Wildflowers in the Pyrenees
Profuse and sensational flora in the garden of Europe
- Join informal flower walks with Collett’s wildflower enthusiasts which run from the 4th to the 23rd June
- An explosion of colour in wildflower-strewn upland pastures with hundreds of rare species
The Pyrenees is a floral crossroads where the alpine gentians, primulas and pasque flowers of northern Europe meet the wild daffodils of the Iberian peninsula. Many species are unique and such is the variety (with around 160 endemic species) that the Pyrenees are often referred to as the Flower Garden of Europe.
Profuse flora and Fauna in the garden of Europe
By June as the snow recedes and the hillsides come to life, elegant pink snowbells and pyrenean buttercups are some of the first flowers to emerge. Carpets of wild daffodils are punctuated by vibrant blue gentians, cowslips, oxslips, burnt tip orchids and swathes of pink and yellow elder-flower orchids. By running water the dramatic yellows of marsh marigolds and globeflowers can be seen from afar, whilst closer inspection reveals purple large-flowered butterworts, dainty pink birds-eye primroses and a dazzling array of moisture loving orchids.
While out in the open, the feathery plumes of the Pyrenean asphodel reach for the skies, the equally stunning St Bruno, St Bernard and martagon lillies, can often be found nestling in shady spots.
Two endemics worthy of particular note are the Ramonda (often found in shady crevices with purple flowers rising from rosettes of fleshy green leaves); and in the limestone rocks and crags, the striking Saxifraga longifolia both of which you will not see anywhere else in the world. For a few weeks in June the delicate Lady’s Slipper also flowers in the Valle de Tena, which is so rare all viewings are conducted under the watchful eye of a local guard!
By July two more beauties unique to the Pyrenees emerge and flood the slopes: the electric blue flowers and the silver prickly leaves of the Eryngium bourgattii and the large, elegant and purple English Iris. Great yellow gentians and false helleborines burst into flower. Simultaneously delicate spring squills, cross gentians, dark red helleborine and Edelweiss continue to enchant walkers.
Even as late as August and September, some flowers are still emerging for the first time such as the proud blue and yellow monkshoods, the deep purple cups of the autumn crocus, and the large sunflower like heads of the stemless Carline Thistle.
Whilst we do not offer dedicated flower walks in the Pyrenees, throughout June the easier of our two organised walks is likely to provide walkers, who are also flower enthusiasts, with plenty of opportunities to enjoy the amazing flora that is on display at this time of year.
Pyrenees flower walks run from the 4th to the 15th June
“The mountain flowers of the Pyrenees are superb – I knew that before my visit. My two weeks of reconnoitre have convinced me that a varied and interesting programme of flower walks and visits can be devised to please both enthusiasts and those with a casual interest in wildlife, the able walker and those less vigorous. So, if you like your mountain flowers, why not choose a walking holiday in the Pyrenees with Collett’s next June? You won’t be disappointed.” – David Charlton, about his recce to the Pyrenees in Summer 2016
Whilst every year is different, due to changing seasons, we know exactly where to find some of the best flora in Europe, be it in the Dolomites, Picos de Europa or Pyreneees. As spring gives way to summer, our own wildflower enthusiasts organise a programme of walks, which are free of charge, optional and characterised by mesmerising flora and breathtaking mountain scenery. These will run, five days a week during June not on Wednesdays or Saturdays.
Stunning Flora in the Pyrenees
I am very fortunate to have spent two weeks searching for wild flowers in the High Pyrenees, writes David Charlton. As you may know, Collett’s have offered mountain flower walks in the Dolomites for many years. For the last two seasons it has been my privilege to lead flower walks in the glorious Picos de Europa in the north of Spain. This year I was set the challenge of finding enough locations to enable these very popular walks to be extended to the Pyrenees, where we have offered walking holidays for the last ten years.
I was based in the delightful and friendly Hotel Sabocos in Panticosa in the central Spanish Pyrenees. I am pleased to report that I had no difficulty finding excellent locations in which lovely high alpines, vibrant rich hay meadows and splendid roadside flowers all flourish. While the mountain walking in the Pyrenees tends to be quite steep and rugged, there are first-class locations where flowers can easily be seen a short distance from where cars can be parked. There are walks that are neither long nor challenging on which flowers can be examined and photographed at an easy pace. Equally there are rare and exquisite plants that grow only in the wild, high mountains that require a stiff climb in exhilarating scenery to locate.
Vital to any flower walk programme is a top-class flower destination that is easy to access. There are the four high passes of the Sella Massif in the Dolomites and Fuente De in the Picos. Could I find one comparable in the Pyrenees? Thankfully it was easy. Only twenty minutes drive from Panticosa is the Pourtalet Pass on which Spain’s border with France is located.
On the way up to it, right by the roadside, is a colony of lady slipper orchids (Cypripedium calceolus). Because they are rare in the Pyrenees and in such a vulnerable position they are kept under careful guard. It is encouraging to see that this exquisite orchid is spreading quite freely from several established plants.
The Pass itself was an absolute riot of beautiful mountain flowers. Thousands of Pyrenean fritillaries (Fritillaria pyrenaica) were at their very best. Everywhere was kidney vetch (Anthyllis vulneraria) in an astonishing range of colours – red, yellow, orange and white. Alpine pasque flowers (Pulsatilla alpina) were in bloom alongside colonies of the best Narcissus-flowered anemones (Anemone narcissifolia) I have ever seen. Gentians and the Elder flowered orchid (Dactylorhiza sambucina) in red and yellow colour forms abounded everywhere. The smallest and tightest form of creeping globularia (Globularia repens) forms prickly mats on the limestone pavements.
I spent the best part of three days on and around this pass, always finding new things and never needing to stray more than a few hundred metres from the road. Superb! There are excellent, easily reached locations just over the border in France. A large area of splendid limestone pavement provided a rich area for exploration and large, vibrant yellow Welsh poppies (Meconopsis cambrica) were along the roadside, so much more striking than the form that can become a weed in gardens at home.
