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Active in the Pyrenees
I travelled to Andorra earlier this year with my husband on the Active in the Pyrenees trip. I work in the Marketing department for The Adventure Company and this trip stood out as an ideal week away in the mountains enjoying some new and exciting activities – I couldn’t wait!
We arrived in Andorra late Sunday evening and joined the group for a nice roast dinner, the food all week was full and hearty, we certainly never went hungry! After getting to know the rest of the group over a few drinks we all decided to head to bed to get some rest ready for our first day.
Our first adventure saw us heading into the Incles Valley for a day of walking. Andy our group leader had to change around the itinerary due to unseasonably bad weather, so we started with the walk planned for the last day. We began with brilliant sunshine but before long the heavens opened. The walk is mainly along a single track, and you pass lots of wild flowers and even wild horses in places. It’s not a demanding walk, you can go at your own pace, and Andy provided us all with walking poles which really helped the knees. At lunch we stopped in a remote mountain refuge next to Cabana Sorda Lake –it’s a really beautiful spot and had the weather been nicer it would have been lovely relaxing by the lake and perhaps even braving a quick dip. For the rest of the day we were heading back down the valley, and luckily the rain held off until we were nearly home.
After a leisurely start to the day we were kitted out for our first day mountain biking. You get given a helmet and bike for the week, and it’s worth taking some cycling gloves – I didn’t take any and my hands were often cold, especially in places where we started high in the mountains. We jumped in the jeeps and headed off into the Ordino Valley, you head high into the mountains following the route that the Tour de France did when Andorra hosted part of the race a few years ago. After unloading the bikes and a quick briefing we were off, the route today is mostly downhill so you have plenty of time to get used to your bike and build up your cycling. At lunch we stopped by a river and enjoyed a brief bit of sunshine before enjoying an afternoon of biking. It’s a full day out on the bikes but the jeeps are with you all day so if you wanted to opt out at any point you can.
Wednesday was our free day and most of us opted to try zip-wiring. We’d all heard good reviews about it and it certainly lived up to expectations. It’s a fairly cheap activity, you only pay for the parts of the course that you use – so for wimps like me it was a bargain! The rest of the group were all much more adventurous and a few enjoyed the parallel wire challenge across the dam.
In the afternoon a few of us headed to the 5* spa in town – a real must if you’re looking for a bit of relaxation on holiday, and a few others went to try the Via Ferratta, which sounds like great fun.
The next day was probably our biggest adventure – biking in the morning and rafting in the afternoon. This was probably the day I was most apprehensive about, I’d never rafted before and was really unsure what to expect. The morning’s riding was great fun, long downhill stretches combined with exploring small remote villages and a few challenging uphill ascents (all optional). After a quick bite to eat for lunch we headed off for the rafting. After being kitted out with wetsuits, helmets and life jackets we were given a full safety briefing and instructions on how to raft – my heart was really thumping now! Once on the water the adrenaline really kicked in, the water was freezing and the rapids were pretty tough in places. The whole group all enjoyed the experience, and even though I’m not sure I’d do it again I was really pleased I’m managed to get through it – it’s why I booked the trip in the first place.
On Friday we enjoyed a gentle bike ride in the Cortals Valley and around the Engolasters Lake. It was a nice easy ride so we could really take in the beautiful scenery, particularly the views down to Andorra le Vella. Because the weather was looking decidedly dodgy again today Andy decided to have the BBQ lunch back at the hotel – this turned out to be a very wise decision as it started to rain as soon as we’d sat down to eat.
For our last day we headed up to Pic Mia and the Siscaro Lake area for a day of walking. This was probably by favourite day. It was absolutely freezing and the weather was really bad but the walk is nicely challenging, so you finish with a real sense of achievement. You start the walk from the highest road pass in Europe and make a short 100m climb to the summit of Pic Mia. From here you enjoy a ridge walk before descending down to the Siscaro Lakes where you stop for lunch. Luckily the sun made a rare appearance at this point so we were able to enjoy the stunning setting before finishing our descent into Soldeu.
All in all a great trip, we enjoyed some fun activities and it was an experience to be in the Pyrenees. The weather wasn’t the best but it didn’t really stop us enjoying all that we were doing – and at the end of the week we really felt like we’d done a lot! The hotel we use is warm, friendly and the food is great – it’s an ideal trip for anyone looking for a short active week away.
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