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A week-long trekking holiday into the beautiful high mountain scenery of the Picos de Europa National Park. Explore the area in depth with walks in the unspoilt and wild landscapes of the western, central and eastern massifs.
Explore Tour Leader
7 nights comfortable hotel
Trip maximum 16 Explore Average 11
Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.
Our trip begins in the Arrivals Hall at Bilbao Airport (BIO) at 12pm. If you would like to join the complimentary airport transfer today, the latest time your flight can arrive is 11:30am. We will travel together as a group to our hotel in Sotres, a three hour drive away. Sotres is the highest village in the Picos, situated between the central and eastern massifs and within the designated Biosphere Reserve. It is an ideal base for exploring the spectacular mountain landscape.
Our comfortable base for the week is the family ran Casa Cipriano hotel, located in the heart of the Picos de Europa mountain range. The rooms are simple yet cosy and feature tiled floors, wooden furniture and an en suite bathroom. The hotel features a bar as well as a restaurant serving home cooked food, which we'll enjoy tonight.
Casa Cipriano Hotel (or similar)
We start our day with a short transfer to El Collado de la Caballar (1,100m), the starting point for today's walk. We start with a gentle descent to Tobaos Majada (900m) then start our ascent to Collado de Pasadoir (1,215m). We follow the ridge through the pastures of Portudera,Todrin and Tambrin with some spectacular views (weather permitting) along the ridge of all three massifs before we start our descent to the outskirts of the Arenas de Cabrales - here we join and follow an original cobbled roman road for one and a half kilometres, returning to Sotres for the night.
Today's 17 kilometre walk is expected to take around seven hours with approximately 550 metres of ascent and descent.
This morning we drive the short distance down to the collection of red-roofed buildings known as Invernales de Cabao and cross the river. Then, ascending along a series of switch-backs, we gain height quickly to reach a viewpoint looking back towards Sotres. The track levels out now, ascending more gradually onto a plateau. Here stands the tiny hamlet of Pandebano, where, in AD718, a battle took place between the Visigothic Christians and the remnants of a somewhat depleted Moorish army. Leaving our vehicle, we walk up to a 'saddle', where the huge monolith of the Naranjo de Bulnes (Pico Urriellu 2,519m) comes into view. Rearing straight up from the surrounding rockscape, this rust-coloured mountain is the famous iconic image of the Picos. We walk up to the base where there is a refuge and the chance to see climbers attempting to scale the improbable sheer face.
Today's 16 kilometre walk is expected to take around six-and-a-half hours with 800 metres of ascent and descent.
We start this morning with a short drive to Jito de Escarandi from where we start our walk at 1,395m. We follow an old shepherds' paths down through the Valdediezma beech forest and pastures to Sobra Valley and up to Treviso where we will stop for a lunch break en route. After lunch we will continue down the Balcon de Pilatos to Urdon where we will meet our bus to take us on to Potes where we stay for the night. The medieval town of Potes centres around the river with stone bridges, cobbled streets and historical buildings.
Today's 10 kilometre walk is expected to take around five hours with 1,150 metres of descent.
Hotel Infantado (or similar)
Today we drive to Fuente Dé making a visit to the Santo Toribio de Liebana Monastery on the way. We take the cable car up 1,000 metres to the rugged high plateaux of the Picos to be greeted with panoramic views of the national park. We walk through alpine meadows down the Aliva glacial valley to Sotres, stopping for a picnic lunch and to see the abandoned Las Manforas mines.
Today's 18 kilometre walk is expected to take around five hours with 100 metres of ascent and 1,000 metres of descent.
Today we drive down through Alpine scenery to Puente Poncebos at 218 metres. Here the medieval pack horse bridge spans the Cares river. This marks the starting point for the walk through the dramatic gorge of the Garganta del Cares - a cleft over 1000 m deep and some 12 km long. The path literally cuts into the cliffs in places; only with the aid of tunnels and bridges is it possible to traverse its entire length. This is one of the highlights of any visit to northern Spain and is a six hour round trip on foot, although walkers can turn back at any point and return to Poncebos where there are places to eat and drink if you wish before we return by vehicle to Sotres for a well-earned rest.
Todays 24 kilometre walk is expected to take around six hours with with 300 metres of ascent and descent.
