In our search for two of the iconic birds of the Pyrenees - Wallcreeper and Black Woodpecker - we learned that a very good site for both was the Val de Echo, centered on the town of Hecho, north of Jaca in Aragon. By entering "Hecho" in our hotel search we found the Hotel Uson, which was close by the Wallcreeper site (Gabardito refuge) and the Black Woodpecker site (Selva de Oza). Moreover, the hotel is surrounded by impressive mountain peaks and is less than a kilometer away from the scenic Boca del Infierno gorge.
The hotel itself is built in the traditional rock and wood style, and, in spite of being over twenty years old, looks brand new (as do many of the buildings in Aragon; it may have something to do with the rock). The well maintained rooms are ample in size and the beds are comfortable, which is not always true in Spain. The small balconies are good for looking out, but not for sitting. There is an open porch as well as a sun porch, but sadly they offer no view of the mountains at the time of the year we were there (mid-June) because of the leaves; we had to sit in chairs on the lawn to appreciate the fine views.
The hotel offers a couple of self-catering apartments, which would have been good for us in order get a real early start, as breakfast is not served until the usual time (in Spain) of 8 A.M. So we skipped breakfast on two of the mornings to get to the birds, and we were successful thanks to the explicit instructions of our hosts, Lucia and Manuel Carrera. We had to wait several hours for the Wallcreeper to come out of the Gabardito nest crevice for an incubation break, but the woodpecker was actively working an area just one kilometer north of the old campground just past the Boca del Infierno. The Boca also has Wallcreepers apparently, but walk - don't drive - in from the entrance to look for them. The road is very narrow, with limited area for two vehicles to pass.
An added benefit of this location was that we were easily able to drive over to the Roncal valley, via a cross-country route via Hecho, Anso and Zuriza. At the French border we saw several Lammergeiers and Ring Ouzel, two more birds of interest.
We had two dinners at the hotel and food was hearty and the portions ample, something that the numerous hikers staying at the hotel could well appreciate.
The hotel offers good value for money and was very convenient for our interests, but also appeals to hikers and, in the winter, cross-country skiers. We'd like to return and will contact them directly via their web site www.hoteluson.com to save them the onerous fees charged by the hotel booking web sites.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Mountain hotel in Natural Park, surrounded by forests and mountains, at 1000m altitude. Ideal to find tranquility, besides enjoying its flora, fauna, photography, hiking, clear skies, etc instead. It consists of 8 double rooms and 4 apartments. Service dinners and breakfasts. ... more less
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