Spanish Pyrenees
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Guided holidays
7 nights - 5 magnificent walking days
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Itinerary : One Centre
Holiday code : FP1PUAL
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A Guided Tour Of The Secret Canyons Of Europe

Sierra de Guara is a natural wonder. Its canyons are seriously impressive, but it is a region that has so much more to offer those who discover it on foot - we have developed an itinerary that enables you to experience the best of it led by a qualified mountain guide expert in the region, its culture and history.

A summary of your journey

As spectacular as they are unknown, the magnificent canyons in the Sierra de Guara National Park, south of the Pyrenees and in the heart of ancient Aragon, offer some of the most exhilarating and rewarding walking anywhere in Europe. Geologically, it is a limestone plateau with mountains rising to nearly 7,500 feet, and canyons with cliffs falling hundreds of feet. Naturally, it's got tumbling streams, impressive waterfalls, and a multitude of rivers that eventually become the Ebro. Historically, it's as rich as it has become agriculturally poor. Medieval towns, beautiful perched villages, abandoned farms, castles and hermitages, there is so much to discover. Then there is a thriving culture in the region that matches a new generation of characterful boutique hotels, and an emerging cuisine that combines the traditional with the contemporary. You can probably tell we - and especially our expert guide - are rather enthusiastic about it - and think you may be as well.

The Plus Points

  • A magnificent landscape packed with history, canyons, waterfalls, abandoned villages, hermitages etc
  • High quality hotel in one of Spain's officially most beautiful villages
  • All the benefits of a small group with a really expert bi-lingual guide

Le programme

Day 1

Pau
We meet you at Pau airport, or rail station, to take you to your hotel in Pau city centre, although transfers at extra cost are available from Biarritz and Bordeaux airports and rail stations (both TGV from Paris).Just to be clear, this will be an international group of 5 to 15 people, although the primary languages will be English and French. The guide is bi-lingual, and you will need to understand or speak no language other than English - unless you want to, of course.
Hotel Continental is a prestigious 19th century building right in the heart of the historic centre, and close to everything you might want to visit. You dine in the hotel.
Transfer: 20 minutes

Day 2

Pau to Alquezar
This is a long transfer over the Pyrenees, but a thoroughly enjoyable one. As such, it serves as an excellent introduction to the range of Pyrenean landscapes, architectures, history and discovery opportunities. It will also introduce you to the differences - and many similarities - between French and Spanish Pyrenean culture and architecture. It may also go some way to convince you that the Pyrnees are, indeed, the most wonderful mountains in Europe! Your journey ends in the delightful and historic village of Alequezar - a great place to start any walking journey, and to explore before your first Aragonese dinner (around 21.00 as you'll know is usual in Spain).
Alquezar is, officially, one of the most beautiful villages in Spain, and Villa de Alquezar, right in its centre, makes the most of its location with beautiful views from bedrooms, and beautiful bedrooms too. It's a newly built boutique hotel, yet has been so well designed and constructed that it blends into this historic village. There's a spa, swimming pool, and cool terraces to relax on. Good bar service too. You will dine for the next 4 nights in a good restaurant in the village tasting a range of regional dishes each night, and tapas as well.
Transfer: 4 hours including stops.

Day 3

Alquezar and the Rio Vero Gorge
After a guided introduction to Alquezar, we enjoy a comparatively short yet deeply impressive walk through the river Vero Gorge. You can look up to the Pyrenean peaks, to the eagles and vultures as floating in the thermals above you, and search for their nests and lookouts on the cliffs rising almost vertically hundreds of feet around you. We will be walking on ancient paths, and, indeed, over a Roman bridge, while below us the crystal clear, jade coloured waters of the river rush, tumble and fall in their haste to ultimately join the river Ebro. We also visit the quite magnificent Santa Maria church and monastery consecrated in 1099 with stone reliefs sculpted in the 12th century, 14th century cloister, 15th century cloister murals, 16th century chapel entrance revealing Gothic, Mudejar and Renaissance influences, and 17th century chapel extension. The local history of art and religion in one memorable building, and still plenty of time for a swim.
Walking time: 3 hours. Elevation: + 300m / - 300m.

Day 4

Upper Rio Vero Canyon
Today there is a transfer before we walk in the footsteps of prehistoric man, and imagine a landscape barely changed except for the flora and fauna that once roamed this magical landscape. The tranquillity and magnificence of the upper Vero canyon is here for us to discover as we walk with mountain peaks, vultures and eagles above us, and canyons, streams and rivers below us. The best we can say is this: it's a great walk.
Walking time: 4 hours. Elevation: + 300m / - 300m. Transfer: 1 hour.