Of course, seasons are unpredictable and I may have struck lucky to arrive just as the fritillaries were at their best. But my confidence that this is a high-class flower location comes from the sight of thousands of crocus leaves everywhere – there must have been sheets of them (together with many wild daffodils) just as the snow melted. Also I could see the later flowers starting to emerge, including many orchids and a few Pyrenean lilies (Lilium pyrenaicum), frustratingly only just in bud.
A couple of lower sites within easy reach of Panticosa held an abundance of two key Pyrenean endemic species I was most anxious to find. The first is the Pyrenean saxifrage (Saxifraga longifolia or Corona de Rey, the King’s Crown, in Spanish). Beautiful rosettes with long encrusted leaves grow in tight crevices in vertical limestone cliffs, taking perhaps six or seven years to reach maturity. They then produce a huge, spectacular spike of white flowers, a glorious sight for several weeks until they are pollinated, set seed and die, leaving the task of producing future generations to the small rosettes growing around them.
Ramonda myconi (Orella d’os or Bear’s ear in Spanish) also grows in tight vertical crevices but always in the shade. Related to the African violets widely grown as houseplants, it has large, delicate purple flowers with protruding stamens.
About an hour’s drive from Pantocosa (depending on how many stops are made to enjoy the roadside flowers!) is the magnificent Ordessa National Park. The scenery here is spectacular with soaring cliffs providing excellent but quite challenging mountain walking. What is its potential as a wildflower destination? Unless you climb high, above the forests of ancient trees that fill the valley, rich flower locations are not easy to find. But a valley running north just outside the Park provided a good circular flower walk with riverside screes and bogs holding many species usually found much higher and a large colony of Martagon lilies (Lilium martagon) about to flower.
I spent my final three nights at Nuria, formerly a monastery and now a hotel, located at 2000m in the east Pyrenees, access to which is solely by mountain railway. My mission was to locate a lovely species of buttercup, Ranunculus parnassifolius. Its flowers are normally white but in the high, wet screes above Nuria is a population with large blooms delicately marked with pink. Snow fell down to 2200m while I was searching but in a flurry of sleet I found a large colony just coming into flower. Their lovely pink and white goblets with flamboyant yellow stamens seemed impervious to the bleak weather and provided a perfect finale to my superb trip.
The mountain flowers of the Pyrenees are superb – I knew that before my visit. My two weeks of reconnoitre have convinced me that a varied and interesting programme of flower walks and visits can be devised to please both enthusiasts and those with a casual interest in wildlife, the able walker and those less vigorous.
Mountain Flowers – Pyrenees & Picos
by Cliff Booker & David Charlton
User-friendly, minimal technical language
beautiful photography and stunning close-ups
We are delighted to announce the forthcoming publication of a new pocket field guide to the beautiful flowers of the Pyrenees and Picos de Europa, written by two of our experienced and well-known Flower Walk Organisers, who will be organising wildflower walks for us in the Pyrenees in June this year.
A sequel to their successful book Mountain Flowers – The Dolomites, also published in association with Collett’s Mountain Holidays, Mountain Flowers – Pyrenees & Picos will contain more than 170 species, beautifully illustrated and arranged by flower colour and habitat, avoiding technical language where possible. It will appeal to those with little botanical knowledge but will be sufficiently detailed to be enjoyed and used by the more experienced.
You can buy a copy at £9.95 (plus £2.00 UK P&P) when booking your holiday or use our order form here or call us on 01799 513331.
In pictures – Wildflowers in the Pyrenees
The Pyrenees were stunning. Everything was well organised and thought out. The hotels were great. The Colletts staff were wonderful especially Jack. We've already booked another Colletts holiday for next year.
We have walked with Collett's before in the Dolomites and thoroughly enjoyed that holiday and were attracted to the idea of the Collett's GR11 holiday in the Spanish Pyrenees too, as we'd never been there. It was fab!
Value for money? Definitely.
We were particularly taken with the care of us by the staff. On our last day, everyone's flights back to the UK were put back very late to 9pm (Ryan Air again), but Colletts' and the staff gave us a great final day by driving us into Zaragossa and treating us to a delicious and inclusive lunch at the a local restaurant. There was then even time for a couple of hours to explore the city before departure to the airport. Instead of a day that could have been wasted, it was another great Collett's experience - well done,
We liked the flexibility of group or non group walks and how many days you could book plus the location. Staff went out of their way to indicate if the trail had any unusual terrain that might make people uncomfortable. Guides were so personable at dinner. So interesting to talk with both at dinner and walks. We only went on one walk on our own. We thought the route could have used some more detail but part of that is probably because we 're used to US trails which tend to have a lot of markers. We heard quite about about the Dolomites and it will be on our list for the next time we book with Collett's.
The GR11 Hike was challenging, as I wanted, and was truly amazing. Joe and Rachel looked after us in a very relaxed way, became part of the team, but did everything needed.
I'll be looking for my next Collett's walk soon
We're repeat customers and enjoy the holidays Collett's offer. Office Hour is one of the key strengths of Colletts. It works well and always addresses our needs. Your staff are always excellent, friendly and attentive. They seem to enjoy the work they do and it shows. They take an avid interest in their guests and consequently guests have a fabulous time. Delightful company and a very convivial atmosphere throughout.
Your Collett's hosts were great as always - very knowledgeable and helpful and good fun. Dominic was mature and measured beyond his years and his brother was great company.
An excellent stay at El Fondon Appartment - Collett's staff were friendly and welcoming. Their advice for walking was informative and useful for our needs.
Our second great holiday with Collett's (Pyrenees). Lots of positives - great hotel, great food, superb walks - but most praise is due to the fantastic hosts. They did a great job showing us the way on walks but also brilliant at entertaining our 14 year old son. Jack in particular stood out but all the hosts were lovely. We are already planning our next Collett's holiday.
