Monday, 15 August 2016

Les Camporells..... Surf and Turf

The vast majority of visitors to the Costa Brava come to enjoy the summer beach scene. After all, this part of Spain (Catalunya) is synonymous with crystal-clear water, blue flag beaches and intimate calas where you can drop anchor and spend the day snorkelling. But more and more, we are seeing families come here for a bit of "surf and turf". Fun packed beach days followed by a day or two exploring the other side of Catalunya.... the wild side..... fresh air and a relatively tourist free interior full of history, gastronomic hidden treasures and vistas that will replenish your heart and soul....
Lake Estany del Mig full of trout and Puig Peric in the distance

One such place (and one of our favourites) is Les Camporells, a small hidden valley high in the French Pyrenees sandwiched between the mountains dominated by Puig Peric (2810mt / 9219 ft ) and the ski range of Les Formigueres. It's about a two hour uphill hike to get there from Formigueres, which has made it sufficiently out of reach for the unprepared casual tourist. As a general rule,  you won't find many people here, except at the weekends maybe when it tends to be busiest. Even at the weekends though, it's not likely that you will run into many people away from the refuge and the main lake. 

To get to Les Camporells, take the AP7 north into France and exit at junction 42 close to Perpignan. Follow the signs to Andorra and the N116 to Prades and Mont-Louis. After Mont-Louis, follow the signs to Les Angles and Formigueres. Park at the ski resort and then head towards Les Camporells on foot. From Casa Cal Domino, it is about a three hour drive to get to the parking at Les Formigueres.

Pic Carlit in June
Les Camporells consists of three medium sized lakes which are constantly fed with fresh water from the glacial snow melt and are full of wild trout. Each lake drains into the next via cascading waterfalls and babbling brooks and eventually finds its way to the large reservoir at the bottom of the mountain near to the ski resort of Les Angles. Fishing is allowed in certain lakes and prohibited in others so if you come to try your luck at catching supper, make sure that you follow the local rules. Swimming is prohibited to maintain the water purity....
The big lake below Les Camporells
For the casual hiker or for those trying the outdoors lifestyle for the first time, there is a small manned refuge here with one open-plan dormitory where, with your own sleeping bags, you can spend the night on wooden "Lits en bois" in relative discomfort :) They also serve (with prior notice) a very good evening meal and they can prepare a packed-lunch should you wish.

For us, the abundance of impossibly soft and spongy grass next to the lake is too good an adventure to miss and with a tent and medium quality sleeping bag we pass the night comfortably only waking up occasionally to the sound of the trout jumping in the lake. For those that are well prepared and bring a frying pan, some sausages and a bottle of vino tinto for example, there is an area set aside to camp near the refuge where you can make a camp fire and spend a few hours "chewing the cud" around a log fire crackling away in a circle of stones next to your tent.... For those of us that need to un-plug every now and then, this is a paradise. You won't find anyone checking Facebook or their emails here although in an emergency, there is mobile phone coverage. 
Our Galaxy. Not so far, far away
One of the pleasant side effects of being so far away from the hustle and bustle of the coast and city life is that there is relatively little light pollution and on a clear night, you will be rewarded by breathtaking views of the milky way. We generally make our way here in mid August to watch the annual Perseid meteor shower. As long as the clouds don't make an appearance, you won't be disappointed. In August 2016, we had well over 100 meteorites per hour.

If you wish to learn more about hiking, biking and adventures on the Costa Brava throughout the year, please contact me through our Facebook page, our website below or our email address
About me… I have lived in Calonge (province of Girona) on the Costa Brava since 2003 after retiring as a pilot from the british Royal Air Force. My passions are hiking, biking, skiing, photography and discovering and sharing the hidden cultural treasures of this beautiful country. My day job entails managing a luxury self-catering rental Villa, Casa Cal Domino, and in my search for new and interesting things to do for my clients whilst they are here on holiday, I have been genuinely overawed by the beauty and diversity of this land. I’m not leaving any time soon. I love it here and I hope to inspire you to come and discover this wonderful country for yourself.

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