Responsible tourism: Cooking and cultural 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.
Reviews of Cooking and cultural holiday in the Spanish Pyrenees
You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the holidays.
I am reborn! Simply the best holiday I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
It was OK
A bit disappointing really
Reviewed on 15 Apr 2017 by Ross Gould
1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?
Hiking in the fresh air of Spanish Pyrenees and being up close to many of the endangered lammergeier, or bearded vultures, soaring near the cliffs. There were a couple of times when we watched groups of three or four of these birds riding the thermals.
2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?
Bring a pair of good, newish boots! One of my boot's sole separated on the first day of walking. Simon, one of he hosts, and I glued and taped it up for the next outing, however the sole from the second boot began breaking away. Simon was kind enough to loan me his old pair. A day later, my wife's boot started to fall apart. Thankfully, Simon brought us to a sporting goods store before our last day of walking in order for us to buy new boots.
3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?
This part of Spain is very rural. By visiting and shopping at small local businesses, we felt it added a little to the local economy. The hosts, Simon & Lucy, recycle and repurpose materials in their establishment to great effect. (We suggested that our old boots be used as planters in the garden like we have done at our home.)
4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?
My wife and I had a lovely week. The mix of hiking, local cultural visits, tastings and home-cooked meals made a splendid holiday. Simon and Lucy were wonderful hosts during our stay.