Active in the Pyrenees Trip Notes

Walk, ride and raft in the outdoor paradise that is the Pyrenees. Visit Andorra, bike through the Iron Route, whitewater raft around Sort and hike in the Incles Valley.

    • 8
    • AAXS
    • Trip Price tool tip
      USD $860
      CAD $875
      AUD $895
      EUR €630
      GBP £545
      NZD $1,075
      ZAR R8,255
      CHF FR780
    • Extras tool tip
      EUR €10 Fishing
    • Total price tool tip
      USD $860
      CAD $875
      AUD $895
      EUR €630
      GBP £545
      NZD $1,075
      ZAR R8,255
      CHF FR780
      *
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    • Original
Book
Print Version
Last Modified: 27 Mar 2014
Active in the Pyrenees
Trip code: AAXS
Validity: 01 Jan 2014 to 31 Dec 2014
Prepare for some thrilling adventures during this action-packed week in the Pyrenees. Nestled between France and Spain, Andorra’s beautiful surrounding landscape provides thrillseekers with a setting for some serious adrenalin-fuelled fun. Hike up mountains, cycle through valleys, whitewater raft, zip-line over lakes and more in this small yet stunning European adventure land.
Table of Contents
StyleSpending moneyEmergency contact
ThemesTippingVisas
MapImportant notesIssues on your trip
ItineraryGroup sizeWhat to take
Also available to purchaseYour fellow travellersHealth
We also recommendAccommodationTravel insurance
Itinerary disclaimerMealsResponsible Travel
Culture shock rating TransportA couple of rules
Physical ratingGroup leaderThe Intrepid Foundation
Physical preparationJoining point Feedback
Included activitiesArrival complications
Money ExchangeFinish point
Style
Original
  • Original trips are classic Intrepid adventures. With a mix of included activities and free time, they offer plenty of opportunities to explore at your own pace and take part in activities that really get beneath the skin of a destination. While the occasional meal may be included, you'll have the freedom to seek out your own culinary adventures. Accommodation is generally budget or tourist class (2-3 star), but you're as likely to find yourself as a guest of a local family as staying in a hotel or camping. Transport will vary as well. Depending on the destination and the itinerary you could find yourself travelling on anything from a camel to a train or a private safari vehicle. It's all part of the adventure! Original travellers have a desire to make the most of their travel time and really get to know a place, its people and cultures.
Themes
The Great Outdoors
Map
Active in the Pyrenees
Itinerary
Day 1 Soldeu, Andorra
Your trip starts in Toulouse, where you transfer to your first night’s accommodation (approximately three/four hours), journeying south by chartered bus to Soldeu in Andorra.
This complimentary group transfer departs from Toulouse airport by 12midday on day 1. Please discuss with us at the time of booking whether you wish to take this complimentary transfer or make your own way to the accommodation in Soldeu, Andorra.
Situated on the southern slopes of the Pyrenees, squashed between France and Spain, the principality of Andorra measures a mere 25km by 30km. Andorra’s independence can be traced back to Charlemagne, who captured the region from the Muslims in 803 AD but it was only in 1993 that the Andorran people voted to establish the country as an independent and democratic state. Although small, Andorra is blessed with some of the finest scenery in the Pyrenees and is a great place for an active week in the mountains.
Accommodation
Chalet (1 nt)
Day 2 Siscaro National Park
This morning you will take your first excursion out into the impressive mountains of this tiny country. The drive to Grau Roig takes approximately 10 minutes and is the base of the stunning Circ de Pessons, which is a where the original glacier started to cut the valleys of Andorra leaving behind plateaus of 13 small lakes and boulder fields. Starting at 2000m you have a 200m climb to the main Pessons lake, so called as it is an area of Andorra where mountain trout occur naturally. At this height there are spectacular views across the Andorran mountains. From here the rest of the day is a gradual descent. Being mostly flat or descending, this is a great introduction to the Pyrenees, and a chance to stretch your legs and acclimatise to the altitude. The scenery is stunning and the walk will hopefully give you the chance to see some of Andorra’s flora and fauna. It is always worth keeping an eye out for the griffon vultures which are often seen circling high overhead. From here on you will be crossing the Soldeu ski fields giving an opportunity to appreciate the steepness of a world cup black run. From here the descent is more rapid and the path brings you out in the heart of Soldeu. You will arrive back at the hotel between 3pm and 4pm giving you a chance to either relax in the sun, explore the village, or visit one of the neighbouring hotel’s spa centre.
