Most Customers who travel to Portsmouth stay the Friday night at the Holiday Inn Express North because it is only 5 mins from the ferry terminal. Please remember vehicles over 5 meters long and 2.65 meters high will incur a surcharge; for example, a Ford Ranger is just over 5 meters long for which an additional charge will be payable. Please ensure you refuel before boarding the ferry.
Sail from Portsmouth on the 8.45 AM economy ferry Baie De Seine. You need to check-in no later than 7.30 AM.
You will arrive in Santander at around 2.30 PM and disembark and wait for each other at a pre-arranged point as agreed while on the ferry. When you are all together, you will hit the road to Les, which is 300 miles away that will take approximately 5 hours. You will arrive in Les just in time for your evening meal.
In the morning we drive lush forest tracks in a loop that takes us back to Les. We then head to Bossot for lunch at a tapas bar, after which we head for a trail that will make you feel as though you are on the top of the world. We keep driving onwards and upwards and may encounter snow at Pic de Montlude at an altitude of 2517 metres; hopefully, it will be passable and, if so, there are fantastic views to be enjoyed. We head descend to Les for our second evening where we will dine at a local restaurant in the town that the locals frequent. It’s excellent!
After our usual morning ritual of buying supplies and fuel, we hit the road to the Val D’ Aran valley. The first part of the journey takes us through what the locals call avalanche valley where we stop for refreshments at the Sauth Deth Pish waterfall. At 1553 metres, the road has the notorious reputation of being one of Europe’s most dangerous. It gets more interesting as we climb higher and higher towards Col de Varrados where we usually run into snow around the summit at over 2000 metres. From here we ascend into the valley bottom towards the modern ski village of Baguergue. There are ski resorts at every turn as we travel towards the Refuge Montgarri where we will stop for lunch. The refuge is close to the French border, and during the war, it provided a safe place for those escaping occupied Germany. We then travel the beautiful valley alongside a river for many miles, encountering, again, more loose horses and cattle including the occasional fearsome-looking bull. It’s then onwards to the Hotel Victor in Rialps where we will spend the next three nights. If you want to have an afternoon or day off to rest, this is the place, but trails in this area are magical and a shame to miss.
After refuelling and buying supplies for lunch, a fantastic day awaits us. It starts a little unusual as we head back up the valley on tarmac to the ski resort of Port de la Bonaigue. Why? Because there are 37 hairpins as we ascend to the top and the adventurer has to do it. We stop at the summit for a drinks break and enjoy the scenery at 2072 metres. We now descend the same route we came up, and it’s incredible to watch Defenders mimic rally cars on the way down. Just makes sure you had your brakes checked before coming on this tour because you will need them now more than ever. On to the tracks high above the ski resort of Super Espot, we will probably reencounter snow as we crest the Col d’Exoil and cling to the side of the mountain looking out over mountains as far as the eye can see. Cattle and horses are everywhere as we travel all afternoon through the mountains until we finally start to ascend but not before passing through an abandoned ski resort where we see the most amusing road signs warning of flying cows and horses. From here we head for the hotel; you can also visit the town of Sort if you wish. We will eat at the Pizza restaurant in the village this evening, but there are also tapas bars.
It’s the usual morning ritual of refuelling before we head off to what appears to be the top of the world, but it’s not, and we continue even higher through and along the pistes to the very top of the resort. The views don’t get any better. We stop at a Refuge for lunch; this is your main day and its a long one on tracks nearly all day with very little tarmac driving. We are at altitude looking across to Andorra, travelling through villages just wide enough for our vehicles. It’s a beautiful day, and we will roll into Rialp around 6 PM. We usually eat at the Tapas bar in the village, but the choice is yours.
Rialp to Andorra via the smuggler’s route, hopefully dining at the restaurant in Tor if it’s open. Today is not a long day, we do not need to leave Rialp until 10 AM, and we only need enough fuel for 50 miles; we refuel in Andorra. To say the smuggler’s route into Andorra is famous is an understatement. It’s mind-blowing, and the views as we climb to the summit into Andorra are staggering, and photographs do not do it justice. We arrive in Andorra around 1 PM, check-in at Hotel Pyrenees in the heart of the city. It’s a significant city and a stark contrast compared to the last few days. The hotel has an underground car park which takes most 4×4’s and costs 10 Euro’s a night. Now it’s time to hit the duty-free shops that Andorra is famous for or chill by the pool if it’s warm enough. We dine at the hotel for our final night of the adventure.
We leave Andora at 7 AM for the 700 km drive to Santander. It takes approximately 8 hours, and it’s comfortable driving but a long day. You can check in to Brittany Ferries and leave your vehicle then go into town if you so wish. We sail on the cruise ship Cap Finistere departing at 8 PM.
Relax on the cruise ship as we head back home. We should arrive in Portsmouth around 8.45 PM.
The tour is Suitable for Freelanders, Discovery 3/4/5, Defender, Range Rover, Shogun, Land Cruiser, Ford Ranger, Toyota Hilux, Wrangler, Renegade if off-road prepared. You will need all-terrain tyres or better, including a full-size wheel.
You will need…
- International Driving Permit for Spain (1949) and France (1968) (they are different). You can get them from your main post office.
- European Assistance for your vehicle and holiday and medical insurance.
- V5 & MOT Certificate originals (if the V5 is in your company name you will need a letter from the company authorising you to drive it).
- Green card/vehicle insurance, European Travel kit, spares for your vehicle such as U/J’s, fuel filter, air filter, drive belt, oils for transmission/diffs and any known item that is known to be a problem with your model. For example, in-tank fuel pump on a TD5 Defender. Try and get on a sale or return basis from your local dealer.
- Jet boil for Yorkshire tea, a table & chairs picnic set, fridge or cool box (cool boxes drain a lot of power). I have a 52-litre fridge as a backup, all weathers clothing, including winter clothing, hats, gloves, coat as well as summer clothing and everything in between.
Ardventures’s lead vehicles carry extra fuel, water, tools, recovery/winch equipment so that you don’t have to. We also provide 2-way handheld radios, a compressor, puncture repair kit and diagnostics for Landrovers and Jeeps and an emergency tracker response SPOT Rescue unit.