A chance to explore the beauty of the Low Pyrenees, where the trails meander from the desert of the Badenas region up to the spectacular rock formations of the Sierra de Loarre, whilst we stay in beautiful hotels in fabulous locations. This trip can be combined with Pyrenees Altitude, which together form our two-week Pyrenees Ultimate adventure!
This is an adventure of contrasts and variety - from rolling, verdant hills and tracks through dense forest to arid desert plains, soaring peaks smoothed by centuries of wind and incredible gorges. Starting in the forested area near St Jean Pied de Port, the route takes us through the desert before continuing through a landscape littered with ancient castles, tracks and bridges over precipitous gorges to our final destination, Ainsa. If variety of terrain and scenery is what you are after, then this is the adventure you've been waiting for!
We meet at Portsmouth for the 8.15am ferry to Santander which is a great chance to spend the day relaxing and getting to know each other and also avoids the long drive down through France. The ferry and cabins are included in the price; if you would like to upgrade to luxury suites, please contact us after booking.
At around 2pm our driving starts along the coast until we get to the French border where we head up into the foothills of the Pyrenees to St Jean Pied de Port, a medieval town at the beginning of the Santiago de Compostela pilgrim trail. This is where we meet those who have not chosen to travel with us from Portsmouth. You’ll have time to enjoy the town and sample the local cuisine.
We start on forest tracks that turn to hills, providing spectacular views as we drive to the Bardenas Reales, a semi-desert which has to be seen to be believed! The region is full of surprising shapes, canyons, plateaus and isolated hills. A hairpin drive leads to the hotel at the top of a hill where you will enjoy breathtaking panoramic desert views and spectacular sunsets.
We travel along the edge of the Bardenas, giving us a chance to stock up on food, snacks and fuel before we head into the wilds! We’ll stop at the visitors centre and then head into the desert before travelling past Roman viaducts and a more verdant landscape to Castle Loarre (where we spend two nights), which sits on a mountain guarding the Pyrenees from invaders, surrounded by the Riglos crags and Santo Domingo hills.
For the next two days we venture from Loarre to the Sierra de Guara, a total contrast to the more barren Bardenas region. Water, with river crossings and ancient bridges, trees and rising hills - you’ll see the landscape slowly change and spectacular rock formations rise above us. We will visit a famous example of this at the hermitage de Marcuello, which has incredible views of the Mallos de Riglos.
We leave Loara and travel on tracks and trails through the rising mountains towards the medieval town of Ainsa with eagles and other birds of prey circling the steep walls of the canyon. We also visit the cave-drawings at Abrigos del Tozal de Mallata. Ainsa sits on a hillside overlooking the river and valley; the old quarter is worth exploring and there are excellent restaurants for your evening meal.
Those who have booked our ultimate two week trip will stay with us, however those who are travelling home will begin their journey via Bilbao to take the cruise-ship crossing from Santander to Portsmouth, arriving in the UK the following afternoon.
“Had a really great week with Ardent Off Road in the Pyrenees at the end of October. We enjoyed many different landscapes and wonderful views - it was a thoroughly enjoyable week. We are looking forward to joining Ardent Off Road next year for a Moroccan Adventure!”
Conditions are temperate at lower levels although it can get hot in the desert and as we approach the Central Pyrenees. Do pack warmer clothes for the evenings and be prepared for unexpected showers.
Ranging from forest and lowland tracks through dust and desert to rocky terrain, this is good driving on a variety of surfaces. Suitable for all driving abilities under our expert guidance.
Low-box, underbody protection and recovery points along with all terrain tyres.
We carry medical kits, our guides are all first-aid trained and we have emergency beacons to hasten location and evacuation in emergency situations. Lead vehicles have full recovery equipment which is tested before departure and we also carry a range of tools and spares.
A detailed requirements check-list will be sent to you six weeks before your departure date.
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