Saturday, 3 August 2013

Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici National Park

Today we had a whole day to hike but in the evening we had to drive to Andorra and be at the hotel by 8. Again, we started early.

The same way as in Ordesa you cannot go to the park using your own vehicle but instead of a bus you have to go by ´taxi´, a 4x4 car that can take up 8 people at one time. We drove to Boí then waited for our turn in the taxi. No need to go early as they generally start to leave with the first guests from 9 onwards. The drive was 20 minutes long on a windy road and saved us 2 hours of walking. At the time of writing a return journey cost 10.20 euros for one person. All day long the drivers take and bring back tourists from the park and the last one leaves at 19.00.

As soon as we started walking my jaw dropped. It was everything a mountain scenery needs to be. Rivers with crystal clear water running along the path, forest around you, cows, high, snow covered mountain tops, what more do you need? The whole walk was gorgeous.

We have heard a lot about the refugies, these houses where you can stay over night for a small fee, have a shower, and some places even give you breakfast. We always thought that these places must be very dodgy but when we saw this one right next to the lake with its solar panels we changed our mind. They looked decent, clean and well maintained. They basically allow you to cover more ground, to do longer trips and explore more of the mountains. Some people do week long trips here, sleeping in these places.

Estany Llong. Estany actually means ´pond´ and it´s a Catalan word. I finally learn how to say ´lake´ in Catalan and they call all their lakes ´estany´!

Many people stopped here for a picnic as the whole walk was flat so far. We moved on to higher grounds.

Alpine cows.

Almost on the top and Estany Negra.

The map said there´s a mirador 15 min walk away from this lake so we pushed a little bit more and went to check it out.

It was quite a surreal experience when we made our first contact with other hikers. There was a couple up there already and when we got there we said ´hello´ in Catalan, after all we were in Catalonia. Later I asked them in Spanish if they want me to take a photo of them and they asked back in English if we want a photo of us (we said yes, for the benefit of Paul´s mum). It turned out they´re from Belgium. When we got ready to leave a German couple just got there to see the view. I represented Hungary and Paul represented the UK. What an international experience in the middle of Spain (well, a bit further to the North)!

We started going back a bit faster as those pesky clouds were again gathering over the hills but this time we didn´t get wet. 

Cows, cows, cows! You could hear them from miles as there were bells around their necks. Paul called them ´the musical cows´ and even took a video.

The viewpoint at the end of the walk.

We celebrated our great hiking with a cup of coffee in Boí then got back in our little red car and drove to Andorra.


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