GAVARNIE - ORDESA
Lofty highlights of the Pyrenees, Two Countries, One World Heritage Area
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This trek takes you through the Gaube Valley, the Ordesa Canyon and the Gavarnie Cirque; the highlights of the central Pyrenees on both sides of the French-Spanish border. It takes in both the French Pyrenees and Spanish Ordesa National Parks (and of course the Mont Perdu World Heritage Area). Starting with the spectacular series of waterfalls above Cauterets you reach the north face of the Vignemale (the highest summit in the French Pyrenees) for your first night. We then cross into Spain, joining the long distance GR11 into Bujaruelo and Torla hiking through the beautiful forests of the Spanish Pyrenees. From Torla we climb up through the wonder of nature that is the Ordesa Canyon, then cross the border via the dramatic Breche de Roland, coming back into France and down to Gavarnie. For our last day we walk right around the famous Gavarnie Cirque on spectacular balcony paths. There is no better way to see these dramatic geological features and wonder at nature’s force !
• If you do one trek in the Pyrenees – this is it!
• Monte Perdido World Heritage Area
• Gaube Valley, Ordesa and Gavarnie in one week
• Big views and a big experience all round
FULL WEEK OPTION : 1,175€pp
This price includes :
• 6 days guided walking
• 7 nights half board accommodation in hostels/refuges
• All picnic lunches, dinners & breakfast
• Local transfer to Luz St Sauveur
4 NIGHTS / 3 DAYS : 650€pp
This price includes :
• 3 days guided walking
• 4 nights half board accommodation in hostel/refuges
• All picnic lunches, dinners & breakfast
• Local transfer from/to Luz St Sauveur
3 DAYS ITINERARY
Arrive in Luz at the time that suits you, according to your transport. Night in comfortable hostel accommodation just next to the fortified church. You are straight into the atmosphere of this mountain village and its history. Meet in Hotel Les Templiers at 6pm just nearby for a briefing about your trek. Head out for dinner in one of the many restaurants in the village.
Breakfast in the hostel. Buy some picnic supplies for the day at the bakery, butcher and corner shop just down the road. Your guide will meet you at 9am in front of Hotel Les Templiers and transfer you to Gavarnie (30-minute drive). You’ll trek up and over the border into Spain on the first day (900m ascent, 1200m descent), starting in Gavarnie village and climbing to the Bucharo Pass at (2200m) before descending to the Spanish mountain village of Torla. The descent down into Torla is a long one; you’ll stay at a local refuge tonight and enjoy a Spanish dinner and a good night in the hostel. 8-9 hours trekking
After breakfast this morning, you collect your picnics and leave Torla (1000m) heading up to the Ordesa Canyon. You arrive at the plateau at the bottom of the canyon after roughly 2 hours of hiking. From the plateau, you begin the steep ascent up to the Mirador de Calcilarruego viewpoint; a spectacular natural balcony hanging 600 metres above the canyon floor. From here, you’ll continue up to the Goriz Refuge (2200m). Enjoy a beer on the terrace with a spectacular view overlooking the canyon before dinner and a discussion of the next day’s big climb. 7-8 hours trekking
After breakfast this morning, again collect picnics and you leave the Goriz Refuge, first crossing the Millaris Plateau before starting your climb towards the famous Breche de Roland (2800m). The Breche de Roland, or Roland’s Breach, is a huge, missing tooth shaped natural gap in the mountains forming the border between France and Spain. It is 40m across and 100m high, and you’ll cross back into France by walking through it. From here, you have a big descent (1450m) down to Gavarnie with dramatic views into the Gavarnie Cirque from the Bellevue Plateau. Transfer back to Luz for the evening and dinner in the same hostel as the first night. 8-9 hours trekking
You’ll have breakfast this morning at the hostel before departing Luz for your journey home. We will advise on bus timetables or can organise transfers to the train station or airport in Lourdes if you would like.
Note: This itinerary and the duration of the activities are subject to change due to group abilities, and weather conditions and forecasts.
Rendez-vous in Cauterets (1000m) for your first night in a comfortable hostel. Your guide will meet you there before dinner in order to answer last minute questions, check gear, show you where to buy any last minute bits if needed and go through the route for the week. Organise your packs and leave behind anything you will not need for the week. We organise a transfer of your extra luggage to Luz where you will be on the last night. Dinner and bed.
On our first day we head straight out of Cauterets (1000m) and up towards the Pont d’Espagne (1500m) via the waterfall path. This is a great warm up day – a relatively gentle climb all the way and full of spectaclar nature! There are waterfalls all along the path, finishing with the most spectacular at the Pont d’Espange. Then comes the Lac de Gaube (17250m), and on to the Oulettes Refuge (2151m) for a wonderful view on to the north face of the Vignemale and its small glacier. +1150m altitude, approx 7h.
Today we cross from Oulettes Refuge (2151m) over into Spain via the Col des Mulets (2600m) – a steep climb and descent before a longer, gentler descent to the Bujaruelo Refuge (1350m). Spectacular high mountain scenery as we cross the border, and we then head into the forest as we approach Bujaruelo. +450m, -1250m, approx 8h.
Today is an easier day, or can be if we choose. One route allows us to arrive earlier and spend the afternoon in the charming Spanish mountain village of Torla (1000m), and another longer walk is possible if the group would like a full day. In either case both paths are lovely and we enjoy discovering this Spanish valley before our return to the high mountains. -300m, 10kms, approx 3h.
We have the option of the bus out of Torla (1000m) to reach the Ordesa carpark (1340m). The path is also pretty and adds about 1.5h to the day. From the Ordesa carpark we climb up the steep sides of the canyon to the spectacular Mirador de Calcilarruego. It is difficult to imagine a more spectacular view! We then continue along Faja de Pelay around the side of the canyon to reach the Goriz Refuge (2200m) at the foot of the Monte Perdido. From the village atmosphere of Torla we are now in high mountain territory with views of the canyon from above and mountaineers planning ascensions of the surrounding peaks. +1200m from village, +860m from Ordesa carpark, approx 6-8h.
From Goriz Refuge (2200m) we cross the Millaris Plateau and start our climb towards the famous Breche de Roland (2800m), our passage back into France. On the way we pass the entrance to a spectacular ice cave which we can have a peak into. Once through the Breche we have a relatively long descent to Gavarnie village (1365m) via the Plateau de Bellevue where we will be happy to find a hot shower and a good meal in the hostel there. +600m, -1435m, approx 8-9h.
Our final day takes us up and around the Gavarnie Cirque, up to Espugettes Refuge if we choose, and down into the heart of the cirque via a balcony path. We have the option of climbing to the foot of the “Grand Cascade”, the highest waterfall in France at 423m, for a high pressure shower! We transfer to Luz at the end of the day for a last night in a comfortable gite (dorm rooms) next to the fortified church in the centre of the village. Recover your extra bags and enjoy the atmosphere in this pretty mountain village. +700m, -700m, approx 6h.
Leave Luz via bus (various times in the morning) to Lourdes (55 mins). We will help you organise your outward transport to suit your travel arrangements.
Note that the itinerary may be varied if weather or snow conditions compromise the safety of the group.