This holiday is operated by a company based in the holiday destination and they will be able to provide expert local knowledge. They will be able to tailor make your holiday to suit your requirements not only concerning the dates of travel but also typically the standard of accommodation, and thus price. It is rare for local operators to be able to help with the booking of your flights.
Responsible tourism: Canyoning holiday in the Pyrenees
We are a small business based in the high mountain village of Bareges in the Haute Pyrenees. Bareges is a traditional thermal spa village, nestling just on the edge of the Neouvielle Nature Reserve and the Pyrenees National Park. In the steep-sided valleys of the Pyrenees, rushing glacial waters have carved deep, sculpted canyons. Experience the adrenaline rush of descending these hidden canyons, whilst also discovering how the mountains work. Our aim is to provide active holidays and promote awareness of the mountain environment (geology and geography, flora and fauna), to support the local people and community (history, culture, language and traditional way of life) and allow you to discover the beauty of the Pyrenees without upsetting their delicate natural balance.
We practice a “tread lightly” policy in the mountains. Canyoning relies on the natural energy source of gravity – walking, swimming, sliding, jumping and abseiling - we visit some wild and beautiful places, but leave no trace of our passing. Group sizes are small – between two and eight people – to minimise our impact on the fragile mountain environment, and maximise the enjoyment for our clients.
Although our canyoning trips require some short journeys by road, we have a single company minibus and offer transfers to reduce the need for guests to hire multiple vehicles at the airport. We promote travel to the Pyrenees by public transport (Eurostar to Paris, TGV train to Lourdes, local bus service to Bareges). Alternatively, guests can bring their own car on the ferry to Spain, thus avoiding short haul flights. Virtually all of our business is conducted over the internet, and we cut down on paper-consumption and airmail miles by posting all of our information on our website and communicating with our customers by email.
The French section of our canyoning holiday is based from our traditional house in a high mountain village. We spent two years restoring the house to its former glory, maintaining the original features and using local craftsmen whilst taking steps to improve the energy-efficiency of the house. Our work has encouraged a general "facelift" of the village. The house is now gas centrally-heated, by a very efficient, modern, on-demand boiler. Heating is supplemented with a wood-stove burning wood from managed, sustainable forest (with zero carbon debt). We encourage our guests to close their shutters at night to conserve heating energy. The roof and all exterior walls are fully-insulated. Washrooms are fitted with showers rather than baths, and the toilets have an eco-flush option to reduce water consumption. We use eco-friendly A-rated appliances, wash our own bedding and line-dry our linen outside in the mountain air whenever possible. Around half of our household waste is recycled, including glass bottles, tins and cans, paper/cardboard and plastic bottles.
We live and work in the Pyrenees year round, using local activity guides, instructors, craftsmen and tradesmen. In opening up the English-speaking market, and promoting the area through the internet, we hope to bring much-needed custom to the people of the Pyrenees and to strengthen the village communities. In the second part of the canyoning holiday, we visit the Sierra de Guara region of the Spanish Pyrenees, where we experience a totally different scenery, culture and way of life. Running a two-centre holiday allows us to contribute to the economy of a second isolated mountain community, as well as promoting awareness, and discovering the local specialities of the other side of the border!
Throughout the holiday guests are encouraged to shop in the mountain villages and support small traders. For the first part of the trip, all of our food is home-cooked with a French theme and including seasonal vegetables and locally-produced meats purchased from our village butcher – Monsieur Sabathie. Specialities include the Bareges-Gavarnie AOC lamb which never leaves our valley, delicious dry-cured mountain sausages, hams and pates. We introduce our guests to local honey, mountain sheeps' cheeses, confit duck and Tarbais beans produced in the SW of France. Locally-produced goods can be purchased at the village market on Wednesdays, or direct from the producers on open farm visits. The house bar is stocked with local wines and spirits, and guests are encouraged to try local dishes at a mountain restaurant on our night off.
For the Spanish section of the trip, we stay at a small, family-run hotel at the edge of the National Park. Here typical local dishes might include hearty broths and stews, cured sausages and hams, or fresh salads. Mountain food is simple but delicious.