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The seven-day hike Carros de Foc in Aigüestortes National Park, the Spanish Pyrenees


We loved the seven-day hike Carros de Foc in Aigüestortes i Llac de Sant Maurici National Park in Spain. We had good weather most of the days and enjoyed the blue sky, the deep blue lakes and the wild terrain. We went there on our 2-week summer vacation in Spain in 2016. Tobias and Nikolaj were ten and seven.

Read about other hikes we have done here.

Map of Carros de Foc from alltrails.com. It is not exactly the route we followed, but close.

The seven-day hike Carros de Foc (www.carrosdefoc.com) is a round trip between 9 refuges in the Aigüestortes i Llac de Sant Maurici National Park. The story goes, that some of the refuge keepers spontaneously decided to take a circular walk past all the refuges in only one day. After that, the route was named Carros de Foc. The route is a classic of the Pyrenees and a must for mountain lovers. Therefore, we needed to go!

We had seven days and six nights, so we could not stay in all nine refuges. We also needed to find the right distance and difficulty for the boys. So, before the hike we discussed how far it was realistic to hike with Tobias (10 years) and Nikolaj (7 years). Both are experienced hikers, however, we wanted to have time for playing in streams etc. We therefore decided to make the route a bit shorter, and take a few shortcuts. This also meant that we not pass by all nine refuges, and therefore we were not able to get the Carros de Foc pass stamped at all refuges. You can see our itinerary below.

Practical information

We booked the refuges approximately 6 months ahead of the hike on www.pyrenees-refuges.com. This is necessary as they become fully booked early in the season. At the refuges it is possible to buy breakfast, picknick bag, and dinner. When we booked, we asked if they could provide gluten-free food for Tobias, and this was not a problem. However, the picknick bag they could not guarantee gluten-free. Therefore, we decided to bring our own lunch for the entire hike. We did a home-made muesli mix with oat flakes, dried fruit, sugar, and milk powder, so only water had to be added. This worked very well, and Tobias and Nikolaj love this muesli-mix.

We did not meet any other families with such young children as ours, however, both Tobias and Nikolaj did very well on the hike. Believing in them, made them believe! They also knew that we had booked accomodation for one noght in each refuge, and they could see that the refuges were fully booked. So they understood that we needed to walk to the next refuge every day. They simply put on their boots and backpacks every morning and started on the trail. They would often talk for ours about books or movies they knew. We have taken them hiking since they could walk, and their technical skills are very good. In technical terrain they are the fastest, with Helle close behind. Peter can only keep up at the less technical sections and on the steep uphills, where the motivation of the boys sometimes fade.

The only drawback we experienced as a family on Carros de Foc was sleeping in the dorms. The boys needed to go to bed far earlier than other people and sometimes, they woke from the noise. And meals typically were later than we would normally eat, so the boys got really tired in the evenings.

We brought sleeping liners for the dorms (blankets are provided) and sandals as indoor shoes for the refuges. Furthermore, first-aid kit, map of the area from Editorial Alpina, compass, personal toiletries, a set of clothes for changing, warm sweater/fleece, rain gear and good hiking boots. The terrain is high alpine terrain and requires good hiking boots – also it is very important to expect any type of weather. We had everything from sun and warm weather to cold, windy, rainy, and a thunderstorm. The hike was extremely beautiful, and we can recommend the hike to experienced hikers. This is not a hike for beginners.

Itinerary

  • Day 1 – Espot – Amitges Hut via St. Maurici Lake
  • Day 2 – Amitges Hut to Colomers hut via Port de Ratera, Lego Obago, Lago Major de Colomers
  • Day 3 – Colomers hut to Ventosa Calvel hut via Port de Caldes and Llacs de Travessany
  • Day 4 – Ventosa Calvel hut to E. Llong hut via Colieto Lake, Contraix pass and Contraix Lake
  • Day 5 – E. Llong hut to Colomina hut via Dellui lakes, Dellui pass and Tort lake
  • Day 6 – Colomina hut to Joseph Maria Blanc hut via Mar lake and Saburó pass
  • Day 7 – Joseph Maria Blanc hut to Espot

Day 1

At the trailhead
At the trailhead, ready to start
View
Blue sky, blue lake
Taking in the view
At Amitges refuge
At Amitges refuge

Day 2

Morning reflections
The trail passes many boulder fields
Summer snow!
The pass we crossed at day two

Day 3

Refuge Colomers
Refuge Ventosa Calvel
Dinner in the refuge Ventosa Calvel

Day 4

Climbing Contraix, the higest pass of Carros de Foc
The view from pass Contraix back into the valley where we started in the morning.
Lake Contraix

Day 5

The day started with rain

Day 6

Sunrise at Colomina refuge
Joseph Maria Blanc refuge in Mar Lake

Day 7

Morning reflections
Joseph Maria Blanc refuge, extremely beaytifully situated in the lake


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