In Andorra they call it the Coronallacs, literally the Crown of Lakes. High in the Andorran Pyrenees this 60 mile circuit threads its way between high peaks, mountain lakes and snow spattered slopes whilst never descending below 1500m. It’s clearly set to join Europe’s famous mountain circuits, rivalling the Tour du Mont Blanc, the Haute Route and Alta Via I. Experience this journey with Ramblers Walking Holidays.
We have an adrenalin-packed five days on the trail, staying in four remote mountain refuges, with one night in a hotel at either end. Leaving our hotel behind we head to the L’Illa Shelter along the lowest and most forested part of our trail. Views over the Incles Valley with lead us to our second stay at the Jucla Shelter. The Sorteny Shelter is our destination for the day spotting butterflies as we walk in this little known national park. One of our hardest days walking at the top of the grade takes us up steep slopes along the Els Aspres path to the Comapedrosa Shelter. Today is the tough day at the top of the grade but the hard work is worth it as we awake the next day to amazing views of the sunrise hitting the peak of Comapedrosa and the path to our final night back in civilisation.
The huts are modern, staffed and well-equipped, whilst retaining their rustic charm – this unique combination guarantees their ongoing attraction. Their locations make for fascinating overnight stays with stunning sunset views to be enjoyed with a glass of wine at the end of a hard day’s walking. Even in the remoteness of the mountains the locals pride themselves on their cooking, so the food is always good.
As well as your Ramblers Walking Holidays leader, a local mountain guide will be with us throughout. They will not only guide us along the trail but also open our eyes to the remarkable flora and fauna all around us. Look out for eagles circling overhead at these rarefied altitudes.
As we circumnavigate Andorra our route often hugs the border with France or Spain. Some of the walking will be rough and challenging with the scenery constantly changing between open woodland, alpine meadows, waterfalls, lakes and snowy peaks.
We fly into Barcelona and drive three hours to Encamp where we will spend our first night in a comfy hotel before heading into the mountains.
Our first day’s walking sees us leave the hotel by private bus as we head to the start of the Coranallacs Route with our Ramblers Walking Leader and our Local Mountain Guide showing us the way. From Andorra La Vella we join the GR7, entering forests dominated by black pine and deciduous trees. Keep an eye out for wild boar, wild sheep, chamois and marmots. Once through the forest we emerge onto the beautiful Pla de l’Ingla where the river splits into two due to the flat terrain. Continuing along our path we’ll see the first of many lakes on our journey. Soon after we arrive at our destination for the day the, Illa Refuge at 2,488m. Not far from the shelter you’ll find the Forcats tarns, which add even more charm to the environment. After a hearty dinner take some time outside for your first night of no noise or light pollution, just the stars lighting up the sky. 8 Miles, 1,400m Ascent, 5hrs 30mins
As we wake up to the smell of fresh coffee and mountain air filling us with excitement we prepare to head for the next hut. From the Illa Hut we climb to the Collada de Pessons from where we can see the circle of lakes that make up the Pessons. We descend towards Les Bordes d’Envalira, a chance on our route to touch civilisation and top up on any supplies you might like. In the afternoon our route will take in a view point where you look over the two countries of Andorra and France before arriving at our home for the night, the Jucla Hut at 2,310m. 12 miles, 1,270m Ascent/1,450m Descent, 6hrs
The Jucla Hut overlooks a nearby lake which makes it well worth getting up early to catch the sunrise over this serene environment. As we leave the hut we cross over the nearby dam that blocks the river Manego and head for Lake Cabana Sorda at 2,295m. As our path takes us past Lake Cabana Sorda and the ascent to Collada des Meners our route down to our third hut is clearly visable as it meanders its way through the Sorteny Valley Nature Park. Here is a great time to slow down and watch the butterflies zigzag their way around you, guiding you to the Sorteny Shelter. 10 miles, 1,300m Ascent/1,650m Descent, 6hrs
Our route to our final hut takes us towards the town of El Serrat, passing the trout centre on route. As we near the Comapedrosa Nature Park we prepare ourselves for a fairly steep ascent to Clot del Cavall. Once past our steep ascent, which is very much at the top of our grade and over for a very short time, we are onto the Els Aspres path leading us to our overnight stay at the Comapedrosa Hut nestled at the foot of the steep mountains around us. 13 miles, 1,800m Ascent/1,550m Descent, 7hrs 30mins
As the day’s sun rays start casting over the peak of Comapedrosa it’s time to finish the final segment and head out of the mountains. We slowly descend and enter back into woodland offering the chances to spot grouse, deer or roe among other wildlife all heading back towards Caldea and our start point four days ago. Seeing Andorra La Vella again signifies that you have just finished circumnavigating a country! 13 miles, 500m Ascent/1,750m Descent, 7hrs
It has come time to bid farewell to the charming, beautiful and challenging country that is Andorra and transfer to Barcelona airport for our flight back to the UK.
See where this holiday travels to.
Once on the Coronallac's route we will be staying in 4 very well equipped and staffed mountain shelters. The shelters have everything you could need to ensure a good nights sleep ready for the next day.
At each of the huts our accommodation will be in mixed gender dormitories each night.
Each of the shelters has its own unique points whether it be the panoramic views out of the Illa Refuge or spotting the butterflies fluttering around you at the Sorteny Refuge, each will offer peace and tranquillity after a great days walking.
All meals are included as depicted in the 'Proposed Itinerary'. Meals in the huts are great from hearty warming stews to Butifarra sausage and beans a local Catalan dish with soups and salads a plenty. Lots to keep the energy levels up.
The family run Hotel Evenia Coray in Encamp provides an excellent base from which to explore the Andorran Pyrenees. The town and hotel are surrounded by stunning mountains and provide access to the high altitude terrain with relative ease. Clean simply furnished rooms include free Wi-Fi, TV, safe, telephone and private balconies. A complimentary breakfast buffet is served in the restaurant, as well as dinners, which are both included. There is a lounge, restaurant and bar, as well as a well kept garden to enjoy the mountain scenery after a satisfying day in the hills.