Included Activities
  • Siscaro Lakes Walk
Accommodation
Chalet (1 nt)
Day 3 Soldeu - The Iron Route
After being issued with a helmet and a mountain bike, your guides will offer guidance and advice to help you to increase your confidence on the bike, followed by the opportunity to begin to develop your bike riding ‘off-road’ skills, at the hotel. After a 40 minute vehicle transfer to the Ordino Valley, one of the most picturesque valleys in Andorra, you begin your mountain biking decent at El Serrat, which is the start of the old iron route of Andorra. Iron was Andorra’s first industry which brought the first real settlements to the area. Easy going off road tracks take you along the valley past the old iron mines, mills and forges, finishing in the village of Ordino. The tracks are mostly wide 4x4 dirt surfaces, no cars take these routes, and though the ground might be a bit rough in places, only basic technical mountain biking skills are needed, just a good knowledge of normal bike riding. After a rest and refreshment in the village you are back in the vehicles and up to the Col de Beixalis at 1800m where you are back on the bikes for a thrilling 7km off road descent into Encamp. Throughout the day there will be full vehicle support, so that if people prefer not to bike it is possible to walk and/or ride in the transport. From Encamp it is just a short 15 minute drive back to the hotel arriving between 4pm and 5pm.
Included Activities
  • Introduction to Mountain Biking Day Trip
Accommodation
Chalet (1 nt)
Day 4 Soldeu - Free Day
Today has been left free for you to choose from the many activities that are on offer in Andorra. You may decide to visit the thermal baths of La Caldea. If you have a head for heights you can try your hand at Via Ferrata climbing or canyoning. There are of course plenty more opportunities for walking and mountain biking or you could simply choose to relax, enjoy the sunshine or go duty free shopping.
Accommodation
Chalet (1 nt)
Day 5 Soldeu - Rafting & Mountain Biking
Crossing the Andorran border into Spain we find a very different scenery with a much more Mediterranean feel. Climbing up to just below 2000m on a mountain pass of the Port de Canto the bikes are disembarked for you to enjoy a 20km road descent into the village of Sort . En route there are some spectacular views along valleys to distant peaks. Your support vehicles follow, giving any assistance necessary; those not wishing to cycle can make the journey in the vehicle. The end of the cycling decent finds you at the white water rafting centre with changing rooms and facilities. Once kitted up with paddles, helmets, buoyancy aids, wetsuits and of course your rafts and guides you enjoy an exhilarating 14 km white water rafting experience. The rivers around Sort provide excellent rafting opportunities with differing grades of rapids (up to class III), this river is rated in the top five in the world for safety and enjoyment. The rivers wind through impressive scenery of forest-covered banks and the adrenalin gets pumping as you blast your way through the white water (an ability to swim is essential). After drying off there is some time to relax at the centre where there is a bar an lovely outdoor pool free for use before returning by vehicle to Andorra and Soldeu.
Included Activities
  • Bike ride
  • White water rafting
Accommodation
Chalet (1 nt)
Day 6 Porte de Puymorens - Biking & Zip Wiring
Today’s full day of activities takes place in the stunningly beautiful Porte de Puymorens Valley, about a 30 minute drive away into France. Arriving at the picturesque Porte lake you will see a wires at different angles crossing the lake and dam. Here instructions are given and then you take off on the blue runs which are steady going and low to the ground once you have the hang of it, it is then onto the red runs which cross the lake at speed and with a bit more height. For those who have a good head for heights they can choose to go onto the black runs and even try the bungie jump style swing (these are optional at an extra cost). After a morning of pure adrenalin there is a chance to relax by the lake enjoying your picnic lunch. In the Afternoon you are onto the bikes to cycle gently round the lake and then onto off road downhill single tracks through the trees. At the end of the day you return by vehicle to Soldeu.
