Explore 360

Find Your Expedition

The Thousand Lakes

Pyrenees

  • Where?

    France

  • Altitude

    2,862m

  • Duration

    7 days

  • Weather

  • Physical

    P2

  • Technical

    T1

  • P2 - Prolonged walking over varied terrain. There may be uphills and downhills, so a good solid fitness is required. Expect to be able to do a 6 to 8 hour walk over undulating terrain with a few punchy uphill climbs carrying a pack up to 6kg in weight.

    Visit our Grading Information page for a full overview.

  • T1 - No technical skills are needed.  A good steady walking ability only is required.

    Visit our Grading Information page for a full overview.

Brochure Enquire
  • Overview

  • Date & Prices

  • Pics & Vids

  • Itinerary

  • Kit List

  • FAQ's

Overview

The Pyrenees straddle the border between France and Spain for 400+km and rise to 3,400m. The stunning 1000-lakes route through the Parc National d’Aigüestortes i Sant Maurici in Catalonia weaves between winding rivers, sheer ravines, cool ponds, raging waterfalls and fertile marshes, and reaches some of the range’s highest summits. (Fittingly, ‘Aiguestortes’ means ‘twisted waters’ in Catalan – you’ll see a lot of them.) 360’s majestic 7-day trek explores these hidden beauties and embraces the unique camaraderie and warm hospitality of the remotely located mountain refuges.

We’ll be trekking through high mountain forest, rich in beech and pine, crossing meadows and mountainsides blanketed in colourful flowers, and passing hundreds of sparkling snow-fed lakes. To reach the high passes that lead from one valley to the next where vibrant alpine flowers dot the rugged landscape we cross eerie landscapes dotted with huge boulders. With luck, you’ll spot the world’s largest bird of prey, the Lammergier, circling above, whilst marmots whistle warnings to each other on the rock-strewn slopes.

Europe doesn’t have to be tame. This is an absorbing trek of extreme contrasts, taking in Catalonia’s iconic peaks and entering lush worlds rarely seen by travellers. It will challenge everything you thought you knew about European mountains.

Find out more
The Thousand Lakes, Pyrenees The Thousand Lakes, Pyrenees

Date & Prices

We currently have no scheduled dates for this expedition, however if you give the office a call on 0207 1834 360 it would be easy for us to get this up and running.

Included

  • 360 leader
  • Transfers
  • 1 nights hotel accommodation with dinner and breakfast
  • Refuge accommodation during trek including dinners & breakfasts
  • Packed lunches during trek

Not Included

  • International flights to Toulouse
  • Personal equipment
  • Insurance
  • Alcohol, laundry and other items of a personal nature
  • Lunches on day 1 & 7
  • Any additional costs associated with leaving the expedition early

Pics & Vids

Itinerary

DAY 1 : Fly to France, trek to La Restanca

We fly to Toulouse airport where a minibus will be waiting for us. It’s about a 3 hour drive to our start point at Val d’Aran in Catalonia, Spain. Without further ado we get booted up and have a gentle introduction to the trek. We have a two hour walk up to our first refuge of the night – La Restanca – on the shores of the eponymous lake.

DAY 2 : Pico Montardo

Towering 833m above the refuge to the east is Pico Montardo. The path takes us from the refuge up to the Crestada pass on the Haute Route, one of the three famous trails of the Pyrenees. From the pass we head up the ridgeline to the summit of Montardo, and to the outstanding views over the French border and across miles of Pyrenean summits, including its highest – Pico Aneto. We drop back down to the pass and continue along the eastbound Haute Route in a south easterly direction through the Travessani Cirque until we reach the refuge of Ventosi I Cavell situated above Estany Negre – the Black Lake.

DAY 3 : Contraix Pass

Today will be one of the toughest as we climb from Estany Negre up the steep and rocky valley that takes us to the Contraix Pass, boulder hopping and scrambling through scree. Once over the pass we have a more gentle walk down the Contraix Valley, following the stream that tumbles all the way down to Estany Llong, and the refuge beside it.

DAY 4 : Monestero

Leaving Estany Llong, we have quite a few passes to negotiate as we cross a number of big ridges that go across our path, rather than along the length of our way. The two big ones we cross are Portaro d’Espot (2,400m) taking us towards Estany de Monestero, and up and over the Coll de Monestero (2,700m), and then past the high Estany de Gran Peguera until we reach the Refuge de Maria Blanc sitting on the edge of Estany Trullo (2,300m).

