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Snowshoeing in the Picos de Europa
8 days
Spain - Trip code SPC

Snowshoeing in the Picos de Europa

This snowshoeing adventure takes us through the dramatically beautiful snow-capped mountains of Picos de Europa National Park. We experience a variety of mountain scenery on snowshoe routes in the Eastern, Western and Central Massifs. As a fitting finale we leave the snow behind and trek along cliff-cut pathways through the imposing Cares Gorge. Snowshoeing is fun and easy, and doesn't require previous experience.

Trip highlights

  • Winter Wonderland - Snow shoeing through some of the most dramatic landscapes in northern Spain
  • Covadonga - Visit the imposing Basilica Santa Maria and walk around the stunning glacial lakes of the Western Massif
  • Fuente De - Ride the longest unsupported cable car in the world for dramatic views over the valley 1,834m below
  • Bulnes - Remote and picturesque high mountain village
  • Garganta del Cares - Dramatic one kilometre deep, twelve kilometre long gorge
Accommodation grade:
Standard
Our standard, mid-range accommodation offers a good level of service, often with other amenities such as a restaurant, bar, garden or swimming pool. Generally rooms will be comfortable with en suite facilities.
Walking grade:
Moderate
For those who are fit and active, these moderate walks are normally on good paths and tracks at low altitude. Days may include some fairly demanding ascents and descents, so previous experience is preferable but not essential.
Group Size:
10 - 16
Maximum group size ranges from between 6 to 20 people, depending on the type of trip, the transport and accommodation used and activities included. We rarely have groups that are smaller than five or six people and the average is 12 people plus an Explore leader.

Itinerary

Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.

Day 1 - Join tour Asturias Airport. Drive to Sotres

Meeting at Asturias (Oviedo) airport we drive by minibus for approximately two hours to the small village of Sotres. At 1045m Sotres is the highest village in the Picos de Europa National Park and our hotel, Casa Cipriano, lies at the heart of the village. Its cosy bar and verrandah are popular with both guests and locals.

Accommodation: Casa Cipriano Hotel(or similar)

Standard Hotel
Single room available
Meals Provided: Dinner
Day 2 - Snow shoe up to the Refugio Andara (1,700 metres)

The Picos de Europa National Park boast the highest, and arguably, the most spectacular mountain landscapes in the whole of Spain. This morning we explore the eastern massif or Andara Range as we snowshoe from Sotres to Collada de Antesoles and up to Refugio Andara (1700m). From the high-point of our climb we then descend to Jito de Escarandi (1291m), from where we return to Sotres by bus.

Our walk today is eight kilometres and takes around five hours. THe total ascent and descent is +/- 450m.

Accommodation: Casa Cipriano Hotel(or similar)

Standard Hotel
Single room available
Meals Provided: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Day 3 - Explore the Teju and Nevandi Valleys. Overnight in Espinama

Today we snowshoe from Sotres to Espinama, at the southern edge of the Picos, through valley systems that bisect the central and eastern massifs. We begin the day walking up the Teju Valley, before following the Nevandi River down to the village of Espinama, where we spend the night. The trail today takes us from a little over 1000m up a 500 metre incline, offering us some great views across the Picos before we descend back into the valley. Our luggage for our overnight stay will be transported on to Espinama by car.

Our walk today is 18 kilometres and takes approximately five hours. The total ascent and descent is +600m / - 800m.

Accommodation: Posada Casa Maximo(or similar)

Standard Hotel
Meals Provided: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Day 4 - Ride the Fuente De cable car. Snow shoe back to Sotres via the Aliva Valley

After breakfast this morning we drive the short distance to Fuente De, where we take the cable car up to the start of today's walk. The 900 metre ride to the upper station is said to be the longest unsupported cable ride in the world. It lifts us out the giant rock amphitheatre that is Fuente De, to reach the alpine meadows that sit perched some 1834m above. From here we can see out across the beautiful Liebana Valley and, as we snowshoe through the open spaces of the Aliva Valley back to Sotres, we enter a world that is home to chamois, eagles and even wolves.

Today's walk is 18 kilometres and takes around five hours. The total ascent and descent is +150m / -1000m.

