Monday, November 11, 2013

Amazing Andorra: Hiking Paradise in the Pyrenees

TO SEE AN HD VIDEO OF ANDORRA'S GORGEOUS NATURE CLICK HERE (Please use Google Chrome for best playback.)

"Andorra?" you may ask.  "Where's that?"  

If you aren't familiar with Europe, then perhaps these are the questions  running through your mind.

Andorra is the sixth smallest European country at 468 square kilometers, was founded in 988 A.D,  and it is sandwiched between the borders of Spain and France, as seen here:



Its capital, Andorra la Vella, is the highest capital in Europe at 1,023 meters.  Another claim to fame is the long life expectancy of Andorrans, ranked close to the highest in the world at an average age of 82 years. Only Japan, Switzerland and San Marino can claim a longer overall life expectancy.

"Why do they live so long?" you may wonder.  "Is it the good food, fresh air, what ?"

Yes!  I would say it has something to do with both of those which I enjoyed during my one week visit.  

Andorrans enjoy their good food while living in such quaint villages such as Llorts...

The village of Llorts

...and they enjoy their fresh air while surrounded by stunning mountain scenery such as this:

Angonella Lake Trail

View above Angonella Lakes

Angonella Lake Trail

Reflection in one of the Angonella Lakes

Hut above Arinsal

I wouldn't mind settling down to enjoy the view from the above hut for the rest of my life.  :)

Though Andorra is considered a microstate, it is a small country with BIG VIEWS and should not be overlooked! 

For me, Andorra's most attractive quality is that it is nestled smack dab in the middle of the rugged Pyrenees mountains making it a hiker's paradise!  

There are several hiking routes that criss-cross and circumnavigate Andorra...


...in addition to well-marked day hikes ranging in colored stages of difficulty from green (easy) to black (difficult).  Buy the boxed set of 50 excellent maps from a tourist office in any city once you get to Andorra. 

This box of maps is a great deal at only 6 Euros!  and it looks like this:





My favorite hike was the Vall del Madriu ("The Mother Valley") whose name alone implies the significance the Andorrans of yore attributed to this gorgeous place.  In fact, it is so unique that it has been given World Heritage status by UNESCO as a cultural landscape exhibiting the "persistence of pastoralism and a strong mountain culture" (see UNESCO link at bottom).

In my mind, the beauty of Vall del Madriu alone would be reason enough to qualify it as a world treasure. Take a look!





If you need any more convincing that Andorra is a hiking paradise in the Pyrenees, let me leave you with these photos of another great hike called El Pessons:



If you do plan to go to Andorra and need to fly there, the closest main airport is Barcelona El Prat, from where I rented a car and drove the 200 scenic kilometers into Andorra.  

Here are other helpful links about this hiker's paradise:

1. HD VIDEO: "Amazing Andorra: Hiking Paradise in the Pyrenees"
    (Please use Google Chrome for best playback.)





Please visit Andorra!  You won't regret it!

Thanks for visiting Kolin's Travels.  Next week we will delve into the wonders of Mexico!  




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