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Leaving Barcelona at 8:30am, the tour heads north quickly leaving the hustle and bustle of a busy Mediterranean city behind, driving past Montseny. The Montseny is a 30,000 hectare natural park that was designated a world biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 1978 and is still a haven for wild boars, badgers, hares, foxes, red squirrels, eagles, and red partridges among others, living in beech, pine and oak forests.
Just an hour from Barcelona, and half way to the Pyrenees, we stop for a short break in the ancient settlement of Vic. Here you will have a chance to stroll around the town centre with its cathedral (a mixture of styles ranging from Romanesque to neo-classical), and its magnificent renaissance and baroque buildings; or to relax while having breakfast in the heart of the town: a beautiful arched square (one of the biggest of the country) where the market and other major events are held.
From Vic, we will continue up to the Pyrenees driving past the Montesquiu Castle, surrounded by dense Oak and Red Pine forests. Montesquiu Castle is a fortified building dating from the 10th century. Originally serving the military until 15th century, it later became a stately home.
The tour continues on from Vic to Ripoll, the founding of which has strong links to the evocatively-named Gifré el Pilós (Wilfred the Hairy), the first Count of Barcelona, who began a dynasty in the late 870s that would last into the 1400s.
From Ripoll, gateway to the Vall de Ribes, the tour proceeds to Queralbs, which, at an altitude of 1,236m above sea level, is the last vehicle-accessible village on the way up to our mountain valley destination.
Queralbs has a population of only 200 permanent residents, but numbers are swollen in the summer when the age-old tradition of transhumance brings shepherds and their flocks up into the higher ground. This has been documented tradition since 1273, when the infant Jaume, son of Jaume 1 of Catalonia and Aragon bestowed the right to the grazing land on the people of the village. Here you will be able to see the Church of Sant Sadurní de Fustanyá, built from stones so perfectly-hewn that legend has it that it was built by the fairies and witches said to inhabit the surrounding caves.
From Queralbs, you take the last 6km of the impressive rack railway*, construction of which began in 1931, up to an altitude of 1964m above sea level, into the stunning mountain valley, formed by the glacial action of the ice from all 7 surrounding peaks pushing downwards. In the valley is a sanctuary, originally built to house pilgrims to the valley, which takes its name from the Virgen de Nuria. Her image, buried in the earth, was reputedly unearthed by a very persistent ox. In the valley, you can enjoy the unspoiled scenery, sharing it with unusual birds and animals ranging from Gryphon Vultures to chamois, and golden eagles to marmots, and take one of the many different walks, of varying levels of difficulty, or you can try horse riding, open air bowling, archery lessons, crazy golf, or boating on the lake. If that seems too energetic, another option is to enjoy some of the traditional Catalan dishes available in the valley's restaurants.
Once again, we remind you to take warm clothes and good walking shoes. This tour does not require any special physical condition, but a reasonable level of fitness is needed if you wish to walk in the Vall de la Coma de la Vaca. It's up to you how far and how high you want to go!
From Queralbs, the return to Barcelona begins, arriving there at 7.30pm.
NB. The rack railway may be closed during the month of November due to routine maintenance. When we are unable to use the rack railway, we will offer various alternatives depending on the weather, the age and the fitness of the group. Alternatives will range from going by road up into the mountain valleys, from where there are a number of beautiful walks to suit a range of ages and abilities, proposing a number of low level mountain walks, or visiting the monastery in Ripoll.
Departures (Local Time)
8:30 AM (Hours: 8)
Cost Per Person (Adult)
Tour Cost: $135.00
Tax/Other Fees: $34.00
Total Cost: $169.00
Don't forget your warm clothes,good walking shoes and your camera. Lunches are not included but at the stops there will be a range of lunch options to suit all budgets. Available for tours on Tuesday and Saturday only
The specific meeting location will be listed in your confirmation email and voucher for this shore excursion. See the 'Redemption and Voucher Details' section below.