If you’re looking for something a little different to the usual two weeks in Marbella next summer (although there’s nothing wrong with that!), and an excuse to get the entire family off technology and into the great outdoors, Andorra is an excellent option.
Although better known for its skiing, in summer, as the snow melts off all but the highest peaks of the Pyrenees, the wild and beautiful terrain around La Massana reveals a fantastic opportunity to get up close and personal to nature hiking in the beautiful Coma Pedrosa Natural Park.
Coma Pedrosa Natural Park, La Massana
Named after its highest peak, Pic del Coma Pedrosa (in fact it’s the highest in the country, at 2,943m), Coma Pedrosa Natural Park stretches to encompass not only the mountain itself, but also the valleys, forests, waterfalls and glacial lakes in the surrounding region. A proliferation of birch, fir and pine forests and vast swathes of lush meadows makes it an idyllic place to explore on foot – whether by simply rambling the many wooded trails, or heading up the slopes of the majestic mountain to varying altitudes, staying in one of the high mountain huts.
Depending on the ages and abilities of your children, you’ll be able to pick and choose from a huge network of well-marked hiking trails.
The Tourist Office of La Massana offers a range of very cheap themed, guided excursions around the park. The route along El Riu Pollos (the River Pollos), for instance, focuses on the flora and fauna of the region. As you pass through the landscape and along the river trail, the children will be thrilled to catch sight of numerous Roe Deer, foxes and badgers, and if you’re a secret twitcher you might be more excited at a sighting of the lovely White-Throated Dipper.
The gentle El Riu Pollos excursion leaves every Sunday at 9am and lasts for around 3-4 hours. The cost is just €5 p.p.
Another excursion suitable for children is the El Pla de l’Estany route, which takes you along a glacial valley and through a diverse landscape of Scots Pine woods, deciduous forests, and areas of low, dense woody vegetation. You’ll hike to the soundtrack of birdcalls from the White Wagtail, the wren and the beautiful, busy robins, and children will be kept engaged with sightings of squirrels and tiny wood mice.
The medium level El Pla de l’Estany excursion leaves every Tuesday at 9am and costs just €5 p.p. It will take around 4 hours.
Independent Hiking and Walking
The trails in the valleys and even many on the lower slopes of Coma Pedrosa don’t require any great skills or special equipment, and as long as your children are of reasonable fitness and willing to put one foot in front of the other, they’ll be able to enjoy the experience. In fact, some of the completely flat trails are the most richly rewarding in terms of the abundance and diversity of flora and fauna, and in summer the valley floor is a veritable hive of activity and vibrant colour.
For adults and older children, exploring the many trails that scar the slopes of the mountain offers not only stunning views across the landscape, but also the chance to develop some amateur mountaineering skills. Hiking Route 66, for instance, is a moderate trail of just 4.5 miles that will take under three hours to complete, taking in the lower reaches of the slopes of Coma Pedrosa. Still of moderate level, but much longer, the route from La Massana taking in Coll Montaner, Seturia, Coll de Botella, Port de Cabús, Covit and finishing back in La Massana will take six or seven hours to complete.
If you’re a family of serious hikers and your skills are up to the challenge of heading all the way to the summit of Coma Pedrosa, book your place to stay the night in the Coma Pedrosa Hut, which is located on the southern slopes of the mountain at a strategic position along the route.
Coma Pedrosa Hut can be contacted on ph: +376 327 955. Note that there are only 6-10 beds available at any one time.
With fabulously long summer days (sunset isn’t until around 10pm) and such inspiring scenery to keep you company, the Coma Pedrosa Natural Park is an absolute hiking paradise – for all the family.
How to Get to La Massana
Andorra has no airport itself, so you’ll need to fly into neighbouring France or Spain. Reus airport, in Spain, is a popular choice with UK travellers as it’s just a couple of hours flying time from the UK. To get the rest of the way to La Massana, the easiest way is to pre-book a shared or private airport transfer with Shuttle Direct. Our friendly drivers will meet your family from the flight and you’ll be straight on your way – no waiting around with cranky children trying to navigate public transport. Reus airport transfers to La Massana take a comfortable and very scenic 3.5 hours.
If you’re planning on hiring a car once you arrive at Reus Airport (if it’s winter you’ll need to ensure the vehicle is equipped with snow chains) it’s a straightforward drive via the C14 out of Reus and then the N145 through Andorra.
If you’re driving all the way from the UK to Andorra with the family it will take around 12 hours driving time in total, but there are some lovely towns along the way in France to overnight, including (depending on the route you choose) Toulouse or Chartres.
Where to Stay:
Apartamentos Xixerella – The perfect budget friendly option for an active family holiday, the Apartamentos Xixerella offers modern, comfortable apartments (including a penthouse) in the heart of the gorgeous La Massana Valley. You’ll have the choice self-catering or dining in the onsite restaurant, and children will never be bored with mini-golf, table tennis and pitch and putt onsite, while you relax in the sauna, hot tub or Turkish bath.
Apartaments Giberga – Situated right next to an equestrian centre, and walking distance to the bike park and a host of hiking trails, the Apartaments Giberga are not only family-friendly, but they’ve thought of everything! Enjoy free Wi-Fi, views over the mountains, plenty of room to move, and a kitchen with all the facilities. There’s nothing left to want to please your entire family.
Hotel Rutllan & Spa – With gorgeous timber interiors and an unbeatable location for hiking, the Hotel Rutllan & Spa provides a luxury Alpine welcome to the entire family. Surrounded by hiking trails, you can spend all day in the mountains then come home to take a dip in the outside pool, enjoy the lush facilities of the wellness centre, and dine on delicious traditional cuisine in the onsite restaurant.