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Duration
8 days
Activities
  • self guided walk
Accommodation
  • 6 nights in 2-3 star hotels
  • 1 night in a mountain hut
Meals
  • 5 Dinners
  • 7 Breakfasts

Price

$820USD

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Overview

Trip Code: PDE

Trip highlights


  • Exploring the unique countryside with its mysterious woods, wide glacier valleys and limestone rock formations, including the famous Picu Urriellu
  • Staying at friendly, family run hotels in authentic Spanish villages
  • Sampling delicious Cabrales blue cheese, sparkling Asturian apple cider and regional specialities

Rising from the ocean, the Picos de Europa is one of the most striking mountain ranges on the Iberian Peninsula. Just 40km long and 20km wide, the jagged limestone peaks rise to 2600m and contrast sharply with the lush valleys dotted with small hamlets far below. Rich in wildlife such as chamois, hedgehogs and wild boar and an abundance of wildflowers, the national park is a delight. Perhaps the most striking feature of the Picos is the deep gorges and rivers which divide the range into three distinct massifs. The focus of this walk is between the central massif (Macizo Central), home to the highest peak Torre de Cerredo (2648m) and the eastern massif (Macizo Oriental). Highlights include walking in the wide glacier valleys overlooked by the limestone peaks, the authentic villages and the ascent to the base of Naranjo de Bulnes' west face, considered to be the signature peak of the region. At night stay in small family run hotels in Arenas and Sotres with opportunities to sample local specialties such as the famous blue cheese, Queso de Cabrales.

Trip Grading

moderate

More info about grading system

Traveller Rating

 

On arrival in Arenas de Cabrales, make your way to your hotel located in the centre of the village. We recommend you try the local cider on one of the terraces, visit the parish church with its Romanesque portal and paintings or head to the “Cueva del Queso” Museum, where you get a brief explanation of how the local blue cheese is made. Dinner tonight is in a highly regarded local restaurant, served from 8pm in typical Spanish style.

Meals:  D

Today's circular walk takes you up to the summer meadows of Nava, situated 500m above the Cares River, with excellent views down to the river and towards the high peaks of the Picos the Europa. This is a strenuous but very rewarding walk, especially in early summer when the meadows display a multitude of brightly coloured flowers. There is also the option of an alternative shorter walk through shady countryside at a lower elevation. Overnight in Arenas with dinner at leisure. Walking: 5.5hrs option: 11.5km/7.1mi, 650m/2132ft ascent and descent or 4hr options: 10km/6.2mi, 410m/1345ft ascent and descent)

Meals:  B

After a short morning transfer, you will start a lovely mountain walk from Tielve, one of the most authentic villages in this part of the Picos. First you ascend to the summer meadows and cabins above Tielve, enjoying magnificent views over the Picos. You then climb steadily through a fairytale landscape of heather, old beech trees and streams to the pass at La Caballar (1240m), then down to Sotres (1050m), one of the highest villages in the Picos de Europa. Today's route also includes a walk to Valfríu, where the local famous blue cheese, Queso de Cabrales, is produced. Overnight in Sotres. Walking: 4hrs, 9km/5.6mi, 575m/1886ft ascent, 250m/820ft descent

Meals:  B,D

Today there is a circular walk of the eastern Andara massif of the Picos, an area exploited by mining industries in the 19th century. After a short transfer to Hitu Escarandi, the walk begins through surprisingly varied terrain. Initially there is a steep ascent along a former mining track and along some rocky paths. You then walk around an impressive limestone peak in the heart of the massif, later following cattle trails through woods, fields of heather and pastures back to Sotres. This is a wonderful way to explore the strange moon-like landscape of karst, with views to the Cantabrian Sea on a clear day. You’ll enjoy spotting all types of alpine flora, and there is a good chance of seeing chamois, vultures and different species of eagles. There are several options to shorten or extend your walk. Overnight in Sotres. Walking: 5.5hrs option: 12km/7.5mi, 550m/1804ft ascent, 840m/2755ft descent or 8.5hrs option: 18.5km/11.5mi, 1045m/3428ft ascent, 1335m/4379ft descent

Meals:  B,D

Today you can choose from three walks depending on the weather and your personal preference. There's a 20 minute transfer (included) before a 6.5 hour walk through the meadows and beech woods of the neighbouring village of Tresviso, where the rare Urugallo, or local Capercaille, lives. A technically easy but long option (also 6.5 hours) starts with a short transfer (included) then it's up and down to the summer meadows of Áliva to 1650m through an interesting glacial valley in the shadow of the impressive limestone walls of the central and oriental massifs. Half way you can take a rest at the Hotel Refugio de Áliva, which has extraordinary views from the terrace. Or there's a quiet 2.5hr swalk through woods and fields enjoying the quiet surrounds of Sotres village. Overnight in Sotres. Walking: 2.5 to 6.5hrs, 6 to 18.5km/3.7 to 11.2mi, 300 to 755m/984 to 2477ft ascent/descent

Meals:  B,D

The most spectacular walk of the trip leads you to the mountain hut at Vega de Urriellu (at 2000m), at the foot of the impressive Picu Urriellu, also known as the Naranjo de Bulnes. You start from the hotel and first walk quietly along tracks and footpaths through the meadows to the wide saddle Collado Pandebano at 1240m. From here the climbing gets serious. A stone footpath takes you up in 2.5-3 hours to a lunar landscape of outstanding beauty, right in the heart of the Picos de Europa and the home of chamois, vultures and choughs. Overnight in mountain hut. Walking: 5.5-6hrs, 11.8km/7.3mi, 1085m/3559ft ascent, 180m/590ft descent Note: there is no luggage transfer today so you will need to carry your overnight needs including a sleeping sheet in your backpack. Note: Departures before mid June and during October may not be able to ascend to the mountain refuge due to snow conditions. In this case, you will booked to stay another night in Sotres with walking options as per day 5. At other times you can choose to stay in Sotres tonight and do a day walk to/from the refuge (subject to weather) - 7hrs, 19km/11.8mi. A supplement applies to stay in Sotres. It is also possible to stay one less night in Sotres (becomes a 7 day trip) - discount applies.