Family connection but really impressed with the set up - Office hour a great idea - Reps really welcoming and professional. Went above and beyond, even giving up day off to entertain other guests one evening.
Collett's have Flexibility and opportunity to have guided walking in our chosen area. We were well looked after and felt the staff were interested to share their knowledge and opinions with us.
"That was a cracking week, wasn't it? Can we go back next year?" - Pretty amazing praise from our 15 year old lad?!
This was our first walking holiday and we couldn't have picked a better destination! The Hotel Sabocos is very comfortable and Panticosa is a great base for walking in the Pyrenees. Jack and the team were extremely welcoming and took the time to answer everyone's questions and make recommendations for hikes suited more to our level. We found some of the walks a bit challenging but the views were spectacular and well worth the effort. We had a great time and wished we could have stayed longer!
Thank you yet again - great, enthusiastic and friendly staff
Panticosa - beautiful. Fab view from our appartment
We did 4 great long walks in 5 days - all different, our teenagers enjoyed the zip wire recommendation and a lovely spot reading books by a waterfall - thanks Jack for that
We have been to the two centres in Austria, and the old Arraba centre in the Dolomites in the last few years. Many thanks to the team at Panticosa (Jack, Rachel, Jo and Rebecca) for helping us to have a very enjoyable holiday. Nothing was too much trouble, and Jack was very welcoming even though we arrived at nearly midnight after a delayed fight from Stansted.
The Collett's staff are always delightful young people, efficient, friendly and helpful and who have a genuine love of the mountains, which is transmitted to the guests. In addition to the stunning mountain scenery, the staff are what makes Collett's holidays so special.
We enjoyed the wide open spaces of the Pyrenees and the relative lack of other walkers compared to the Dolomites. However, given our level of fitness, the Dolomites was probably more suited to us and remains our favourite destination.
We were greeted at the resort by the Collett's team, who were very friendly and welcoming. Arrangements at Hotel Sabocos were all fine.David led the flower walks really well and he was very enthusiastic and encouraging - nothing seemed too much trouble - Some good friends of ours recommended Collett's to us. We were looking for flower walks and also some moderate to hard walking in the mountains, apart from in the Alps (where we had been on a similar holiday 3 years ago with Inntravel).
My friend and I had a great time hiking in the Pyrenees with walk hosts provided by Collett's and other guests. The location was good and the hiking options were plentiful.
A really lovely week in which to celebrate our anniversary. Our second holiday with Collett's and we are currently planning our third. Special thanks to Henry, Becky and Keith for their care and professionalism. Like MacArthur...We shall return !
We had previously found out about the Dolomites holidays and suggested this type of holiday for our friends who were convening from different countries. Spain was the location of their choice. We and our friends had a great holiday in a spectacular location and we learned a lot about Alpine flora.
We enjoyed interacting with other guests and got to learn their names. On the last day, another car broke our wing mirror on the track at Ordessa, and the hotel were really helpful lliaising with the local garage at Formigal. Could such information be providec to guests re such local facilities. We enjoyed visiting the monastery at St. Juan and wonder if the 10 km walk there might be included in the future for guests- wild flowers or a moderate walk? Wild flower walks were really interesting and also the evening talks- our whole group really enjoyed these! It was a finale to locate one blooming alpine lily!! The Collett's and hotel teams were approachable, attentive and responsive throughout and contributed to an atmosphere of cheery conviviality. We were helped enormously at the end of our visit regarding a broken wing mirror repair, which we needed urgently since we were self driving through France on departure.
A cracking 2 weeks in the Pyrenees staying at the Sabocos Hotel, there is very little that can be faulted. The hotel was very comfortable and well located for all the walks in the region, the staff were friendly and the rooms cleaned daily and the food was excellent,plenty of breakfast to keep us going in the morning and not one duff meal from the 3 courses in the evening which were introduced by Davide every evening, with the meal came plenty of wine.
The Collett's staff were excellent from start to end, with the daily office hour which were very informative about the choices of walks and the local knowledge, they were always going out of their way to try to arrange a walk that would suit everyone. Even on their day off they were still willing to help us to go on a horse ride as they could speak the language, unfortunately the ride got cancelled because of recent rain, but it's the thought that counts. The walks themselves were very pleasant not just because of the 'spectacular' views, but thanks to the liveliness and the chats with the staff and the other clients. We were also blessed with the Vuelta cycling race passing by the town. Overall the holiday was a very pleasant experience making it all the harder to return to normal life. A special thanks to Catlin,Dan,Flee and Beth who accompanied us on our walks and always managed to lead us home safely.
The week on the GR11 in the Pyrenees was one of the best walking I have had recently. The two leaders - Rick & Caitlin ensured
that everything ran smoothly & that the whole group enjoyed their walking.
We needed to be warned about a closed road (the round Spain bike race was in the valley) and Rick succeeded in contacting us in time.
We like the flexibility of the holiday dates, the ethos of the company and the way the staff are so enthusiastic, helpful and informative. The Picos de Europa holiday was excellent last year. Friends who recommended Collett's stayed at the Dolomites centre.
Just back from a 10 day stay at Hotel Sabocos, Panticosa after our best Collett's holiday yet, having previously been to The Dolomites and Picos. The hotel accommodation, food and staff were excellent, especially David who made dinner times a delight.
The Collett's staff, as always, were brilliant and it was nice to be greeted on arrival by Ric who remembered us from 3 years ago. We did most of our walks with Caitlin, Flee and Dan who non-guided us on walks that we would not have done otherwise. They were marvelous hosts and great for conversation and information on the walks.
The Pyrenees is an outstanding area of natural beauty and we managed to see chamois, marmots, eagles and vultures as well. The whole experience was enhanced by other guests who made the walks, office hour and dinner entertaining. Must be Austria next.