DAY 5 : Amitges Refuge

From Estany Trullo we make our way onto the San Maurici area, peppered with yet more lakes, with the relative lower altitude bringing more trees and greenery with it. Towering above this stunning lake we are surrounded by the impressive peaks of the Amitges, and we climb up above Estangy San Maurici until we reach Estany Gran d’Amitges, and our refuge for the night.

DAY 6 : Ratera

From Amitges we head up hill towards the Ratera Pass, potentially taking on the summit of Ratera itself. From its 2,862m summit we can enjoy the fabulous views across the hundreds of lakes of the Cirque de Colomer. From there we drop back down, make our way across a high plateau before finally descending out the mountains into the Val d’Arans and the Tredos baths to finally meet civilisation once again, a welcome beer, and our bus back to our hotel, where showers and a hearty dinner await.

DAY 7 : Return to UK

We are taken to Toulouse airport for our flight home.

These are subject to minor changes depending on flight arrival and departure times, weather, group dynamics and fitness and so on, but the itinerary outlined provides an excellent indication of the trek and what you will experience.

Kit List

Bags & Packs

Daysack

Approx. 40L capacity. Your day to day pack that you carry with your daily essentials, fitted with shoulder straps and importantly a waist belt

Dry stuffsacks

Pack some fresh clothing into bags to keep them dry in the event of a total downpour that seeps into your kitbag. Good for quarantining old socks

Kit bag

A 80-120L duffel bag to transport kit. A duffel bag is a strong, soft, weather resistant bag without wheels but with functional straps for carrying. Suitcases and wheeled bags are not suitable

Waterproof rucksack cover

To protect rucksack from rain

Sleeping Gear

3 Season sleeping bag

3-season with a rating to around -5C. Down is lighter but more expensive than synthetic and ratings vary between manufacturers

Sleeping bag liner

Silk is best for keeping the bag clean and you a little warmer

Headwear

Warm headgear

This can be a warm hat, beanie, balaclava, anything to reduce the heat loss from your head

Wide brimmed hat

Keeps the sun off exposed areas like ears and the nape of the neck

Sunglasses

Category 4 wrap around style is highly recommended. These sunglasses allow for the highest available protection against harmful UV light found at altitude and from glare from snow and sand surfaces. Worth spending money on good UV filters

Lip salve

Sun cream will not work on your lips and they are very susceptible to burn without proper protection

Sunblock

Buy the highest SPF you can find as UV intensifies with altitude

Upper Body

Base layer

This is the layer closest to the skin and its principal function is to draw (wick) moisture and sweat away from the skin. You can also get thermal base layers for use at higher altitudes that provide an additional insulative layer while still drawing sweat during times of high exertion

Quantity: 2

Mid layer

These are typically lightweight microfleeces or similar technology that provide varying degrees of warmth and insulation without being overly bulky or heavy to pack

Hard Shell

These jackets are thin, highly waterproof and windproof and worn over all other items of clothing. You’ll find these made of Gore-Tex or other proprietary waterproof yet breathable technology. Inexpensive hard shells that aren’t breathable will prevent evaporation, making you sweat intensely and are not recommended

Soft Shell

These should be windproof (not all are) and insulative. They are mostly made of soft polyester and sometimes resemble a neoprene finish which makes them very mobile and comfortable to wear. While offering a degree of weather repellence, they are not waterproof

Lower Body

Long Johns

Thermal insulation for the lower body

Shorts

Trekking trousers

These tend to be polyester so they dry quickly after a shower and weigh little in your pack. Consider perhaps a pair with detachable lower legs as an alternative to shorts

Underwear

Merino or wicking material, not cotton. How many pairs you take is entirely up to you

Waterproof trousers

A lightweight pair of Goretex/eVent trousers that will act as a great windproof too

Feet

Walking boots

Well worn in 4 season waterproof boots with mid to high ankle support

Spare laces

Just in case

Comfortable trainers

For use in the evenings

Trekking socks

Single layer or wearing 2 pairs is a personal choice and lighter weight merino wool is a good option

Quantity: 3

Hydration

Water bottles / bladder

2L capacity either in a combination of bladder and Nalgene bottle or just Nalgene bottles

Quantity: 2

Water purification

Purification tablets are better than any other system.  Highly unlikely to be needed.  Always good to have in your bag

Toiletries

Alcohol gel

A must have for good camp hygiene

Toilet paper

Provided on the mountain but a spare in your daysack may be useful if you need to hide behind a rock between camps

Wet wipes

Great for washing when shower facilities become a thing of the past, one packet will suffice

Wash kit

Keep it simple on the mountain. Essentials are toothbrush, toothpaste and deodorant. Moisturiser is advisable, everything else is a luxury!

