On the week of the 31 of July to the 05 of August Mountain Sessions guided a group for a french company called Natura. The trip is a full circumnavigation of the UNESCO World Heritage site that is Gavarnie Monte Perdido. Classed for it’s natural wonders as well as for it’s cultural heritage this area is my back yard, and it was my pleasure to guide this group through it.
Day 1: Barrosa
The way the first day of this particular trip is set up is not great. We transfer from Lourdes train station by minibus and make our way into Spain. To be fair how ever your going to get to Spain from Lourdes is going to be a few hours. We park up near the Barrosa Valley and take a short hike up into a geological tapestry. The different rocks formations and colours are a marvel to the eye. The return on the left bank of the valley impractical now. To over grown, the path is a real pain to progress through and takes some intense navigational skills. Pleased for the day to be done, we head off in the bus to the most beautiful little village of Bestue. This little hidden gem has a small auberge held by Enrique, who looks after us well.
Day 2: Escuian
A short winding drive through on tiny roads bring us to the abandoned village of Escuian which is hidden amongst the overgrown vegetation on top of a small canyon. We head down into the canyon through the cool Buxus woodland, cross a pool which will be perfect to refresh on the way back, up the other side of the canyon and to a mirador to admire perhaps the wildest part of the UNESCO site. After the days hike and of course the long refreshing bath in the pools at the base of the canyon we head to Nerin through the canyon of Anisclo. This has to be one of the most amazing roads of the Pyrenees. It snakes deep on the canyon floor in the cool shade of the cliffs. Below us is the clear deep blue water of the canon, above us the massive cliffs rising more than a thousand meters up. That night we stay at the Auberge de Nerin which I personally recommend.
Day 3: Nerin Mondoto
The Mondoto day is always a big one. Not so much for the length or difficulty as for the fact that there is no shade and the sun is always beating down. From the summit you can see right down int the canyon of Anisclo, the Mont Perdu and all the high summits of the Monte Perdido National Park. A true feast for the eyes as you sit in awe at the majesty of nature.
Day 4: Ordesa Faja de Racon
Another epic day after a night in the beautifully authentic village of Torla. We spend most of the day walking high up above the canyon floor with 800m below and 800m above. The canyon is truly massive. A good place for climbing as you might imagine. Far from the crowds the Faja is a real pleasure.
Day 5: Cirque de Troumousse
After a long transfer back to France via the Col de Pourtalet and the newly instated police presence we finally arrive at the Cirque de Troumouse, the largest in the Pyrenees. With almost 10km from one side to the other it’s easy to fell dwarfed and impossible nearly to capture the whole cirque on camera. The clouds begin to gather and we return to Gavarnie and the Gite de Gypaetes for the night.
Day 6: Cirque de Gavarnie
The trip has been building up to the last day and the Cirque de Gavarnie. Over a mile in depth and only a few hundred wide it takes on a Tolkenesque feel. The home to the tallest water fall in Europe we make our way to the foot of the cascade to appreciate the full extent of how extraordinary this site really is. It’s hard at the end of such a trip to fully digest everything that has been seen...
So after a week with a great group of people who were a little slow on their feet, we departed friends. It’s hard at the end of such a trip to fully digest everything that has been seen but hopefully the photo each individual has taken will spark the memory, even though they are far from doing the majesty of the natural wonders that make up this World Heritage site justice.