Although we were in self catering we took considerable advantage of the Dinner option and thoroughly enjoyed both the quality and variety of the food.
My family and I went on a Collett's Holiday in 2012 and always considered it one of their standout holidays.
Fabulous holiday. We were able to do a number of proper mountain walks with a real sense of seclusion, altitude and spectacular views. Saw a good variety of flowers and animals despite it being late August, the Pyrenees demand further exploration. The walk leaders were great company and making sure everyone was looked after and entertained!
Thoroughly enjoyed the time spent with the other guests and hosts, Hotel Sabocos is probably the best hotel we have stayed at for this style of holiday.
Another fantastic trip with Colletts walking GR11 in The Pyrenees. Our guides were Cam and Beth who were both very professional and informative. The five days walking consisted of hard, long treks but were just what we expected. Both hotels we stayed in were very comfortable and the food was really good. The night in the refuge was also a great experience.
Thanks guys for a most enjoyable week!
Best food ever. And David (waiter) lovely. The Hotel Sabocos owners incredibly kind. The routes are not as well marked here (vs. Dolomites, for example), so we did not feel as comfortable branching out on our own. The laminates are helpful but one can still take the wrong path - often many - and cairns may have blown over.
Mountains were outstanding, everything we'd hoped for. Other participants were lovely, we miss them already. Staff leaders - not guides! - were wonderful, particularly those with experience of a few years. More experienced leaders know that it is not the goal (getting somewhere) that is key, but the journey, which includes looking at plants, taking pictures, and absorbing the views along the way. Staff who have not had a prior summer may focus only on the goal. Specifically, Ric, Flee (Felicity) and Dan were amazing people and wonderful leaders.
We went to Corvara, Dolomites last year and had a wonderful time. Thus we wanted to go with Colletts again. Being from the US, it saves enormous research/effort time to go with a group. Plus we meet interesting, fun people.
Thanks for a wonderful holiday. Hotel Sabocos, staff leaders, and admn. staff (Viv, Kelly) were all absolutely terrific.
We know that if Collett's have a base somewhere, it will be outstandingly beautiful, with top notch accommodation. Your staff are always very welcoming, extremely enthusiastic and interested in people. By the end of the week, we felt that we were walking with friends. Sam, Amanda and Caitlin were very helpful and were good at encouraging the less adventurous members of our party without making them feel that they were holding the others up I did not have any trips with Ric but he too was very friendly during office hour. The team went out of their way to organise horse riding for us as well as a trip to the high ropes park and advised us about other, unaccompanied walks we might lie to tackle.
We had a lovely week with an excellent team of Rick, Amanda, Sam and Caitlin. The Collett's team went out of their way to make sure everyone enjoyed their walking and got the most out of the holiday. Their friendly professionalism and sociability really helped. Magnificent scenery and weather thank you!!
Panticosa is fantastic and the Valle de Tena is so beautiful. the welcome at the hotel was warm and office hour was informative and interesting. the staff in the hotel couldn't have been more accommodating and friendly The walks we did were well guided and just super. We would love to come again for longer. One tiny negative about the hotel was that one of our rooms, on the top floor in the eves and on the south west side, was very hot. An electric fan would be an excellent addition.
I very much enjoyed my stay in Panticosa. Rick and his team tried very hard to meet the needs of the whole group (which was very mixed in terms of age, ability and character) and to make everybody feel welcome. The hotel and food were excellent.
The four staff at Panticosa are a terrific advertisement for everything that is good about Colletts. Ric, Sam, Caitlin and Amanda were great value - professional, knowledgeable and patient (very important since none of us were in the first flush of youth.) They're a good team and made the holiday that little bit special.
The four staff at Panticosa were wonderful, and we greatly appreciated their support, advice and hospitality. They are an excellent young team, and a real credit to the organisation. They were great company, but also knowledgeable, caring and sensitive and they worked very hard to make sure the walks were suitable for everyone.
We had an excellent holiday and feel very satisfied with the experience.
This was our fourth Collett's holiday, and easily equaled our stay in the Dolomites, which I had thought the best walking holiday we'd had. The accommodation and meals were excellent, and the hotel staff were wonderful, even meeting us at our 3am arrival. What really made the difference though were Ric, Mandy, Sam and Caitlin. Although a diverse group they perfectly complemented each other. They were unfailingly cheerful, helpful and knowledgeable, and were easy and entertaining company. We're already planning our next trip.
Collett's was a recommendation from a colleague who had visited both Panticosa and Picos. In resort staff member (Ric) greeted us and made sure we had everything we needed. He was friendly, helpful and professional as well as being very knowledgeable.
Thank you to the great staff that made our week brilliant - Ric, Sam, Amanda and Caitlin - and of course the closely David at dinner!!
Arrival Comments: Despite arriving later than expected, we were immediately greeted, shown to our rooms, and invited to join the other guests,(already at dinner) as soon as we were able to do so. Your staff were so friendly and helpful, tailoring our needs to various route possibilities. They are very impressive young people. Entirely comfortable and happy with being "at your own risk", hopefully this means that all of the party have mountain walking experience and are self-sufficient and competent.
Flexibility of walking options as one of us is a stronger walker and it was good to know that we could both do suitable walks without limiting the other.
Excellent value for money.
As a long standing customer and previous visitor to the Pyrenees, the brochure and website were not important in our planning of the trip. Weather forecasting for the Pyrenees is not the best, but this is not the fault of the staff, they found the most accurate forecasts that they could. Given that the route marking in the Pyrenees is not to the same standard of the Dolomites, we thought the route laminates could be a bit more detailed.
We seemed to find ourselves out with Rémy on most of our walks (it just worked out that way) what a top chap! Perfect pacing for the group and just good fun to be with. We've been travelling with you since 2007, we like the freedom to travel when we like and for how long. Also the ability to either 'do your thing' or just relax and join a group suits us perfectly.