Day 5

Rodellar - Mascun
We transfer to the pretty village of Rodellar, one of the most stunning locations in the Sierra de Guara that also boasts the chapel of the Virgin of the Castle rising out of the canyon cliffs, and the medieval bridge of Las Cabras. We venture into the Mascun canyon with its extrordinary natural "sculptures", and cross several streams (a little wading may be necessary) Man has lived in this spectacular landscape for tens of thousands of years, so it's no surprise its associated with many legends - some true, some undoubtedly false, all interesting. We continue via sweeping bends with sweeping panoramic views, yet equally impressive are the limestone pillars of Ciudadella y Cuca Bellostas we walk right beside. Finally, we walk along the river bank back to Rodellar.
Walking time: 5 hours. Elevation: + 400m / - 400m. Transfer: 1 hour 30 minutes.

Day 6

UNESCO Heritage Cave Paintings
You begin by walking past pyramid shaped, stone shepherds' huts, and a canal before reaching the bridge and ponds of Basacol - good for a cooling swim in high summer (earlier and later if you're brave) in the canyon of La Payuela before beginning to walk high above the gorge on a wonderfully memorable path that you can't believe isn't packed with tourists it's so good! Thankfully, it isn't! The Chimiachas canyon and its caves include the famous prehistoric painting (in Levantine style, so it is said) of a deer, while the caves of Quizans feature numerous prehistoric paintings. The views are panoramic south across the Aragonese plains and north to Monte Perdido and other snow capped peaks. Altogether, the Spanish Pyrenees at their best.
We dine tonight on a wide range of high quality tapas as well as (hopefully) enjoying a star filled sky.
Walking time: 5 hours. Elevation: + 500m / - 500m.

Day 7

Peonera Hermitage and Canyon
The canyon of Peonora is the archetypal canyoning canyon with its massive, honey coloured, water smoothed rocks, waterfalls (none more magnificent than that at the end of the canyon), deep pools, and crystalline jade or turquoise waters (you decide which). Yet it's also a wonderful canyon for walking, not least because we have the privilege of discovering the jewel of the canyon. Man has been building altars and chapels in these breathtaking natural surroundings for centuries, and we visit a hermitage wonderfully located at the foot of an immense red (yes, red) limestone pillar. Plenty of time for swimming and relaxing too before returning for a last time to Alquezar.
A final dinner that will celebrate the many highlights of this week, and the many culinary highlights of this region that we are confident you will now add to your list of recommended "must-do" places.
Walking time: 4 hours. Elevation: + 250m / - 250m. Transfer: 1 hour.

Day 8

Alquezar to Pau
After breakfast, we sadly have to leave Alquezar for the drive back to Pau, stopping en route for a picnic near the frontier, so by early afternoon we can drop you off at Pau station or airport, or elsewhere as previously arranged - and, we're afraid, that's it for this holiday at least.
Transfer: 4 hours including stops.
  • Détails Pratiques
  • Formalités et Santé

DATES

May to October.

MEETING POINT

The holiday begins at Pau airport or railway station, although we can arrange transfers from elsewhere.

THE END OF YOUR TRIP

The holiday ends at Pau rail station or airport unless previously arranged otherwise.

LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY

This itinerary features comfortable rather than challenging walking, and is suitable for people who are reasonably fit and enjoy a good day's walking. You are mainly in the foothills rather than in the high mountains. Typically, there is 3 to 5 hours steady walking with ascents and descents of upto 500 metres. In July and August it can be very hot for all day walking, and some rivers and waterfalls will have dried up. You may have to wade across streams, one or two with a depth upto 40 cms, but usually much less.

DEPARTURE GUARANTEED FROM ( no. pers)

5

GROUP LIMIT (pers.)

15

LUGGAGE TRANSPORT

All you need carry is a daysack with your choice of essentials plus picnic.

GUIDE

This is a group holiday for upto 15 people with a qualified mountain guide, who is bi-lingual (French-English) and an expert in the region.

ACCOMMODATION

One night at the Hotel Continental, Pau, and 6 nights at the excellent two star Villa de Alquezar. Rooms for 2 people with en suite facilities (usually a bath). Breakfast at the hotel, and dinners nearby.

MEALS

Dinner in your hotel on day 1. Regionally typical dinners on nights 2 to 6 in a good local restaurant with one evening featuring tapas. Picnics from day 3 to day 8. Dinner on the last night in a special restaurant.

TRANSFERS

Usually transfers are in coaches, people carriers, mini-buses, cars or taxis.

To make the right choice

Have a look at our detailed explanations on the types of hiking, the standards of accommodation, and understand baggage transport ... How to choose your trip ?

FORMALITIES

You need to keep your passport with you at all times, and ideally insurance information. You need to make your own arrangements to claim local healthcare. There are requirements in France and Spain for all vehicles to carry safety equipment.
We are currently updating the dates and prices of this trip.
This information will be available soon.

We can, if you wish, inform you by e-mail as soon as we have put this information online.

You can change the itinerary, and receive revised information

Want to change the itinerary? Complete the form below, and we will send you a revised itinerary as soon as possible.

 

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