Ordesa and Monte Perdido National Park excursion. June 29 2019.

The Spanish Ordesa and Monte Perdido National Park –the most famous protected area in the Central Pyrenees- is celebrating its centenary in 2019! Located between the valleys of Broto and Bielsa, 100 km north from Huesca city, its protected area covers 156.08 km² (Figure 1). It encompases the spectacular glacial valley of Ordesa, surrounded by the impressive Mondaruego cliffs at the west, and the enchanting cascadine Pineta valley at the east, separated by the Añisclo canyon abyss (700-2500m). The Park is crowned by the second highest Pyrenean summit, the Monte Perdido peak (3.348m) (Figure 2), showing a wide range of altitudinal ecosystems in its calcareous montane, subalpine and alpine-oromediterranean belts (Figure 3). The excursion, starting from Huesca city, will take us from the Mediterranean to the Eurosiberian region. We will stop at Torla (1033 m), a beautiful Pyrenean village at the entrance of the National Park, where we will visit the Park exhibition center and will be introduced to the pristine nature and archetype conservation of Ordesa.

Figure 1 Map of the Ordesa and Monte Perdido National Park.

Figure 2. A view of the Ordesa Valley with the Monte Perdido massif (3348 m)

The walk will start at the Ordesa prairie gateway, from which we will ascend towards the Soaso cascades area along the Canariellos trail (Figure 4). Getting into the heart of the Park we will enjoy its exceptionally well conserved forests of European fir (Abies alba), beech (Fagus sylvatica), scots and mountain pines (Pinus sylvestris and P. uncinata) and undercanopy vegetation, including native populations of Brachypodium sylvaticum. After a hike of 500m of altitude we will reach a natural cliff shelter (1700m) with spectacular views of Ordesa and the Cotatuero waterfall (Figure 5). We will traverse subalpine pastures with blossoming irises and lilies reaching the magnificent Cotatuero cascade. In the descent, the trail will take us through fir and pine woods along the shining ravine.

Figure 3. Sketch of the plant communities of the Ordesa National Park (for more information on the vegetation communities please consult the
Guide of the excursion, Guia Excursion Parque Nacional Ordesa y Monte Perdido)

Figure 4. Itinerary of the Ordesa and Monte Perdido National Park excursion.

In Ordesa we will discover wonderful terrestrial orchids (Goodyera repens, Neottia nidus-avis, Cephalanthera rubra), rare and endemic rupicolous plants such as Ramonda myconi, a resurrection mountain plant, Pinguicula longifolia, a carnivorous species hanging on the wet crevices, Androsace ciliata (Figure 6) and the king crown Saxifraga longifolia. The sheltered fissures of the southern exposed cliffs show the endemics Androsace cylindrica, Anthirrhinum sempervirens, and Scrophularia pyrenaica. In the subalpine pastures we will admire the Pyrenean columbine (Aquilegia pyrenaica), the edelweiss (Leontopodium alpinum), the beautiful Campanula speciosa, and Borderea pyrenaica, a living Miocene-Pliocene yam fossil endemic of the Central Pyrenees.

Figure 5. Hiking along the Canariellos trail (Ordesa, 1700 m) among Pinus uncinata forests and Festuca gautieri pastures, with the Cotatuero waterfall at the rear end.






Figure 6. Androsace ciliata, a Pyrenean endemic primrose growing in alpine pastures.

After the occasional fires caused by the frequent storms, the eroded and sunny places are colonized by prickle coussinets of Echinospartum horridum, whereas deep soils are covered by dense pastures of Brachypodium rupestre decorated with irises (Iris latifolia) and the beautiful Pyrenean lily (Lilium pyrenaicum).

Guide to the Ordesa National Park excursion (Guia Excursion Parque Nacional Ordesa y Monte Perdido)

Maximum number of people who can sign up for the excursion

45 people in a bus.

The walk in the Ordesa National Park is planed for two groups of 20-25 people each. Each group will be accompanied by 2 botanical and mountaineering guides.

Planned itinerary:

  • 7:45 Departure from Huesca
  • 9:15 Stop and reception of the group at Torla, departure with bus to the Ordesa National Park.
  • 10:30. Starting the excursion on foot through the marked trails. Fir and beech atlantic forest in the way to the Soaso area. Pine woods, cliffs, oromediterranean and subalpine pastures along the Canariellos path.
  • Denivellation about 500 m of altitude.
  • 13:30. Lunch in the subalpine forest in a sheltered cliff enjoying the pleasant landscape of the valley and the Cotatuero fall
  • 14:00. Hiking through subalpine pastures to the Cotatuero fall and descent through the fir and pine woods.
  • 18:00. Arrival to the bottom of the Valley (Ordesa prairie) and return to Huesca.
  • 20:30. Arrival in Huesca.

Approximative length of the excursion: seven hours

Physical conditions required:

Fitness level: medium / low

People with heart problems and / or prosthesis in hips, legs and / or arms should refrain from this excursion.

No experience in hiking is needed


An accident insurance will be included.

Additional comments

  • Hiking through marked trails of medium difficulty, clothes and mountain shoes are required.
  • A backpack, a raincoat, a walking stick, sunglasses and a cap are also recommended
  • If you have any question please contact the organizers of the excursion, Dr. Luis Villar (lvillar@ipe.csic.es) and Dr.Jose Luis Benito (jolube@jolube.net/www.jolube.es)

Prize of the excursion

30€ per person (bus, insurances, picnic lunch, guides, VAT included).