Winter Pyrenees Family Holiday Trip Notes

Winter Pyrenees Family Holiday

Last Modified: 07 Feb 2015
Winter Pyrenees Family Holiday
Trip code: AAFW
Validity: 01 Jan 2015 to 31 Dec 2015
Welcome to your Family Holiday trip notes. These provide the detailed day to day itinerary information for your holiday.
The trip notes are ‘Land Only’ which means they provide detail from the arrival/start point in your destination.
Please talk to one of our Sales Consultants if you have any queries regarding the flights for your holiday. These can be booked through us. Intrepid has joined forces with the family adventure holiday experts … The Family Adventure Company to deliver the ultimate family holiday. With over 20 years of experience in delighting family customers, the Family Adventure Company is the perfect partner to Intrepid Travel.
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
StyleDeparture taxEmergency funds
ThemesImportant notesVisas
MapGroup sizeIssues on your trip
ItinerarySingle travellersWhat to take
Also available to purchaseAccommodationSafety
Culture shock rating MealsTravel insurance
Physical ratingTransportResponsible Travel
Included activitiesGroup leaderThe Intrepid Foundation
Optional activitiesJoining point Carbon offset
Money ExchangeArrival complicationsFeedback
Spending moneyFinish point
TippingEmergency contact
A wall of snow covered peaks; the legendary Pyrenees forges a rocky divide between France and Spain. Nursing charming towns, thrilling ski slopes and some of the world's best hikes, the Pyrenees is a sanctuary for adventurers and onlookers alike.
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
Family
Map

Itinerary
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.
Accommodation
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.
Accommodation
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.
Accommodation
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!
Accommodation
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.
Accommodation
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.
Accommodation
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.
Accommodation
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.
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.
  • AAFW - Winter Pyrenees Family Holiday- Single supplement (AAFW)
    Culture shock rating

    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.
    Physical rating

    These trips are a relaxing break. You don't have to worry about doing anything physically demanding unless you want to.
    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.
    Optional activities
    A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are approximate and are for entrance only and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability and it may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination.
    Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. This means that it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, however we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with booking these activities. The decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.
    Money Exchange
    The Euro (EUR) is the official currency in the following destinations: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, 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 €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.
    Departure tax
    All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
    Important notes
    AGE RESTRICTIONS:
    Age restrictions apply to this trip: minimum age 5.
    Group size
    Maximum of 16 travellers per group.
    Single travellers
    A single supplement is available on this trip, please refer to your booking agent for further information.
    Accommodation
    Hotel Roc de Sant Miquel (7 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.
    Meals
    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.
    EUR 150.00
    Transport
    Group leader
    Family Trips
    All Intrepid Family trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to assist your family take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for fun things to do and see- for both kids and parents, recommend great local eating venues that will even get the kids trying new things, 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 countries visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects.
    Our leaders are not babysitters on this trip - we leave that to you (the experts), but they will make sure that group members of all ages are able to explore their destination safely and with as much fun as possible. Our group leaders are not responsible for looking after children at any time and children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian at all times throughout this itinerary.
    Joining point
    Hotel Roc de Sant Miquel
    Carretera General
    Soldeu
    851 079
    ANDORRA
    Phone: +376 346 791
    Arrival complications
    Andorra:
    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 the complimentary group transfer which departs from Toulouse airport, you will need to be at the airport and ready to depart at 10:45am. The tour leader will be waiting in the arrivals hall D holding an Intrepid Logo.
    Should you miss the complimentary group transfer, 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.
    Should you have any problems locating your driver, please contact High Trax (our local operator) on 00376 851079
    Finish point
    Hotel Roc de Sant Miquel
    Carretera General
    Soldeu
    851 079
    ANDORRA
    Phone: +376 346 791
    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:
    Emergency funds
    Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$500, 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.
    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.
    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, although you won't be required to walk long distances with it (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.
    WATER BOTTLE:
    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.
    Safety
    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
    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 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:
    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 leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
    Carbon offset
    Carbon Offset C02-e 138.00 kgs per pax.
    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.