We return to Jito de Escarandi for the start of our walk to the Caseton Refuge (1,225m) via Trasmacondiu Col (1,850m) and the Andara Vegas pastures. From the Col we descend around Macondiu mountain (summit 2,050m) to the refuge for lunch, then continue back to Jito de Escarandi (1,300m) where the minibus will be waiting to return us to Sotres. We will arrange a transfer back to the hotel or you may choose to walk the final 30 minutes back to Sotres.
Todays 12 kilometre walk is expected to take around four and half hours with with 150 metres of ascent and 550 metres of descent.
Departing the mountains this morning, we drive to Bilbao Airport (BIO) where we will arrive at about 11.30am and this is where the holiday ends. The earliest time you should book a flight to depart today is 1.30pm.
Total distance : 97 kilometres
Overall, spring, early summer and autumn are ideal times for a Spanish trip - though the weather varies enormously from region to region. The high central plains suffer from fierce extremes, stiflingly hot in summer, bitterly cold and swept by freezing winds in winter. The Atlantic coast, in contrast, has a tendency to damp and mist, and a relatively brief, humid summer. The Mediterranean south is warm virtually all year round. Spain's Islands the Canaries and Balaerics experience very mild winters and warm summers making them ideal year round destinations.
2 Pin Round
Castilian Spanish, Catalan, Galician, Basque
Bring light and comfortable clothing that can be layered according to the temperature. The weather conditions in the mountains can be changeable, and it can become cool, especially at night, so bring warmer layers. Tops made from wicking materials which keep you drier and warmer are recommended as a base layer, and walking trousers are preferable to trousers of heavier material such as jeans. A waterproof jacket is essential at all times in case of rain and wind. -Breathable wind and waterproof jacket (you may also wish to bring waterproof trousers) -T-shirts -Long sleeved tops -Sunhat -Long trousers -Shorts (if you prefer to walk in them) -Swimwear and towel -Midlayer Fleece/pullover -Socks (liner and thicker pair) -Insulated jacket -Gloves and scarf or buff
We recommend you bring walking boots with ankle support- leather or fabric are both fine. Make sure that your boots are worn-in and comfortable before the start of the trip. Also trainers or sandals for relaxing and general wear. We suggest that on international flights you either carry your walking boots in your hand luggage or wear them - should your luggage be lost or delayed, your own boots are the one thing that will be irreplaceable.
Bring one main piece of luggage and a 20-30 litre day sack is recommended. You will need to carry what you need for the day which may include a raincoat, jumper, camera, sun-cream, water and picnic lunch. On hot days you will carry fewer clothes but more drinking water. For the one night stay in Potes, you are able to leave you main luggage at the hotel in Sotres and just pack an overnight bag.
-Sunglasses -Sun cream -Small Torch (with spare batteries and bulb) -Camera -Walking poles (recommended) -Personal toiletries -Personal first aid kit - On each walk a first aid kit is carried but you should have your own blister kit, supply of plasters, aspirin and other essentials. -Insect repellent -Small waterproof dry bag (for items such as your mobile phone) -Reusable water bottle (minimum 1 litre) - Get 15% discount on a Water-to-Go bottle www.explore.co.uk/about-us/responsible-travel/water-to-go-discount-with-explore -Lunch bag/Tupperware (for packed lunches) Plastic Bags - If you pack bits and pieces in plastic bags inside your day sack they will stay dry in case of rain.
Situated in the heart of the region's highest village of Sotres, Casa Cipriano is a small family-run hotel perfectly located as a base for exploring the spectacular and little known Picos de Europa mountain range in the heart of northern Spain's Asturias region. A walk through the village leads to a viewpoint of the surrounding peaks. The hotel features a bar as well as a restaurant serving home cooked food - not to be missed is the traditional and very delicious La Fabada Asturiana, a hearty soup made with beans, chorizo and black pudding. In winter an open log fire makes for a comfy nook in the bar, whilst in summer the terrace outside is a popular spot for guests and locals alike. Next door the family also runs a small shop, selling everything from small locally made souvenirs to cheeses and cured hams. Rooms are simple yet cosy and feature tiled floors, wooden furniture and an en suite bathroom with a shower over a small bath tub. Central heating during the winter ensures a comfortable stay. There is a TV and hairdryer in all rooms.
Can you drink the water?
It is generally possible to drink the local tap water, therefore to reduce the need for single-use plastic bottles we recommend you bring a refillable water bottle with you. Your leader will advise you on refill points each day.
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You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.
Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.
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Free transfers are not available for Polar customers.
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It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
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