When arranging our hiking and cycling trip to Andorra, we immediately hit a problem. On first glance, getting to Andorra isn’t the easiest. It doesn’t have an airport. Flying into the surrounding regions is the only way to go about it. Either Barcelona or Toulouse offer the most in terms of onward transfers and ease but also, Girona and Carcassonne can offer inexpensive flights if you can organise the onward journey from there. The local airport for Andorra La Seu is too small for international services.
I sighed as I booked, thinking about the arduous transfer but I shouldn’t have. Kate and I flew into Lyon and grabbed a transfer and were on the road in moments. We drove down a quiet highway, enjoying the rolling French countryside and passing chateaus and then it hit us – the Pyrenees mountains stand like giants with gleaming snow caps in the distance. A few moments later and we start to wind our way up the mountain passes and soon we are standing on the shoulders of giants.
To travel to a country without an airport is quite a novel experience and it’s one I didn’t realise how much I’d enjoy. Besides, we were here to see the countryside, get back to nature and trek and bike all over the Pyrenees mountains in peace and I cannot recall hearing one screaming jet overhead during my week here.
Soldeu was to be our base – a bustling skiing resort in winter but now a serene hillside town, perched 1700 meters in the mountains. On one side is the famous crossing ski slopes that acts as the logo for the Andorra ski resorts and the other side, the lush green pastures of Vall D’Incles.
The trip we had gone on was an Adventure trip provided by Intrepid Tours but I would like to point out that this is not a sponsored post and the opinions are all our own. We were here to hike, bike and raft our way around Andorra whilst staying at the Hotel Roc de Sant Miquel in Soldeu. Doing the trip this way gave us the best way with which to see Andorra’s breath-taking scenery. Cycling in Andorra is so much fun, as we were taking mostly downhill roads and tracks. Hiking in Andorra is a little more challenging, as that is mostly up before you are able to come back down.
It is advisable to download the Andorra Active Tourism App if you are hiking solo in Andorra. It features many great routes and also has a GPS tracking safety feature.
The accommodation was a chalet style property. Simple but exactly the kind of accommodation to suit a trip of this nature. Our hosts were Nuri and Nick who ran the chalet and acted as tour guides for the trip. The hospitality we received was excellent and added a warm and friendly feel to the trip. Nuri – A Catalan lady who enjoying long-distance trail running for a hobby – was the hiking guide, as we took on some mildly challenging walks up the steep mountains surrounding Soldeu. Nick was mostly in charge of the hospitality and even pulled out his guitar one night to serenade us with a friend.
(Nuri drinking Catalan style, Nick on Guitar)
Aside from hiking and cycling in Andorra, we spent a day at Naturalandia – an adventure park with zip lines, an extremely long toboggan track and a great wildlife park.
If you are looking for areas to stay with a little more in the way of services, the towns in Andorra pretty much go from smallest to largest as you head south through the country. Next after Soldeu is Canillo with its ice rink and swimming pool, followed by Encamp with its huge cable car ski lift, then Andorra La Vella the capital and a shopping mecca – we were able to buy Botanist Gin from Scotland for half the price of at home
Andorra might be a skiing mecca in winter and it looks like a prime place to hit the slopes BUT it should not be forgotten in summer, where it was equally amazing for adventure sports and scenery, off the beaten track.
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(A backpacking & adventure travel blog with music, films & words)