1. Ric, Amanda, Sam and Caitlin were extremely friendly and knowledgeable, nothing was too much trouble. On one particular day I was the only client who wanted to do the organised walk, for safety reasons Ric organised Amanda to join us, as three is the minimum number for a walk. I had been prepared to do a walk on my own that day but Ric and Amanda we more than happy to ensure that the planned walk went ahead. On a couple of sections I struggled with some very steep downhill scrambling, they ensured I descended safely, this was all done in a tactful manner. At the end of the walk I was tired but very happy, I enjoyed my beer when I got back to the hotel. The attitude of all the Collett's staff in particular Ric reinforces my high opinion of the Collet's staff and is one of the reasons why we are repeat customers.
2.The Hotel Sabocos is very clean and well run in particular the restaurant and reception staff are very friendly and helpful. The multiple choices on the menu suited all tastes and was wholesome as required after a day in the mountains. The noise from the stream outside the hotel can on occasions seem a bit loud, but it never stopped us sleeping at night.
3.The scenery is absolutely stunning, some walks start from the hotel the majority of the remainder required short journeys on good access roads. We will return to Collett's/Hotel Sabocos.
We were welcomed extremely warmly by Will – who couldn't have been more helpful. All 4 Members of staff (Will, Claire, Clare and Remy) were friendly, enthusiastic, helpful, careful and professional at all times. They were superb and we would like to thank them
The hotel staff and the four young people representing Colletts were very welcoming and made us feel at home. My friends invited me to join them and they had already used the company and venue before.
I really enjoyed this holiday and it was a great way to discover the area.
The Collett's team were fantastic - very confident, considerate and helpful. A really good flag to be waving for employing your people.
I understand that walking to the slowest pace is important but when some members of the group have another agenda - ie flower spotting, they perhaps needed a bit of chivying along for the sake of the rest of the group.
We both enjoyed an excellent holiday at Panticosa. The hotel was comfortable and the food was excellent. The staff - Rich, Sam, Caitlin, Amanda and Cam - were all welcoming, considerate and great company.
Inevitably, I compared Panticosa with my previous experience at Haus Valentin. As I expected, this area of the Pyrenees does not offer quite the range of walking as the Dolomites. Probably as a result, this meant that the two walks on offer were of a similar standard. I think that snow, which cut out some of the harder trails, probably also contributed to this. The flexibility to extend some of the walks was helpful.
Hotel staff/owners wonderful. Improved English translations of evening menu would help! Tuna in what appeared to be a vegetarian option would not suit a lot of people(personally not a problem). Staff extremely good, knowledgeable and helpful all round except for the following comment: A number of routes had not been walked by any of staff in resort and none of the staff had been there before.
Internet search for organised walking in Pyrenees with flexibility and especially two levels of walks. Impressed with website and prices.
Our thanks to Ric, Cam, Sam & Caitlin & the owners & staff at the Sabocos...for all being fantastic. This was our first experience of Colletts and we thoroughly enjoyed our holiday, the company of the other guests and staff and the walking was wonderful. We particularly enjoyed the flexibility and informal but professional approach to it all..suited us perfectly. We will be off to try other destinations!
We find your knowledge about the accommodation and local area invaluable and the flexibility offered to put accommodation on hold whilst we organise other holiday arrangements extremely helpful.
We received a warm welcome and the added bonus for us was that we met Will, Claire and Remy whilst we were at Haus Valentin earlier in the season and it was great to see them again.
The room for office hour was really pleasant. We found the Collett's team knowledge of walks and weather conditions extremely helpful and accurate which enabled us to make the best choice of walk linked with our personal preferences in hot weather conditions to which we were unaccustomed. The advice to have your own transport for the Pyrenees we felt was essential.
All our holidays with Collett's, summer and winter, have been pleasurable. You have the right ingredients for us!
Thank you to Collett's for yet another fabulous holiday, this time in the spectacular Pyrenees. Our time in the Pyrenees was made more special to be welcomed by Will, Claire, Remy whom we had previously met in the Dolomites and Clare. Thank you to each of them who in their own individual way enhanced our holiday with their friendliness, help, knowledge and practical skills. As a team they were excellent in dealing with all the day to day arrangements and we thoroughly enjoyed the walking programme and scrummy lunches. Thank you.
All four staff were really great – well informed, good company, and able to motivate two normally less than enthusiastic teenagers! Been with you to the Dolomites and had a great time! We all had a fantastic time - please pass on our thanks to Will, Remy, Claire and Clare for being such lovely hosts!
I was surprised that none of the 4 staff had been in Panticosa before - and hence were walking the walks with us for the first time too. Having said that, they were all very good.
You offered something that was different, at a good value. We liked the idea of there being 2 different walks per day, coupled with a decent size group of like-minded people.
A good holiday, and we will certainly do it again with you in the fututre.
We left the hotel at 10am which meant we were at the airport at midday. Our flight did not leave until 5pm. We were the only people in the airport for a couple of hours! Perhaps leaving the hotel could be made a bit later for later flight times if it were possible or at least giving warning that this would happen at the time of booking.
Your resort staff are the icing on the cake! Fantastic young people with the right attitude to customer service. Friendly, helpful, nothing too much trouble, knowledgeable – I can't think of enough kind things to say about them.
We were reminded every day before the start of the walk and during office hour the risky elements of each walk were fully explained. There was no room left for doubt. You had been recommended by close friends who happened to choose to spot your website for one summer walking holiday some years ago.
Value for money? Yes I think so when you add up all that was on offer. Even if you did not choose to walk in a group, the staff were still on hand to advise on other walks or trips.
The flexible start & finish dates meant we could combine a walking holiday with some time elsewhere in the region. Having never been on a walking holiday we liked the fact that we could choose the level of walk to suit our capabilities.
