. The 1st 2 nights, you’ll be based in Taüll, in the Val de Boí, whose 9 Early Romanesque churches are designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Here we explore the Western or Aigüestortes sector of the national park.
Then we trek across the national park to spend 2 days based in the pretty stone village of Espot, our hiking base for the Western or Sant Maurici sector.
A short drive east brings us to a completely different world, where we’ll be based in the quaint village of Torla, on the edge of the spectacular limestone canyons and mountains of the Parque Nacional de Cañones de Ordesa y Monte Perdido, part of a larger area designated by UNESCO as a World Natural Heritage site—spanning the contemporary national borders of France and Spain, centered around Monte Perdido – the 3rd highest mountain in the Pyrenees (and the highest limestone mountain in all of Europe) and including two of Europe’s largest and deepest canyons and three major cirque walls.
In both national parks, you’ll hike ancient paths amidst rural landscapes leading into the wild heart of the mountains, allowing the visitor a fascinating glimpse into age-old customs and ways of life that continue into modern days. These areas preserve traditional landuse practices in which the relationship between humans and the environment evolved over the centuries in a balanced, intelligent and sustainable manner, for mutual benefit, an agricultural way of life that was once widespread in the upland regions of Europe but now survives only in this part of the Pyrenees.
There will be daily opportunities for observation of fauna & flora, with sure sightings of vultures and other birds of prey, marmots and perhaps even the nimble rebecco or chamoix among others. In spring and early summer, there are wildflowers galore.
8 Days, 7 Nights
Barcelona or Lleida
Bilbao, San Sebastián or Pamplona – your choice
(C- / D+) Moderate to Challenging
9.5 – 17.5 km / 6 – 11 miles. Most days are about 5 to 6 hours of walking
2* (3* equivalent) hotel in Taüll
3* hotel in Espot
2* or 3* hotel in Torla.
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!
Custom dates can be arranged for groups of 3 or more people: mid-June to mid-October
3 – 12
7 nights accommodation in excellent 3* or equivalent family-run hotels or inns with great locations in Taüll, Espot and Torla
7 three-course dinners with wine and bottled water; 5 lunches (picnic lunch bags or tapas in restaurants)
Services of a bilingual tour leader/guide throughout the entire itinerary & certified local mountain guides on all hiking days.
All transportation as specified in the itinerary – including Day 1 morning pickup in Barcelona or Lleida, Day 8 transfer to Bilbao, with stops en-route in Pamplona and San Sebastián. We’ll drop you off at your destination of choice.
Parque Nacional de Aigüestortes I Estany de Sant Maurici, crown jewel of Catalonia’s protected areas and the only national park within its territory. This is a wonderland of shapely granite peaks and hundreds of glacial lakes.
Parque Nacional de Cañones de Ordesa y Monte Perdido, 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 3rd highest mountain in the Pyrenees (and the highest limestone mountain in all of Europe) – Monte Perdido, a calcareous massif that rises to 3,352 m/10,997 ft, and including two of Europe’s largest and deepest canyons and three major cirque walls
Glorious views, exuberant flora and abundant fauna: a nature photographer’s dream. This part of the central Pyrenees is one of the world’s finest locations for alpine flowers, including the famed Eidelweiss. Marmots and chamoix observe us from rocky perches and myriad birds of prey soar overhead, including the Lammergeier – one of Europe’s rarest birds of prey.
Overnights in picturesque mountain villages: we sleep in pretty little medieval towns with ancient churches, cobbled streets and traditional architecture: Torla, Taüll and Espot.
Romanesque churches of the Val de Boí: the 9 Early Romanesque churches in this valley are the densest concentration of Romanesque architecture in Europe, designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Sant Climent church, in the village of Taüll, is the finest example of all.
Enjoy tasty cuisine based on fresh produce from the region’s agriculture, and if you enjoy wine, nearby areas produce excellent wines. Local cheeses & meats are particularly good.
Begin in Barcelona: The most accessible international airport is Barcelona. Most people fly in a day or two early, allowing you to explore the architectural, culinary and cultural jewels of Spain’s most dynamic city. on Day 1 of our itinerary, we’ll pick you up at either the airport or your hotel…or in the town of Lleida, on the high-speed railway line to Zaragoza/Madrid, about 1 hour from Barcelona.
End the trip in your choice of 3 of northern Spain’s most interesting cities. We’ll drop you off at the city of your choice: Pamplona – on the Camino de Santiago and famous for the Running of the Bulls during its San Fermin Festival; or one of two coastal towns in the Basque Country: San Sebastián, considered one of the county’s most beautiful cities or Bilbao, home to the Guggenheim Museum and an international airport.