Located in the heart of the Pyrenees and open during all four seasons, Aigüestortes National Park is an excellent example of the amazing ecosystems found in the Catalan mountains: peaks over three thousand feet; rivers, canyons and waterfalls reminding us we are in a land of water; More than 200 lakes of different colors and shapes and a large variety of flora and fauna, give life to this area, the only protected in the southern Europe. Departing from Espot, our first meeting with the National Park was through one of the most beloved routes by climbers and tourists alike – the Route of Isard (Ruta de Isard).
The route represents Catalonian nature at its best with various points of interest and highlights, as one of the most beautiful and greenest routes of the Pyrenees. The route consists of a walk of a little over an hour, climbing moderately from a height of 1650 m up to 1910 m, through a variety of breathtaking forests. The route begins at the Park ranger booth a few miles up the valley of Espot overlooking Lake Sant Maurici.
Among the route’s interest point is an area known to experienced mountaineers as the ‘Abetal’, the fir forest, a magnificent example of the forestall ecosystems found at the bottom of the Pyrenees. A second interest point would be the ‘Toll de la Gorga’ bridge; about 15 minutes into the route, the bridge allows for a full view of the fir forests and the masses of scots pine extending along the slope of Mount Pineto (have your camera ready for this one!).
The arrival at Chapel Sant Maurici is definitely the route’s highlight. Protected under a rocky threshold the little chapel dedicated to Sant Maurici is a place of worship where inhabitants of neighboring villages gather twice a year to honor their patron. The chapel stands against the delicate silhouette of Mountain Els Encantats, (2747 m) and Sant Maurici Lake. A spectacular culmination to a wonderful route.
For many hikers and mountaineers the arrival at the Chapel represents the starting point of a variety of routes and tracks, more challenging, which begin or end at this point of contemplation.
- Best seasons to visit: May to November
- Parking: The closest parking lot is Prat De Pierro located on the way between Espot and the Aigüestortes National Park
- The route is suitable for families and for all ages
- Visitor center in Espot – address: Carrer de Sant Maurici 5, Espot
Tel. +34 973624036
Opening hours: 9:00 – 14:00 15:30-17:45
(Sundays only in the morning hours, closed on holidays)
How to get there
Bus: Daily bus services take you to Sort from the Estació del Nord bus station in Barcelona. The bus company is Alsa. The fare is € 34.10 and the journey takes four and a half hours. Consult the website for the timetables.
From Sort there is only one bus a day to Espot also with Alsa. You can also take a taxi to the beginning of the route.
Car: From Barcelona: Leave Barcelona via the C-16/E-9. Get off at the N-260 (direction Sort). From Sort continue on the C-13 to Espot. It is a four and a half hour drive and the toll is €2.15 .
- Official tourist information site of Vall d’Aran
- Official information about Aigüestortes National Park
- Romanesque route of Pallars Sobira
- Romanesque route of Vall de Boí
- Tourist information offices
- Hiking and cycling routes in the Pyrenees.
- Historical Sites in the Pyrenees
- Distance calculator and driving directions
Where to sleep
Where to eat