The scenery in the Picos de Europa is spectacular. Immense slopes and dramatic gorges, lush green valleys and beautiful forests, crystal clear streams and jagged peaks dominating the horizon. Added to this there is a wonderful variety of flora and fauna with vultures soaring in the skies and mountain pastures filled with a wealth of wild flowers and butterflies. The region is also rich in culture, a traditional style of farming and small settlements of attractive old stone buildings.
Very characteristic of the Picos de Europa is the Karst landscape. This is produced by the action of acidic rain water eroding the limestone and forming an underground drainage system. Above the 1,600-meter line there is virtually no surface water - just a dramatic landscape with vast slabs of limestone and a sub alpine flora.
Our trip is based in the eastern Pyrenees (Ariège) bordering Andorra. It is a great area with rugged mountains, high ridges, crystal clear lakes and prolific flora with the added attraction that the trails and refuges are markedly less busy than those in the central Pyrenees. The mountains we visit on either side of the main Ariège valley rise up to nearly 3000m and are all accessible to the energetic day walker. Our base in the well-known spa town of Ax les Thermes not only provides good access to the high mountains but is also a lively place to relax.
In winter the area usually gets more snow than any other in the Pyrenees (often more than the Alps). Most years the snow sits on the hills until the end of April, while the proximity to the Mediterranean results in a more stable climate.
Our trips are led by an English guide who both lives and runs a small walking, cycling and snowsports business in this area. His local knowledge and great enthusiasm adds that extra special stamp to all of our trips here.