Accommodation: Casa Cipriano Hotel(or similar)

Standard Hotel
Single room available
Meals Provided: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Day 5 - Snow shoe to Pandebano, Bulnes and Poncebos via the Texu Gorge

Starting from Sotres this morning we snowshoe to the small village of Pandebano (1212m), the site of a battle between Christian armies and the Moors in 718 AD. From here we then head down to Bulnes, where we stop for lunch. Until the 2001 underground funicular was built, Bulnes was an isolated and picturesque high mountain village that was only accessible by foot. From here we head into the dramatic landscapes of the Texu Gorge and on to Puente Poncebos (218m), where we rendezvous with our driver for the short ride back to Sotres.

Our walk today is 12 kilometres and takes approximately five hours. The total ascent and descent is +800 /- 1000m.

Accommodation: Casa Cipriano Hotel(or similar)

Standard Hotel
Single room available
Meals Provided: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Day 6 - Walk the Garganta del Cares Gorge

This morning we drive back down to Puente Poncebos, to the medieval bridge that spans the Cares River. This marks the starting point for our walk through the stunning Garganta del Cares, a dramatic gorge that drops over 1000 metres and stretches for some 12 kilometres. Today's walk is a low altitude hike, so will not require us to use snowshoes. Our path takes us along a trail that has literally been blasted out of the canyon walls and is considered one of the highlights of any visit to northern Spain.

Our walk along the Cares Gorge and back is 24 kilometres and takes around six hours. The total ascent and descent is +/- 300m.

Accommodation: Casa Cipriano Hotel(or similar)

Standard Hotel
Single room available
Meals Provided: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Day 7 - Snowshoe to Tielve. Drive to Oviedo

Our snowshoe walk today starts in Sotres and takes us up the Collado de la Caballar and across the mountains to Majada de Tobaos (900m), a grazing area in summer. From here we descent down to the authentic mountain village of Tielve (600m) to meet our driver for the ride to Oviedo, approximately two hours away. We spend the rest of the day exploring Oviedo's 'Old Town' and have the opportunity to have dinner in an authentic local restaurant.

Our last walk is five and a half kilometres and takes three and a half hours. The total ascent and descent is +150m / -650m.

Accommodation: Hotel Carreno(or similar)

Standard Hotel
Single room available
Meals Provided: Breakfast & Lunch
Day 8 - Trip ends in Oviedo

Our tour ends today after breakfast, in Oviedo.

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Walking and Trekking information

Walking grade
Moderate
Trek details
Trek on 6 days for an average of 3.5 to 6 hours snowshoeing each day (no snowshoes on day 5). We have graded this trek as moderate. Snowshoeing is suitable for beginners, snow shoes and walking sticks are provided. We recommend you bring gaiters.

What's included?

Included meals
  • Breakfast: 7
  • Lunch: 6
  • Dinner: 6
Transport
  • Bus
  • 4WD
Trip staff
  • Explore Tour Leader
  • Driver(s)
Accommodation
  • 7 nights standard hotel

Trip information

Country information

Spain

Climate

Overall, spring, early summer and autumn are ideal times for a Spanish trip - though the weather varies enormously from region to region. The high central plains suffer from fierce extremes, stiflingly hot in summer, bitterly cold and swept by freezing winds in winter. The Atlantic coast, in contrast, has a tendency to damp and mist, and a relatively brief, humid summer. The Mediterranean south is warm virtually all year round. Spain's Islands the Canaries and Balaerics experience very mild winters and warm summers making them ideal year round destinations.

Time difference to GMT

+1

Plugs

2 Pin Round

Religion

Roman Catholic

Language

Castilian Spanish, Catalan, Galician, Basque

Budgeting and packing

Optional activities

The following excursions and/or activities are usually available and may be arranged locally. Estimated costs are provided below for guidance only, are on a per person basis unless shown otherwise, and may depend on the number of participants. Prices quoted are correct as of the date these tour notes were originally issued but may change at any time due to currency fluctuations. Please note: These activities are booked and paid for direct with the supplier and do not form part of your Explore holiday contract.


Spa - From 15€

Clothing

Pack for cold weather walking. Bring layers including technical long sleeved t-shirts, microfleeces, a fleece or other warm layer, a waterproof and windproof jacket and trousers, warm windproof gloves, hat, scarf. Gaiters will also be useful.

Footwear

Bring well worn in, waterproof walking boots and warm tecnical socks. You will also need more comfortable shoes for the evening.

Luggage

20kg

Luggage: On tour

One main piece of baggage and daypack. We recommend a daypack with external straps to be able to attach and carry snowshoes when not wearing them. Remember you are expected to carry your own luggage so don't overload yourself.

