GAVARNIE BALCONIES TREK
Immersion in Nature’s Great Cathedral
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Immerse yourself in the wonder of the Gavarnie Cirque, nature’s great cathedral as Victor Hugo said. Our independent trek allows you to walk all the way around it, in a flexible format from three to seven days. Your first night is up high on the Saugué Plateau in the heart of the Pyrenean pastoral landscape. Take in the option of a high pass from Saugué for a wonderful view onto the Brèche de Roland, before descending into the cirque itself. A final leg up the eastern side of the cirque to the Espugettes Refuge takes you high enough for the wonderful views of the frontier summits. Extend the trek by tackling the Piméné Summit, and then head across to the Estaubé and Troumouse cirques if you have the extra time (6 or 7 night options). This trek can be adapted for full days or half days walking, from three days to a week, with or without bag transfers. It is an excellent independent trek option for families or those new to trekking in the mountains, and for early in the season. While you are off the beaten track you are never far from road access and our help should it be required.
2 nights : 325€ pp
3 nights : 435€ pp
4 nights : 545€ pp
5 nights : 655€ pp
6 nights : 765€ pp
7 nights : 875€ pp
This price includes :
• All accomodation in hostels & refuges
• All dinners, breakfasts & picnic lunches
• Marked maps & walks notes
• Full briefing
• Return transport from end of itinerary to Luz
• Bag transport (from 40€pp to 105€pp depending on number of nights)
• Collection in Lourdes to Luz 70€ (up to 4p)
• Return transport from Gavarnie to Lourdes 90€ (up to 4p)
• Bus transport from/to Lourdes
7 DAY ITINERARY
Arrive in Luz (700m) where you stay for the night in the charming gîte (hostel style dormitory accommodation) next to the fortified church. Luz is a lively mountain village with plenty of shops, bars and restaurants. You can buy any last minute gear that is needed and relax into the atmosphere of the Pyrenees.
Catch the bus to Pragnère (900m) or to Gèdre (1000m), or we transport you if the bus isn’t running, for full or half day walks respectively. In either case you finish your walk at the Saugué Gite (1600m). Both paths are lovely introductions to the Pyrenean forests and your accommodation on the Saugué Plateau has a Heidi like feel – surrounded by the cows and the flower filled high pastures! The longer walk has spectacular views into the Troumouse Cirque and over the valley. The shorter option passes through the pastoral hamlet of Saussa. Either 1000m ascent, 300m descent (~10 kms), or 600m ascent (~5kms). Bag transfers possible.
Day walk up to the Portaillou Pass (2277m) above the Saugué Plateau for wonderful views over the frontier summits and the Brèche de Roland. Return to the same gite in Saugué for a second night. Ascent/descent 670m (~9kms).
Walk from Saugué down towards Gavarnie with a full view of the Gavarnie Cirque as you descend. You head under the vulture cliffs where you can try and spot the lammergeier (bearded) vultures as they circle above. There is the option of heading deep into the Ossoue Valley (plenty of flowers and wildlife) for a full day’s walk, or just to head straight up to the Grange de Holle for a half day walk. Either -150m/+550m/-500m (~13kms) or -150m/+80m (~5-6 kms). Bag transfers possible.
Today you are heading right into the heart of the Gavarnie Cirque. From the Hotellerie du Cirque take the option up and back to the foot of the “Grand Cascade” to experience power of water dropping from 423m above you! Or just sit on the terrace of the café and admire the view while others do it. From here head up the balcony path to the Espugettes Refuge at 2027m for the night. No bag transfer option possible here. Ascent +550m (~9kms), waterfall option adds 200m ascent/descent (~3kms). If you arrive early at the refuge, there is the option of doing the Piméné summit (2801m, so an extra 800m ascent/descent).
If you didn’t do the Piméné yesterday and would like to then set out early so you have time to complete this before continuing on your route. 200m above the refuge is the fork where you can head up and back to the summit before continuing up to the Hourquette d’Alans (2360m) and over into the Estaubé Cirque. From here you head all the way down the valley to the Gloriettes lake/dam (1681m) and then up and over the Poueyboucoup before heading straight down into the pastoral hamlet of Héas at 1500m. +350m, -640m, +300m, -500m (~13-14kms).
Day walk into the Troumouse Cirque, again using a lesser known balcony path via the Aguila Valley. This gives you a spectacular entrance into the Cirque through a natural gateway. We collect you in the afternoon. Return to Luz for the night. Ascent/descent 700m (~9kms).
Catch the bus out of Luz to Lourdes. Connect with your transport there.