Self Guided Walking Holidays & Cycling Holidays


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Self guided walking holiday Foothills of the Spanish Pyrenees
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Highlights

  • Rewarding walking in the La Garrotxa foothills of the Spanish Pyrenees
  • Explore the rocky crags, gorges and tiny mountain hamlets of 'Alta Garrotxa'
  • Walk amongst dormant volcanoes cloaked in woodland in the 'Zona Volcanica'
  • Visit the medieval villages of Santa Pau, Castellfolit de la Roca and Besalu
  • Sample the delights of 'cuina volcanica', the unique cuisine of La Garrotxa

Discover the unspoilt foothills of the Spanish Pyrenees in the beautiful La Garrotxa region. Explore two distinct areas, the Zona Volcanica, filled with medieval villages and volcanic landscapes cloaked in woodland, and the Alta Garroxta with its rocky crags, gorges and tiny mountain hamlets.

Begin in the picture postcard village of Santa Pau, with its medieval architecture , castle and narrow alleyways dating back to the 13th century. Take a walk to the summit of Finestres for panoramic views over the ‘Zona Volcanica’. Continue to the capital of the region, Olot, walking past several of the dormant volcanoes in the area.

Head into the ‘Alta Garrotxa’, where the landscape changes to become more dramatic featuring rocky cliffs and gorges. Enjoy a stop at Castellfolit de la Roca village, perched upon a clifftop before continuing on foot through the Alta Garrotxa. Finish by walking into the historic town of Besalu across the impressive 11th century Pont Forticat bridge.

Day 1: Arrive Santa Pau

Fly into Girona Airport, and make your way to Santa Pau by bus (approx 1h 45m).


Centred around its medieval castle, Santa Pau is a picturesque little village in the heart of the La Garrotxa volcanic region. Enjoy a stroll around its main square, narrow alleyways and the beautiful Romanesque church of Santa Maria.


In the evening enjoy a delicious meal sampling some of the ‘cuina volcanica’ this area is known for. The rich fertile soil produces some of the finest produce including the famous Santa Pau beans, truffles, endives and chestnuts to go along with mouth-watering pork or wild boar.


Dinner & Overnight: Santa Pau


Day 2: Loop walk from Santa Pau

Enjoy a walk from Santa Pau up to the summit of Finestres, for some of the finest views of La Garrotxa. Walking through leafy beechwoods and holm-oak forests, you ascend to the Santa Maria de Finestres, a small sanctuary with panoramic views across the mountains.


This is the perfect spot for a picnic lunch before returning to Santa Pau for a second night in this atmospheric Catalan village.


Walk: 12.7km, 480m Ascent/Descent, 3-4 hours.


Dinner & Overnight: Santa Pau


Day 3: Walk to Olot

Head through the heart of the “Zona Volcanica” region of La Garrotxa today, passing several of the regions dormant volcanoes which now lie cloaked in thick woodland. This fascinating area is home to over 40 ancient volcanoes and  lava flows and makes for a fascinating walk. Climb to the top of Santa Margarida volcano for views over the crater and the chapel built right in the centre of it.


Continue along the flanks of Volcano Croscat before entering the Fageda d’en Jorda, a beech forest growing on the ancient lava flow from the Croscat volcano. Pass fields with grazing cattle and peaceful farmsteads before arriving in Olot, capital of  La Garrotxa.


Walk: 17km, 337m ascent/383m descent,  4-5 hours


Overnight: Olot


Day 4: Bus to Castellfolit de la Roca, Loop walk from Oix

No tour of La Garrotxa is complete without visiting the fascinating village of Castellfolit de la Roca, which sits balanced on the edge of a basalt cliff. A short bus ride from Olot will take you to Castellfolit where you can enjoy a wander along its narrow streets and perhaps enjoying a a picnic lunch and some of the tasty Garrotxa sheep’s cheese before continuing by a short transfer to the tiny hamlet of Oix.


From Oix, follow quiet rural paths and walk towards the steep cliff faces, mountains & valleys to eventually reach Mare de Déu d'Escales. Return by an easy going farm track.


Return to Oix and overnight in this remote hamlet surrounded by mountain views in a 16th century farmhouse now converted into a cosy rural hostal.


Walk: 11.6km, 313m ascent/304m descent, 3-4 hours.


Dinner & Overnight: Oix


Day 5: Walk to Sales de Llierca

Leave Oix on the GR1 Sendero Historico route, and ascend to the forested mountain tops surrounded by panoramic views of the limestone cliffs. Descend through oak forest to the Puente de Llierca, a Romanesque bridge dating back to the 11th century before reaching the village of Tortella and finally Sales de Llierca, where your home for the night is a beautiful 18th century stone manor house hotel.


Walk: 17.5km, 347m ascent/488m descent, 5 hours.


