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The Pyrenees

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Itinerary

Saturday
We meet at Dover very early (no later than 4.45am) on Saturday morning.  There's chance to introduce ourselves and check round the vehicles to make sure we're ready for the journey ahead.  We ask that all entrants arrive at Dover with enough fuel for approximately 175 miles.  This is to avoid having to go straight for fuel when we get off the ferry, and getting caught up in local traffic.  We catch an early morning cross channel ferry which should take less than 2 hours.  We will travel at a steady pace, aiming to drive at around 70mph, stopping for fuel and maybe a late lunch along the way, before arriving in the evening at our overnight motorway motel in plenty of time to get an evening meal nearby.  We aim to only drive for around 2 to 3 hours at a time, before stopping for a break.

Sunday
After a good breakfast (included in the entry fee), it's time to get out onto the French motorways to finish our journey, arriving at our week long base in Encamp, in the Principality of Andorra in the afternoon.  Time to unpack, and settle into your own personal "bungalow".  These are chalet style buildings of a similar size and layout to small static caravans.  Each one contains a kitchen/sitting area, 2 bedrooms (1 double & 1 twin), a shower cubicle/washroom, separate toilet, and an outside decking area.  All cooking/eating utensils are provided, and the bedrooms have blankets and pillows, although you will need your own linen/bedding or sleeping bags etc.  Electricity and gas are also included, and 2 shower blocks are available for use just near the bungalows if you'd rather have more room than in your bungalow.  The rest of the day is left free to settle in after the long journey, and to go into town to stock up on food and drink for the week ahead.  There is also a fully licensed bar on the campsite, and an outside seating area for those who just want to relax.

Monday
Our first day out off roading in the mountains.  Our guide vehicle will lead you high into the mountains until the tarmac roads finish, and the trails begin.  We'll take packed lunches with us, as we head into the mountains, only occasionally passing through little villages as we pass from Andorra over the border into Northern Spain.  The off roading follows a fully researched and documented route, which is followed using our guide vehicle's GPS computer mapping to ensure we're always on the right track.  Be prepared for some impressive views as we zigzag up the mountain sides, climbing to peaks of around 2750 metres (9000 feet!).  A camera is a must for this trip, as you'll want to have a record of these amazing places we're driving through.

Tuesday
Our second full day of off roading in the mountains.  Again we will cross over the border into Spain whilst on the trails, and while these routes bypass the main road border controls and customs, we're still likely to see a Police patrol up on the mountain trails.  These routes have long been used for the smuggling of tobacco, and the illegal trade continues today, although not as much as in years gone by.  Sheep and goat farmers are also amongst the other users of these trails that we're likely to encounter, and most will give us a friendly wave as we pass by on our route.

Wednesday
Wednesday is your rest day.  Whether it's relaxing by the pool, or exploring the area.  Andorra is also a shoppers paradise, and many items can be found at lower prices than here in the UK.  The shopping areas in town are lined with shops specialising in electronic goods, perfumes, and even car accessories.  Food and drink are also cheap here, with wines, spirits and cigarettes being far cheaper than back home.  There are also many cafes, bars and restaurants which offer a variety of traditional local, and English foods.  A trip over the border to Spain gives the opportunity to visit countless pretty villages, perched high up in the mountains, or if a European city day out is what you're looking for, Barcelona is only 125 miles (about 2.5 hours) away.  You may decide to visit Caldea, Europe's largest thermal spa, which is only 15 minutes from our campsite.  The entry cost is approximately 29 per person for a 2 hour evening session.  Caldea includes indoor and outdoor swimming pools and jacuzzi's, roman baths, Turkish foot baths, steam rooms and sauna's, as well as relaxation areas and a light/water show at the end of the night.  It's a great way to unwind after a day in the mountains.  Visit www.caldea.com for details.
On the evening, we will host a free barbeque in the campsite bar.  Fresh local meat will be cooked on an open fire, and washed down with a free selection of wines.

Thursday
Day number three of off roading in the mountains!  Some of the routes starts slightly further out into Spain.  It's well worth the short drive to the start of the route though, as we climb up the mountain side on what seems to be an non stop ascent of the rocky track.  Lunchtime leaves us at a fantastic viewpoint, with views across Spain and the Pyrenees range, where on a clear day you can see for over 200km!

Friday
Our fourth and final day of off roading.  Some of the routes we follow are actually used for skiing in the winter months, and we'll drive amongst cable car stations, and along pistes as we travel once again through the Pyrenees mountains.  There's dusty forest tracks, exposed hill climbs, short river crossings, and muddy lanes for us to contend with on our tour of this unique area.
On the Friday evening, there's an opportunity for us all to get together for a 'last night' tapas meal in a traditional local restaurant.  Reasonably priced food, washed down with red wine helps us finish off the holiday and spend our last evening together as a group.  This meal is usually offered at an inclusive price of around 30 per head, but this price will be confirmed at the start of the weeks holiday.

Saturday
Saturday morning is time to pack up and get those last minute buys from the local shops, ready for the start of our journey home.  After providing a free light breakfast of coffee and croissants in the campsite bar, we will leave Andorra around 9am, and after climbing back over the mountains into France, we'll once again be on the motorways heading back North.  We'll arrive back at a motorway motel in the evening for our last night on the continent.  Again, we should be there in plenty of time for an evening meal just over the road from our motel.

Sunday
After our last night in France, and another good breakfast at our motel (included in the entry fee), we travel the remainder of the French motorways that lead us back for our return ferry crossing.  Subject to a normal schedule, we should be back on English soil by 5pm.  Time to say goodbye to the new friends we'll have all made, and head off home.

 

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