We arrived just after office hour had started. We were met by a staff member, shown to our room, left our cases and immediately proceeded to join office hour. Well under way by then. Routes for next day explained etc. However we did not receive an actual briefing re the hotel amenities and Collett's initial intro. We did ask lots of subsequent questions and did eventually have all the info we needed. This is not a reflection on Collett's staff but more to do with our late arrival. Definitely looking forward to our first walk.
All in all accommodation and meals were first class. However the hotel website indicated there was a minibar. There was none in our room. The fridge element would have been an asset in the extreme heat. That and a room safe would have been helpful. Didn't ruin our holiday in any way though. When booking, albeit a bit late in the season we asked for a room with a balcony. Advised in advance that this may not be possible. Imagine our surprise to have a room with a terrace. Well done Hotel Sabocos and Collett's! Only problem was it was so hot we couldn't make full use of it. Some folk are never satisfied.
No pressure for anyone to go on the organised routes of the day. Alternatives readily suggested. We were looking for a walking holiday in the Pyrenees esp one that covered the Ordesa Valley and the surrounding area. My wife and I Were last in the area 36 years ago. The Ordesa valley did not disappoint!
All in all we had a very enjoyable week both walking and socially. I must congratulate Collett's' staff for the interaction they had with the guests. It must be hard to always be chatting to different people each week, not knowing how they would be accepted or what was expected of them over and above the walking side of things. Our thanks to Will, Remy, Claire and Kiwi Clare for a very enjoyable week and wish them all well wherever they decide to go in the future.
The staff were fantastic and made the holiday. The fact that you could decide your own degree of involvement in group activities and doing your own thing, with advice from the team, was great. We would love to come with you again but unfortunately we have been to all your other destinations so may have to wait until you have new destinations before we come again. We'll definitely recommend you to our friends.
We wanted a holiday in the mountains at a time of year when there would be a good range of flowers in bloom. We liked the idea of moderate walking in view of our ages and levels of fitness. The hotel was very good and the owners were friendly and helpful. Your team of "guides" were excellent, although we walked only with the two Claires.
Outstanding service over email and phone. Extremely helpful with choosing an alternative location once we realised that our available dates were fully booked for the Dolomites.
Reps were fantastic – really friendly and professional.
One of the route laminates we used lacked a bit of detail but this was because the current cohort of reps had not had a chance to walk the route completely and update them. However their advice about the walk up to the point they had walked was spot on. We really cannot praise the reps at Panticosa enough – they were fantastic and good fun. It was great to be able to easily chat with them and the rest of the group while walking as a group. It really felt like a group of friends rather than a "leader" and a group. The reps really were the icing on the cake of a fantastic holiday :)
Combination of the mountain areas we wanted to visit, excellent online reviews, excellent independent ratings for the accommodation you use and sensible prices for the holidays.
Thank you for an excellent holiday. Whether walking with the group or self-guiding the friendliness and professionalism of the reps was outstanding and the hotel and food was fantastic. We look forward to our next holiday with you!
Will, Claire, Clare and Remy all did a great job of describing the routes on offer each day, and how to get to the start, water sources, refreshments etc. It was "beastly" hot and they were great on details of shade vs sun exposure as well.
You have a great bunch of young people! I had met Will and Claire before, but they were all great, interesting to talk to, well informed, pleasant and helpful. We had some big groups with varying paces , but this was not a major issue.
The walks I did were well designed and risks (apart from the heat!) were modest, and well-described at Office Hour. Our reciprocal duty of care was always well described.
Previous (wonderful) experience in the Dolomites. Great for the solo traveller, finding a ready-made group of generally like-minded walking companions, in some outstanding scenery.
Thanks for the welcome pack, arriving to find milk, teabags and a teapot was really nice after a long journey. Online handbook was good, really helped us with our walks. The driving map we used was a bit out of date as they have built a motorway and changed some of the signs. Sometimes the walking maps could have done with a few landmarks especially walking across pasture but if you use the larger map in conjunction its fine.
As a lot of guests had small hire cars and we we had our own car whilst were happy to drive there did seem to be a reliance on us to transport guests. so did not get a break from driving and some of them were quite a distance. Not sure there is much alternative but we did note at the end Colletts had a mini bus which took some guests out the day we didnt drive. Only an observation, not a complaint.
It was made clear time and again we were responsible for our own safety which we understood. However they were very good at making sure they had our phone numbers, first aid kit etc as both were needed on two of our walks so was very happy with arrangements.
We had been with you before and like the concept of being able to walk in a group for social and safety and also so we can split up as a couple and husband can do harder walks and get a challenge and I can still have a lovely walk which is not so taxing.
Book again? Yes definitely. We find Colletts very good value for money.
An excellent company, very friendly and personal service with mountain friends (reps) who do an excellent job of ensuring you get the maximum enjoyment from your stay.
It was great being welcomed by the staff and shown the hotel. I think it is just fine to make all of us responsible for ourselves. I did have a minor accident–fell and cut a finger–and it was all handled just fine. I was looking for walking holiday in the area and found excellent reviews on the web. Overall, this was a fantastic holiday! Thanks so much for making it happen.
Our first walking holiday and was concerned we were fit enough Person on phone very helpful. Our four mountain friends were excellent! First holiday of walking and intend to do it again. Flexibility as could arrive and depart when we wanted to... Really enjoyed the company of your young staff and the general camaraderie of the group was great fun
We were the youngest in the group, 39 and 40. This average age was 50, not that this was a problem - we quite liked this as the company and conversations were entertaining and insightful. As a young couple it gave us something to aim for in life. We did two hikes, I made a video of our first hike https://animoto.com/play/Yl3acRKhyasFJ41MWvOfkw
Bevan, our guide, was great. Kind Regards -Adrian
User friendly website and easy to navigate. When registering prior to holiday everything worked! Check List was very handy. Printing out the A-Z information at home used a lot of ink! Having found Collett's on the internet, my wife & I were impressed with our entire dealings with the company - from receiving a return call to our initial enquiry on a Saturday afternoon through to easy registration on the website, comprehensive information, a text message prior to our arrival in Panticosa and young affable leaders who were prepared to tailor the walking to our needs, were great fun and good company. Such attention to detail and customer focus is a rare but welcome find! We had a thoroughly enjoyable holiday in the Pyrenees and would love to return. Collett's are now on our (small) list of companies we would recommend without hesitation.
