The Island of Ireland
Discover all the secrets of the fascinating land of shamrocks and Celtic magic
Located in the Aragonese region of “La Ribagorza”, adjacent to France, Benasque Valley is born out of the fancies of the Ésera River, creating the Ventamillo Canyon. It is a natural paradise, also known as the “Valle Escondido” (Hidden Valley), which is made up of an oasis of perpetual snow and rugged mountains among beauties like the Pyrenees’ tallest peak, the Aneto or the epic Aigualluts Waterfall. Truly ideal for anyone who wants to go, Benasque Valley unfolds its best routes for hiking, mountaineering and cycling to wake up the adventurer in all of us.
Quite worthy to be the setting for a tall tale, the “Forau d’Aigualluts” (Aigualluts Sink) is one of the most frequented sites in Benasque Valley. A sink which sits at the head of the Ésera River from which water dissipates away from the peak of the Aneto glacier to later reappear in the Aran Valley. To carry out this trail, take a bus at “Hospital de Benasque”, a medieval town and the epicenter of the Pyrenees, and get off at La Besurta only two kilometers far from there, or just do it yourself on foot. Once you reach your destination, you can take in all the views this peaceful path has leading up to the resounding Aigualluts Waterfall. A sight so magical, you’ll be tempted to pinch yourself to see if you’re actually dreaming.
In the township of El Run, the Ésera River cuts across a spectacular strait called the Ventamillo Canyon from which the path to Gabás, one of the most beautiful villages in Benasque Valley, emerges. Covering 9.4 kms, the landscape offers remarkable views of the canyon until it connects with the GR-15. Once in Gabás, you can discover a quaint village well-known for its romanesque church, built in the XVI century, as well as the Calvera House, a prime example of construction using mud, limestone and sand. Its windows still unveil traces from the past amidst the grave silence, simply magical.
Reaching 3,404 meters above sea level, Aneto is the highest peak in the Pyrenees and the perfect excuse to embark on a fascinating mountaineering trail. To do so, the best bet is to start out in La Besurta (1,920 meters above sea level), where a path overseen by marmotes and circled by majestic eagles leads you to La Renclusa refuge (2,140 meters). From here, a marked-path dotted with milestones takes you up to the Aneto glacier, preluded by the “Paso de Mahoma” (Mohammed’s Pass), a horizontal section that marks the culmination of any adventure at the top of the Pyrenees. A stupendous peak from which one can feel like the king of the world with sights expanding all across the Posets-Maladeta Natural Park.
One of the best places to pedal your mountain bike is in Benasque Valley, especially along the “Sierra de Chía” (Chía mountain range), a strategic place to get the most beautiful panoramic views. This ridge offers up to four different perspectives, including the north face of green alpines or the drier and more ochre southern face. To discover this landscape of contrasts, the best plan is to take off from the town of Chía twelve kilometers until the mountain pass Sahún. It is there where you get head-turning views of the heart of the valley. Haven’t had enough yet? Keep on six kilometers until you reach the Prats Waterfall, which is a sumptuous spot to take a refreshing dip and rebuild your energy.
‘Ibón’ is the Aragonese word for the small mountain lakes originating from glaciers found in the Aragonese Pyrenees. Upwards of 2,200 ibons are calculated to exist in Batisielles, the most famous of which is the spectacular Ibón de Escarpinosa. The most enchanting way to access this ibón is by crossing the Estós Valley along the GR-11.2 until you reach your first stop, The ”Gran Ibón de Batisielles”, lined with fir trees resting in silence which allows us to hear our own echo. Shortly thereafter, we find the “Aigüeta de Batisielles” and we continue along until the pass where the impressive Ibón de Escarpinosa lies. It is the ideal spot to lay out a picnic with one of the greatest panoramic views in all of Benasque Valley at your feet.
The ”Magic Line” in Benasque Valley comprises an enchanting birch forest in Tuasa, one of the most alluring places in the Aragonese Pyrenees and the ideal place for a BTT trail with multiple contrasts and challenges. Atop your mountain bike, take off from the township of Sesué until you reach the campsite that connects with the hermitage of San Sadurní, which is privy to one of the best panoramic views of the valley. After having taken that prize-winning photo, climb up to the dreamy meadow where it is easy for anyone to lose track of time and space.
The Pyrenees are not only for mountaineering or mountain biking. In fact, Benasque Valley offers countless trails for family-friendly hiking. One of the best is the one which connects the township of Benasque to the Linsoles reservoir. Starting at Benasque, the trail goes down along the Ésera River until you get to the bridge that leads up to the medieval town of Anciles. Shortly thereafter, we reach the village of Linsoles and then to Eriste, where the Linsoles reservoir appears. This trail totals nearly nine kilometers and while it is easy, it is no less entertaining.
This route, ideal for road cyclists, unfolds among the passes in Ribagorza County, where surprises await at the end of each of its curves. The starting point is in Anciles from where you’ll cross through the passes of Eresué, Ramastué and Liri. From there, go on through the demanding Fadas Pass until the village of Vilaller, where you head back to the start of the route as you cycle along the famous Bonansa Pass. This is a trail to relish in some of the best sights that Benasque Valley and the Pyrenees have to offer, enthralling to those with a passion for cycling.
Have you ever dreamed of following a route worthy of being called a cycling race? The one that ties Benasque with the Ampriu Valley and the community of La Besurta is a great contender. From Benasque, the starting point, the road to Llanos del Hospital takes you up until you reach the Ésera River. Once you’re there, the Benasque dam indicates the kickoff to Ampriu Valley. It is there where the 2018 Aragon Cyclist Tour offered up evocative panoramas drawing out its final stage. Lastly, from the valley, we reach La Besurta plains, a picnic area at 1,900 meters above sea level (perfect for picking up some “Flor del Aspe” cheese, typical from this area).
The magical town of Liri is famous for its medieval streets, flowery balconies, romanesque churches and especially for the “Doce Cascadas” (Twelve Waterfall) Gorge, a natural gem which becomes an ode to alpine magic in itself. Highly considered to be one of the best routes for canyoneering in the Pyrenees, it’s discernable for two passages made up of various rappels and cascades. At the starting point, the path takes you until a hermitage, which contours the entrance to the canyon through the first seven cascades. Strap on your canyoneering shoes and enjoy the rush this vertical paradise can give you.