Andorra Family - Active Pyrenees Trip Notes

Andorra Family - Active Pyrenees

Last Modified: 28 Jul 2014
Andorra Family - Active Pyrenees
Trip code: AAFP
Validity: 01 Jan 2014 to 31 Dec 2014
Our Intrepid Family Adventures are designed specifically for the spirited family. We understand that travelling with kids sometimes requires a slightly different perspective. Keeping this in mind, we travel at a slower speed - recognising that showing your family around our exotic destinations can take time. By travelling at a relaxed pace, while still offering plenty of optional activities along the way, we're providing your family with the ultimate travel experience together.
Accommodation is chosen carefully to ensure your family gets the best of both worlds, with some of the creature comforts of home as well as experiencing accommodation unique to the region you are travelling through. Wherever possible you will stay in hotels with small comforts to make your stay more enjoyable - such as restaurants nearby, or accommodation with a pool. On some trips you may even find your family being rocked to sleep on an overnight sleeper train or drifting off while camped out under a canopy of stars - and we reckon it'll be these experiences the kids will love and remember the most.
Best of all, we find trips with children are so successful because kids have such a special ability to break down barriers with their natural curiosity, and because delighted locals always greet them with much affection. For all these reasons and more, you'll discover that Intrepid Family Adventures are an amazing experience for all.
Challenge the family to a series of adrenaline-fuelled activities on this centre-based trip. From Soldeu, head out around Andorra and into Spain trying fun new experiences along the way. Get the pulse racing on hiking and cycling adventures, then spend a wet and wild afternoon white-water rafting. Decide whether to spend the free day giving those muscles a rest or taking advantage of the location to explore the mountain scenery and local hamlets on horseback or go fishing in the local lakes. An inspiring week enjoying Andorra’s adventure playground as a family.
Table of Contents
StyleIncluded activitiesArrival complications
ThemesTippingEmergency contact
MapImportant notesVisas
ItineraryGroup sizeIssues on your trip
Also available to purchaseAccommodationWhat to take
Culture shock rating MealsSafety
Physical ratingTransportThe Intrepid Foundation
  • 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.
Andorra Family - Active Pyrenees
Day 1 Soldeu
Welcome to Andorra!
Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on Day 1.
Situated on the southern slopes of the Pyrenees, squashed between France and Spain, the principality of Andorra measures a mere 25km by 30km, and has an average elevation of 1,996 metres. Andorra’s independence can be traced back to Charlemagne, who captured the region from the Muslims in 803 AD. 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.
Once arrived at our base for the week, you have time to explore or relax until the evening to meet the rest of the group.
Hotel Roc de Sant Miquel (1 nt)
Day 2 Siscaro Reserve
This morning we will take our first excursion out into the impressive mountains of this tiny country. The drive to Port Envalira takes approximately 30 minutes and at 2,408 metres is boasted as being the highest road pass in Europe, helping to connect El Pas de la Casa to the rest of the country. Starting at 2,500m you have a short 100m climb to the summit of Pic Maia. At this height there are spectacular views across the Andorran mountains.
From here the rest of the day is a ridge walk. Being mostly flat or downhill, this is a great introduction to the Pyrenees, and a chance to stretch our legs and acclimatize to the altitude. The scenery is stunning and the walk will hopefully give us 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. On the way we will pass the Siscaro Lakes. From here the descent is more rapid and the path brings us out right opposite the hotel. We will arrive back at the hotel between 3pm and 4pm giving us a chance to either relax in the sun, take the bikes out for a ride, or visit one of the neighbouring hotel’s spa centres.
Included Activities
  • Walk in the Pyrenees
  • Siscaro Lakes Walk
Hotel Roc de Sant Miquel (1 nt)
Day 3 Cortals Valley
Today’s full day of activities take place in the stunningly beautiful Cortals Valley, about a 30 minute drive away. Half-way up the valley we jump on the bikes for a ride along a flat track to the Engolasters Lake giving us the opportunity to enjoy the scenery. Around the lake there are plenty of fun tracks to be taken and we normally have the choice between an easy flat track and a more exciting path through the woods. For those slightly less energetic there is also a lakeside bar. Retracing our route you return to the vehicles. We have the option to ride the demanding 3km tarmac road ascent to the barbeque area – a climb that follows part of the Tour of Spain route. However, the vehicles are available for anyone not fancying this. For lunch we will stop in a Pyrenean meadow and there is time to enjoy a picnic, which you will have had time to buy before we set off.
After lunch we mount our bikes once more for the last part of the day’s cycling as you head for the top of the valley. From here we cross a rope-suspended bridge and take an off-road descent followed by an on-road exhilarating switch-back descent to Encamp – a total descent of over 800m. For anyone not wishing to cycle the routes they can be done on foot and there is a possibility of taking the longest gondola (ski lift) ride in Europe. At the end of the day you return by vehicle to Soldeu.
Included Activities
  • Bike ride
  • Cortals Valley
Hotel Roc de Sant Miquel (1 nt)
Day 4 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 go horse riding, or visit the thermal baths of La Caldea. Take to the trees for tree-top zip-lining or go canyoning. If you have a head for heights you can try your hand at Via Ferrata climbing. There are of course plenty more opportunities for walking and mountain biking or could simply choose to relax enjoy the sunshine or go duty free shopping.
Optional Activities
  • Fishing - EUR10
  • Horse riding - Free
  • Thermal baths - Free
Hotel Roc de Sant Miquel (1 nt)
Day 5 White-water rafting
