Encantats Hut to Hut Trek
A bit of snowy magic to brighten your winter
Trek through this enchanting landscape over snowy passes from lake to lake and refuge to refuge.
To Spain we go!
You will be ‘enchanted’ by the magical beauty of these mountains and lakes in the Spanish Pyrenees, and a hut-to-hut snowshoe trek is the ultimate winter experience.
The Val d’Aran is an anomaly: On the northern side of the Pyrenees, is the source of the Garonne River which runs north into France and through Toulouse and Bordeaux, but it is Spanish territory. The history of this mountainous enclave is complex. An Occitan dialect is the main language (Aranais) with Catalan, Spanish and French also spoken. In the middle ages the valley’s people voluntarily decided to rest with the Catalan-Aragonais crown rather than with the French, despite the stronger cultural (and geographic) links with France. Until 1948 when the Vielha tunnel was constructed the valley was cut off from Spain throughout winter.
The Encantats as an area is known as a granite outcrop in the largely limestone Pyrenees. Dotted with lakes it is a magical place in summer or winter with its unique vegetation and multitude of granite peaks.
Full board Gite/Refuge accommodation : 1350€pp*
This price includes :
Seven nights in refuge/gite accommodation, all dinners, packed lunches & breakfasts, transfers to and from Montrejeau train station along with all equipment needed for snow-shoeing (avalanche detectors included).
We first did this trek in 2012 and had an enthusiastic testimonial and description of the trip – thanks John…
“Where’s the best place to be in Winter? Why, in the Encantats National Park, where the scenery of snow-decked mountains is even more magnificent than it is in the Summer. Happily the mountain refuges open for a short period in the very peak of the Winter season so that it is possible to make a tour around them, either on skis or on snowshoes.
So it was that seven of us set out at the end of February for a short snowshoe trek through this amazing area. The was a potential setback before we started – one of the key refuges had suffered a bust water pipe and was out of action – but a quickly devised alternative itinerary which necessarily made a couple of the days a bit longer than the normal trek, but we took them steadily so it was no hardship. The snow was in first rate condition as we made our way over cols and across frozen lakes, sometimes following the tracks of an earlier traveller, but just as often forging a new trail through the virgin snow. Sometimes we saw another party, more often we didn’t. The weather was perfect. The welcome in the refuges was warm. Really it is difficult to imagine a more perfect holiday.”
Day One: Collection from Montrejeau railway station. Night train options exist via Toulouse so if the group is coordinated then it is possible to spend the first day enjoying the Val d'Arun, relaxing over a tapas lunch and acclimatising. We sleep overnight in the valley, check our gear and discuss the plans for the week.
Day Two: We head straight up to the first refuge, Restanca, arriving for lunch. We leave our packs and set off for an afternoon excursion, perhaps up to the Lago del Mar if conditions allow, or elsewhere if not.
Day Three: We leave the Restanca in a south-easterly direction heading towards the Col de Crestada and down amongst numerous frozen lakes to Ventosa i Calvell, our refuge for the night.
Day Five: From the Colomers refuge we climb up to the Port de Ratera, taking in the summit of the same name if conditions allow. From here, we drop down to the refuge, Amitges. A hot shower is an option here!
Day Six: We leave Amitges, heading off for Saboredo, the smallest and often favourite refuge of the trip, tucked under magnificent and mysterious granite summits. From here we may press on to Colomeres.
Day Seven: A final pass, back via the north side of the Colomers Cirque and we descend the beautiful GR11 back to our vehicle. Gite or hotel in Vielha/Arties with a stop at the Pyrenean museum in Sarladu.
Day Eight: We drive you back to Montrejeau to connect with your train there. Again, night trains are possible so it is possible to organise spending the day in the thermal baths in Luchon, or visiting the extraordinary medieval village of St Bertrand de Comminges.