Walking in the Eastern Pyrenees
Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 October 2013 09:25
Situated on the border of Andorra, this part of the Eastern Pyrenees is one of France's best kept secrets. These relatively undiscovered mountains are home to wealth of flora and fauna and have been described as one of Europe's great wildernesses.
On this great new walking holiday, run in conjunction with Exodus travels (external website) we base ourselves in the small mountain resort of Ax les Thermes, nestling in the Ax Valley at 750m high. Our location gives us excellent access to the high mountains and their stunning views, plus a variety of beautiful valleys with traditional small French villages dotted throughout the countryside.
In Spring the wild flowers are practically an assault to the senses with a vibrant mix of colours. We have a number of species that are rarely seen in the UK, plus the area is known for its orchids. In autumn the mellow, rusty yellows and browns cover the hillsides in bands as the season progresses down the valley. Using private transport we are able to access areas with differing geology and varied altitudes, enhancing the wildlife environments that are available for us to explore.
Ax itself has been inhabited since Roman times, due to its thermal springs which still flow freely down the streets. It is now a popular base for summer and winter activity holidays enhancing its charm with lots of interesting shops, restaurants and lively bars. It also has the popular spa centre, Couloubret les Bains (external website), with its jacuzzi, steam rooms, saunas and relaxing pools.
Is this holiday for me?
The walks on this trip are varied, and to some extent we can tailor the needs each day to the wishes of the group and the prevailing conditions. The proximity to the larger peaks means that while the walking is not too demanding, we are always close to impressive views. Of course, if on any day you do not wish to go walking, you can relax at the hotel or explore the local area. During the week there will be one free day where no walk is provided but there will be some suggested optional activities.
A good level of fitness is required for this trip, with an average day's walking being the equivalent of a roundtrip to a Lake District summit. Depending on whether you choose the Grade B or Grade C departure (see below), you may be walking on defined paths with a max ascent at any one time of approx 300m, or walking on rockier paths, with some boulder fields and extended steeper sections.
Do contact us for more information if you are not sure which Grade would suit you best.
Grade B departures
The average height gain will be 4-700m, average distance 6-10kms and average hours walked will be 4 - 6.
Grade C departures
The average height gain will be 6 - 1000m, average distance 8-15kms and average hours walked will be 5 - 8.
2014 Dates and Prices
Sun 18 May - Sun 25 May Grade B - Moderate
Sun 15 June - Sun 22 June Grade B - Moderate
Sun 6 July - Sun 13 July Grade B - Moderate
Sun 3 August - Sun 10 August Grade C - Moderate
Sun 24 August to Sun 31 August Grade B - Moderate
Sun 21 Sept to Sun 28 Sept Grade B - Moderate
Sun 28 Sept to Sun 5th Oct Grade C - Moderate
Costs: £849 (on a twin share basis), starting at Toulouse Airport.
Single supplement: £180 [To be arranged on booking. This supplement only applies if you are booking alone and would like to guarantee your own room for the holiday. If you are happy to share with someone of the same gender then there is no need to pay this supplement.]
See the Exodus website for more details of price options as you can choose a cost inclusive of travel, or a land only option. Allow about £40 for drinks and the meals not included (outlined below). There are no other local payments or hidden costs.
If your currency isn't GBP £, then you may find the Caxton FX currency calculator useful.
6 days guided walks with a Qualified Mountain Leader. Airport Transfers (specified times only). Private vehicle transfers during the week. 7 nights in a 2 star Hotel. 6 evening meals, 7 breakfasts, 6 picnic lunches.