Last Modified: 30 Sep 2014
Family Winter Activity Week
Trip code: AAFW
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.
Wrap up warm and spend an action-packed week in Andorra’s mountain wilderness. Inspire children to try new ways of crossing the glittering snowscape, such as dog-sledding and snowshoeing. Enjoy a series of fun yet challenging activities and get to work together as a family team to build an igloo. With plenty of time set aside to relax or explore, families will discover that there’s a lot more to winter holidays than skiing on this exciting European break.
Table of Contents
- 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.
Day 1 Soldeu - Arrival
Situated high on the south side of the Pyrenees, squashed in between France and Spain, the Principality of Andorra measures a mere 25 kilometres by 30 kilometres (that’s half the size of New York City!). The country’s independence can be traced right back to Charlemagne, who captured the region from the Muslims in 803 AD and gave it to the people. Although it gained independence from France and Spain in 1278, it was only in 1993 that the Andorran people voted to establish the country as a parliamentary democracy. Interestingly, the country had two princes as its joint heads of state – one being the President of France, the other being the Bishop of Urgell, although all parliamentary power lies with the Prime minister. The national language is Catalan, but French and Spanish - and increasingly, English - are widely spoken. Andorra is blessed with some of the finest scenery in the Pyrenees and is a great place for an active week in the mountains.
Our base for the week is the small town of Soldeu (1800m) which is located in the centre of this tiny, land-locked country.
Hotel Roc de Sant Miquel (1 nt)
Day 2 Soldeu - Snowshoeing/sledging
Today we head for the scenic Incles Valley - two minutes from the hotel - where our Group Leader will give a quick lesson on how to put on snowshoes. We then have time to get used to this new way of walking. It really isn’t difficult at all and, although we might feel a little ungainly at first, we’ll soon discover that we can climb even a fairly steep slope with ease. With snowshoes we can go almost anywhere - which means we can get to places that skiers cannot. We set off along a trail through the forest, marvelling at the peace and beauty of the snowy landscape. The group’s ability will dictate how far we go and we can take provisions for a picnic in the forest.
Hotel Roc de Sant Miquel (1 nt)
Day 3 Soldeu - Cross country skiing
The forest of La Rabassa near the Spanish border is a chance to see a different area of Andorra, and is ideal for exploring and absorbing the stunning snow-clad landscape on cross-country skis. Longer, thinner and lighter than downhill skis, cross-country skis are designed more for practicality than speed. Only the toe of our boot is attached to a cross-country ski (unlike a downhill ski where the whole boot is rigidly attached), which makes for a very different style of skiing. Having the ability to flex the heel allows us to climb as well as descend, which means you can cross a greater variety of terrain. The pace is relaxed - and we’ll start on an easy circuit to get used to this new mode of transport.
Hotel Roc de Sant Miquel (1 nt)
Day 4 Soldeu - Igloo building
After breakfast we transfer to El Tarter ski station (1700m), a ten minute drive away, to learn an interesting new skill - how to build an igloo! All that’s required is a good supply of firm snow, a spade and a team of willing volunteers. Igloo building is great fun and kids will be thrilled to see how simple it is to make an icy shelter. Knowing how to create our own shelter in the mountains is a vital component of mountain survival.
In the afternoon, you have free time to choose what winter activity you would like to do (all at an additional charge). You could undergo a dramatic change of pace as you getting to grips with snowmobiling. Driver and a pillion passenger sit on a motorbike-style seat, but - for safety - smaller children may be towed behind on a sled You must be 17 years old to drive a snowmobile.
Alternatively, we could choose to perfect our snowhoeing skills, head back to the slopes to go skiing or snowboarding, go ice skating or take advantage of Andorra's tax free shopping!
We will also have an opportunity to learn the technique used to locate and rescue avalanche victims (ARVA). Using a receiver we locate the signal from a transponder that anyone venturing into avalanche territory would normally wear. Having located the source of the signal, we then search the snow using poles to locate the victim. It’s a bit like a sophisticated game of hide-and-seek, but it’s a fun way of learning a skill that could one day be a life-saver!
Hotel Roc de Sant Miquel (1 nt)
Day 5 Soldeu - Free day for optionals
Today we can choose from the many activities on offer in Andorra. We may wish to head back to the slopes for more downhill skiing (in which case we’ll need to purchase a lift pass), or simply relax. We could take a bus into the capital, Andorra La Vella for some retails therapy. Andorra has no taxes and is thus the ultimate place to go tax-free shopping. Most towns have a variety of shops, but Andorra La Vella has by far the best selection.
