A hike in the heart of the Gavarnie cirque. It is a splendid place and overwhelming by its majesty. Easily accessible happiness!
The hike we did at the Gavarnie Circus is a two-part hike. The first is easy and wheelchair-accessible because the path is flat and well maintained. This first stage stops a little before arriving at the Gavarnie Hotel, a stopover for walkers. The second part starts at this level and takes you to the waterfall of Gavarnie.
It is an 8km hike with a fairly low difference in altitude (about 250m) that we feel especially at the end of the way, which allows us to reach the waterfall. We took about 4hrs for this hike, counting our breaks and photo stops.We did this hike around mid-November. In my opinion this is a very good period, because Gavarnie is very touristic, so we avoid a lot of tourists, who are much too present in summer. So we can enjoy this hike in peace. The downside is that at this time of year, the marmots are hibernating. It’s a pity when you know that in summer there are a lot of them in the region.
Part One: The Easy Way
To begin with, we start from the village of Gavarnie. A very nice little village with a lot of tourist shops. We’re passing by a campsite. Here we have a choice of crossing the brook next to us or following it. We cross it to be on the left bank of the river. Here the path is very well indicated and we walk a long time.
As you get closer to the wilderness, the path starts to go up very slowly. We continue until we see an increasingly unobstructed view of the Cirque. When the vegetation becomes denser and one begins to enter a forest area, the path starts to rise a little stronger while remaining very reasonable. It is at the end of this ascent that we reach the hotel of Gavarnie (closed in winter). Here we decided to take a lunch break before continuing our walk.
Second part: a little more challenging!
We then begin the second part of this hike, which starts with stony flat rocks. Then the path looks like a pile of stone that must be taken to reach the great waterfall. It is this part of the hike that becomes more complicated. The altitude difference increases and the stony ground requires good hiking boots. We finally reach the waterfall. We had the chance to see it in all its majesty because it was not dried out at all. Here we enjoy being in the middle of the Cirque to see that we are surrounded by the size of the cliffs. The 360° panorama is magnificent.
The return trip:
On the return we do not take the same path (even if it is possible). For a little bit of variety, we chose to cross the other side of the brook. The path then moves away from the water to a beautiful plain. The path is indicated by wooden logs arranged in the shape of arrows on the ground. Here we had the incredible chance to meet an Isard who came at full speed, very close to us. He cut us off before he went into the bushes. We were very lucky to see a wild animal so close. Obviously, I don’t have a photo because I didn’t have time to draw for my camera fast enough!
This path joins the way of the go, and we finish the hike on this one.
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You can find the itinerary of this hike: