Day 2 to 14
With Andorra being a walking wonderland there are just so many great walks we could undertake it makes telling you about them all impossible so here are a few examples:
WEEK ONE - FLOWERS WEEK
Orchids in Sorteny
We start in Sorteny with a gentle walk through woods before opening into the beautiful Rialb valley. It will be carpeted in orchids, gentians and wild tulips. We continue to follow the river upstream to find snowbells where late-lying patches of snow are just melting. After a leisurely lunch, return by the same route and minibus back.
12km. +400m/-400m. 5 -6 hours
The Valley of Daffodils
From the top of Val d’Incles, a beautiful unspoilt area awash with daffodils (the national flower) we climb on a stony track and paths alongside the riu de Juclá to reach the manned refuge at the first Juclar lake. We can expect to see plenty of orchids, butterwort, white Pyrenean buttercup and xatardia scabra. We return to the start and then take a pleasant path down the valley to the main road.
11km. +500m/-600m. 6 hours
The Mountain of Crocuses
From the eastern valley of Arinsal we walk up a good GR track to the spectacular coma (cirque) which surrounds the meadows of the Pla de l’Estany. The highest mountains, including the Pic de Coma Pedrosa, tower above. We will find dog’s- tooth violets, crocuses, St Bernard’s lily and several types of orchid. After a rest, we will return by a higher, narrow path through woods and meadows before descending steeply to Arinsal.
11km. +650m/-650m. 5 hours
Spotting the Rare Beauty among the Rocks
The main aim of this walk is to find the rare ramonda myconii, which grows on a few shaded rocks here. From Sabadell, just above Andorra la Vella we follow the stony GR7 path up through woods to our ‘goal’. Then we continued over a couple of collets with excellent views of the busy valley far below. Our lunch stop will be in a high meadow, before we make our way down to Sant Juilá, the southernmost town.
12km. +400m/ -800m. 6 hours
WEEK TWO - 2x2x2x Grade 6 & 8
Along the Old Tramway
Both groups will be walking in this World Heritage protected area of outstanding beauty. From the Engolasters lake the grade 6 walk follows the GR11 path along the route of an old tramway as it contours above the main valley, with excellent views of the bustle far below. We then climb on a stony path to the Col de Javell and get our first glimpse into the Val de Madriu. The path now descends gently into this valley with its beautiful alpine meadows. Some may like to continue further into the valley, but return to this point. Then we have a long descent on a stony mule-track to Escaldes in the main valley.
Max. 15km. +500m/-1000m. 6 hours.
The grade 8 walk is the same as far as the unmanned refuge. Just beyond here we take a steep path, passing a refuge, to reach the Collada de Maina. The Pic de Maina (2519m) is an easy optional extra from the col. The descent is similar to the grade 6 option, but longer.
19km; +870m/-1370m; 7 hours.
Up at the Pessons Lakes
This beautiful walk to the Pessons lakes has an ‘out and back’ section, which allows you to shorten it if you want. From Grau Roig we walk up through woods to the first of the Pessons Lakes. The GR7 then leads us over stony ground through a ribbon of delightful lakes surrounded by high peaks. We can go as far as we choose before settling for lunch and a swim opportunity. We retrace our steps to the first lake and the bar before continuing on the GRP path through meadows and some ski installations. Marmots are always heard and usually seen here. Our walk ends at Bordes d’Envalira.
Max. 9.5km. +500m/-700m. 6 hours walking
The grade 8 walk follows the same route as the Grade 6 through the ribbon of lakes, but extends to climb the ‘back-wall’ of the coma (cirque) to the fantastic viewpoint of the Pic dels Pessons (2864m).
18km; +840m/-960m; 7 hours walking
Beside the Streams to Open Meadows
A walk that can vary in length according to your choice. From Canillo our path contours its way into the Val de Riu. We then climb up beside of the stream to reach the open meadows and walk further into the valley to the unmanned refuge, a very attractive spot for lunch. Returning from there we take a woodland path which descends into the main valley at l’Aldosa. The walk can end here or continue on the Nature Trail, which follows the river down the main valley on the ‘quiet side’.
Max.11km. +350m/-650m. 5 hours.
The grade 8 walk starts in the same way, but ascends to the Pic de la Torradella (2548m) which dominates its surroundings and gives a fine viewpoint. There is no clear path to the ridge. On the ridge itself there is some easy scrambling before the descent into a classic hanging valley.
9km; +850m/-1050m; 6 hours
Mountains, Mountains Everywhere!
This is a lovely walk to the Pla de l’Estany is surrounded by the highest mountains in Andorra. We begin with a steep climb from Arinsal, largely shaded, before reaching a high meadow. The path then contours through the trees to arrive at the collet de Font Podrida, which overlooks a huge basin surrounded by mountains - a coma or cirque. We descend on the GRP and GR11 tracks back to Arinsal.
10km. +650m/-650m. 5 hours
Coma Pedrosa at 2942m is the BIG ONE and presents a significant challenge, with a long approach walk, a technically demanding climb and a long, steep descent. This grade 8 walk is only possible in good weather and with no significant lying snow. From Port de Cabus on the western border with Spain we walk along the border ridge towards Pic de Port Negre and past Pic del Port Vel to a col at Portella de Sanfonts. From here we descend steeply into the Coma Pedrosa valley before beginning our final climb. We reach Estany Negre and then ascend the rocky ridge to the summit. This is not difficult, but requires scrambling and a good head for heights. At the summit cairn we will be rewarded with a fantastic vista and a great sense of achievement. The descent is either down the ridge or through a scree-run just behind, to the lake and on to the manned refuge far below.
17km; +1100m/-1600m; 7 ½ hours.
In a two week tour there will generally be two free days where visits to the nearby Casa Cristo folk museum, the Romanesque church and Moorish castle at les Bons and the sanctuary at Meritxell with its ancient and modern churches are all within easy and pleasant walking distance. If you want to walk to discover more flowers, just ask the leader for some advice.
In the middle of your two week stay there will be a transfer day where our one week holiday guests arrive and go home. One leader will go to the airport to say goodbyes and welcomes and the second leader will stay and leader a Grade 6 walk.