The Andorra Trail is an adventurous and challenging pack trip which covers 350 km from the Mediterranean coast into the Pyrenees mountains, taking in Spain, France and Andorra along the way. During the route you climb a total of 11,000 metres.
The Pyrenees are older than the Alps and this trail ride will take you into some stunning remote areas only accessible on foot or by horseback. Starting from the coast you make your way towards the main crest of the Pyrenees which is the massive divider between France and Spain, and finally end in the tiny country of Andorra which is sandwiched in between. This is an amazing and unique expedition for those with a great spirit of adventure and love of being outside amongst the nature and wilderness of the mountains.
Accommodation is very basic and you stay in a combination of guesthouses, shepherds’ refuges and simple dome tents with a backup crew transporting the camp luggage by vehicle. Showering facilities are only available on 5 of the 12 nights and one night is spent dormitory style alongside your fellow riders.
You should be an experienced rider fit enough for between 4 to 8 hours in the saddle each day. The total distance ridden is about 350 km. You will also need to be physically fit as there is a lot of hiking within this trail too.
Please note that it is often necessary to lead your horse on foot on some sections of the trail, hiking both up and downhill. You must wear good walking boots that you can comfortably walk long distances in.
Highlights of the trail include:
* Sleeping under the stars with a campfire and candle light
* Visiting a mountain lake at 2,500 metres
* Breathtaking panoramic views of the Pyrenees of Spain, France and Andorra
The following is the proposed itinerary but please note that changes are very possible due to weather and local conditions within the mountains. A flexible attitude towards your itinerary is essential.
You are collected in Barcelona (5.30pm) and transferred to your accommodation on the Mediterranean coastline. Supper will be c. 9pm and will give you the chance to meet your fellow riders and discuss the trip ahead.
After a very hearty breakfast you meet your horses and begin your adventure.
Leaving the coast you climb sandy tracks through the pine trees towards the Albera Mountains. On the way you are rewarded with some beautiful views of the Costa Brava coast and the Cap de Creus headland.
Once you reach the high mountain pass, a delightful picnic lunch awaits you. This is a shady place where you can relax and look out over the Alt Emporda countryside.
In the afternoon as you pass along a high mountain ridge you have stunning views of the French and Catalan coast. The ride is slow as you make a steep descent and you will be amazed how sure footed the Andalusian and Spanish horses are as they cover the ground like mountain goats.
As the afternoon moves on you have the chance to enjoy some good canters before finally arriving at your first camp. This is close to a mountain stream and your tents are near to the horses.
Before breakfast you have the chance to enjoy a relaxing swim in the river beside your camp.
Feeling well fed and refreshed you set off through the beautiful landscape of Alt Emporda, travelling through pine forests and vineyards, before reaching a lake. Before lunch perhaps take a dip in the bright green water of the lake.
Setting off again after lunch, you take a route alongside the lake and onwards through the lower Pyrenees forested and hilly terrain.
This evening you arrive at the Hostal del Aigua (or similar) where a shower awaits and a freshly prepared supper.
This morning’s ride follows the river upstream and onto the mountain tracks where you can really kick on, enjoying some lovely fast canters.
Lunchtime is spent in a beautiful river gorge where the horses enjoy the meadow grasses and you can dive and swim in the fresh turquoise waters of the mountain river. Maybe after lunch you can have a siesta whilst listening to the soothing sound of the stream flowing past.
This afternoon’s ride climbs uphill and once you cross an old Roman bridge you enter the territory of the Garrotxa Mountains.
Camp tonight is near to a beautiful and atmospheric chapel.
Today you will notice a change in the landscape as you travel further into the Alt Garrotxa with its deep valleys, craggy rock faces and thick oak forests.
France awaits and once you cross the Playa de la Muga you have reached your second country. The earth here is red volcanic earth known as Terre rouge. There should be the chance for some faster riding now until you reach you lunch stop, which is in a typical French Pyrenean village.
Your ride this afternoon ventures further into France, passing through beech groves and mountain tracks through the trees.
Camp tonight is beside a shepherds’ refuge. Next to the refuge is a medieval tower which offers some amazing views of the Gulf of Lyon and the mountain of the Canigo.
This morning you make your way from France back into Spain and onward to the High Pyrenees. As you pass through these green mountain pastures and shady forests you might be rewarded with the sight of some wild mountain horses.
There should be some opportunities for some canters as you climb upwards.
Another shepherds’ refuge awaits for this evening and your camp enjoys a beautiful view. Tonight you eat and sleep under the starry night skies.
Today your journey takes you through endless mountain meadows which hold some fantastic long and exciting gallops. Herds of cattle with their cow bells riding will watch as you pass by and you might start to see larger herds of wild horses too. Eagles and vultures soar on the thermals above you.
Passing near to a little town allows the opportunity for lunch in a local restaurant.
This afternoon’s ride climbs further through the forests and you will notice just how quiet these mountains have become. Camp is at a shepherds’ refuge where the fire should produce a filling barbeque supper.
Today will bring lots of opportunities for trots and canters uphill to the ridge. Remember to scan the skyline for the chamois jumping from rock to rock.
Tonight you stay at a guesthouse for hikers. After a refreshing shower, a delicious supper is served by the innkeepers. Tonight’s accommodation is dormitory style.
An early start this morning setting off before sunrise to climb through the pine forest into the scenic Parc Natural de Cadi Moixero. Here you should catch your first glimpse of the impressive Plains of Cerdanya and your lunch picnic spot overlooking the plane.
At the end of the day you reach a little village made of natural stone and to a farmhouse with cosy rooms and showers, where you can rest your weary head for the night after supper in the farmhouse gardens.
This morning’s ride crosses the fertile planes of the Cerdanya. This landscape allows for lots of trots and canters across the fields and meadows. A river crossing of the river Ter awaits and takes you onward towards the land of the Cathar.
Camp tonight in this gorgeous valley, using the river as your bath-tub.
Andorra bound, today’s ride is short in length but a challenging climb. You will carry all that you need for the next two days.
Suddenly you wonder if you are seeing things as there in front of you lies a stunning lake – at 2,500 metres. Picnic at the lake and relax on the lakeside beach, maybe taking a swim and siesta too.
Your ride this afternoon is right in the middle of the High Pyrenees and you pass many mountain streams along the way.
Camp tonight is basic, with a river close by to bathe in and supper conjured up from the ingredients carried from within your saddle bags.
This morning you pass through some beautiful mountain meadows and river valleys. You might be lucky enough to spot the marmots too. Some challenging climbs reward you with a picnic spot at a hidden mountain lake.
This afternoon you climb to the highest point yet at 2,600 metres. From here the views are simply spectacular across the Serra de Cadi. Later you descend carefully again back into Catalonia, where you bid a fond farewell to your horses and are transported to your evening’s accommodation.
Tonight you stay at a guesthouse and have your last farewell dinner, reminiscing about the adventure you have all completed.
After breakfast transfer to Barcelona.