High Route Pyrenees (HRP) - 800+km / 40 days hiking

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July 25th 2018
Published: August 14th 2019
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One of the most fun long hikes we’ve done

The Haute Route Pyrénées, (HRP) is a long distance hiking trail that follows the mountainous divide along the French-Spanish border. These grandiose mountains are home to some of the most dramatic scenery in all of Europe.

The 497 mile (800 km+) long HRP trail follows the backbone of the mountain range all the way from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Mediterranean Sea in the east. On average it takes about 45-50 days to complete. It took us 40 hiking days to complete (excluding rest days in Lescun, Salardu and Gavernie) – we wild camped* the majority of the trail which was just magical as often only us were camped by glacial lakes or in meadows and we also enjoyed beautiful Refugios (staff serviced huts which provided hot meals, delicious lunches & chocolate, overnight accommodation & some even with beers & wines) and bed and breakfast hotels in Lescun (France), Gavernie (France) and Salardu (Spain).

The HRP is an unmarked long distance trail traversing the upper reaches of the Pyrenees mountain range. The HRP is not an official trail and consequently there are several potential variations on the route. The most common is the one popularised by Ton Joosten's Cicerone Guidebook "The Pyrenean Haute Route".

Although a high mountain route, the HRP does not require any technical skills such as mountain climbing, rock climbing, or glacier travel. During the peak summer months, from late June to early September the entire route can be traversed without crampons or any specialist gear. Nonetheless, there are numerous mountain passes to cross, and so you should at least be comfortable with crossing snowfields, as well as terrain such as boulders and scree. And as always when travelling in the mountains, you should be prepared for any weather conditions.

*Wild camping is allowed throughout the Pyrenees, so long as you only stay for one night and steer clear of villages, buildings, and access roads. Generally, you will find established campsites around each hut or refuge on the French side of the border as well as around some of the huts on the Spanish side. You may see signs asking you to only set up camp from 7pm in the evening and to leave early in the morning

Here is rough outline of our trail which was one of the best trail adventures that Dave has organised – we would do it again in a heart beat!!!!

We flew from Sydney to Qatar enroute to Barcelona and short domestic flight to San Sebastian.

We departed from Hendaye / San Sebastian and completed the following five (5) stages

SECTION 1 Hendaye to Lescun

SECTION 2 Lescun to Gavarnie

SECTION 3 Gavarnie to Salardu

SECTION 4 Salardu to l'Hospitalet-près-l'Andorre

SECTION 5 L'Hospitalet-près-l'Andorre to Banyuls-sur-Mer

After completing the HRP Trail at Banyuls sur Mer in France, we enjoyed two beautiful nights to recover and decompress before heading by train to Girona Spain. This was a stunning medieval city (not too big) but was just so gorgeous. Some screens of the Game of Thrones were shot in Girona. We enjoyed beautiful food and wine. It was so lovely to spend 3 nights in Girona before heading the gorgeous Spanish Costa Brava coastline towns (north of Barcelona) for a luxury hotel stay (which was just divine) and we had 2 nights in Barcelona before we made our way home to Sydney to be reunited with our puppy, HB & home sweet home.

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