There has been a long tradition of trade in Andorra due to its unique location between France and Spain. However the most profits have always been available to those willing to smuggle contraband goods. The mountainous nature of Andorra and the border meant that the smugglers had numerous routes they could take. The Spanish Civil War gave the smugglers the chance to make large profits as French goods were taken into Spain where they were not readily available.
As the war drew to a close and the market seemed to be drying up, the Second World War started and the trade reversed as Spanish goods were now needed in France. Heading off road in your 4WD vehicle gives you the chance to get away from the developed valleys and see some of the little visited and interesting places in and around Andorra. We drive out of Andorra to the Port de Cabus on the Spanish border; where the tarmac ends so does Andorra. En route there are some spectacular views along valleys to distant peaks, the odd shallow stream to go through and the chance to stop in a typical mountain hamlet. The end of the smuggler’s route finds you at the put-in point for your exhilarating white water rafting (minimum age 8 years to participate and 8-12 year olds will only be able to raft on grade I & II). Here we kit up with paddles, helmets, buoyancy aids, wetsuits and of course join our rafts and guides.
Included Activities
  • The Old Smugglers Route
  • White water rafting
Hotel Roc de Sant Miquel (1 nt)
Day 6 The Iron route
Setting off in the vehicles and with the bikes, we head off to the Ordino Valley, one of the most picturesque in Andorra. Starting at the top end of the valley at 2000m you get fitted with a bike and helmet and then follow with a guide 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 us 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, no 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 beixalls at 1800m where we are back on the bikes for a thrilling 8km 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 4x4. From Encamp it is just a short 15 min drive back to the hotel arriving between 5pm and 6pm.
Included Activities
  • Introduction to Mountain Biking Day Trip
  • Bike ride
Hotel Roc de Sant Miquel (1 nt)
Days 7-8 Incles Valley
A short drive takes us into the Incles Valley, where we start today’s walk, beginning along the forested mountain slopes. This part of the walk is along a single track through the woods where there are many examples of pine forest plants, lots of beautiful flowers, rhododendrons in June, wild fruit midsummer and wild mushrooms in September. Arriving on a plateau just above the tree line at 2000m, the gradient lessens as we reach the beautiful Querol and Salamander Lakes.
It is common to see groups of thickset mountain horses grazing on these high slopes. The horses are allowed to roam free and normally have large bells strapped around their necks to allow the owners to find them. Contouring along the valley you come to the Cabana Sorda Lake sitting below an impressive semi-circular amphitheatre of rock - an ideal spot to stop for lunch. From the lake, eager walkers can continue the hike up to the peak at around 2600m giving you an amazing bird’s eye view of the valley. For the people staying at the lake there is the chance to have a swim, a refreshing dip in a waterfall, although the water temperature may be too cold for this activity, or watch the fishermen - there are plenty of mountain trout. After lunch you’ll descend off the grassy higher slopes through thick woodland to the top of the valley where you can either take transport back to the hotel or, for those with more energy, you can continue back on foot.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart our accommodation at any time. Please check the 'Finishing Point Hotel' section for checkout times and luggage storage possibilities.
Included Activities
  • Incles Valley Walk
  • Walk in the Pyrenees
Hotel Roc de Sant Miquel (1 nt)
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.
  • AAFP - Active Pyrenees - Single supplement (AAFP)
  • AAFP - Pyrenees Family Holiday- Single supplement (AAFP)
    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

    Some easy physical activities included in your trip. No physical preparation is required to make the most of the journey.
    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.
    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 €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 €2-€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 €1-€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 €2-€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 €5-€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.
    Important notes
    Age restrictions apply to this trip: minimum age 5. Please note that anyone aged under 18 must be accompanied by (and share accommodation with) a parent or legal guardian.
    This trip is operated by our experienced local partner, The Adventure Company.
    Group size
    Maximum of 22 travellers per group.
    Hotel Roc de Sant Miquel (7 nts)
    7 Breakfasts, 6 Dinners
    Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less.
    EUR 150.00
    Arrival complications
    We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your trip as scheduled, please refer to the Joining Instructions section above for who to contact.
    If you have pre-booked an airport transfer (where available) and have not made contact with our representative within 30 minutes of clearing customs and immigration, we recommend that you make your own way to the starting point hotel, again following the Joining Instructions in these trip notes. Should this occur, please apply to your travel agent for a refund of the transfer cost on your return.
    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.
    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 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.
    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
    Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. We recommend at least a 1.5litre capacity. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments.
    Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!
    Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.
    We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
    Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your group leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.
    For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:
    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: