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Hiking in the Pyrenees



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As one of the most spectacular mountain ranges, walks in the Pyrenees come with fantastic routes, exquisite views and some intriguing animal companions. Providing a natural divide between France and Spain, summers these mountains are hot and dry, while winters bring heavy snow. 

Exploring the Pyrenees brings an almost endless choice of trails. The range is extremely easy to access from either country and is criss-crossed with high routes, low routes and everything in between. 

Hikes in the Pyrenees can be enjoyed no matter what time of year as the foothills on the Spanish side offer outstanding paths free from snow. Take morning rambles here or thru-hike from one end to the other. Either way, you’ll discover every type of trail in this beautiful mountain range. 

So what will it be, a French baguette for lunch or a Spanish empanada? Luckily, adventures in the Pyrenees can easily include both countries and their delicious cuisines.

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Getting high in the Pyrenees

Erosion-resistant granite has helped to give this compelling mountain range its unique features and sharp peaks. The highest summit is the Spanish Pico d'Aneto at 11,168 feet (3,404 m) and mountain passes are hard to come by. There are a selection of high mountain paths which can mostly be walked in the warmer months only and multi-day hikes are popular in these heady places. 

The highest peaks still have snow cover during the summer so if you want to summit mountains such as Mount Perdido, you’ll need crampons. Perdido resides in the breathtaking Ordesa National Park along with immense canyons and forested gorges. A huge range of outstanding hikes in the Pyrenees can be found right here. 

The Cirque de Gavarnie is such a phenomenal area that you’ll want to keep coming back to explore more. This vast amphitheatre of a valley has a backdrop of rugged mountains and one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Europe. In spring and summer, the cirque is lush and green with plenty of trails and sights to admire. Walks in the Pyrenees seldom get more beautiful than in this natural bowl. 

Roaming the Spanish foothills

The mountains rise sharply on the French side leaving little in the way of foothills. In contrast, Spain has a sprawling range of lower mountains and hills as the Pyrenees descend into the country. 

Wild, heavily forested and blessed with astounding views, the Spanish foothills offer some of the best hiking trails in the Pyrenees. Medieval villages are nestled into these craggy hills and your hikes can involve tasty stops at cafes with soaring views. In spring, the foothills blossom into multi-coloured blankets of wildflowers and you’ll find grazing animals roaming the sloping fields. 

A walk on the wild side 

Red deer may well watch you from a distance as you explore walks in the Pyrenees and chamois, a breed of highly adapted mountain goat, will entertain you by climbing seemingly impossible cliffs. Chamois are abundant in the Pyrenees and you can find them in Cirque de Gavarnie in particular. Marmots are another mammal to watch out for. These large, fluffy rodents can be seen constantly munching plants at altitude and stand upright on rocks to keep an eye out for predators. 

In the skies, you can spot bearded, griffin and Egyptian vultures. These birds of prey have enormous wingspans and glide high above, scouring for carcasses. Short toed and booted eagles are also resident in summer and like to hunt above lowland meadows.

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