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Advice required for Pyrenees trip from Barcelona

New York City, New...
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Advice required for Pyrenees trip from Barcelona

Hi everyone,

My wife and I are visiting Barcelona towards the end of August (our first time there). We are spending a few days in the city and are thinking about renting a car and making a side trip to the Catalonian Pyrenees. I would love to have some suggestions about where we should plan to make our base for 2-3 days in order to have the best experience? We are both avid hikers, although we are planning to restrict ourselves to day hikes (6 hours or less) on this trip. From reading the forums, it seems as though the National Park near Lake Sant Maurici would be a great place...but I am not sure which town would be a good base to explore this from?

The options I came across include Espot, Llavorsi and Vielha - are any of these towns better than the others? If we are looking for slightly comfortable/upscale lodging (e.g. Riberies at Llavorsi), would any of these places offer better variety?

Thanks very much for your help.

Barcelona
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1. Re: Advice required for Pyrenees trip from Barcelona

Hello there,

The National Park is actually named "Aigües Tortes i Estany de Sant Maurici" (translates as 'crooked waters' and St Maurici lake). As this suggests the park has 2 different parts. To get to Aigües Tortes (a flat area with many creeks) it's better to do it from Vall de Boí (on the other hand, a valley well worth a visit because of the Romanesque churches). Some villages in the area are Durro, Barruera, Boí... Sant Maurici is on the other side of the Park (the East side) the best access is from Espot.

Of course the Park doesn't allow cars, and actually you are required to park quite away from the nice area. There is a 4x4 taxi service either from Espot and from Boí depending on which side you choose as a base. You arrange the pickup time in the afternoon so they come back for you.

I strongly suggest you to do that, as from where the taxi will leave you you will have plenty of wonderful hikes.

For upscale lodging in Vall de Boí check Hotel Manantial (4*) which is also a spa. It's very very close to the National Park.

caldesdeboi.com/html/…hotel-manantial

Here's a video (audio in Catalan, but you'll get the idea) of the Sant Maurici area: www.tv3.cat/videos/1305639/Sant-Maurici

I think this book may help you find some nice hikes:

stanfords.co.uk/stock/…

One more thing, I've been to some National Parks in the US and please don't expect anything that HUGE (as Yosemite for instance ;-) )

London, England
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2. Re: Advice required for Pyrenees trip from Barcelona

The national park of Ordesa and Monte Perdido is a walkers classic- about 325km from Barcelona. Stay in Torla, where there are a selection of hotels and restaurants,. Its a few years since we went, but although then you could drive into the park, and stop near the info centre & cafe, I think they were planning to ban cars and run a shuttle bus from Torla. And the walking is superb, with choices from either a tough climb up a near vertical zig-zag wood for over 1500m leading to a high traverse, or a lovely gentle valley get-in to (if you stuck at it long enough) the high valleys and ultimately, the border skyline with France

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3. Re: Advice required for Pyrenees trip from Barcelona

Yes, Ordesa and Monte Perdido is a bigger park and also stunning. It's a longer trip from Barcelona and you should allow 3 or 4 days there as hikes need longer time. There are several valleys to explore: Ordesa, Añisclo, Pineta...

You could also climb the Monte Perdido (3355m), it's not a very demanding climbing.

Barcelona
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4. Re: Advice required for Pyrenees trip from Barcelona

If you have few days I would recommend "La Vall de Nuria". It is nearer Barcelona (just 120km) and also very beautiful.

The best option to search for accommodation is Ribes de Freser, because this town is situated in the center of the more important routes. Moreover, there is a lovely train, climbing up the montains from there!

New York City, New...
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5. Re: Advice required for Pyrenees trip from Barcelona

Thank you for all your responses. Since we only have a couple of days (and are also driving on to France from there), we have left Ordesa y Monte Perdido for our next visit and are planning to concentrate on the Val d'Aran region this time...

Is Baqueira beret a good base? A few of the hotels there seem really nice and it seems to be about an hours drive from Espot.

thanks.

Barcelona, Spain
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6. Re: Advice required for Pyrenees trip from Barcelona

if you want to explore aigües-tortes/sant maurici, and you have only a couple of days, staying in vall de bohi is a better option than vall d'aran.

johannesburg,southaf...
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7. Re: Advice required for Pyrenees trip from Barcelona

Hi there Pocabroma and Gatamaula,

You people are not only Barcelona experts, but after reading this particular query, I see that you are also most knowledgeable regarding the Catalon Pyrenees.

After leaving Barcelona in September, we will be heading for the Pyrenees - we will be taking the road from Sort to Llavorisi/La Guingueta/Valencia d'Aneu/Port de la Bonaigua/Baqueira/Salardu and stopping in Arties for a few days.

My question is regarding the trip itself and the road conditions going through the above route- we have heard on TA that there could be some hairy moments as a result of the road's narrowness, possibly somewhat dangerous/etc.

We are reasonably good drivers and not prone to vertigo but at the same time don't want to tempt fate if we have chosen a route that is hair-raising.

Should we be concerned and, if so, which are the most difficult spots?

We of course can go a different though longer and less interesting way!

Thanks in advance for your assistance. Best regards.

Barcelona, Spain
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8. Re: Advice required for Pyrenees trip from Barcelona

sorry i can't help you on these, the last time i drove around the area you're planing to visit was a few years ago. i honestly i don't remember any specially 'hairy' or dangerous part of the roads...

i will not hesitate driving around any area of the pyrenees, roads are usually well maintained and in september there will not be snow or ice. but i guess it depends on what kind of roads are you used to. a few years ago i had to drive a very narrow and windy mountain road (not in the pyrenees), usually with snow/ice, twice a day for month... so it's difficult to impress me now!!

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9. Re: Advice required for Pyrenees trip from Barcelona

Hello travelworld23,

There are quite a few narrow roads in the Pyrenees but the route you will be following is a main one.

The part with the most curves in your route is the road to the Bonaigua pass. This is a mountain pass at 2070m and the road to get there is very windy although not especifically narrow. That road gets closed every winter because of the snow. It was the main -and only- way to go to the Val d'Aran from Catalonia until the Vielha tunnel opened in the 1940s, so yes, every year the Val d'Aran was isolated (although not from France) all winter long.

johannesburg,southaf...
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10. Re: Advice required for Pyrenees trip from Barcelona

Hi there Gatamaula and Pocabroma,

I really appreciate both of you responding - I feel alot more comfortable about maintaining our travel plan routing after reading your reports. I must say we have travelled in the countryside on our way to Olite where the road was not steep but literally only wide enough for one car - we were just fortunate enough not to come upon a car driving toward us.

Will report back after our trip to let others know about this very beautiful part of the country.

Best regards.