Included Activities
  • Zip wiring
  • Cycling
Accommodation
Chalet (1 nt)
Day 7 Soldeu
A short walk takes you into the Incles Valley, where you start today’s mountain hike. Initially you’ll walk up along the forested mountain slopes. This part of the walk is along a single track climbing through the woods where there are many examples of pine forest plants, lots of beautiful flowers and rhododendrons in June, wild fruit mid summer and wild mushrooms in September. It is common to see groups of thickset mountain horses grazing on these high slopes. As the horses are allowed to roam free they normally have large bells strapped around their necks to allow the owners to find them.Continuing to climb you come to the Cabana Sorda Lake sitting below an impressive semi-circular amphitheatre of rock at 2300m; an ideal spot to stop for lunch. From the lake eager walkers may be given the option to continue the hike up to the peak at around 2600m giving you an amazing bird’s eye view of the valley. After lunch you’ll descend off the grassy higher slopes through thick woodland to the top of the valley where you will continue back on foot.
Included Activities
  • Incles Valley Walk
Accommodation
Chalet (1 nt)
Day 8 Soldeu
This trip ends after breakfast and you can depart at any time.
If you wish to take our complimentary group transfer to Toulouse Airport please advise us at the time of booking. It will be an early morning transfer, arriving at Toulouse Airport at approximately 9am.
Also available to purchase
For many of our trips we have other services or experiences that are also available to purchase to extend your trip or to make your holiday a little easier. Below is a list of other travel products you can purchase in conjunction with this trip.
  • AAXS Single Supplement (AAXS)
We also recommend
If this trip is not quite right for you, cast your eye over these alternatives:
  • Walking in the French & Swiss Alps (AHXA)
  • North Spain Discovery (ZMSN)
Itinerary disclaimer
Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. For the latest updated Trip Notes please visit our website: www.intrepidtravel.com
Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route.
Culture shock rating

This is the least confronting of Intrepid's product range. English is the native language and the food, customs and access to services will be similar to home.
Physical rating

Be prepared for some serious physical activity. The majority of activities included on this trip will be challenging. The fitter you are, the more you'll enjoy your holiday.
Physical preparation
We recommend that you undertake regular aerobic exercise in the weeks before you travel, particularly if you are not in the habit of regular exercise. Walking, jogging, swimming or riding a bike are all good ways to increase your aerobic fitness, which will allow you to enjoy the trip to its fullest.
Included activities
Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.
Money Exchange
The Euro (EUR) is the official currency in the following destinations: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain. All other European countries still have their own national currencies.
The most convenient and cheapest way to acquire money is via an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) or Bancomat as they are often referred to. Check with your bank in advance concerning the suitability of your account / card overseas and any international fees that will be applied.
You can obtain local currencies easily at airports and major train stations, but be sure to bring some extra emergency cash in a major currency that can be exchanged if the ATMs are not functioning.
When leaving home don't forget your PIN and make sure you know the telephone number for cancelling your card if it is stolen. Keep this in a safe place.
Credit cards are not always accepted in stores and restaurants. While travelling we recommend you carry some cash to pay for restaurant bills and other services. Change can be difficult to obtain so throughout the day, try to gain as many small denominations as you can.
You might be advised to take some of your money as travellers' cheques from a major financial institute. Travellers' cheques have security advantages, however please be aware that the exchange rates may not be favourable and that it is difficult to change Travellers' cheques in most countries. Be particularly aware that after hours money exchanges and hotel receptions carry high commissions- sometimes up to 20%.
For money safety we recommend that you carry your cash and credit cards in a secure money belt or pouch concealed under your clothes.
Spending money
Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
Tipping
If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations.