Jack and Alice were old friends from Haus Valentin in February. Their care, patience, constant good humour, friendliness and helpfulness were truly outstanding: it was a great pleasure and reassurance to have them hosting the GR11 walks. The first rate quality of the young staff is always the key to the success of Collett's holidays in my opinion and these two (and I believe the other two) were absolutely first rate and deserve the highest praise.
Good reputation and do just what we wanted to get to know walks and to have some independence - We have a property in France and wanted to explore the Pyrenees..and this did just that, giving us some knowledge of the area and a chance to do our own thing too. excellent , mature staff, who worked hard and developed a good understanding of our requirements.
Thoroughly enjoyable experience. Office Hour was a rally positive feature as were the shared tables for meals. Collett's and hotel staff were outstandingly friendly and willing to help.
The tapas lunch was lovely and an excellent way to meet up with some of the fellow walkers going on the GR11. Very welcoming and a nice touch. As we were on the GR11 week we didn't attend the normal office hour. However every evening before dinner Hanaa and Bevan went through the route for the following day, handing out maps when required. This worked very well. Have been with Collett's before and enjoyed the previous holiday. Also wanted to walk sections of the GR11 without needing to camp/stay in refugios every night. Collett's week on the GR11 fitted in with our requirements.Special mention must go to Bevan and Hanaa for 'going the extra mile' to ensure the week's walk on the GR11 was most enjoyable and memorable. Nothing was too much for them and little extra touches, such as carrying nibbles for us to have in the refugio and marking the birthday of one of the group with fizz and cake, were much appreciated. Both Bob and I wish them all the best for the future.
We thought that the information provided was fantastic, maybe you could let people know that there is washing up liquid, laundry powder etc. provided in the self catering units and to really emphasis that you need to bring towels.
I know it's hard to include photos of everything but a photo of how great the self catering unit is would be good. thanks for dealing with questions in such a quick, positive way. We had no trouble at all booking our holiday from oz and we really appreciated the skype call early on. Arriving tired and hungry after a long drive our welcome to the resort by Hannah was fantastic, she got us settled in and excited about the week ahead and made sure to ask if there was anything we needed.We did one of the guided walks each day, so didn't use routes/maps etc. We loved the way the walks were explained each night, the discussions and access to reference books. The guides were more than willing to listen to suggestions, amend plans or add extra on to accommodate the groups ideas/needs. It was wonderful listening to everyone's tales from their days walk and we thoroughly enjoyed each night. We had a wonderful holiday and the week with Collett's was a highlight of our five weeks away. We will definitely book with Collett's again.
We would love to thank all the wonderful guides who made our time so enjoyable with their enthusiasm, knowledge and friendliness.
It may of been nice to participate in a few more harder walks, however the group staying in Panticosa were a really good group to go out walking with each day, so it was a brilliant week.
The 4 four Colletts staff in the resort were a pleasure to meet, I would like to take the opportunity to wish all 4 all the very best in whatever they go on to do next.
Because I had been with Colletts many times to the Dolomites, I wanted to go to the Pyrenees instead this year and have always liked the way Colletts work and the opportunity to go along and join like minded people walking in the mountains.
Certainly like to return to Panticosa, very enjoyable week. The weather was even kind!
Great location and wonderful walking – we had a great time.
Our car broke down on the drive down through France so we missed a day. The Collett’s staff at the resort negotiated with the Hotel and offered a 1-day deferred start if we wanted.
Hotel and food were excellent – always 3 options available on the menu with a number of local dishes.
Walking in Odessa and round the Pic du Midi were fantastic.
Great Collett’s team on site – thanks Hanna, Alice, Bevan and Jack
See you next year!
The staff in both centres were excellent and were very skilled in making sure everyone was included and all ages were catered for at mealtimes, there company and knowledge was excellent in both resorts,however we would add that the staff in the Picos were outstanding, difficult to put your finger on the reason but they worked very well as a team and provided outstanding hosting skills. we wish the young people in both resorts all the very best , and can honestly say that they are your greatest asset!
Everyone in the office was very helpful, especially as we added another person to our ferry ticket and then had to change our date of arrival in Panticosa by a day. Nothing was any problem.
Great holiday and we would love to return! Thank you!
Hannah went above and beyond the call of duty providing freshly baked goodies almost daily – very welcome!
The formula of providing optional 'guided' walks daily combined with flexible arrival and departure days ensures a very sociable atmosphere in which to enjoy some fabulous settings.
The Collett's team was outstanding as usual. You couldn't ask for better hospitality.
Office hour worked really with with whole family agreing the walk the night before. Everyone then knew what wa expected the next day so everyone got on with it without questioning it. This was a really important aspect to the holiday which we all liked and helped make it such a success. Well done for setting it up that way. We aso liked the chance to meet the other guests that we would walk with as we were S/C so otherwise would have been out of the loop a bit. The kids both really looked forward to office hour we even attended on our last night when we were no longer walking the next day! It was good to chat over the days sightings of wildlife etc.
The four organisers were really outstanding and worked great as a team. They were all great at getting on with people and we all liked them. The kids (aged 13 and 17 loved talking to them). They were excellent role models for our kids and good company and the walks and effective leaders for us and the rest of the group.
I am a very experienced mountain climber and would be able to lead all the walks easily myself, however, we went with colletts for the family experience and meeting others and also so that I did not need to carry the organisational role for my family. Although I know what I am doing in hill ground I had complete faith in the guides abilities
The whole experience was very well organised so thanks for that. It is probably the best family holiday we have had.
The individual walks selected for each day were very well worked out to get the full Pyrennes experience and great views, good wildlife and give full days walk but not getting too tired.
