Headwater - Heart of the Pyrenees, Self-Guided Walking

8 days
from
$2,679 AUD
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Trip code: 
W07PY
Activity:
Walking & Hiking
Min age:
12

With both moderate and challenging walking options on offer each day, this superb high level mountain hike takes in dramatic gorges, beautiful lakes and traditional mountain villages unchanged over the years.

This walking holiday is based in the Hautes-Pyrenees, an area of outstanding natural beauty and boasting some of the highest, most spectacular peaks in the Pyrenees. It's a majestic network of verdant green valleys, pretty flower-strewn meadows, pristine, pine-scented woodlands and traditional rural villages perched steep on the hillsides. 

Highlights

  • Different walking levels every day; superb walking giving breathtaking views
  • Majestic, glacial amphitheatre of the Cirque de Gavarnie, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Friendly hotels with excellent regional cuisine, 2 out of 3 with swimming pools
  • Dramatic gorges, beautiful lakes, lush green valleys and mountain villages
  • Unique flora and fauna: blue gentians, purple monkshood, bearded vultures

Key information

  • 7 Nights, hotel-to-hotel
  • 6 Days walking
  • Departs Saturdays from 01 Jun '19 to 21 Sep '19
  • All continental breakfasts and four evening meals
  • Route notes and maps provided 
  • Luggage transfers between hotels 
  • Choice of walking routes each day
  • Walking transfers
  • Countries visited: France

What's included

  • All breakfasts and four dinners
  • All accommodation 
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Route notes and maps provided 

What's not included

  • Visas and vaccinations
  • Travel insurance
  • Single supplements
Call for general departures:
1300 131 564
Call for tailormade trips:
1300 131 564
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

6

Days of Walking & Trekking
Terrain:

There are some sections where there is some exposure and a head for heights is required. Some of the high level walks may have snow in early/late season.

Day by day breakdown
Day 221.0km/14.0miles
Day 320.0km/12.5miles
Day 416.0km/10.0miles
Day 517.0km/11.0miles
Day 617.0km/11.0miles
Day 721.0km/14.0miles

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

Lesponne
to
Luz-St-Sauveur
  • Day 1

    Arrive at Lesponne

    Arrive at your hotel in the Lesponne Valley, just south of the delightful spa town of Bagneres-de-Bigorre. (Staying at Domaine de Ramonjuan)

    Meals included: Dinner
  • Day 2

    At Lesponne

    The easier walk today ascends gently through a beech forest to a bridge over the Magenta Waterfalls before dropping down into the main valley. You then descend to the quirky village of Campan which is decorated with life-sized puppets during the summer months. Return via picturesque Lesponne, maybe finding time to visit the delightful museum/cafe. The longer walk climbs the main valley to pretty Chirolet. From here a steady climb leads up to the Lac d'Ourrec (1667m), nestled on a plateau surrounded by high mountains and grazing animals. (Staying at Domaine de Ramonjuan)

    Optional shorter walk: 5hrs, distance 17km/11mi

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 3

    Lesponne to Argeles-Gazost

    After a scenic drive via Bagneres-de-Bigorre, it's a short ride up the funicular (payable locally) before the longer walk takes you to the summit of the Pic du Jer (948m) with a superb panorama over the famous town of Lourdes. The route continues high above the main river, the Gave de Pau, with views of the high mountains. The shorter walk starts in the charming village of St-Creac where a path climbs to picturesque Ouste. Here you join the longer walk, passing through a number of typically Pyrenean villages before descending to the attractive spa town of Argeles-Gazost. (Staying at Hotel Miramont)

    Optional shorter walk: 4hrs, distance 13km/8mi

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 4

    At Argeles-Gazost

    Today, the Level 2 option takes in an old shepherd's path, leading to the delightful village of St-Savin where there is a magnificent 12th century abbey church. After walking out to the viewpoint at the Chapelle Pietat it's downhill all the way back into the valley, returning via the Voie Verte, a cycleway that leads back to Argeles-Gazost. For a more challenging day, climb via a network of ancient paths and tracks to the summit of Mont de Gez (1097m) from where you can often see griffon vultures gliding overhead. It's then a gentle yet scenic descent back to Argeles-Gazost. (Staying at Hotel Miramont)

