Adventure of the Week: Lakes and Mountains of Andorra
Small is beautiful. While the vast beauty of the US or everchanging landscapes of Spain are great reasons to visit and discover, there is something to be said for visiting somewhere that is just pure, concentrated lovliness. A tiny dot on the border of France and Spain, Andorra is actually only the sixth smallest nation in Europe (can you name the five smaller?) A nation of mountainous beauty, we uncover the Lakes and Mountains of Andorra.
In a Nutshell:
Where: Fighting for attention amongst all the classic hut-to-hut hikes in the Alps, we present a trip along the Coronallacs Trail or Crown of Lakes as it is more commonly known. This is a circular route, starting and finishing in the lovely town of Andorra La Vella, the capital of Andorra.
Distance: This is a 96km trek comprising of five stages, so you are averaging around 24km per day. Andorra la Vella is already pretty high up, but to get onto this route, you have to get a little higher, so while the days are pretty long, there is a reasonable amount of up-and-down involved too.
Grade: The combination of height gain and long days means that this trip is graded as a moderate to strenuous. The ascent/descent is considerable, ranging between 400m and 1,645m each day and the tour involves long days of walking, usually between 6-9 hours a day depending on your pace. To get the most from this tour you should be in good physical shape and be an experienced, sure-footed walker. The terrain is alpine in nature, and paths are a mixture of woodland trails, rocky mountain paths, gravel tracks, boulder strewn-paths and faint, narrow grassy trails. There are cables, ropes and chains to aid ascent/descent in one or two places.
Why Walk Here?
Now, I feel that so far, I have done more to put you off than to entice you into this trip, but as with all things, the more you put in, the more you get out. While tough, there is not one step of this trip that is not achingly beautiful. The scenery is pristine, untouched and you will have it almost to yourself. Such is the privilege of walking one of the best-kept secrets of Alpine hiking in Europe.
This route is genuinely amazing. Hiking along ridges with sheer beauty on each side of you, passing through immense valleys and through alpine meadows bursting with flowers. You will pick your way through impressive boulder fields and lunch on the brim of wide sweeping vistas. Keep your eyes peeled for Golden Eagles as they soar over meadows, looking for marmots.
With there being few hikers on this route, during the day it feels like you have this wilderness all to yourself, but at night, you get to share your days adventure with fellow hikers who are experiencing the same daily wonder as you. The route is punctuated by four staffed mountain huts where you will stay each night. These modern, clean, mountain huts have all the amenities for a restful and comfortable nights enjoyment. The food is of a great standard and the communal atmosphere in these huts is hard to beat. The staff are amazing too and are happy to share hints and tips about the surrounding flora and fauna.
As well as the actual route, you get to spend a bit of time in Andora la Vella, a well-known ski resort in the winter, but in the summer, only those in the know come to stay. The highest capital city in Europe, Andorra la Vella is full of things to do from its numerous scenic viewpoints, to its unique gastronomy and tax-free shopping.
You will finish your hike just outside Andorra la Vella in the tiny spa-town of Escaldes where you can take advantage of Andorra’s natural hot springs in the impressive ‘Caldea’; Andorra’s tallest building and also the largest Spa in Europe!
Planning and Preparation
Hiking the Lakes and Mountains of Andorra means finding this little jewel in the Pyrenees, which sounds difficult, but is actually incredibly easy.
Fly into Barcelona Airport or Toulouse Airport from where you can take a shared shuttle transfer to Andorra La Vella (both approx. 3 hours) Simply retrace your steps to get back to either airport.
If you have any questions about the route, don't hesitate to contact one of our Destination Specialists, who will be more than happy to help.