Wildlife & Nature
Summer Pyrenees Family Holiday
Squeezed between Spain and France, the mountainous principality of Andorra is a perfect place for an action-packed summer activity week. On this family activity holiday you’ll experience the best of the region with walking to the beautiful Siscaro Lakes and in the stunning Incles Valley. There’s plenty of chance for mountain biking, including going through the Cortals Valley and downhill into Spain where you’ll get the adrenalin pumping as you shoot the rapids; white water rafting down world-class rivers near Sort. While on this family holiday there’s also the chance to get off the beaten track. The mountain scenery is fantastic, the climate perfect and the experiences thrilling!
Arrive in Toulouse
After your flight to Toulouse, you transfer to your first night’s accommodation (approx. 3-4 hours), journeying south by chartered bus to Soldeu in Andorra. Along the way, you can marvel at the impressive mountain scenery that surrounds you as you wind your way up over the border into Andorra. Situated on the southern slopes of the Pyrenees, squashed between France and Spain, the principality of Andorra measures a mere 25km by 30km, and has an average elevation of 1,996 metres. Andorra’s independence can be traced back to Charlemagne, who captured the region from the Muslims in 803 AD. It was only in 1993 that the Andorran people voted to establish the country as an independent and democratic state. Although small, Andorra is blessed with some of the finest scenery in the Pyrenees and is a great place for an active week in the mountains.
Hotel Roc San Miguel or similar (AA) - 7 nights (B)
This morning we will take our first excursion out into the impressive mountains of this tiny country. The drive to Grau Roig takes approximately 20 minutes and at 2,000 metres you get stunning views of the glacier formed mountain and valleys. To warm up the legs there is a short climb to the ‘Circe de Pessons’ which is a circle if 7 small lakes left from the glacier
After this being mostly flat or downhill, it is a great introduction to the Pyrenees, and a chance to stretch our legs and acclimatize to the altitude. The scenery is stunning and the walk will hopefully give us the chance to see some of Andorra’s flora and fauna. It is always worth keeping an eye out for the griffon vultures which are often seen circling high overhead. On the return to Soldeu we cross the ski runs of Grandvalira giving an opportunity to see the steepness of a black run in the summer.. From here the descent is more rapid and the path brings us out in the centre of Soldeu to enjoy a well-deserved ice cream. We will arrive back at the hotel between 3pm and 4pm giving us a chance to either relax in the sun, take the bikes out for a ride, or visit one of the neighbouring hotel’s spa centres.
Cortals Valley; cycling & walking
Today’s full day of activities take place in the stunningly beautiful Cortals Valley, about a 30 minute drive away. Half-way up the valley you jump on the bikes for a ride along a flat track to the Engolasters Lake giving you the opportunity to enjoy the scenery. Around the lake there are plenty of fun tracks to be taken and you normally have the choice between an easy flat track and a more exciting path through the woods. For those slightly less energetic there is also a lakeside bar. Retracing your route you return to the vehicles. You have the option to ride the demanding 3km tarmac road ascent to the barbeque area – a climb that follows part of the Tour of Spain route. However, the vehicles are available for anyone not fancying this. For lunch you will stop in a Pyrenean meadow and there is time to enjoy a picnic, which you will have had time to buy before you set off.
After lunch you mount your bikes once more for the last part of the day’s cycling as you head for the top of the valley. From here you cross a rope-suspended bridge and take an off-road descent followed by an on-road exhilarating switch-back descent to Encamp – a total descent of over 800m. For anyone not wishing to cycle the routes they can be done on foot and there is a possibility of taking the longest gondola (ski lift) ride in Europe. At the end of the day you return by vehicle to Soldeu. (BD)
Soldeu – Free Day
Today has been left free for you to choose from the many activities that are on offer in Andorra. You may decide to go horse riding, or visit the thermal baths of La Caldea. Take to the trees for tree-top zip-lining or go canyoning. If you have a head for heights you can try your hand at Via Ferrata climbing. There are of course plenty more opportunities for walking and mountain biking or you could simply choose to relax enjoy the sunshine or go duty free shopping. (BD)
Crossing the border into Spain you take a high mountain pass over the Port de Canto through very Mediterranean style scenery but still at 1000 metres high, a chance to stop at the Port de Canto lookout point to take in the foothills of the Spanish Pyrenees. Then on down to the village of Sort, Catalan for "luck",where at the rafting centre you are kitted out with wetsuits, helmets, life jackets and a paddle. From the top of the Noguera River you have 14km of exhilirating white water rafting (minimum 8 years to particpate and 8-12 year olds will only be able to raft on Grades I & II). Noguera River is renowned as one of the top 5 rafting rivers in Europe, this is becuase of the good stretches of continuous but not too rough white water and a high level of safety with many "get out" points.
