High mountain lodges in the Eastern Pyrenees to connect with the land and all it holds
Beyond their beaches, coves, medieval villages and cityscapes, the Girona counties offer endless possibilities for mountain sports enthusiasts across all four seasons, from hiking to mountain climbing and ski mountaineering. These sports are the lifeblood of three staffed mountain lodges that are worth keeping in mind when preparing a getaway to the Eastern Pyrenees.
The first is nestled away in a forest of dwarf mountain pines in a stunningly beautiful slice of Cerdanya: the Cerdanya-Alt Urgell National Reserve. We’re talking about Refugi de Malniu, located at an altitude of 2,100 metres next to the small Estany Sec and a short walk from the delightful Estany del Malniu, an incredible haven of peace. It’s a staffed lodge where you can book a stay, but it also serves drinks and meals to those just passing through. It opened in 1954 and is owned by the town council of Meranges, a picture-perfect village that’s definitely worth a visit. Attached to the lodge is Guies de Meranges, a company that organises lots of nature activities led by qualified guides.
There are two staffed lodges in the neighbouring region of Ripollès. The first is Refugi Coma de Vaca, located in the municipality of Queralbs. It’s owned by the Federation of Hikers’ Associations of Catalonia (FEEC) and was built more than 20 years ago next to the old shelter used by shepherds. It’s located at an altitude of 2,000 metres in the so-called Pla de les Eugues at the exact point where the Freser and De la Vaca rivers meet. It’s also home to a variety of flora and fauna that deserve our care and respect. It’s a warm and cosy lodge for those who stay overnight and a welcoming place for hikers to stop in for a takeaway picnic or a hot meal… all home-cooked of course! Getting there is an adventure in itself, offering views and emotions that will remain forever etched in your memory.
The surroundings of Ripollès’ other staffed lodge, Ulldeter, will also take your breath away. It’s located in the municipality of Setcases, in the Camprodon valley, at an altitude of 2,200 metres, and is managed by the Catalan Hiking Centre (CEC). In fact, it was this organisation that advocated its construction in the early 20th century. The current building dates from 1959 and is an impressive stone structure sheltered under the Puig dels Lladres ridge. Even from afar you can you can see how warm and inviting it is. Visitors can stay the night, nibble on some tapas, have a baguette sandwich or a three-course meal, order a takeaway picnic or cosy up by the wood burner for a round of cards. It’s a fantastic starting point for routes, ascents and hikes of all kinds.