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Climbing the Canigou - any recommendations?

Posted: Sat 27 Jul 2019 13:32
by SteveB
My brother and his partner are visiting me in the PO in August, and we are contemplating climbing the Canigou. From the research I have done so far, it seems the "easy" way to do it is to be driven to the Refuge des Cortalets in a 4x4 and walk the rest. The only company I have discovered so far is Le Canigou en 4x4 (https://canigou-en-4x4.com/voyages-tarifs), but I imagine there are others. Has anyone had experience of any of these, and any you can recommend?

Also, I have had various opinions of how difficult the walk is. We are all in our late 60s but used to walking in hilly territory; I live near the Peak District and my brother and partner have done the Macchu Picchu Trail. How much of a challenge is it likely to present?

Many thanks for any suggestions.

Steve

Re: Climbing the Canigou - any recommendations?

Posted: Sat 27 Jul 2019 21:54
by Sus
Hi Steve, we haven't hiked up Canigou yet but it is on our bucket list for this year. We have decided to do it over several days as we have only heard bad things about the 4x4 ride and we also think that it would be a shame to rush it. We are considering to go up via the Refuge Mariailles and come down via the Chalets des Cortalets. The ascent from Mariailles is via the "chimney" which is apparently quite a steep last bit to reach the top. I am not sure whether you are familiar yet with the refugees but they are really nice to stay in, there is always a host, great food and we find them comfortable to stay in. Please share your experiences after you have been hiked to the top!

Re: Climbing the Canigou - any recommendations?

Posted: Sun 28 Jul 2019 20:07
by SteveB
Thanks for the comments, Sus. I don't think doing the walk over several days is an option for us, however, for various reasons. What bad things have you heard about the 4x4 rides ?

Re: Climbing the Canigou - any recommendations?

Posted: Mon 29 Jul 2019 08:32
by Sus
Just that it is a very rough ride and although our friends were glad that they did it as they only had one day, they would not recommend it and would not do it again. I think we just don't like the idea of spending half a day in a car getting to the meeting point then a hour plus in a rough 4x4 ride to then finally get to what we want to do which is hiking.
Have you thought about the Costabonne instead? I have not done it completely but have been up the sides on horse and on foot. You can either start in La Preste, I think the ascent is about 1300m or drive to Les Conques and start from there, that reduces it to about 1000m. The ridge that you walk along at the top is spectacular, definitely need to check for weather as you are very exposed at the top. The tourist office in Prats de Mollo has very good info and maps, the walks are very well sign posted so you can do it on your own. There is also an organisation in Prats that organises the ascent, copy below. If you go to the website for the department you can see the "Agenda Nature 2019" that has the details (tried to copy link below not sure that is working!).

https://www.ledepartement66.fr/wp-conte ... e-2019.pdf


LE COSTABONNE OU LA COLLADE VERDE
PAYSAGE ET NATURE DE HAUTE MONTAGNE RANDONNÉE GUIDÉE
Accompagnement, interprétation du site, observations de la faune et de la flore d’altitude.
Refuge Les Conques Prats de Mollo La Preste
8h-17h
12 ans
12 à 15 km
RNN Prats de Mollo
Patrick Dunyach : 07 87 81 99 66 Réservation : 04 68 39 70 83
Commune de Prats de Mollo La Preste
Inscription obligatoire - 20€
Pique nique, boisson, chaussures de randonnée, casquette, lunette de soleil, veste, vêtements chauds, casquette.

Re: Climbing the Canigou - any recommendations?

Posted: Mon 29 Jul 2019 12:21
by Kathy
The 4x4 is a little bumpy but well worth it in my opinion, especially if you are short on time. The walk was nowhere near as difficult as I expected it to be, however, I couldn’t do the last 250 metres as I suffer from vertigo and it became impossible to continue, unfortunately. The latter part had bigger boulders which is not easy for little legs so found myself clambering a little. You sound perfectly capable of managing this though.
I read somewhere this year that they were going to stop 4x4’s going up but not sure whether that has happened.

Re: Climbing the Canigou - any recommendations?

Posted: Mon 29 Jul 2019 19:22
by Florence
Check before you go, there´s been a rock fall earlier this month which has blocked one of the routes. I also heard a rumor that someone´s been going round changing the route direction signs.

Re: Climbing the Canigou - any recommendations?

Posted: Sat 10 Aug 2019 08:57
by SteveB
A belated thank you to everyone who replied to my initial query and the useful information.

In the end we decided to go for the 4x4 to Cortalets option. The ride was indeed very bumpy, and probably not one we'd want to repeat, but it got us there and was well worth it to allow us to go to the summit with limited time. Very busy up there in August - superb weather and thankfully a few degrees cooler than in Ceret (where it was 35 degrees). As I mentioned initially, we are all regular walkers, but noticed the effects of altitude, especially towards the top, which made it hard work, but great to get there and enjoy the clear views over much of the surrounding landscape - not quite clear enough to see the sea, as I gather you sometimes can.

So for anyone who hasn't tried it yet, definitely worth doing if you can cope with a very bumpy 14 km ride!

Thanks again

Steve