Hotel Roc de Sant Miquel (1 nt)
Day 6 Soldeu - Dog sledding
Today we will learn how to harness a team of dogs at the kennel and discover how a dog sled is handled. The dogs always get really excited as soon as they see the sleds coming out, and it’s often a struggle to hold them back, so the sleds have a snow anchor just for that purpose. Each sled can carry two people plus a driver (or musher) - pulled by a team of 4-6 huskies or 8 Alaskans. It takes a while to get everything ready but eventually we will set off on a forest trail. We will feel the dogs tugging hard at their harnesses before they break into a smooth rhythm. All you can hear are the runners of the sled fizzing over the frozen snow and the odd bark or yelp from the dogs. Just hold on tight and enjoy the passing scenery for around an hour! It is normally possible for children from about 8 years old to drive their own sled.
To minimise the amount of time waiting around the group will normally be divided for this activity and whilst not sledding we can hit the slopes for some more skiing (additional charge). If you are an experienced skier, you can ski on the intermediate slopes but will have to pay a supplement locally.
Hotel Roc de Sant Miquel (1 nt)
Day 7 Soldeu - At leisure
Today you can choose from the many activities on offer in Andorra.
In Escaldes-Engordagny we can visit Caldea thermal baths. The facilities are impressive - on three levels under a huge glass dome, there are indoor and outdoor swimming pools, saunas, hot-tubs, jacuzzi, Turkish baths and even a grapefruit bath! A soak in the warm, mineral-laden thermal baths will help to ease away any aches and pains. Although not cheap, a general entry ticket allows us to pamper ourselves for up to three hours. We can opt for one of the many additional treatments that include various styles of massage and hydrotherapy (at extra cost). The complex also has shops, restaurants, and a children’s centre. In Encamp we may like to visit the National Automobile Museum which houses an impressive collection of cars and bicycles – one of the largest in Europe. We could also take a ride in the state-of-the-art Funicamp gondola, which runs from Encamp up to the station at Collada d’Enradort (2506m) from where you could ski down to Grau Roig (for experienced skiers only). If you’re keen to try out a more active pursuit, you could go ice-skating in the Palau de Gel (ice stadium) in Canillo, or relax and watch some curling or ice-hockey.
Hotel Roc de Sant Miquel (1 nt)
Day 8 Soldeu - Trip ends
There are no activities planned for today and your Pyrenees Activity trip finishes after a final breakfast.
Hotel Roc de Sant Miquel (1 nt)
Expect some culture shock. You'll be exposed to signs of poverty and access to services may be sporadic. The food will be quite different to home and English speakers harder to find. Respecting the local culture will make it easier to fit in and really experience the location.
These trips are a relaxing break. You don't have to worry about doing anything physically demanding unless you want to.
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.
What's not included
Any airfare unless otherwise specified in the itinerary
Passport and visa expenses
Government arrival and departure taxes.
Any meals ashore with the exception of breakfast at the host hotel before embarkation and lunch on specified Fly and Cruise programs.
Baggage, cancellation and medical travel insurance.
Excess baggage charges.
Laundry, bar, beverage and other personal charges unless specified
The voluntary gratuity at the end of the voyage for shipboard staff and crew
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.
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.
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.
All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
Age restrictions apply to this trip: minimum age 5.
This trip is operated by our experienced local partner, The Adventure Company.
Maximum of 16 travellers per group.
Hotel Roc de Sant Miquel (8 nts)
GENERAL ROOMING CONFIGURATIONS:
Family of two - All family groupings of two will be put into a twin room.
Family of three - Wherever possible we will put you in a triple room. Please be aware that in some places triple rooms are in short supply. This means that, in practice, a triple room will often simply be a twin room with a mattress on the floor or a further bed squashed in. Where it is impossible to provide a triple room, you will have to decide which of your party takes the single room.
Family of four or more - You will most likely stay in two twin rooms. If and wherever possible we will aim put you in a quadruple room. Whilst we will do our very best to ensure that families are roomed close together (in some cases, we can arrange adjoining rooms), we can’t guarantee this. Most family holidays occur during peak season and we sometimes have little to no control over where you will be put. You need to come prepared for this.
While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.
7 Breakfasts, 7 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.
Hotel Roc de Sant Miquel
Hotel Roc de Sant Miquel
Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
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).
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.
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.
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.
In addition to any included activities on your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. Our local representative may be able to assist you with 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 our local representative 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:
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:
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:
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: