Spain: Picos de Europa

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Trip Duration: 8 days/7 nights, ex Bilbao
Trip Dates: 9 -16 September, 2017
Cost: $2,980.00 per person twin/sharing. Single supplement $620.00
Grade: Moderate grade
Accommodation: Two charming small hotels; en suite rooms
Group Size: Only 12 places

About the Picos de Europa

The Picos de Europa are rugged limestone ranges situated near the northern coast of Spain, to the west of Bilbao. They formed Spain’s first national park in 1918.

The snow-capped peaks are within 30 kms of the sea, and the massifs have been sliced by huge canyons. The lush valleys and lower slopes support beech and oak forests and beautiful stone villages with ancient farming traditions. Local cuisine, and in particular the various mountain cheeses, are delicious!

We will stay in two parts of the Picos, walking through dramatic gorges, quiet villages, forests and flowery meadows. We will meet farmers and shepherds and taste the special cheeses at source. There are pilgrims’ routes to ancient chapels, clear glacial lakes and rugged coastline too.

Although the mountain scenery looks very challenging the region has walking trails to suit all levels. We have selected moderate/medium grade walks, suitable for anyone who enjoys hill walking.
For this new walking holiday we will be working with an Anglo-Spanish company, using a local English-speaking guide and local contacts to introduce you to the people, landscapes, culture and gastronomy of the Picos de Europa.

Our Itinerary

Day 1
Meet in Bilbao, the commercial hear of the Basque country and home of the astounding Guggenheim Museum. We will meet our bilingual Spanish guide at midday and travel about three hours to our accommodation in a medieval village near Potes on the edge of the Picos de Europa National Park. This will be our base for three nights.

Day 2
A fairly gentle start to the week. We spend the day with shepherds, discovering the traditional rural lifestyle of the Picos. They have been farming these lovely meadows for around 4,000 years, the area is rich in flora, birds and other animals. (10kms: 4 hours)

Day 3
We ride the cable car at Fuente De up to the alpine zone; small glacial tarns, jagged peaks still above us, and grand views down into the Liebana Valley. Our walk takes below some sheer cliffs before descending through alpine pasture to a small mountain hotel for lunch. In the afternoon we continue our descent through oak and beech forests back to the valley floor. (14kms: 5 hours)

Day 4
Today we travel to the northern part of the range, passing through the spectacular Hermida Gorge and then along the banks of the Cares River to our second hotel. This is our base for the next four nights. After lunch we walk between villages to a traditional cider barn. (8kms: 3 hours)

Day 5
A circular walk into the heart of the national park to the Covadonga Lakes. This is where the reconquest of Spain began, when the Christian forces defeated the Moorish rulers in the eighth century. The glacial lakes are set in the meadows which produce Gamoneu cheese, the most expensive in the world. (10kms: 3 hours)There is a possible extension along a well preserved Roman road to a viewpoint.

Day 6
Visit the market at Cangas de Onis and then continue to the coast to walk along rolling cliff tops with views to the high mountain peaks and small hidden coves. (12kms: 4 hours)

Day 7
The Cares Gorge is perhaps the most famous walk in Spain. It is over 1,000 metres deep, having been carved into the Picos limestone by the fast flowing Cares River. The path has been cut into the rock and is only gently rising, past waterfalls. It is an out and back walk, so you can do as much as you wish. (Up to 22kms: 6 hours return)

Day 8
Pack and transfer to Bilbao by early afternoon

Included:

  • 7 nights twin/share accommodation in charming small hotels. All rooms are en suite
  • 7 breakfasts, 5 lunches, and 7 evening meals
  • Bilingual Spanish driver/guide
  • Walking Matilda leader
  • All local transport to walks and attractions
  • A fully organized program of walks and visits
  • Fuente De cable car
  • Transfers to/from Bilbao

Not Included:

  • Travel to and from Bilbao
  • One lunch and beverages
  • Admission to attractions not included in this itinerary
  • Travel insurance (required) ac
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