Botanical Tour for the Alpine Garden Society to the Pyrenees, French & Spanish: Gentians, Primulas, Androsaces, Orchids etc
The Pyrenean Mountains are one of the last great wilderness areas left in Europe. The high craggy peaks and the steep-sided forested valleys harbour an amazing variety of wildlife that has endured the long presence of man in this timeless landscape.
We start in the verdant Val’d Eyne and Pic du Canigou, before crossing Andorra to the magnificent 'enchanted mountains' of Aigues Tortes, one of Spain's most beautiful National Parks, finishing the tour in the famed Cirque de Gavarnie. Everywhere are carpets of beautiful blue gentians, pink primulas and elegant Snowbells. The yellow turk’s-caps of Lilium pyrenaicum are a magical sight, whilst in woodlands we’ll find Martagon Lilies and along tracksides Pyrenean Bellflowers and St Bernard’s Lilies shine in the sun. Alpine turf on the slopes of the Pic d’Aneto host Nigritella austriaca, Small White Orchid, Dactylorhiza caramulensis. Marsh Felwort, Gouan’s Buttercup, green-flowered Tofield's Asphodel, Pedicularis mixta, and purple Iris latifolia, all alongside a most marvellous display of Viola cornuta. Tight cushions of delightful Androsace vandelli bloom on rocks above displays of Crocus vernus subspecies albiflorus, yellow, white and ‘hairy’ Pulsatillas, and golden Potentilla aurea. Elsewhere are gems such as Androsace carnea subspecies laggeri, purple and orange Linaria alpina, Vitaliana primuliflora, Primula viscosa and lovely Adonis pyrenaica. Below, the Rio Noguerra Pallaresa Valley descends through aromatic meadows and woodlands where we’ll encounter an altogether different flora with many orchids, elegant Leuzea conifera, blue Catananche caerulea and the strange Coris monspeliensis. Sarcocapnos enneaphylla adorns cliffs by Gaudi’s Inspiration. White Pyrenean Saxifrages decorate cliffs like miniature waterfalls and lovely blue Ramonda myconi forms pretty gardens on wet rockfaces.
The butterfly fauna of these mountains is also exceptional and during the tour you can expect to see a hundred or more species, Apollos drifting lazily over the high alpine slopes, whilst in the warm valleys below choice species include Twin-spot Fritillary, Spanish Purple Hairstreak, Turquoise Blue, Marbled Fritillary and Pygmy Skipper. We’ll not ignore other fauna too with Pyrenean Brook Salamanders, Chamois, Golden Eagles, Alpine Accentors all overseen by the majestic Lammergeier.
Flowers, both subalpine and alpine. Also Butterflies, Birds and Mountain Scenery.
We will be ambling up to three or four miles on most days, optionally a little more on one or two, and the pace is always slow, ideally suited to photographers. Mostly on well-constructed footpaths but the best flowers are often on steeper slopes or rougher ground.
Included in the Price
All flights. Transport, accommodation and all meals in Spain, Andorra and France. Services of your leaders. Please Note: Drinks, tips, and items of a personal nature such as travel insurance, are not included.
One leader for a group of up to 6, two leaders up to 12, and a third leader will join the group up to the maximum group size of 15.
We start with three nights in the lovely Auberge les Ecureuils in the stunning Cerdagne Valley. On the edge of the hamlet of Valcebollère les Ecureuils is surrounded by wonderful countryside. The hotel has light comfortable rooms and the restaurant provides fine cuisine. Next is the excellent Hotel Poldo, beautifully situated in the Rio Noguera Pallaresa Valley close by the entrance to the magnificent Aigues Tortes National Park. Nicely furnished rooms, a superb restaurant and set in the village of La Guingueta d’Aneu and surrounding meadows; in short, an ideal base for six days. After a night at the Hotel l’Angleterre in Arreau, in the Neste d’Aure Valley, we move to the very pleasant and comfortable Hotel La Breche de Roland for the final three nights of the tour. All rooms on this tour have en suite facilities.
UK direct return flights are from London Heathrow, Manchester* or Bristol* to Toulouse. Indirect routes from regional UK Airports* are available.
*These routes may incur a supplement
Warm and sunny, midday temperatures sometimes reach 30°C, though it is cooler in the high mountains. Evenings are pleasant and nights cool. There will be showers during the holiday, and occasionally more prolonged rain.
How to Book
Contact us to check there is availability for the number of places you require. Download a booking form or contact us and we will send one to you. Complete and send to us. You will receive confirmation of your place and then a detailed information pack will be dispatched to you about twelve weeks before departure. Flower, bird and butterfly checklists are available.