Our trip begins in Barcelona, Spain with a 10am group rendezvous at the city airport. Following introductions we transfer to the picturesque stone-built village of Taüll (4,885'), set in the heart of the Vall de Boí. The narrow, steep-sided valley is the gateway to Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici National Park, an area so remote that the Moorish Conquest of Spain did not penetrate this part of the Pyrenees. The valley boasts the densest concentration of Romanesque architecture in Europe with nine UNESCO World Heritage Romanesque churches. Vall de Boí is also home to the highest ski resort in the Pyrenees, and is famous for its medicinal waters. We enjoy a short hike this afternoon to stretch our legs and visit one of the valley's 12th century churches. Overnight in Taüll. Lunch and dinner included.
Hiking: 2.4 miles, 1.5 hours; elevation gain: 835'; Driving: 4 hours.
Our hike is in Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici National Park, the crown jewel of Catalonia’s protected areas and one of only two national parks in the Spanish Pyrenees. The area's glacial origins are evident in the labyrinth of meandering streams and 200 plus lakes. The park's name, Aigüestortes, means "twisted waters" in the local dialect. Our trail passes through alpine meadows with winding streams and grazing cows, climbs among granite slabs and rushing waterfalls until we reach a mountain hut situated near a glacial lake. After taking time to enjoy the views we return to our hotel in Taüll. All meals included.
Hiking: 6 miles, 5.5 hours; elevation gain/loss: 2362; Driving: 40 minutes.
We return to Aiguëstortes to revel in the natural beauty of the park. Our hike takes us through the San Nicolau Valley to a mountain lake (6513'), nestled amongst black pines and the high, rocky peaks of Cap de Crabes (8891'), Pic del Portarró (8970') and Agulla del Portarró (8776'). Following a picnic lunch with spectacular views, we return to our hotel in the Vall de Boi to collect our luggage, then transfer to the walled 14th century medieval village of Santa Pau. Set in the Parque Natural de la Garrotxa, this area boasts an extraordinary topography of extinct volcanoes. All meals included.
Hiking: 6.3 miles, 4.5 hours; elevation gain/loss: 1309'; Driving: 5 hours.
A local guide walks with us to explain the unusual geology and geography of the La Garrotxa region. Much-beloved by Catalan hikers, it is the best example of volcanic landscape in Spain, featuring 40 volcanic cones and more than 20 lava flows. Today's adventure offers a pleasing mix of mostly gentle trails and varied scenery. We hike in an unusual, lush beech forest that has grown on the undulating terrain of a lava flow. We also visit two of the area's most famous volcanoes: Santa Margarida with a 15th century hermitage situated in the center of its crater, and the fascinating Croscat, the youngest and highest volcano in the Iberian Peninsula. A former quarry inside the walls of the cinder cone has exposed its internal structure. Overnight in Santa Pau. Breakfast and lunch included.
Hiking: 8 miles, 6 hours; elevation gain/loss: 1653'/1014'.
We transfer to Cap de Creus Natural Park on the Mediterranean Coast, the most easterly point of the Iberian Peninsula. This point is known as the Costa Brava "wild" or "rough coast", due to its rugged character. En route to the coast, we stop for a tour of the Salvador Dalí Theatre-Museum in Figueres. There is free time for lunch on your own, and to take a stroll through the Placa Gala i Salvador Dalí to see more of the artist's creative sculptures. Our afternoon hike takes us to the magnificent 10th century Benedictine monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes set at over 1,700' above sea level. The next three nights are spent in Cadaqués, a charming seaside village that was home to Dalí for much of his life. Breakfast and dinner included
Hiking: 2.6 miles, 2 hours; elevation gain/loss: 803'/639'; Driving: 2 hours.
Our hike on coastal trails brings us to the promontory and lighthouse at Cap de Creus, which is set in a marine and terrestrial nature reserve. The views of the wild coastline with its high cliffs, hidden coves and scattered islets make it a hiker's paradise. There may be time to swim at one of the area's remote beaches. Following lunch, we transfer to Port Lligat, a small fishing community where Dalí created a home and studio. Set in a unique block of fishermen's dwellings, Dalí's home is now a museum that provides a glimpse into his inspirations and lifestyle. A short seaside hike returns us to our hotel for the evening. All meals included.
Hiking: 6.7 miles, 4 hours; elevation gain/loss: 1656'/1752'.
For our final hike, we follow a coastal trail from Cadaqués to the Faro Calanans, one of the few lighthouses in Spain that is only accessible by foot or boat. Along the way, we enjoy spectacular views of the blue sea and small bays. We return to Cadaqués with free time for lunch and dinner, and to wander the village's picturesque cobblestone streets. You may wish to visit Esglesia de Santa Maria, a magnificent church that dominates the landscape and offers incredible views over the bay. Breakfast included.
Hiking: 6.5 miles, 3.5 hours; elevation gain/loss: 860'.
In the morning, we transfer to our hotel in Barcelona. Lunch is on your own, then we take a guided tour of some of the city's notable sights including the Gothic Quarter, the famous street Las Ramblas, and the facades of Antonio Gaudi's Casa Milà (also called La Pedrera) and Casa Batlló. The remainder of the afternoon is free to explore on your own before we regroup for dinner. Sagrada Familia and the Picasso Museum are highly recommended for sightseeing on your own. Breakfast and dinner included.
Driving: 3 hours; Walking: 2 miles (2 hours).
Our tour concludes with breakfast. Transfer on your own to Barcelona's airport, or continue your explorations of this marvelous region of Spain. Breakfast included.