Are you wanting a walking/hiking holiday with a bit more ‘bite’ to it? Then look no further than Espot, in the Spanish Pyrenees! In the winter, a ski resort, but summer brings walkers of all ages, shapes, sizes and abilities to amble, stride, stroll or hike along the many and varied tracks that lead from the village.
Inspired, we booked 4 nights at the Hotel Surat in Espot, from which to head out on a different hike each day. This three star hotel is family owned and most staff spoke good English and were very helpful with information regarding the best walks etc. The place is immaculately clean and our room, at the front of the building, with a lovely terrace and comfy bed, was perfect.
We woke to a perfect, clear, sunny day and after an excellent breakfast, set off on our first hike. We decided to catch one of the National Park ‘taxis’, in fact very substantial Landrover Defenders’, to the highest point in the Park, Agulles d’Amitges, 2,638m and hike back down to Espot. The taxi ride took around forty minutes and was, in parts, extremely hair-raising, with the track narrowing to around the width of the truck, a graidant verging on perpendicular and sheer drops to one side! Not for the faint hearted, although our driver was clearly not fazed as these guys do the trip many times a day. We were dropped off well above the snow line, and made our way to the first amazing view, the lake (Estany) d’Amitges. It truly seemed as if we were on top of the world, with the beautiful lake surrounded by snow capped peaks, seemingly within touching distance. In face we were a long way short of the peaks! We began our descent and it would be true to say there was an ‘Oh Wow!’, or ‘that’s incredible!’ view round every bend in the mountain! The scenery, combined with the wonderful wild flowers of every description and colour, made the trek down to the next lake, Estany de Ratera, a sheer delight. The going was quite tough in places and a decent pair of walking boots, walking poles and lots of water, were a necessity, as the temperature was around 30 degrees, even at that height. After Estany de Ratera came Cascada de Ratera, a stunning waterfall dropping 100m into Estany de St Maurici, our final destination.
We reached Estany de St Maurici after 2hrs 45 minutes of walking through incredible scenery. We could have carried on for a further 2 hours, and walked back to Espot, but we chose the lightweight option and caught a Landrover back to the village.
We finished our amazing day with dinner at Joaquim restaurant in the village and both agreed that this was one of the most stunning walks we have ever had the good fortune to attempt.