    Optional shorter walk: 3.5hrs, distance 11km/7mi

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 5

    Argeles-Gazost to Luz-St-Sauveur

    After a short taxi ride you set off, climbing the lower flank of the Pic du Soulom along the old mule trail - enjoy spectacular views over the snow-capped mountains and down to the cavernous gorge below. Alternatively, pick up the route in the forest above the small town of Soulom, wending your way through the tranquil villages of Viscos (852m) and Sazos (836m) before dropping down into the main valley and your hotel in Luz-St-Sauveur. (Staying at Hotel Le Montaigu)

    Optional shorter walk: 4.5hrs, distance 14km/9mi

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 6

    At Luz-St-Sauveur

    The easier Level 2 walk will take you through ancient villages of the area known as the Pays Toy: Vizos, Sassis and Sazos, where houses cluster around tiny Romanesque churches, and lavish floral window-boxes are proudly on display. You'll return via the impressive Pont Napoleon, financed by Napoleon III after his visit in 1859 with wife Empress Eugenie. The more challenging option allows you to explore the delightful Yse Valley. The area was historically important for hay-making which still continues today, at 1600 metres! (Staying at Hotel Le Montaigu)

    Optional shorter walk: 4.5hrs, distance 15km/9.5mi

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 7

    Cirque De Gavarnie

    Start with a short bus ride (30 mins, payable locally) to the pretty mountain resort of Gavarnie, the start of today's walk. You head up to the Plateau de Bellevue to get spectacular views across to the Cirque de Gavarnie, a magnificent 1,000m amphitheatre of black cliffs, stretching into the clouds. You may choose to explore the charming side valley of Pouey Aspe, before continuing right into the Cirque to the base of the Grande Cascade which tumbles down hundreds of metres. It's an easy walk back to the village before the bus ride back to Luz for your final dinner! (Staying at Hotel Le Montaigu)

    Optional shorter walk: 4hrs, distance 12km/7.5mi

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 8

    Leave Luz-St-Sauveur

Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Visas

Vaccinations

France

There are no specific health risks.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts and four evening meals are included.

One of the greatest pleasures of walking in the Pyrenees is the chance to sample a variety of French and Spanish food. Pyrenean cuisine is generally simple, delicious and very filling - preparing people for the strenuous mountain lifestyle they lead.

Cheeses - whether they are made from cow’s, goat’s or ewe’s milk or a mixture, the cheeses of the Midi-Pyrénées are all equally delicious. The most famous cheese of the area is known simply as Fromage des Pyrénées and is a mature, hard cheese. Other regional Pyrenean cheeses include Barousse, Bamalou, Rogallais, Tomme de chèvre de Loubières, Tourmalet, Galet de Bigorre, Bethmale, to name just a few!

The quality of Pyrenean wines varies greatly - try them all in order to discover one you like. From the table wines of Irrouleguy in the Basque country to the sweet apéritif wine produced in Banyuls on the Mediterranean coast, there should be something here to satisfy everybody.

Weather

The Pyrenees gets some rain throughout the summer, although mostly as night time and afternoon thunderstorms. On average, over a one-week stay you should expect 1 or 2 wet days - although you may be unlucky. Maximum temperatures can be up to 30 ºC, but this will vary with altitude.

Is this trip for you?

Activity level 3 - Moderate 

This is a self-guided tour, as such there will be no group or tour leader and you are free to complete the walks at your own pace. Please bear in mind that although this is a self-guided holiday, the atmosphere in the hotels tends to be quite social and they will sometimes place walkers together at breakfast and dinner. We have suggested that 8 yrs is the minimum age for this trip, but as it is self-guided and you will be leading your own family we will ultimately leave this decision up to you. 

This holiday has both grade 2 and grade 3 options each day. Walking boots are essential and walking poles are strongly recommended. There are some sections where there is some exposure and a head for heights is required. Some of the high level walks may have snow in early/late season.


Call for general departures:
1300 131 564
Call for tailormade trips:
1300 131 564
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Heart of the Pyrenees

Our family-run hotels offer a warm, individual welcome and traditional cuisine with distinctive flavours inspired by regional produce. Your first two nights are spent in the Lesponne Valley, at the foot of the Pic du Midi de Bigorre, before heading on to the delightful spa town of Argeles-Gazost. Finally, to Luz-St-Sauveur where spectacular sunsets at Jean-Paul and Marie-Paule's rural retreat provide the perfect backdrop to a relaxing aperitif on the terrace.

Call for general departures:
1300 131 564
Call for tailormade trips:
1300 131 564
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

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Dates & Prices