After a fun ride over a weir and through the Olympic kayaking course, you arrive back at the rafting centre where there are changing rooms and showers. The centre has a beautiful garden with a swimming pool where there is chance to play some more in the water or just relax in the sun with a refreshment from the bar, before setting back to Soldeu.
There is a support vehicle which follows the rating. For those who dont want to, or who are too young to raft you can follow along in the vehicle or relax and unwind at the centre.
The Iron Route
Setting off in the vehicles and with the bikes, you head off to the Ordino Valley, one of the most picturesque in Andorra. Starting at the top end of the valley at 2000m you get fitted with a bike and helmet and then follow with a guide the old iron route of Andorra. Iron was Andorra's first industry which brought the first real settlements to the area. Easy going off road tracks take you along the valley past the old iron mines, mills, and forges finishing in the village of Ordino.
The tracks are mostly wide 4x4 dirt surfaces, no cars take these routes, and though the ground might be a bit rough in places, no technical mountain biking skills are needed, just a good knowledge of normal bike riding. After a rest and refreshment in the village you are back in the vehicles and up to the col de beixalls at 1800m where you are back on the bikes for a thrilling 8km off road descent into Encamp. Throughout the day there will be full vehicle support so that if people prefer not to bike it is possible to walk and/or ride in the 4x4. From Encamp it is just a short 15 min drive back to the hotel arriving between 5pm and 6pm. (BD)
A short drive takes you into the Incles Valley, where you start today’s walk, beginning along the forested mountain slopes. This part of the walk is along a single track through the woods where there are many examples of pine forest plants, lots of beautiful flowers, rhododendrons in June, wild fruit midsummer and wild mushrooms in September. Arriving on a plateau just above the tree line at 2000m, the gradient lessens as you reach the beautiful Querol and Salamander Lakes.
It is common to see groups of thickset mountain horses grazing on these high slopes. The horses are allowed to roam free and normally have large bells strapped around their necks to allow the owners to find them. Contouring along the valley you come to the Cabana Sorda Lake sitting below an impressive semi-circular amphitheatre of rock - an ideal spot to stop for lunch. From the lake, eager walkers can continue the hike up to the peak at around 2600m giving you an amazing bird’s eye view of the valley. For the people staying at the lake there is the chance to have a swim, a refreshing dip in a waterfall or watch the fishermen - there are plenty of mountain trout. After lunch you’ll descend off the grassy higher slopes through thick woodland to the top of the valley where you can either take transport back to the hotel or, for those with more energy, you can continue back on foot. (BD)
Trip Ends; Fly home
This morning, you transfer by bus to the airport in Toulouse where the trip ends for Land Only clients. Clients with onward connections will fly home. (B)
Nestled in the heart of the Pyrenees, Andorra provides the perfect mountain base. The walking here is fantastic and you’ll get straight out there to explore the beautiful Siscarro Lakes and the Incles Valley.
White Water Rafting & Biking
Crossing into Spain, enjoy a fun afternoon white water rafting. The river is fast flowing and rough in parts - exciting! More cautious families can be taken on calmer sections of the river. Exploring the area on mountain bikes you’ll ride to Engolasters Lake before choosing a route suitable to your ability through the woods. A traditional barbecue and quick descent finish off the day with a thrill.
Giving your legs a rest, jump into 4WD vehicles and follow an old smugglers’ route off-road, stopping to visit farming hamlets and take in the breathtaking views.
Our Active Pyrenees trip is just one of our many Europe Family tours. To find out more visit our Europe holidays page.
Transport - Minibus, mountain bike, raft, on foot.
Accommodation - Hotel (7nts).
Meals - 7 breakfasts & 7 dinners.
- Free high speed internet (WI-FI)
- Bar / Lounge
Why we picked Hotel Roc San Miguel:
This hotel offers the best value for your stay in a warm and friendly family run establishment.