After my paragliding course was cancelled, I had a few spare days at the end of August in 2006. How better to fill the time than a trip to the Ordesa national park in the Spanish Pyrenees? This amazing valley is less than an hour from the French border. Home to a wide variety of animals – including a species of frog that remained undiscovered until 1992.
Here is the village of Torla. The 13th Century church of San Salvador in the foreground with the amazing Mondarrruego as a backdrop.
Initially the trail is a motorway of people but fortunately not everybody wants to walk all the way up the valley.
And what a stunning valley it is. The path climbs 680 metres from the coach park to the end of the valley – manageable by anyone who is moderately fit. Monte Perdido (The lost mountain) is visible from the end of the valley. The more adventurous can leave the Ordesa National Park and climb up to the Breche de Roland and walk into France.
There are sections of the path through the Ordesa National Park that are paved to reduce erosion. Does it detract from the amazing views? Er, yes, but probably a price worth paying.
At the end of the Valle de Ordesa is the Circo de Soaso and behind the Cirque, Monte Perdido, a massive 3353 metres, though not a particularly striking mountain. The views of the Spanish Pyrenees from the top are, apparently, amazing.
On my second day in the Ordesa National Park, I headed up to the Circo de Carriata and then along the Faja Racun. This trail is about 700 metres above the valley floor. A tiring climb but well worth it for the views. Notice that the Spanish Pyrenees are very different from the French Pyrenees, much drier with completely different vegetation.
Well-maintained hiking paths, despite the fact that they are often partially destroyed by avalanches in Spring. The Ordesa National Park is an excellent holiday destination – and not overrun by tourists. The numbers are limited – and you can’t bring a car into the national park.
This little creature lives in the Circo de Carriata. Does anyone know what it is?
The lush vegetation is testimony to the special climate that the Ordesa Valley enjoys. This photo was taken at the end of August when much of Spain is a dustbowl.
This is La Fraucata – a very large, and very beautiful, lump of limestone.
This is the Circo de Cotatuero with the Cascada de Cotatuero in the middle. A path from this cirque leads up to the Brecha de Rolanda – and France.
This is the view of Torla taken from the path between the Ordesa Valley and Torla, a beautiful – and quiet – hiking trail. It takes about two hours to walk from Torla to the Ordesa National Park . Thankfully, you cannot drive into the Ordesa national park. There is a bus service which leaves from Torla every 15-20 minutes. 3.30 euros for the return journey. The authorities limit the number of people in the Ordesa national park to 1800 at any one time.
Despite its popularity, Torla is not easy to get to without a car. There are just two buses a day to and from Sabananigo. Check out the Spanish bus service here.
The National Park has an excellent website here
I ate at El Taillon restaurant – no current website, but serving a filling 3 course meal with a bottle of wine for 13 euros.
More about Spain?
Cycling in the Spanish Pyrenees Spanish food