Trek through some of the most spectacular scenery in Europe
Travel through two neighboring National Parks offering dramatic backdrops
Spend one night in a traditional mountain refuge in the Central Pyrenees
Our weeklong trip to the high peaks of the Pyrenees offers an opportunity to visit the stunning mountain range which defines the border between France and Spain, and enjoy the unique cultural heritage of this enchanting region. We begin our journey in the French mountain hamlet of Cauterets, nestled on the north side of the Parc National Des Pyrenees Occidentales. Over the course of the following week, we will trek through some of the most spectacular scenery in Europe, ending our journey in the Spanish village of Torla, gateway to Parque Nacional Ordesa y Monte Perdido. These two neighboring national parks offer dramatic backdrops to the distinctive cultures that evolved throughout the centuries, on either side of the Pyrenees.
Our accommodations include a variety of lodging, from classic French mountain hotels, to family-run Spanish inns. All the hotels and inns are selected for their comfort, cuisine, regional flavor, and friendliness. In three locations (Cauterets, Gavarnie, and Torla), we will spend two nights at the same inn, allowing us to get to know each region a little better. During the highest point on our trek, one night will be spent in a traditional mountain refuge in the Central Pyrenees
Throughout the week, we’ll experience a range of cuisine, both French and Spanish. Food ranges from haute cuisine in elegant dining rooms to regional specialties in authentic surroundings. Dinner is typically a multiple course meal shared in the company of the group, and breakfast will be an ample buffet eaten at your leisure before we begin the day’s hike.
From our arrival gateway city, we make our way into the central Pyrenees and our hotel in the heart of Cauterets. We will meet the group for welcome drinks and orientation before a dinner out on the town.
The starting point for today’s hike is at Pont d’Espagne, a short bus or taxi ride up the valley from Cauterets. After approximately 2 miles, there is a well marked junction; here we turn right and begin our ascent up to Lac du Pourtet, perhaps the most picturesque lake in the Pyrenees. After taking in the vista, we continue our loop and descend to the Refuge Wallon Marcadau for a delicious French lunch. Just beyond the Refuge, the trail rejoins the valley floor trail in the Marcadau, and we turn left to return to the trailhead at Pont d’Espagne. A bus (navette) or taxi will bring us back to our hotel in Cauterets for the night.
Today is the most challenging hike of your journey. You will begin from Pont d’Espagne (1460m) and follow the GR10 up and over the Hourquette d’Ossoue (pass at 2734m), an elevation gain of nearly 1300m, over 4000’. From the pass, you then descend to the Refuge (mountain hut) for dinner and accommodations.
Today you will descend from the Refuge into the town of Gavarnie, through the stunning Vallee d’Ossoue. This day is primarily downhill, the opposite of yesterday’s hike.
The Cirque de Gavarnie is one of the most famous locations in the entire Pyrenees range, for good reason. The cirque itself is a semicircular sheer-walled valley terminus, the top of which forms the border between France and Spain. Dropping through the cliff faces are waterfalls, pouring down hundreds of feet, often just vapor when the reach the floor of the cirque.
Today’s hike has a variety of options, depending on your energy level.
Today we cross over from France into Spain, from Parc National de Pyrenees Occidentales into Parque Nacional Ordesa y Monte Perdido.
Today we enjoy the change of geology and geography, flora and fauna, as we hike through the Valle de Ordesa. From the high peaks and glaciers of the central range, we have descended into the carved sandstone canyons that flank the Spanish side. The climate has become more arid and the landscape has a completely different feel from merely a few miles to the north.
Depart to your gateway city.