Winter Pyrenees Family Holiday Trip Notes

Winter Pyrenees Family Holiday

Last Modified: 20 May 2016
Winter Pyrenees Family Holiday
Trip code: AAFW
Validity: 01 Jan 2016 to 31 Dec 2016
Wrap up warm and spend an action-packed week in Andorra’s stunning mountain wilderness. Inspire children to try new ways of crossing the glittering snowscape, such as dogsledding and snowshoeing. Enjoy a series of fun yet challenging family activities, like working together to build your very own 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
StyleImportant notesSafety
ThemesGroup sizeEmergency contact
Is this trip right for you?Your fellow travellersVisas
Why we love itAccommodationWhat to take
MapAccommodation NotesTravel insurance
ItineraryMealsResponsible Travel
Itinerary disclaimerMoney mattersThe Intrepid Foundation
Physical ratingGroup leaderFeedback
Is this trip right for you?
- Please be aware that Andorra can be a little tricky to get to. The transfer from Toulouse airport can take between 2-3 hours.
- The accommodation on this trip is not the grandest, but it is a small, locally run clean hotel with fantastic hospitality.
- The food served is simple, warming and filling, and packed lunches can be made by the hotel.
- This is an active trip that’s suitable for those with a mixture of abilities and fitness levels. You will be split into two or three groups depending on ability, to ensure the most fun is had by all.
- Be sure to pack winter weather gear, and some spares too – drying everyone’s wet clothes can be difficult at the hotel.
Why we love it
- Explore the snowy peaks of the Pyrenees by snowshoe, sledge and ski – the beautiful scenery and fresh mountain air will make you feel really alive!
- Discover the attractive village vibe of Soldeu, and stay in accommodation with fabulous hosts whose Andorran hospitality will make you feel right at home
- After active days, spend relaxing evening sharing stories and making new friends, cementing wonderful memories for years to come
- Surrounded by snow in the perfect winter playground, discover the joys of learning how to build an igloo or using doggy power to sled across the valleys – there are so many fun activities suitable for all the family, and for families of all ages

