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.
You should plan to spend the night in Barcelona after the end of the trek, because we arrive back in the city too late for most connecting flights. The same applies the night before the trip, because we leave Barcelona early on the first day so we can arrive in the Pyrenees at midday and take an interesting hike in the afternoon.
Miguel will pick you up in Barcelona at 8:30, next to the Hotel Ibis Meridiana. We will drive to Tavascan, which takes four hours.
When we get there, we will leave luggage at the hotel and take a taxi to the starting point of the hike. Our aim today is to reach the Certascan staffed mountain hut, at 2230m.
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.
4.5 hours (including breaks) – 870m elevation gain – 6.3km
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.
Including the peak and breaks, 9 hours – 645m elevation gain – 1480m elevation loss – 11.5km
Including breaks but not the peak, 6.5 hours – 375m elevation gain – 1205m elevation loss – 9.5km
Once settled back in to our hotel, we will be able to try out some of the local wines, hand-made cheese and sausage.
This circular 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.
6-7 hours (including breaks) – 910m elevation gain – 12.5km
[Click on each image to see the photo in its original size]
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.
An option is climbing the Turhilha peak (2527m).
4.5 hours (including breaks) – 263m elevation gain – 6.3km
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
[Click on each image to see the photo in its original size]
Three 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.
Still available places for the Alt Pirineu natural park tour:
– July 22 2023
– September 17 2023
– October 21 2023
>> Full-board accommodation: three en-suite nights in hotel and one night in a staffed mountain refuge
>> Meals: four breakfasts, four packed-lunches and four 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
>> 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 – We send you a list when you book