Personal first aid kit

Blister patches, plasters, antiseptic, painkillers etc.

Personal medication

Keep this in your daysack

Misceallaneous

Camera

Bring plenty of spare batteries and memory cards

Head torch

Bring spare batteries or a spare head torch

Penknife (optional)

Snacks

You’ll be fed well and given snacks everyday however we advise bringing a small selection as little bit of a comfort. Bring 2-3 snacks for each day and a few more for summit night. A variety of slow and fast release energy such as flapjacks and jelly babies.

Swim suit

For the odd swim

Trekking poles

These tend to be a personal preference but help with your stability and can dampen the pressure on the knees coming down hill

Documentation

Passport

Don’t forget this! Your passport should have at least 6 months validity.  With your passport expiry date at least six months after the final day of travel.

Copy of passport

Just in case

Travel insurance

Copy of own travel insurance details – And relevant contact numbers. Please ensure you have appropriate insurance for your intended trip to include medical evacuation and coverage up to an altitude of 2,900m

FAQ's

Accommodation

What are the refuges like? Is it better than camping?

The refuges are basic, these are inaccessible mountain huts – albeit large. They all have running water, so flush toilets are standard. Most will have hot showers, but on a busy day that hot water will be in high demand and may run out.

Accommodation is in dormitories, so earplugs are recommended if snorers keep you awake. Food will be good with ample carbohydrate content – think pasta, rice, potatoes etc, but don’t expect a la carte, food often has to be flown in by helicopter! Given we are all carrying our own kit we don’t want to be weighed down by tents and cooking equipment, and as the refuges have beds and washing facilities they are considered the sensible and more comfortable option on these routes.

Kit

What? No porters?!?

We’re trekking in summer, so you should be able to pack light. You really just need fresh socks, a pair of shorts to walk in, some trousers for the evening, your boots, and waterproofs in case of sudden showers (we are in the mountains). Then a light summer sleeping bag and book. So a lot of that kit you give a porter on a Kilimanjaro expedition isn’t as necessary here. You will be sent a comprehensive kit list when you join.

So what bag do I need?

A rucksack of around 40-60L should do you just fine. Aim not to carry any more than 10kg. You will be able to leave some kit with the minibus for when you get back off the mountains. If you are borrowing or buying a rucksack, ask someone to help you adjust it to fit your back. And ensure you are making these adjustments with weight inside it, not empty. Generally it should sit reasonably high on your back so that the weight is acting vertically downwards, not forcing your shoulders back or drooping past your backside. Again, it’s about how you feel comfortable wearing it and important to get right.

Make sure too that it is either waterproof or you have a waterproof cover for your rucksack. It’s not a bad idea to pack your gear into waterproof stuffs sacs, or even bin bags, in case of a deluge.

Do we need any technical gear for this?

No, this is a trek, so standard walking gear outlined in the kit list should suffice.

The Trek

I’ve skied in the alps, I’ve seen how busy it can get in winter, is summer the same?

Summer in the Pyrenees can be busy within striking distance of the main car parks and operational chairlifts as they attract the local walkers, bikers and day trippers. But once you are a few hours away from these it will feel like you have the whole mountain range to yourself, with occasional people sharing the same path as you. It is a huge area, and most of the time you’ll see more wildlife than people. In the evenings the huts can get busy as people tend to centre on them having come from all directions, but the next morning all those people will disappear once more.

How fit do I need to be?

Although we’re not at altitude, or in somewhere like the Himalayas, don’t underestimate this trek. The days are relatively long with reasonable altitude gains (and losses) each day. If you make an effort with fitness before coming out you’ll enjoy it far more than if you are struggling up every hill each day barely able to notice the spectacular views.

Can we swim in the lakes?

They’ll be cold but there’s no reason why not.

The Weather

What’s the weather like up there?

It’s likely to be lovely and sunny, and reasonably warm (pretty hot lower down). However, we’re in the mountains, and not very far from the Atlantic, so there is every risk of rain, thunderstorms, and wind. Night time temperatures high up will be decidedly chilly.

The climate of the Pyrenees is generally better than the UK, but there is still the risk of inclement weather, so we advise in the kit list to pack accordingly (see above). And just like any other holiday, having a quick last minute look at the forecast before you come out can be a useful pointer of what’s in store.

Electronics

Will my mobile work?

On and off, don’t rely on it but there could be exposed points where you get a signal, notable higher up. In valleys you’ll be hard pushed to get a signal unless they are populated.

I like the family atmosphere of 360 Expeditions, where you feel more like a family friend than just a client.

General, 2016
More Testimonials

Instant Attraction

Read Blog