Day 1 Soldeu - Arrival
Welcome to Andorra! Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm today. Sitting 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 Emperor 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. This unique little country, full of different cultures, is also blessed with some glorious scenery in the Pyrenees and is a great place for an active week in the mountains. Your base for the week is the small town of Soldeu (1,800m), which sits right in the centre of this tiny, land-locked principality.
Hotel Roc de Sant Miquel (1 nt)
1 dinner
Day 2 Soldeu - Snowshoeing/sledging
Today you'll head for the scenic Incles Valley – two minutes from the hotel – where your leader will give you a quick lesson on how to strap on some snowshoes, so you can experience this wintery wonderland in a whole new light. You’ll have time to get used to this new way of walking and discover it really isn’t difficult at all. Although it might feel a little ungainly at first, you’ll soon find that you can climb even a fairly steep slope with ease. With snowshoes, you can go almost anywhere, which means you can get to places that skiers cannot. Set off along a trail through the forest, crossing freshly fallen snow, and marvel at the peace and beauty of the snowy landscape. The group’s ability will dictate how far you go, and you can take provisions for a unique picnic in the forest. Later in the afternoon, give your legs a rest and hop on a sled for an exhilarating ride through this stunning wilderness.
Hotel Roc de Sant Miquel (1 nt)
1 breakfast, 1 dinner
Day 3 Soldeu - Cross country skiing
The forest of La Rabassa near the Spanish border is a wonderful winter playground. It offers 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 your 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 you to climb as well as descend, which means you can cross a greater variety of terrain. The pace is relaxed, and you’ll start on an easy circuit to get used to this new mode of transport. When you're feeling more confident you can get the blood pumping and discover why this sport is both an efficient way to travel and a great full-body workout.
Hotel Roc de Sant Miquel (1 nt)
1 breakfast, 1 dinner
Day 4 Soldeu - Igloo building
After breakfast, transfer to El Tarter ski station (1,700m), a ten-minute drive away, to learn an interesting new skill – how to build an igloo! All that’s needed 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. Not only is it a great time, but knowing how to create your own shelter is also a vital component of mountain survival. In the afternoon, there’s free time to choose your own winter activity (all at an additional charge). Maybe undergo a dramatic change of pace and get 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. (Only those aged 17+ can drive a snowmobile). Alternatively, you could choose to perfect your snowshoeing skills, head back to the slopes to go skiing or snowboarding, go ice-skating. There’s also the chance to learn some other mountain skills with a lesson on the technique used to locate and rescue avalanche victims (ARVA). Using a receiver, locate the signal from a transponder that anyone venturing into avalanche territory would normally wear. Once you’ve found the signal, 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)
1 breakfast, 1 dinner
Day 5 Soldeu - Free day for optionals
Today is a free day for you and the family to choose your own adventure from the many activities on offer in Andorra. You may wish to get back on the slopes for more downhill skiing (in which case you’ll need to purchase a lift pass) – head up the cable car and take advantage of the fabulous range of quiet slopes to have a lesson and master the technique. Alternatively, for a more easygoing pace, maybe simply relax and explore Soldeu village, or soothe tired limbs in the thermal baths. You could also take a bus into the capital, Andorra La Vella for some retails therapy. Andorra has no taxes and so is 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. You might also use this as an opportunity to taste some more of the local food, which is like a hearty version of Catalan cuisine.
Hotel Roc de Sant Miquel (1 nt)
1 breakfast, 1 dinner
Day 6 Soldeu - Dog sledding
Today you’ll memorably learn how to harness the power of a pack of dogs, heading to a kennel to 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 you’ll set off on a forest trail. 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 while not sledding you 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)
1 breakfast, 1 dinner
Day 7 Soldeu - At leisure
After the excitement of the last few days, today is free for families to be as active or relaxed as they choose. In Escaldes-Engordagny you can visit the impressive facilities of the Caldea thermal baths. 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 you to pamper ourselves for up to three hours. You can also 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 you can visit the National Automobile Museum, which houses an impressive collection of cars and bicycles – one of the largest in Europe. Maybe ride on the state-of-the-art Funicamp gondola, which runs from Encamp up to the station at Collada d’Enradort (2,506m) from where (experienced skiers only) can ski down to Grau Roig. 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. Whatever you choose, make the most of the beautiful surroundings of the Pyrenees Mountains that have been the picturesque backdrop to this dazzling family holiday.
Hotel Roc de Sant Miquel (1 nt)
1 breakfast, 1 dinner
Day 8 Soldeu - Trip ends
There are no activities planned for today and your Winter Pyrenees Family Holiday trip finishes after a final breakfast.
1 breakfast
Itinerary disclaimer
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.
Physical rating

These trips are setup to involve and include all the family so no real physical preparation is necessary. The trips all have some degree of physical activity but nothing that is too strenuous. Please check the physical rating on the trip notes and if you need further explanation please contact one of our sales consultants who will provide you with more detailed information.
Important notes

Please note that these trips are for adults and children travelling together and there must be at least one child under 18 with you.

Age restrictions apply to this trip: minimum age 6.

Group size
Maximum of 16 travellers per group.
Your fellow travellers
A single supplement is available on this trip, please refer to your booking agent for further information.
Chalet (7nt)
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.
7 breakfasts, 7 dinners
Money matters
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.

When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need. Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so you know what's included in the trip price and what isn't. This should make budgeting a little easier. You'll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that's this document).

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: In local markets and basic restaurants and cafes - round your bill up to the nearest €1. In more up-market restaurants we suggest 5% to 10% of your bill. 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. You may also 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. 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.

All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.

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.

Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$500, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (e.g. a natural disaster, civil unrest, strike action or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
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.
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:
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:

For general contact details please use the following page:

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.

High Trax: +376 346791
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time.
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.

Below we have listed the essentials for this trip:

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.
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.
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$1,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year, excluding emergency appeals). 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:

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.