Things are now quietening down now for our season here in the Pyrenees, and last week, we ran our final Discover Ordesa week. For those seeking a bit more peace and quiet in the hugely popular (and rightly so) Ordesa & Monte Perdido National Park, mid-September can prove to be a fantastic time to visit, particularly as we can drive into the main car park in the National Park, known as the ‘Pradera’ (during the peak season, there is a compulsory shuttle bus service from Torla to the Pradera).
We had a group with very similar abilities, and so for the majority of the week, they all opted to walk at the same level, which made for a very enjoyable and social week. We started the week off with a hike along the Faja Racon, which is without a doubt, one of the best walks in the Ordesa Valley. After the initial ascent, through native woodland, this ‘Faja’, or balcony path, meanders directly beneath some of Ordesa’s most impressive cliffs, including “El Libro Abierto” or ‘The Open Book’, before gaining the magnificent Circo de Cotatuero and descending back to the valley floor.
With the forecast looking better for Tuesday than it did for Wednesday, we decided that it would be best to make the most of the opportunity and hike along another of Ordesa’s impressive ‘Fajas’, the Faja de Pelay. This Faja traverses the southern side of the Ordesa Valley, from which had magnificient views to the Brecha de Roland, Taillon, Punta Tobacor, and later on the range known as Los Treseroles, comprising of the peaks of Cilindro, Monte Perdido and Anisclo. The path eventually meets the valley floor at the Cola de Caballo (the horse’s tail waterfall) in the Circo de Soaso, a lovely open meadow, surrounded by huge limestone cliffs. The beauty of the hike is that the return journey is along the valley floor, which is a great walk in it’s own right.
After two days in the Ordesa Valley, we spent Wednesday exploring the hanging valleys of Bujaruelo. Both the Valle de Ordiso and the Valle de Otal are very alpine in character and much quieter than the Ordesa Valley. Both valleys are also very rich in wildlife, and whilst in the Valle de Ordiso, we were very lucky to see a large wake of Griffon vultures (I didn’t know that the collective name for a group of vultures feeding was a wake until 2 mins ago, everyday is a school day!). We also saw a number of marmots, alpine choughs and kestrels. The bar and refugio at the end of the walk is always a welcome sight at the end of a good day of hiking.
After a well earned rest day and evening meal in the town of Ainsa, Hannah took the group to the summit of Pelopin, a gentle hill (still over 2000m in height) from the Cotefablo Tunnel. The ascent of Pelopin is very straight forward, and gives some of the best views in the region, with a panorama that stretches from the Valle de Tena, all the way across to Los Treseroles and the mountains above the Anisclo Canyon. It’s also a brilliant walk for watching vultures swoop overhead. From the summit, the group descended through the abandoned village of Yosa to be picked up in Oto, just south of Torla.
For the group’s final day, the group, led by Phil, took a 4×4 up from Torla to the rim of the Ordesa Valley, a 40 minute drive that ascends 1000m. The walk along the rim of the valley gives unrivalled views of the surrounding area before walking over to the rim of the Anisclo Canyon, a much narrower, steeper sided water-worn valley. The walk then descends to the small and picturesque village of Nerin, where once again, the Hotel Palazio, can a welcome sight and chance to enjoy a drink in the late afternoon sunshine.
The group thoroughly enjoyed the varied hikes of the week, and we wish them all the best for their next adventures! It’s also goodbye to Ordesa for this season, we’ll be back next year!