As a butterfly enthusiast I got 65 different species during my holiday. Most of these came in my first two days in the Pyrennes with Colletts. That kept me more than happy. Whales and dolphins on ferry crossing on the outward and return legs were another highlight of the trip.
We have used Colletts before and have always enjoyed our holidays with you. They are well managed and enjoyable with friendly, professional staff. The team in the Pyrenees were always available to help with anything. Thanks again for a wonderful, memorable holiday.
The staff went out of their way to welcome us even though it was their day off (Wednesday). The organisers (Alice, Jack, Hanaa and Bevan) were absolutely brilliant. They made a very special holiday extra special. Best Brochure plus holiday met our needs which were self-catering in the Spanish Pyrenees and to be able to decide whether or not to join in walks (which in the end we did all 7 days of our stay!).
just returned from a great week in the company of Jack, Alice, Bevan and Hanna, all were first class hosts. there wasn't a day we didn't enjoy to the full which included a day driving around the southern area to see the vultures.
highly recommend this as an ideal way of being introduced to the Pyrenees.
make sure Jack finds you the elusive Black Woodpecker, he knows just where to look!
The organisers (Alice, Jack, Hanaa and Bevan) were absolutely brilliant. They made a very special holiday extra special.
Best Brochure plus holiday met our needs which were self-catering in the Spanish Pyrenees and to be able to decide whether or not to join in walks (which in the end we did all 7 days of our stay).
Thank you, we had a wonderful time
After seeing advert and calling the office I got a good feeling about our holiday in the Pyrenees from the conversation I had with the staff.I was confident I had made the right choice. The holiday was everything I was looking for and so pleased I used Collett's. I must also give great credit and praise for our guides Jo and Tom,both of whom were fantastic and really worked hard to make it a most enjoyable holiday!
The Colletts staff and the hotel staff were outstanding and made the holiday a great success for us. I would definitely recommend Collett's. I can't say enough good things about the staff. The formula suits us very well, where you can stay with the group or do something quite different (we went horseriding and canyoning while we were there).
Looking forward to coming back again!
You came up quickly on the website page. Most of all though when I rang you was the excellent quality of your greeting; your knowledge and friendliness. I made my mind up immediately following this conversation. I also want to congratulate you on the quality of your staff in the Pyrenees. Tom, Jo, Sam and Cat were excellent. Friendly, intelligent, humorous and knowledgeable. They made the holiday.
We stayed in a family group in Hotel Sabocos in Panticosa. Lovely village, lovely hotel, lovely walks and best of all, Collett's team, Tom, Jo, Cat and Sam: really nice people with great local knowledge. All the other guests we spoke to seemed to be as pleased as we were. The option of organised walks or self-guiding gives plenty of scope, and the loan of maps is very helpful. There is no annoying hard-sell of extras, but the team helped us to find the extra trips we asked for. I would definitely recommend both Colletts and the Hotel Sabocos.
Many thanks for a wonderful trip to the Pyrenees. We only stayed a week, doing hard walks every day, and felt exhausted when we came home. Next year we will try 2 weeks and have a few lazy days in between the hard ones.
Your staff are superb. Especially Joanna and Sam.who we saw most of. Very knowledgeable, helpful and full of enthusiasm. Your training and choice of staff is first class. I have been on a Colletts holiday in the Dolomites, and I booked my sister and brother in law on a holiday in The French Pyrenees . I visited them there and thought it was lovely. I feel Colletts is an ideal company for people of an independent nature. It allows for flexibility in dates, accommodation, group or individual activities. The Staff are outstanding in every way.helpful and enthusiastic. I like travelling individually but really appreciate the back up of knowledgeable staff, and the opportunity to meet others with similar interests. Thankyou for a wonderful holiday.
Although your staff always announce that they are not qualified guides etc the preparation and training your staff receive for the specific area they work in (as opposed to general training most tour leaders receive) is much superior to what I have encountered with other companies offering mountain walking. We chose Collett's because of the combination of guided walks and supported independent walking being available. We took both of these options and in both cases these worked very well. This was our first tour with Collett's and we were impressed by the arrangements and the ambience of the holiday.
Your team in the resort where excellant. They couldn't do enough for us. I didnt take any walking poles but found I needed some. They where happy to lend me theirs for the whole during of my stay. I was very grateful for this. As we didnt have any transport they offered us a lift to the supermarket/spa if we wanted to go. They all made the effort to get to know us and it was a pleasure spending time with them.
I thought your staff were excellent. We walked with Sam twice and he was entertaining and very knowledgeable on both occasions. His love of Outdoor Pursuits shines through and he made us feel extremely welcome. Jo was of course AWSOME - and Scottish! (She will get that!). Cat and Tom exuded a quiet confidence which meant it was so easy to listen to advice - which was accurate and relevant.
Sam was the perfect host - greeting us and giving us all the information we needed to begin our holiday! All our guides were simply outstanding - with superb social skills, great sense of humour, solicitous for the comfort and well being of every member of the party, and adept at choosing walks suitable for the general ability level of each group of guests.
I would recommend Collett's in a heartbeat to anyone who is interested in a walking holiday.
Really enjoyed walks esp the new walks which Jo and Dan are finding as snow line was low
Have said to Jo she needs to find 6 new Mod/hard walks so we come back next year!!!! et again a really enjoyable holiday. Look forward to next year ???Dolomites or back to Panticosa?
Dear All, I feel that I must email you to say what a wonderful time we had on our holiday last week in Panticosa. The hotel was excellent, the food good and our hosts and their staff ever helpful. Jo, Tom, Sam and Cat were delightful young people and a great credit to you. Nothing was too much trouble and their company was truely enjoyable. Please convey our thanks to the team and wish them success in whatever they decide to do in the future.
This was our second holiday with Colletts and I am sure that it will not be our last.
Regards, Jan Jenkinson