Gorges de Kakouetta

Gorges de kakouetta

The Gorges de Kakouetta is a narrow (down to 5 metres in places) gorge, over 300 metres deep and about 2 kilometres long. It is one of three gorges in the area and is the most popular with tourists. It is open from mid march until mid November from 8 in the morning (when the place is deserted) until nightfall. The entry price is (May 2006) 4 euros. The walk along the Gorges de Kakouetta will take you between 2 and 3 hours depending on how busy it is and how often you stop to take pictures.

The Gorges de Kakouetta is looked after by a Basque family who live at the entrance of the Gorges. They run a café, maintain the path and provide helmets for those who think they might need them.

The Gorges de Kakouetta is looked after by a Basque family who live at the entrance of the Gorges. They run a café, maintain the path and provide helmets for those who think they might need them.

I arrived at the gorges de kakouetta at 8.30 in the morning having stayed at a lovely riverside campsite 2.5km down the road. I was the first person to enter the gorges and had it - almost - all to myself.

I arrived at the gorges de kakouetta at 8.30 in the morning having stayed at a lovely riverside campsite 2.5km down the road. I was the first person to enter the gorges and had it – almost – all to myself.

At the end of the first part of the trail there is a tunnel (which is locked out of season and at night). I saw a dipper there but this elusive bird was far too quick to be photographed.

At the end of the first part of the trail there is a tunnel (which is locked out of season and at night). I saw a dipper there but this elusive bird was far too quick to be photographed.

The trail along the gorges de kakouetta is well maintained - perhaps too well for some people's tastes. However there is the danger of flooding in stormy weather and there is an alarm system to alert people so that they can get out of the gorge.

The trail along the gorges de kakouetta is well maintained – perhaps too well for some people’s tastes. However there is the danger of flooding in stormy weather and there is an alarm system to alert people so that they can get out of the gorge.

With its high sides and the high humidity the gorge has a microclimate of its own. So much so that there are four species of lichen, including Pyrenula kakouettae, which grow nowhere else in the world. I was very fortunate to have the whole gorges de kakouetta to himself. It is certainly a very different place when full of screaming children.

Damn, just when I wanted to park my Subaru 4x4... The sign attached to the side of the narrow, wooden walkway:

Damn, just when I wanted to park my Subaru 4×4… The sign attached to the side of the narrow, wooden walkway.

This vertical shot of the gorge give an indication of its height, but nothing beats being there. The boards and rocks are slippery - and would be more so during rain so hiking boots are strongly advised.

This vertical shot of the gorge give an indication of its height, but nothing beats being there. The boards and rocks are slippery – and would be more so during rain so it is a good idea to wear hiking boots.

The stream is emerald green in colour - indicative of the glacial nature of its source. With the cool water and the lack of direct sun, makes les gorges de kakouetta a delightfully cool place to be in summer.

The stream is emerald green in colour – indicative of the glacial nature of its source. With the cool water and the lack of direct sun, makes les gorges de kakouetta a delightfully cool place to be in summer.

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Towards the end of the gorge, a waterfall spurts out of the side of a sheer rock face.

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And a small path allows you to climb up behind the waterfall – just like Tarzan does in his films.

At certain times of the year a hard hat would be a sensible precaution from lumps of rock that may fall with the water.

At certain times of the year a hard hat would be a sensible precaution from lumps of rock that may fall with the water.

A close-up of the lush vegetation - moss, lichen and liverworts some of which are endemic to the region.

A close-up of the lush vegetation – moss, lichen and liverworts some of which are endemic to the region.

Practical Information

The Gorges de Kakouetta is located very close to the Spanish border in the French Pyrenees. Sadly there is no public transport which will take you close to the gorge. By far the best way to get there is to put your bicycle on the train from Pau to Oloron and cycle the 45km. There are very few hills and even then, the gradients are modest.

Accommodation in the area: In 2006, I stayed at Ibarra – a small campsite just South of the village of Casernes and a short ride from the gorges de kakouetta. They don’t have a website but their telephone number is 0559 287 359. The price was 5 euros for a night. Also in the village of Casernes there is a tiny grocery store (with no indication that it is a grocery store from the outside) opposite the Mairie (for which you will see signs).

More of the Pyrenees ?

Breche de Roland  Flora and Fauna  Gavarnie 2 day hike in Pyrenees  chemin de la mâture  Gorges de Kakouetta  Lescun in Summer

Or other things French?

Learn French with Jokes  Parce Que Je T’aime (a novel)  Cycling to Gavarnie  Cycling South West coast of France  Cycling Western Pyrenees  Cycling to Tourmalet  Food in France An optimistic view of France