Meals:  B,D

Your last walking day will be spent on a long descent along various paths. A very beautiful but rather strenuous walk, especially for your knees, will lead you via Pandébano Col to Bulnes, an authentic mountain village with no road access. On arrival in Bulnes (650m) after approx. 4.5hrs of walking, you can either take the funicular (ticket not included), or continue on foot for another 1.5 to 2 hrs down and along the spectacular Texu gorge, to Poncebos. Here a taxi (included) will take you in the early evening to Arenas de Cabrales and your hotel. Walking: 5hrs: 12km/7.7mi, 335m/1099ft ascent, 950m/3117ft descent Another option that can be arranged locally for today is to book an extra transfer for this morning and spend the day walking the Cares Gorge, a long but mainly flat return walk. At the end of the day, the driver will pick you up in Poncebos for the return to Arenas de Cabrales. If you've stayed overnight in Sotres you leave town follow farming tracks up to Pandebano Pass (1245m), before descending along an ancient footpath through natural meadows and low vegetation to Bulnes, and continue as above (5-7hrs, 13 or 23km).

Meals:  B

The arrangements conclude after breakfast.

Meals:  B


Inclusions

  • 7 breakfasts, 5 dinners. Included dinners are usually a set menu. Water and wine are always included (up to ‘normal’ consumption of 1 bottle for every 3-4 persons); please remember that you must pay for any extras (other drinks, extra wine and coffee or tea) when you leave. Breakfast is generally served between 8.30 and 10.00am. It normally includes coffee, tea, milk or hot chocolate, bread and/or toast, cake, butter, marmalade and cheese or ham. Please note in Spain dinners are generally served between 8.30pm – 10.00pm
  • 6 nights in 2-3 star hotels on a twin share basis, 1 night in a mountain hut (or extra night in hotel - small supplement applies)
  • Transfers as described
  • Luggage transfers except day 6 (your main luggage is transferred to Arenas and you need to carry your overnight requirements including a sleeping sheet)
  • Information pack including route notes & maps per room booked (GPS Tracks available on request)
  • Emergency hotline

  • Travel to and from Arenas de Cabrales
  • Sightseeing and entrance fees
  • Lunches and 2 dinners (in Arenas), beverages (outside of the dinner and breakfast set quantity)
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Storage of luggage
  • Travel insurance
  • Optional funicular ticket from Bulnes to Poncebos on day 7 (allow EUR20 pp)

Trail Surface


Grading

moderate  

MODERATE – GRADE 3 This is a self guided walk with average daily stages of 4 to 5.5 hours, sometimes longer. The trip is graded moderate as it is mainly on well defined mountain trails, with a few off path sections only. At times you will walk through areas of low vegetation (heather and gorse, which might make leg protection necessary). You will also be doing some steep ascents or descents (paths may be muddy and slippery). The use of a walking stick(s) is recommended. For those who suffer from vertigo there are some walks which may not be suitable, and we have provided alternative routes where necessary. A reasonable level of fitness is required. As with all of our trips it is important that you are well prepared. We suggest that you undertake regular exercise – swimming, cycling, and jogging, two to three times a week for three months prior to your departure.


Departure dates

Daily from 15 Apr to 25 Oct

Notes

M
Mid Season
H
High Season
DN1
Mid season is 26 Jun to 10 Jul and 1 to 24 Sep, High season is from 11 Jul to 31 Aug - a supplement applies. for mid and high season departures
DN2
Departures before mid June may not be able to ascend to the mountain refuge due to snow conditions and an alternative route will be suggested. Sotres hotel supplement applies.

Want to organise a private group?

Fundraising events, sporting groups, family treats; learn how you can organise a Private Group from just 6 travellers.

Total Priceper person from

$820USD

Options & Supplements*
  • Discount for 1 less night in SotresUSD$-36
  • Sotres hotel supplement on Day 6 twin share ppUSD$60
  • Sotres hotel supplement on Day 6 single / soloUSD$80
  • Single Supplement - low seasonUSD$250
  • Single Supplement - mid & high seasonUSD$280
  • Single Traveller Surcharge - low seasonUSD$300
  • Single Traveller Surcharge - mid & high seasonUSD$350
*Prices listed are per person

Trip reviews


Why travel with us

Making Europe Affordable

We offer different levels of accommodation and comfort so that even the most budget conscious can treat themselves to active holidays on Europe's most celebrated tracks and trails. Our trips are great value for money because you only pay for what you want.  

Self-Guided Specialists

Our wide range of self-guided itineraries embody the UTracks philosophy of exploring Europe your way. We handle the logistics so all that's left for you to do is enjoy exploring Europe at your own pace. Most depart daily with a minimum of two people, meaning maximum flexibility.

Our Wide Range

With close to 400 trips in almost 50 countries, including the largest range of bike & boat holidays in Europe, we're confident that we can organise an Alps walk, Camino de Santiago or Via Francigena experience, Food Lovers' trip or a tour in a lesser-known pocket of Europe that you will love. 

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