Pyrenees cross country skiing in France

“Five days guided cross country skiing in the Pyrenees based in one hotel, for improvers and intermediates, with an introductory day to refresh skills.”

Highlights

Barcelona | Bolquère and the forest area of Les Estanyols | ski La Tête Circuit | Col de la Llose | circuits around La Calme | forest area, La Quillane

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Vacation type

Small group vacation

Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, traveling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week vacation, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.

The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travelers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.

We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.

What are the main benefits?
Big experiences
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.

Simplicity
Make the most of your vacation time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!

Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travelers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your vacation.

Solo travelers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those traveling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.

Less confident travelers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
Mythbuster
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travelers their own room.

“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.

“The accommodation will be basic”
Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.

“I won’t like the other travelers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.

“Will we be following an umbrella?”
No.
Valerie Parkinson
Meet a group Leader
Name: Valerie Parkinson

Story: The first British woman to climb Manaslu, Valerie climbed Everest for her 50th birthday. She’s spent fourteen Christmas Days trekking to Everest Base Camp, and is involved insetting up Responsible Tourism initiatives in the Himalayas.
Roshan Fernando
Meet a local guide
Name: Roshan Fernando

Story: Roshan has led over 130 trips – he adores showing travelers around Sri Lanka. He won the company Leader Award in 2010, but his career highlight was working on their Tsunami Project – which earned him a responsible tourism award.

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Pyrenees cross country skiing in France

Accommodation and meals:
We stay in small hotel in the village of Bolquere, that has been run by the same local family for several generations. The hotel has been awarded several certifications such as ‘Qualité Tourisme’ which requires establishments to not only provide a high level of service but also possess a high level of knowledge of the local area and traditions. Cuisine must also reflect the style and traditions of the area, and the onsite restaurant does indeed specialise in Catalan Pyrenean cuisine, from locally sourced product, particularly the Capcir and Cerdagne regions, which produce numerous cheeses.

Activity:
As we spend the week cross-country skiing, we have a relatively low impact on the environment compared to the nearby downhill ski resorts, which require much more infrastructure. Our trip takes place in the Pyrenean Natural Park, which is a protected area. As such we stick to the designated trails and take care to dispose of any and all waste responsibly.

Community
As mentioned local produce is on the menu each night and we have the opportunity to visit different cafés and mountain huts for lunch as well as the artisanal shops and local street markets selling the local product.
The region also depends heavily on tourism for employment opportunities, and by bringing groups here we are contributing to this.
On the free day, most clients visit one of the nearby tourist attractions using the “Yellow Train” thus supporting this scheduled tourist transport service. This train is considered part of local heritage and is a well known symbol of the area, having been in operation for over 100 years. Tourist journeys are a key part of keeping it in operation as local demand has dropped. One of the highlights is stopping off at some nearby thermal baths, again a key part of the region’s heritage.

Transfers/Local Transport
Our airport transfers are carried out by a local family owned bus company. Our local transport needs are met by the same company and we are usually able to make use of the scheduled “Navette” ( ski shuttle bus) service – removing the need for any extra transport usage.

UK office
It all starts at home so we have first worked at reducing our carbon footprint in our UK offices. Through energy conservation measures and recycling policies in place, we are proud to be actively reducing the waste produced and our impact on the environment. We support various projects all over the world to try and give something back to the places we visit.

Group size
We operate small group tours that have a low impact on the communities we visit and we always ensure our operations do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. This allows us to stay in unique and characterful accommodation that would not have benefitted from tourism due to their limited size.

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