Austin and Chelsea live in the gorgeous city of Barcelona, and when their August travel plans to visit the U.S., their home country, were halted and their holidays took a turn, they had to regroup and change course quickly. Due to circumstances, they could only travel within Spain, and that gave them the perfect excuse to visit the gorgeous Picos de Europa range, located in the north of the country.
We’re talking about a last-minute change of plans, so there wasn’t that long to prepare. Fortunately, when they reached out to us, local certified guide, Rubén, was quick to respond to their needs, and together they designed a 4-day Picos de Europa Adventure tailored to their needs.
We got in touch with Austin and Rubén to find out what their Picos de Europa experience was like, and they were kind to share their impressions about the trip! Read below to find out how Austin and Chelsea’s trip turned out (they shared some amazing pictures with us too) and start planning your own last-minute getaway!
Q: How did you hear about Picos de Europa and what inspired you to go on a hike in this beautiful National Park?
A: We were planning to travel to the U.S. and we were taking a few weeks off in August, but at the last minute, we weren’t able to go. We were only able to travel inside Spain.
We had never been to the north of the country and my brother, who is a hiker, sent me this video of this guy that did a 90-mile trek through Picos de Europa. I thought it was stunning and that we just had to go. That was just a week before I started to look for pre-programmed hikes and I was lucky enough to find Explore-Share, so it worked out well.
Q: So this was the first time that you booked a trip through our platform, how did you find us?
A: I just googled Picos de Europa and Rubén’s trek came up. Then I got to talking to him after using the Explore-Share WhatsApp feature and he was very accommodating to what we wanted to see.
Q: Had you done any hiking before? How did you prepare for this hike?
A: We had done some hiking before, but we pretty much went for it. We are young and in good shape, but we did feel a little sore on the last day of the hike.
Q: If you had to choose your 3 favorite things about this trip, what would they be?
A: Ruben was a really great guide, the landscapes themselves were amazing already, but going with a local and being able to talk with him about the ecology, the law of life, he really was awesome in terms of a guide.
Then there were some specific spots that I really loved, the Refugio Vega de Ario hut, we camped there, it was up in the mountain, we had a great dinner and breakfast and it was just a really cool place to wake up in.
The Cares Gorge was stunning as well. So those were probably my favorite.
Q: You mentioned the mountain huts, what was your experience like? How was the food?
A: We actually didn’t sleep in the mountain huts but camped outside. We did eat at the huts and the food was great. It wasn’t gourmet or elaborate, but simple dishes that were a tasty treat after hiking.
Thanks, Austin for sharing your Picos de Europa experience with us!
After Austin’s account of the hike, we reached out to certified AEGM-UIMLA guide Rubén. He has experience climbing in the Pyrenees, the Sierra Nevada ranges (both in Spain and in the USA), the Alps, the Andes, the Rockies, the Atlas Mountains, and the Himalayas.
He mentioned that he really enjoyed guiding Austin and Chelsea due to their good cheer, positivity, and enjoyment. He also shared a little bit about his background in the region:
“I grew up very close to Picos de Europa and I consider it my home. My grandfather gave me the first taste of the mountains, and afterwards, I started going to Picos with my friends, so I have a great emotional attatchment to the place that has only grown with time. I am never tired of exploring its mountains. There is such a rich variety of landscapes, flora and fauna! Although it is tinier than other mountain ranges, it is just as spectacular.”
“Due to the peculiarities of Picos de Europa in terms of terrain, it is very important to go with a mountain guide. This is true of any range in the world, not just Picos de Europa. Safety of course is a big factor, but there is also the added element of interpreting the landscapes, the culture and history of the place. It is like going to a museum and not attending a guided tour, you see the art but you can’t interpret it, so you only get the surface image. Of course, in the mountains there is also the added element of risk, so these are the aspects that we as guides can tailor to.”
The 20 km (12 mi) span of Picos de Europa offers truly unique hiking options. Whether for a short weekend getaway or a longer adventure, this sparkling jewel in the Cantabrian Mountains has it all: amazing landscapes, well-equipped huts, and the best local guides to lead the way.
What are you waiting for? Set your own couple goals and start planning an exciting getaway in nature. Or, try out our concierge service and let us help you design the best adventure for you!
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