Dinner & Overnight: Sales de Llierca (or Tortella)


Day 6: Walk to Mare de Déu del Mont

From Sales de Llierca you have a long, tough climb ahead through rural farmland and forest to Serra del Mont - at it's steepest just before you reach the summit. At 1123m this is the highest point reached on the Foothills of the Pyrenees walk. The effort in getting here however will be more than repaid by the magnificent views from the summit. From the snow-capped high Pyrenees range across the entire Garrotxa region and to the coast at the Bay of Roses you can enjoy some truly stunning vistas from the summit.


Walk: 12.5km, 965m ascent/130m descent, 6-7 hours.


Dinner & Overnight: Mare de Déu del Mont Sanctuary


Day 7: Walk to Besalu

The upper section of the decent is steep, but fortunately you will find the climb down much more forgiving with sections following the road up the mountain. Continue to the small rural communtiy of Beuda - a peaceful village with a lovely main square set next to the church. Head towards Besalu, passing the Santa Maria de Palera and Sant Sepulchre de Palera churches. Besalu is a charming and fantastically well-preserved medieval town, complete with an impressive 11th century fortified bridge over the River Fluvia.


You should arrive in Besalu to have plenty of time in the afternoon to wander around the cobbled streets lined with artisan craft shops, admire the impressive architecture or simply sit back, relax and soak up the atmosphere of the bustling main square, the Placa de la Libertat.


Walk: 16.8km, 110m ascent/1065m descent, 4 hours.


Overnight: Besalu


Day 8: Onward Travel

Check out after breakfast and make your way to Girona for onward flight connections. If you have the time, we highly recommend adding on a couple of extra nights in this vibrant city, home to some of Catalonia’s finest cuisine.

Accommodation

6 nights accommodation in 2 and 3* hotels and 1 night in a rural hotel in a private room are included in your trip.

The accommodation we normally use is detailed below. We may sometimes have to use alternative hotels subject to availability but if this is the case we will always let you know when confirming your booking.


Single Rooms & Solo Walkers

This trip is available to solo walkers although there is a supplement applicable and we recommend that you are an experienced walker comfortable with navigation if you are wishing to walk solo. Single rooms are also available and  a single room supplement is payable.


Meals

7 breakfasts and 5 evening meals are included. Lunches and evening meals on the other days are not included. You can pick up lunch at restaurants on your way or enjoy alfresco picnic lunches. Your route notes have details for each day. Evening meals will either be available at your hotel or a selection of nearby local restaurants, many of which specialise in the famous Cuisina Volcanica.



 

 

 




Cal Sastre Hotel - Santa Pau

The Cal Sastre hotel is steeped in history, being run by the same family since the beginning of the 20th century. With individually decorated beautiful rooms and a restaurant serving the finest La Garrotxa cuisine, your stay here is sure to be a memorable one.


 

 

 


 

 

 




Hotel Can Blanc - Olot

A traditional Catalan farmhouse built in the 19th century, Hotel Can Blanc is set in peaceful surroundings on the outskirts of Olot in the La Font Moixina park area. It features a large terrace, swimming pool and simple but very comfortable rooms. Enjoy dinner at the nearby La Deu restaurant, who specialise in the famous Cuisina Volcanica.


 

 

 


 

 

 



Hostal Rovira - Oix



Hostal de la Rovira - Oix

The Hostal de la Rovira is a 16th century farmhouse which has been converted into a cosy rural hotel. Whilst named a hostal, the facilities here are more similar to a simple hotel and you will enjoy relaxing in this tiny hamlet surrounded by mountain views in a private room with ensuite facilities.


 

 

 


 

 

 




Can Serola - Sales de Llierca

Can Serola is a beautiful boutique hotel in fantastic surroundings with an outdoor swimming pool in which to relax after a days walking.


 

 

 


 

 

 




Santuari de la Mare de Deu del Mont - Mare de deu del Mont

In the most wonderful location at the top of El Mont, the Sanctuary of Mare de Deu del Mont offers a cosy place to rest after a days walking. Rooms are very simple but comfortable and all have a full bathroom.


 

 

 


 

 

 




Casa Marcial - Besalu

Located just 100m from the iconic bridge, Casa Marcial is a modern boutique hotel housed within an old 19th century building with a neoclassical façade. Enjoy relaxing in their interior garden and swimming pool with fantastic views of the surrounding countryside.


 

 

 

Availability

You can start your walk anytime between the beginning of April and end of October, subject to availability.


Please note that this tour is only available for departures from June 2019.


Time of Year

The climate of La Garrotxa can be described as mountain Mediterranean with plenty of sunshine but cooler summers than on the coast. In springtime the meadows and woodland in the Zona Volcanica region will be filled with flowers. Whereas in the autumn months of September and October, you can expect to see a wonderful profusion of golden brown and yellow colours.


Single Rooms & Solo Walkers

This trip is available to solo walkers although there is a supplement applicable and we recommend that you are experienced walker comfortable with navigation. Single rooms are also available and  a single room supplement is payable.


