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Guide to Visiting Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park

As you know, it’s been more than three months that we are all unable to travel. Recently, several countries in Europe seem to be relaxing the lockdown measures and slowly open their borders to travelers. Spain is one of those countries. Myself being unable to travel anywhere for the moment, I am delighted to bring you this guest post by Christa Adams, a travel writer based in Barcelona with a passion for exploration.

So, are you looking for nature in the Spanish Pyrenees? Look no further! Cascading waterfalls, mountainous scenery, and glacial lakes are what you’ll find when visiting Parque Nacional de Ordesa y Monte Perdido. This national park is nestled in the Pyrenees, located between Lourdes, France, and Zaragoza, Spain, in the province of Huesca. Here’s your ultimate guide to visiting Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park.

Why visit the Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park?

The park resides in the beautiful Ordesa Valley surrounding the scenic Pyrenees Mountains. Beyond its natural location, Ordesa y Monte Perdido is both a biosphere reserve and UNESCO World Heritage Site.

At the park, enjoy many activities such as mountain climbing, trekking to lush waterfalls, wildlife watching, and camping. It’s a great weekend trip from Barcelona or Zaragoza.

Valley, small river with mountains in the background
National Park of Ordesa

Some facts about this park in the Pyrenees

Covering 156 square kilometers, the park was established in 1918 and became Spain’s first protected area. Currently, the national park is home to over 150 species of animals. There are around five species of amphibians, eight reptiles, 106 types of birds, and 32 mammals. Eagles, groundhogs, wild boar, and antelopes are popular animals of the area.

Its name “Monte Perdido” means “Lost Mountain” in English and its Europe’s highest limestone massif. The name “Ordesa” comes from one of its four valleys: Ordesa, Añisclo, Escuaín, and Pineta.

Hiking route in Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park

How to get to the Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park from Barcelona

Getting to the national park is relatively easy, but there are a few different ways to go about it.

By car: You’ll drive for just over 3 hours via the A2. You’ll initially follow signs for Lleida as this is the halfway point and next major city. You’ll then follow along towards Barbastro until reaching the entrance of the park.

By train: Take the train at Barcelona Sants Station and head to Sabinanigo. Then, you will need to transfer from Sabinanigo to a train directly to the Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park. It will take three and a half to 4 hours to reach the park.

Rideshare: You could also check websites like Bla Bla Car, where you’ll find carpool with someone to the park. It is an efficient option if you don’t want to drive yourself and are, of course, able to find someone heading to the area.

Things to do at the Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park

Explore Waterfalls

One of the best things to do at the Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park is to visit waterfalls. Two popular ones to trek to are Cola de Caballo (Horsetail), and the Strait Waterfall.

Located near the Circo de Soaso, a natural rock amphitheater, Cola de Caballo boasts a cascading waterfall falling from a great height. Park visitors will need to trek the scenic 16 km roundtrip hike to visit the waterfall.

Hiking

There are numerous hiking trails to visit those cascading waterfalls this park is famous for. However, there are also routes to see Tozal de Mallo, a striking mountain of calcareous rock as well as glacial lakes and mountain top views.

view on Monte Perdido

One of the park’s best hikes is The Valley Floor. Follow along this relatively easy 16 km route, taking around 6-7 hours round trip. It’s famous for its flower-filled meadows, silver-fir woods, and cliffs, as well as the opportunity to pass several waterfalls before visiting the final one at Circo de Soasa.

White Water Rafting & Kayaking

Take on the valley with an exciting white water rafting adventure along Río Ara or navigate through the Río Arazas on a kayak. You’ll enjoy the scenery of the valley and stunning mountain backdrops of the national park.

Rock Climbing

You can easily incorporate some added adrenaline to your trip to Ordesa y Monte Perdido by rock climbing. Climb the impressive Tozal de Mallo or Terradest, another mountain of the park.

Visit the Añisclo Canyon

Añisclo Canyon is a must-see. It’s a deep gorge sculpted over centuries by the intense erosion of the Bellós River located outside the village of Escalona. You can access it via hiking through the abandoned village of Sercué, involving a scenic 3-4 hours long circular route. You’ll enjoy the picturesque views and the reward of making it to the stunning Añisclo Canyon.

View over Añisclo Canyon - Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park
Añisclo Canyon

Where to stay near the Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park

If you’re looking for an opportunity to be immersed in the nature of the Pyrenees, there are campsites in and around the park. Stay at Camping Río Ara for a family-friendly campground with a dining hall, a shop, and showers.

There’s also the option of staying in cozy bungalows or cabins at the fun-filled Bungalows Peña Montañesa, which also offers a tennis court for its guests.

Beyond campsites, there are also hotels and hostels in nearby towns. You can even stay in this 16th century beautiful stone building in the old town of Torla, a picturesque nearby village. The hostel offers both private and shared rooms as well as a kitchen, lounge, and dining area.

Torla in the Pyrenees with Monte Perdido in the background
Torla village

If you have visited the area or tried the activities described above, share your experience in a comment section below! ?

*Photo source: Pixabay, Pxhere

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