A walk to the gigantic natural amphitheater of Cirques du Gavarnie with an optional detour into the Pyrenees on the return route.
After taking the bus from Luz St Sauveur to Gavarnie, you can join this very popular walk to see the enormous glacially scooped out bowl of Cirques du Gavarnie. Here you can walk to and even pass behind one of a number of waterfalls cascading off of its high cliffs; though you will get pretty wet from the spray, even from within 50 metres of approaching the chute. On the way back, you may wish to make a detour on a narrow mountainside path to get deeper into this part of the High Pyrenees.
For every good reason, this is an extremely popular walk. At the end of the trail, the majestic sight of the dark grey cliffs of Cirque du Gavarne, with its waterfalls cascading onto the barren rocky landscape, still bearing patches of ice sheets in mid summer, will take your breath away. Be brave and see how near you can get the waterfall at the end of the path. On the way back, you may wish to take a detour, escaping some of the crowds, by climbing a narrow mountainside path. Again, you will require a little courage as the path is narrow and a bit precipitous in places, especially where it passes alongside cliffs leaning outwards above you.
Take care over the loose rocks and shale around the head of the walk, around the waterfall. Also, if you detour on the mountainside path on the way back, take your time around the precipitous sections.
Stout footwear and walking poles are recommended. A waterproof could prove useful to deal with summer showers.
Cirque du Gavarnie – see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cirque_de_Gavarnie
Bus times – There are two buses per day that leave Luz St Sauveur for Gavarnie and two that return; see timetable: file://macsdc/UserShares/sarahh/Downloads/Maligne%20des%20Gaves%20-Tarbes%20Gavarnie%20%C3%A9t%C3%A9%202018%20(1).pdf
Be sure to leave yourself enough time to catch the bus back to Luz St Sauveur. If you choose to walk the mountainside path on your return from the Cirque du Gavarnie, you need to allow at least three hours from the point at which you turn off onto the mountainside path.
The bus runs from the start of June until early September, outwith these times, a taxi will be required to take you to and from the start and endpoint of the hike. This could be arranged through your hotel, or please contact us if you would like assistance organising this.
Hotel du Cirque: Built in the 19th century and still run by the family who established it. This is a popular stopping point for hikers wanting food and drink. It is still run by the family who founded it. See: https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g425061-d4695914-Reviews-Hotellerie_du_Cirque-Gavarnie_Hautes_Pyrenees_Occitanie.html
There are a number of bars, cafes and restaurants in Gavarnie, at the beginning and end of the walk.
You will pass Pailla refuge (at 2027 metres above sea level) on the way back to Gavarnie, if you take the mountainside path detour. See: http://www.randozone.com/fiche/10635/cabane-de-pailla.html
This tour is available on the following itineraries: WFSWIPNP