“A week long small group walking holiday in the Ordesa and Monte Perdido National Park. Hosted by wildlife enthusiasts and local naturalist.”
Ordesa and Monte Perdito National Park | Sierra de Guara | Geopark of Sobrabre | Birdwatching | Spanish Pyrenees wildlife | No supplement for solo travellers
Description of Wildlife and walking holiday in the Spanish Pyrenees
A week long, small group walking holiday in the Spanish Pyrenees, in a region known as Sobrabre, in the province of Aragon. The walking holiday is fully guided, staying in a beautifully restored farmhouse that is owned by your guides, Simon and Lucy. They live close to the Ordesa and Monte Perdido National Park, one of Spain’s oldest national parks, a spectacular karst limestone landscape dominated by the Monte Perdido massif (3355m). The walking trails vary from valley floors tracks, to high alpine meadows, paths carved into cliffs or through ancient beech, pine and oak forests, each providing a unique ecosystem within its own right.
Simon and Lucy are also wildlife enthusiasts and, with the help of local Pyrenean naturalist and official Ordesa and Monte Perdido National park guide Alberto Lopez, they will take you on journeys that are well known habitats for the likes of chamois, marmots and the magnificent Lammergeier (bearded vulture). There is a wonderful array of birdlife, including from the tiny firecrest, bee-eater, golden oriole, hoopoe, and wall creeper to the largest raptors in Europe. Alberto is founder of ATONPA, a regional ornithological organisation and, with two decades of guiding experience in the area, his knowledge and passion for wildlife, flowers geology and local history is second to none. There is a lot to see and learn here, the area being not only a national park but also a UNESCO Geopark, a site of geological importance, and a World Biosphere Reserve. There are more than 1500 species of flowers here, 171 species of birds, over 131 species of butterflies and 32 different species of mammals, with eclectic insect life, including the praying mantis.
During this nature week, we host you in our restored traditional Pyrenean farmhouse, dating back to the 17th century. Restored to a high spec, the bedrooms are spacious with ensuite bathrooms and modern rain showers. There are spectacular views over the valley. Local artefacts and antiques are throughout, and our large sitting room has a wood burning stove. Wi-Fi is also available. The price of the holiday includes just about everything except your transport to get here, and we do offer transfers from Zaragoza, for a charge of €60 pp return. Please note that we do not charge a supplement for solo travellers.
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Responsible tourism: Wildlife and walking holiday in the Spanish Pyrenees
We are passionate about the environment and the wildlife where we live. The Ordesa National Park is a World Biosphere Reserve and a ‘Special Protection Area for Birds’ with over 171 species, including the rare Lammergeier or Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus Barbatus). We support the Lammergeier Conservation Foundation by using guides from the Foundation, visiting the raptor feeding stations with guests and selling the Foundation T-shirts. This helps fund a breeding program in our area which has had great success. Our walks are led by experts in the area (or accompanied by information packs when self-guided) and ensure that fragile environments are not degraded in any way when walking.
There are also well over 100 species of butterflies and moths in our area, including the rare and beautiful Isabelina Moth (Actias Isabellae) and the Giant Peacock Moth (Saturnia Pyri). We have been successful in hatching the eggs and releasing the caterpillars for these moths.
At the farmhouse we have geothermal heating and hot water with minimal environmental impact. We also harvest rainwater for both the irrigation of our vegetable patch and garden, and for the washing machine.
We recycle all we can, including building materials and furniture. For example all the vanity units in the luxury bathrooms are unique secondhand pieces of furniture, adapted with a granite top and basin. All the furniture in the house is antique or secondhand and has been or is in the process of being restored by Simon, your host. Many of the external doors are secondhand and have been adapted. The beams and stone from the four year renovation of the property have been reused throughout the building process. We continue to reuse this material now as we landscape the garden.
We support the local economy wherever possible by employing guides, experts and teachers from our area. We offer English lessons to our guides, providing them with a greater opportunity for work.
We involve our neighbours with our holidays, offering the possibility to visit their houses which have changed little through the centuries. This gives a unique insight into the culture and traditions of the high Pyrenees. In return we make donations to the village fund, for amongst other things the maintenance of our historic chapel of San Urbez (hermitage).
We also offer a guided visit to the chapel of San Urbez, explaining stories about our saint, his miracles and the architectural features. For this, we ask our guests for a donation in the chapel collection box.
We are involved in trying to preserve and restore the local pathways, acting as volunteers as the need arises. We will be running a path clearing holiday in the future which we hope will also ultimately benefit the community as a whole.