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I'm looking for a 5-7 days hike. Or something around that, more or less, I'm flexible.

The idea would be to stay away from hordes of tourists. We don't mind people, but we don't like queuing up on a hike or fighting for a place to put our tent.

How safe is it to tent? Bears? Pumas? Other wildlife I should take into consideration?

Where should we make our approach from? Spain? France? What are the pros and cons?

Any resources to maps, tracks, tips and tricks would be welcomed from people that hiked there or that have researched the topic extensively. Thank you!

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4 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Camping

If you're walking with a tent and pitching it up somewhere high in the mountains (this may not be legal, but if you're well behaved nothing will happen), you won't have a problem with crowds. Very few people hike with a tent. In general, as soon as you're more than ~2 hours from the nearest car park, you're out of the crowds. That being said, it may be difficult (and illegal) to camp in the wild, and you might depend on camp sites. With a small backpackers tent, you won't have a problem finding a spot, but you will be sharing a camp site with car tourists with big tents, electrical light, music, etc; those camp sites are in civilisation.

Wildlife

Bears are rare in the Spanish Pyrenees and non-existent in the French ones.
You're very lucky if you see a bear. There are no pumas. Wildlife is not a hazard for hiking in the Pyrenees.

Maps

On the French side, by far the best maps are the 1:25.000 map series from French IGN. However, for a long trip you might need many sheets to cover the route, so you could choose the 1:50.000 map series instead. On trails, these are usually good enough. The French maps cover part of Spain, too.

On the Spanish side, maps are less reliable. My experience with the official maps from Spanish IGN is that many hiking trails are simply missing on the map. Special park maps, only available for touristic regions, may be better. I haven't been to the Pyrenees, and can't recommend specifically.

Where to hike

I haven't been to the Spanish side of the Pyrenees. From what I've understood, they're quite dry. A friend who has lived in Toulouse (close to the French Pyrenees) recommends Grande Randonéé 10, which runs close to the border on the French side. The entire GR will be too long, but you can do a segment of it. GR's are well-marked with red-white markings.

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This is so helpful.

I know nothing about this park but was thinking about the Redolada a la Gran Facha circuit. Does anyone know it? I don't need technical experience for this, do I? It's just a hike, not climbing.

debbie

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Hello, you should post this answer as a new question so people can more easily provide you with recommendations. –  ppl Jul 26 '13 at 0:10
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About twelve years ago, I went hiking in Sant Maurici National Park in the Pyrenees. It's the other National Park in the Pyrenees (the first is the one Wajurgmitr mentioned).

There are two viable entrances to the park- from Boi in the west and Espot in the east - I started in Espot. There are ten or so refuges in the park, in which you can eat and sleep, but I think camping is also permitted under some circumstances. There are plenty of trails through the mountains, so a number of routes are possible. There's a famous circuit called the "Carros de foc" (Chariots of Fire) which covers a couple of the refuges and takes up to a week, so that might suit you.

And the park's beautiful- I can attest to that. I slept in a refuge located on a peninsula, surrounded by clear lake water and mountains- I wish I remembered the name, but I think it's in the picture in the top of this (possibly useful) web site.

This TripAdvisor thread describes one possible trek there - within it you can find this more detailed account.

Finally, the book Hiking in Spain has some descriptions of the park- in the link you can find a relevant excerpt.

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If you want to investigate the Spanish side, you could try the Ordesa Y Monte Perdido National Park. We approached from the French side by car, through the D-137/A138 tunnel, and then drove through the Añisclo Canyon to Nerin, which is a mountain village that makes a good starting point / base camp. It looks like an even more impressive approach might be on foot from Torla through the Ordessa Canyon.

When we went up into the mountains there in spring it was abandoned – there might be more people in summer, but I can't imagine crowds. Incredible flora and fauna.

From Nerin, there's plenty of incredible hiking, through the canyons and the Mt. Perdido / Mt Perdu highlands. For the long hike you want, you could consider the ambitious trek through the Breach of Roland and over to the French side.

Consider the possibility of utilizing the mountain cabins; Refugio de Goriz on the Spanish side and Refuge des Sarradets on the French side. The Goriz website also has trail conditions.

Most of the websites describing the hikes in detail seem to focus on the French approach to the breach, but hikers do go through.

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Nice links. I'm looking for more personalized hikes like the ones you posted (not everyone can spend 50 days on a hike) but they're really hard to find for the Pyrenees. The Alps have a lot more articles. Weird. –  Paul Irofti Jul 7 '13 at 12:36
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I edited my answer to mention the cabins and Torla. Happy hiking - I'm jealous! –  Oreotrephes Jul 8 '13 at 2:19
    
Neat! Thanks again! –  Paul Irofti Jul 8 '13 at 10:06
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I have done Torla to the top of Mnt. Perdido and back to Torla in 3 days without much hiking experience. One of the best hikes i have done so far and would recommend so. Try teaming up with some people (you'll meet on the way) for the ascent to the top of Mnt Perdido for safety though, but it can be done without much extra perparation. You can take the mountain side one way, and return through the canyon, or the other way around. Up high it may snow during the night, so be careful where to camp. –  Sdry Jul 10 '13 at 12:15
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