Grade & Terrain

This walking tour is graded Moderate overall. Walks are between 3-7 hours with an ascent of between 110 and 965m each day. Some of the terrain is quite rocky and there are a few steep drop-offs.


Day 6 is a more moderate-strenuous grading with a steep ascent involved


Paths can also become slippy in poor weather going over tree roots and mossy stones.


Navigation, Route Notes & Maps

The routes on this trip are generally way-marked but we will also provide detailed route notes and maps. You will also have access to the Macs Adventure Smartphone App enabling you to follow the route using your phone’s GPS so using this combined with the provided route notes and maps means you should have no problems finding your way.


Baggage Transfer

Your bags will be transferred from your accommodation as per your itinerary and moved onto your next overnight stay. We ask you to limit your luggage to one bag of up to 20kg per person.


Travel Insurance

It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the activity and emergency evacuation and hospital care.


Accommodation Location

We will always try and accommodate you at the locations detailed in your itinerary. Occasionally, because of limited availability, there is the option to be accommodated at an alternative location. In the unlikely event that we have to accommodate you elsewhere we will advise you of this before confirming your booking.


General Information

The distances and ascent/descents are approximations of the recommended routes. Please be prepared by packing all necessary items, for example, proper rain gear (jacket and pants), sun hat, sunscreen. Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes for the cooler months and lightweight clothing for summer, and a day pack.

Getting to Santa Pau

By Air: Girona is the closest airport to Santa Pau. From here take a shuttle bus to the centre of Girona, and then you can catch a bus to Santa Pau, via Olot (approx 1h45m in total).We can also arrange private transfers from the airport to Santa Pau. Please select this option when making your booking.


Getting from Besalu:

The closest airport to Besalu is again Girona. Take a bus to the centre of Girona (50min) and then a shuttle bus out to the airport (30min).



It is also possible to fly out of Barcelona Airport. To do this take the bus to Girona (50min), followed by the train to Barcelona Airport via Barcelona Sants Station (approx 1h in total). 

Included

  • 6 Nights in 2 and 3* hotels
  • 1 Night in a rural hotel
  • 7 Breakfasts
  • 5 Dinners
  • Baggage transfers as per itinerary
  • Transfers as per itinerary
  • Detailed route notes, maps and pre-departure information pack
  • GPX tracks and access to our smartphone app
  • 24/7 emergency telephone support

Excluded

  • Travel insurance (required)
  • Travel to Santa Pau and from Besalu
  • Bus to Castellfolit de la Roca on Day 4
  • Lunches, dinners on Days 3&7, snacks and drinks
  • Personal equipment

Extras

  • Additional nights before, during or after the tour
  • Single room supplement if required
  • Solo walker supplement if applicable

How far in advance do I need to book?

We suggest you book as soon as your plans are finalised as the accommodations we use have limited rooms and therefore fill up quickly. However, we will always try our very best to accommodate your plans.

How fit do I need to be?

This walking tour is graded Easy-Moderate. Walks are between 3-6 hours with an ascent of between 110 and 475m each day. Some of the terrain is quite rocky but in general the paths are fairly well-trodden and easy.

What equipment do I need?

Your detailed information pack will be sent to you after you book. This has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, waterproof clothes and a day pack.

Mixed Bag

3

This trip has a lot of potential. The area is beautiful and it is not busy with tourists. Some of the highlights are amazing (i.e. the Mare de Deu Del Mont), but long sections are just a walk. Some accommodation was amazing, while others were just adequate. Some walking sections aren't described accurately in the trip notes. For instance, the afternoon walk from Oix is described as flat and easy when it is neither! It's a great walk, but needs to be described accurately as challenging and up. Most problematic is the need to use public transportation to get to and from the trailhead and between villages on the walk. The bus schedules are confusing and inaccurate, and these bus trips waste time. This is a new trip for Macs, which I think could do with some fine-tuning.

Juviall

Whistler

false

Friendly small villages, rocky trails, beautiful landscapes!

5

The tour offers lovely hikes in the foothills of the Pyrenees. Note that the trails are rocky, and the Macs Adventure application kept us on track (or got us back on track) several times. These are not easy trails for older knees, but very rewarding. We saw few people on our walks, enjoyed lots of wildflowers in early June, found welcoming lodging, savored forest and mountain views, walked through villages, and saw many surprisingly remote churches. Highlights included our two days in Santa Pau; the amazing grounds and 5-course meal at Can Serola in Sales de Llierca (take an extra day here if you want to get refreshed by lovely grounds and common spaces - we wish we had done so); the gracious hospitality of a small restaurant in Beuda, providing a snack to tired travelers after closing; and views from Mare de Deu del Mont. We highly recommended the trip - with the caveat that the hiking trails are steep and rocky.

Joann J

CA

true

Foothills of the Spanish Pyrenees

4.0 2

50.0

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