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Alt Pirineu Natural Park

Conquer high mountains in the Catalan Pyrenees

Alt Pirineu Natural Park | Walking in the Pyrenees | Trekking Holiday

During our tour in the Alt Pirineu Natural Park we will follow paths through alpine landscapes with high-altitude cols, lakes in valleys carved by ancient glaciers and year–round snowcaps.

The Alt Pirineu natural park is the biggest natural park in Catalonia, located in the Catalan Pyrenees, east of the famous Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici national park. It is bounded by France to the north, by Andorra to the east, and by the rest of Catalonia to the south and west.

Catalonia’s highest peaks are located in this park, as well as the biggest natural lake on the southern slopes of the Pyrenees, the Certascan lake. The peak of Pica d’Estats at 3143m is the highest peak in Catalonia.

The Alt Pirineu natural park has 87 lakes (estanys in Catalan) and 94 small lakes (estanyets), which are at least as beautiful and far less visited than those of the better known Aigüestortes national park.

Our walk here will be guided by an enthusiastic local UIMLA guide who is an expert in the culture, geography, flora and Romanesque art of the area. His knowledge, combined with the walks and visits included in this programme will give you a most rewarding Pyrenean experience.

This is a 6 day tour

1st day - Arrive in the Pyrenees & Cardós valley

Miguel will pick you up in Barcelona at 9:00. Once the whole group has convened, you will transfer to the Cadós Valley. Four to five hours driving.

Before arriving at Tavascan, where we will be based, we will do a circular walk to visit two cute, isolated and unspoiled villages: Arrós de Cardós and Esterri de Cardós. These villages keep to the ancient way of life: they raise cattle and horses. Fewer than 20 people live there all year round, and the number falls year by year. You will have the chance to visit a way of life which is becoming extinct.

In the afternoon, after the hike, you will transfer to Tavascan.

Alt Pirineu Natural Park | Walking in the Pyrenees | Trekking Holidays in the Pyrenees
Alt Pirineu Natural Park | Walking in the Pyrenees | Trekking Holidays in the Pyrenees

2nd day - Vall Ferrera valley

Today we walk from Tavascan to the Ferrera valley (Vall Ferrera in Catalan) via the Barborte Lake, a delightful corrie lake situated in one of the most beautiful glacial cirques in the Pyrenees. The trail passes through remote alpine terrain, crossing the Barbote pass (2488m), a place cut off from civilisation.

8.5 hours (including breaks) – 1050m elevation gain – 15km

A 45-minute drive will take us back to the hotel.

Alt Pirineu Natural Park | Walking in the Pyrenees | Trekking Holidays in the Pyrenees

3rd day - Romedo lakes and Certascan mountain refuge

Alt Pirineu Natural Park | Walking in the Pyrenees | Trekking Holidays in the Pyrenees
Alt Pirineu Natural Park | Walking in the Pyrenees | Trekking Holidays in the Pyrenees

Our aim today is to visit eight pristine lakes, such as Romedo d’Abaix, Romedo de Dalt, Guiló and Colatx. The landscape is stunning. The sharp crest line we see whenever when we look north lies between France and Catalonia.

The Belgian Jewish family who escaped from France in December 1942 crossed these lakes before arriving at Tavascan. If you want to learn more click here.

8 hours (including breaks) – 1187m elevation gain – 14km

This hike can be shortened if necessary.

We stay overnight in the Certascan staffed mountain hut. At one time this shelter hosted the workers who built the dirt road between Tavascan and the Romedo and Certascan lakes. The road was needed to transport all the equipment building the underground pipes which use the lake water for electricity production.

4th day - Certascan lake & Certascan peak (2853m)

A shorter walk today up to Certascan lake, with an option to also climb to Certascan peak. This lake is the largest natural lake on the southern slopes of the Pyrenees.

On the summit everything is still, the air is thin and the passing aircraft don’t seem so very far away. We feel very far away from the world below.

After descending from the summit, we cross the Certascan pass to a different valley, full of even more remarkable lakes. Among them, we will visit the deep-blue lakes called Estanys blaus. Further on, we come across Bordes, shepherds huts used to keep cattle and to store their feed. They are a reminder of past times when farming was the main activity of these villages.

Alt Pirineu Natural Park | Walking in the Pyrenees | Trekking Holidays in the Pyrenees
Alt Pirineu Natural Park | Walking in the Pyrenees | Trekking Holidays in the Pyrenees

Including the peak and breaks, 7 hours – 623m elevation gain – 1490m elevation lost – 11.5km

Once settled back in to our hotel, we will be able to try out some of the local wines, hand-made cheese and sausage.

5th day - Soliguera lakes

This hike is quite different from the previous ones for two reasons: 50% of the paths have disappeared, so we walk in wild terrain; and a substantial portion of the route stands on a wide crest line, giving stunning views of the French and Catalan Pyrenees summits.

In Serra Plana we usually spot chamois. The silence is total, but for the distant sound of the planes which cross high above the Pyrenees.

8 hours (including breaks) – 957m elevation gain – 1573m elevation lost – 18km

Alt Pirineu Natural Park | Walking in the Pyrenees | Trekking Holidays in the Pyrenees

6th day - Mariola and Port lakes - Return to Barcelona

Alt Pirineu Natural Park | Walking in the Pyrenees | Trekking Holidays in the Pyrenees

The last day is reserved for the most beautiful lake in the park, the Mariola lake. Surrounded by shark-fin-shaped peaks and crags, this lake will stay forever in your mind.

After a 30-minute, 4WD drive we will reach the starting point of our hike. This circular walk is quite rocky and there’s no path at all between the first and second lake, Montarenyo, where we will be able to have a swim.

After quite a steep descent we get to the Port lake, below the Tavascan pass. Republicans fleeing from Franco during the Spanish Civil War used this pass. We will be close enough to the Catalan-French border to cross it on foot.

After the hike we transfer back to Barcelona or Barcelona airport.

4.5 hours (including breaks) – 515m elevation gain – 6.5km

ACCOMODATION

Alt Pirineu Natural Park | Walking in the Pyrenees | Trekking Holidays in the Pyrenees
Alt Pirineu Natural Park | Walking in the Pyrenees | Trekking Holidays in the Pyrenees

Four nights, full-board, in a pretty *** hotel in Tavascan, run by a local family. The hotel prepares the packed lunches every day. The same family runs another, cheaper * hotel next door. That is also an option for those who want to economize.

Single, double or twin-bedded rooms.

The foodies will enjoy the excellent dinners, always accompanied by Catalan wine.

One night, full-board, in the Certascan staffed mountain hut. The guard also prepares packed lunches for us.

Alt Pirineu Natural Park | Walking in the Pyrenees | Trekking Holidays in the Pyrenees

NOTES

  • Included:
    • Full-board en-suite accommodation: 4 nights in hotel and one night in a staffed mountain refuge
    • Meals: 5 breakfasts, 5 packed-lunches and 5 evening meals
    • Park fees as appropriate
    • All road transfers in country
    • Accident insurance while in the wilderness
    • Qualified English-speaking local mountain guide
    • All scheduled non-walking activities
  • Excluded:
    • Flights
    • Personal equipment
    • Travel insurance
    • Meals and drinks not indicated in ‘Included’
  • The guide has the right to change the itinerary at any time if deemed necessary to guarantee the security of the group
  • Walking gear & equipment – I send you a list when you book

AVAILABILITY

Still available places for these trips:

  • July 27 2019 (guaranteed trip)
  • August 18 2019
  • September 7 2019
  • October 12 2019

 

Bespoke trips: let me know the dates that best suit you and/or the changes you would like to do on the trek!

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