Monte Perdido National Park

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Before we left Rodellar, we had arranged to meet our Spanish friends, Ander and Olaia in a town called Broto, in the Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park, Central Pyrenees. Just by chance, we dropped past one of the campgrounds in Rodellar to pinch some wireless and check our emails. It was just as well we did, because that morning, Ander's mother had suffered an accident walking in the street, and broken her arm and nose! The result meant Ander and Olaia were unable to join us in the mountains.

Unsure whether we should still go, we discussed our options, decided Rodellar would be heaving on the weekend anyway, and went. Driving back out of the Sierra de Guara, the sky opened and gigantic hail-stones fell from the sky. Just when we though they couldn't get any bigger, golfball sized chunks of ice were hammering out car. I was convinced the car was going to suffer some pretty serious damage so we parked under a tree until it was over. Fortunately the Combo survived just fine, and we continued our drive into the Pyrenees.

Departing Rodellar
A break in the storm as we were leaving Rodellar.

Unfortunately, the further we went into the mountains, the weather got worse. In a short time, the landscape changed completely. The hills progressively became greener and greener, and more and more rugged. It couldn't have been more different to any other part of Spain we'd visited! We found a covered car park where we created the most incredible meal yet - canned sausage sandwich. After dinner we searched in the dark for good spot to park the car for the night - which we never found, and slept parked on the side of the road.

In the morning, we drove the remaining 5 kilometers into the Ordesa Valley in the national park. Despite the weather still remaining a bit dubious, we were absolutely gobsmacked by the severity of the landscape - Enourmous limestone cliffs rising out of the valley sides, with tops still covered in snow. I never imagined Spain to be so diverse.

Ordesa Valley
The river near waterfalls in the Ordesa Valley.

The rain stopped long enough for us to walk up the valley floor on a well formed track for a couple of hours. Along the way, the track stops at viewing platforms near a couple of mind-bending waterfalls, where thousands of tons of water are still carving their way down, probably amplified even more by the recent rain. The track winds its way through beautiful native forest and eventually out into the open near the head of the valley, where we turned around just in time for the weather to turn sour again.

Ordesa Valley

Ordesa Valley

That night we found a better place to park up. The next day we visited the other side of the park, but the weather was just as shocking. We managed a short walk in the Valley of Pineta, where I witnessed chunks of ice falling 400m over cliffs with incredible noises echoing through the valley. I shot some timelapse, until it rained too much and my batteries went flat, and returned to the car where Dani was putting together some lunch.

In the evening, we found a spectacular spot to free-camp, high up on a quiet mountain road overlooking the valley. I took some timelapses and we made an impressive dinner. The next day we departed to visit our French friends, Elodie and Laurent, just on the french side of the Pyrenees.


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