Equipment

Small Rucksack/Daypack with straps: In any mountain region the weather can change rapidly and you must be equipped for this eventuality. Straps will be useful if you have to remove and carry your snow shoes. Your daypack should be large enough to carry the following: waterproofs, warm layers, warm hat and gloves, sunglasses, (sun hat), sun cream, water bottle (at least 1 litre), tissues and your packed lunch. This equipment usually weights approximately 3 to 4kg. In addition camera equipment and binoculars can be heavy so think carefully when deciding what to take. You may also wish to take walking poles, particularly for the descents. A blister kit and small personal first aid kit is also recommended.

Packed lunches are provided on walking days, as are hot drinks (tea or coffee).


Tipping

Explore leader
At your discretion you might also consider tipping your Tour Leader in appreciation of the efficiency and service you receive.
Local crew
Although entirely voluntary, tipping is a recognised part of life in this region of the world. Some local staff will look to members of the group for personal recognition of particular services provided.

In order to make things easier for you, the Tour Leaders may organise a group's tips kitty and if this is the case, they will account for it throughout the tour.

Country Information

Spain

Food and drink

The costs for meals may vary depending upon location, type of restaurant and number of courses eaten and so the prices given are an average guide. Local restaurants located off the beaten track may be less expensive, whereas an upmarket restaurant located in the centre of a major city may charge more.


Lunch price
£8.00 - 12.00
Dinner price
£16.00 - 20.00
Beer price
£1.50 - 2.50 (depending on the region/area in Spain)
Water price
£1.4
Foreign Exchange
Local currency
Euros
Recommended Currency For Exchange
We recommend you take the majority of your spending money in Euros cash.
Where To Exchange
We recommend that you change any currency into Euros prior to arrival. Bureau de Change are generally only found in major cities and large airports.
ATM Availability
In cities and most major towns.
Credit Card Acceptance
Visa and Mastercard are generally accepted in larger restaurants and some shops.
Travellers Cheques
Not recommended.

Transport, Accommodation & Meals

Transport Information

Bus, 4WD

Accommodation notes

Booking a Single Room

All of our group tours are planned and operated on a twin-share basis, meaning that the standard cost is based either on individual travellers sharing accommodation with another group member of the same sex, or people who book together sharing accommodation. Please refer to the tour notes where the single room option availability is detailed on a night by night basis for this tour, and the price for the available nights is detailed on the dates & prices tab by departure date. For Self-Guided trips the Single Room supplement offers the option of a single room each and is charged per person. The Single Room supplement also applies to the third person in a party of three that will be accommodated in a single room.


Situated in the heart of the region's highest village of Sotres, Casa Cipriano is a small family-run hotel perfectly located as a base for exploring the spectacular and little known Picos de Europa mountain range in the heart of northern Spain's Asturias region. A walk through the village leads to a viewpoint of the surrounding peaks.

The hotel features a bar as well as a restaurant serving home cooked food - not to be missed is the traditional and very delicious La Fabada Asturiana, a hearty soup made with beans, chorizo and black pudding. In winter an open log fire makes for a comfy nook in the bar, whilst in summer the terrace outside is a popular spot for guests and locals alike. Next door the family also runs a small shop, selling everything from small locally made souvenirs to cheeses and cured hams.

Rooms are simple yet cosy and feature tiled floors, wooden furniture and an en suite bathroom with a shower over a small bath tub. Central heating during the winter ensures a comfortable stay. There is a TV and hairdryer in all rooms.

Essential Information

FCO Advice

We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice click here.

For more information from Explore about travel advice, click here
 

Under 18 immigration guidance

Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.

Price Guarantee

Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions

Visa and Passport Information

Spain: Visas are not required by UK, Australian, New Zealand, US and Canadian citizens. Other nationalities should consult their local embassy or consular office.


If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may consider applying through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.

It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.
 

Booking conditions

Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.

Transfers

Find out more about Trip Transfer Terms and Conditions before you book.

Booking a land only package with Explore

Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information. 

You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.


Joining Tour Abroad

Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will now receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The transfers will be from the Explore designated airport or train station to the joining point of your tour, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.  

Free transfers are not available for Self-Guided, Polar, Tailormade or Tours for Churches customers.

If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.  


For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here

Insurance

It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.

Flight information

Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.


Flight Information

You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.

  

Booking a flight inclusive package with Explore

We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.

On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.

Spain

Vaccinations

Nothing compulsory but Tetanus is usually recommended as a precaution. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.

Dates, prices and booking

Date
Price from

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