The following amounts are per person suggestions based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:
Restaurants: Local markets and basic restaurants - round your bill up to the nearest US$1. More up-market restaurants we suggest 10% to 15% of your bill.
Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your tour leader. We suggest US$2-US$3 per day for local guides.
Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group, however we suggest US$1-US$2 per day for drivers.
Your Tour Leader: You may also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline US$2-US$4 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
In total, we recommend you budget approx US$5-US$10 per day of your trip to cover tipping.
Over the years we have found that many of our travellers find the need for tipping to be both tiresome and embarrassing, especially if they don't have the correct small change. To overcome this, we have established a tipping kitty system. At your group meeting, your tour leader may discuss the idea of running a group tipping kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your tour leader pays the tips while keeping a running record of all monies spent (except restaurant tips). The record can be checked at any time and any money remaining at the end of the tour returned to group members.
Please don't tip with coins, very small denomination notes, or dirty and ripped notes. This is regarded culturally as an insult
Important notes
ADVENTURE LEVEL
The trip is graded as active and requires no previous experience although an ability to cycle is essential for the mountain biking. Days of mountain biking, walking and rafting can be a rigorous test of stamina, but with full vehicle support we believe anyone in good health should be capable of participating. The difficulty of the walks and rides will depend on the ability of the group and will be adjusted accordingly.
TOP TIPS
Most people buy packed lunches; you might find a sealable plastic box useful for storing it in your daypack. Although not essential, gloves for cycling make it more comfortable - especially if you grip hard.
Language - Most people in Andorra speak Catalan, Spanish and French so it's a great place to try out your language skills. But don't worry if you can't remember your fromage from your queso or your chapeaux from your sombreros as
English is also widely spoken.
Group size
Maximum of 16 travellers per group.
Your fellow travellers
As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part.
Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. However you can download Intrepid's FREE Meet Up app to chat with your fellow travellers before your trip. Meet up, discuss your upcoming trip and share the excitement of planning for your adventure. For more information visit: www.intrepidtravel.com/meetup
Accommodation
Chalet (7 nts)
Meals
7 Breakfasts, 6 Dinners
Budget for meals not included:
EUR 50.00
Transport
Private Bus
Group leader
All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.
Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.
Joining point
Hotel Roc de Sant Miquel
Carretera General
Soldeu
851 079
ANDORRA
Arrival complications
EUROPE:
We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your group trip as scheduled, please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your group leader.
If you have pre-booked an airport transfer (where available) please follow the instructions on your voucher in order to find our driver. Should you have any problems locating your driver, please call the number for our transfer company on the voucher in the first instance. Should you continue to experience any difficulties, please call the emergency number for our local operations team which is available on the 'Emergency Contact' section of these trip notes.
No refund is available on missed transfers or portions of your trip owing to a different flight arrival or delayed flight arrival. Any additional cost incurred in order to meet up with your group is at your own expense.
Finish point
Hotel Roc de Sant Miquel
Carretera General
Soldeu
851 079
ANDORRA
Emergency contact
In the case of genuine crisis or emergency please call our partner High Trax on their 24 hour emergency number
Tel: 00376 851079
For further contact details please use the following page:
Visas
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
EUROPEAN COUNTRIES ON THIS TRIP (EXCLUDING RUSSIA, UKRAINE, TURKEY):
Australia: No - Not required
Belgium: No - Not required
Canada: No - Not required
Germany: No - Not required
Ireland: No - Not required
Netherlands: No - Not required
New Zealand: No - Not required
South Africa: Yes - in advance
Switzerland: No - Not required
UK: No - Not required
USA: No - Not required
Issues on your trip
While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
What to take
What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb.
Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.
You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.
Health
All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
Travel insurance
Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
When travelling on a group trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
Please go to our website for links to various travel insurance providers:
Responsible Travel
We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller:
A couple of rules
Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our local representative has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
The Intrepid Foundation
Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.
The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$5,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your group leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
Feedback
After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.
Remember that once you’ve left your feedback you’ll automatically be entered into our monthly draw for a US$500 (or equivalent in your local currency) travel voucher.