Trek through spectacular glaciers and the high peaks of Europe’s most famous mountain ranges. Explore the birthplace of modern mountaineering, Chamonix. Sea kayak along the Costa Brava of the Mediterranean Sea. Discover the lush canyons and waterfalls of the Spanish Pyrenees along the Carros de Foc Trail. Raft the Noguera Pallaresa River before backpacking the world-renowned Tour du Mont Blanc! Experience the best cultural experiences and outdoor adventures that Europe has to offer on this extraordinary 28-day program.
Our programs offer a wide variety of activity options. Explore the activities specific to this program below.
You will fly into Barcelona as a group and spend your first night at a youth hostel in one of Spain’s most cosmopolitan cities. The next morning, you will head to the major historic port town of Palamós. Palamós was founded in 1279 and lies at the northern edge of the Costa Brava. Here, you will meet your guides and prepare for the next four days of sea kayaking in the Mediterranean Sea.
The wild and rugged Costa Brava is absolutely stunning. The spectacular views of the Spanish coastline will be breathtaking! Over the next four days, you and your group will explore the sea bays, inlets, and rocky crags by sea kayak. You will explore old shipwreck sites and caves and learn about the sea urchins and other local marine wildlife. Next, your adventure will take you into the great Pyrenees mountains.
Week two will begin with you and your group leaving the beach and Mediterranean Sea behind. You will travel to the mountain town of Sort and prepare for your next adventure: backpacking through the Spanish Pyrenees! While on your backpacking expedition, you’ll average seven to ten miles per day as you travel on foot through the Estant de Sant Maurici and Aiguestories National Park. Primarily, your route will follow the famous “Carros de Foc” or “Chariots of Fire” hiking circuit. You will be following red and white marks, wooden posts, and stacks of rocks left by other hikers. The route meanders through sparsely-traveled countryside where the absence of distractions will allow you to take in this amazing landscape and the authentic European culture. You’ll even have opportunities to brush up on your Spanish and experience the life of a shepherd. At night, you will stay in traditional mountain huts, famous across the backpacking routes of Europe. These huts provide a home-cooked meal, a comfortable bed to sleep in, and fascinating conversations with travelers from around the globe!
The next day, following your trek through the Pyrenees, you will give your legs a rest and hit the river! You will spend a day whitewater rafting the Noguera Pallaresa River of Spain. Rated as one of the best rafting rivers in Europe, you will paddle as a team through class II and III rapids. It will be the best way to spend your final day in Spain. From here, it’s off to France!
You’ll leave the gorgeous Spanish countryside behind and head to Chamonix, France by train. Chamonix is just to the north of Mont Blanc and is one of the oldest ski resorts in France. The town sits near the juncture of Switzerland, France, and Italy. You will spend a day relaxing, doing laundry, shopping, and exploring the town before beginning your next adventure – the Tour du Mont Blanc.
The Tour du Mont Blanc is considered one of the finest walking circuits in the world. For the next six days, your group will trek this classic Alps route. Moderate days early in the trip will eventually give way to more challenging days as the group becomes stronger. Departing on your first day from Chamonix, you’ll make your way through various mountain villages such as Courmayeur, Italy. The scenery of the Mont Blanc massif and its corridor is unmatched anywhere in Europe. Dramatic valleys, hanging glaciers, blooming wildflowers, and snow-capped cols will surround you every day. The accommodations each evening along the trail will be a mixture of high alpine huts and small village hostels. Comfortable dormitory style sleeping rooms and filling dinners will be the perfect way to end a great day of hiking. Throughout the six days of hiking, group members will take turns as the “ leader of the day.” Leading the group is the perfect opportunity to learn and practice route planning, map and compass use, and other essential backcountry techniques. And those of you who have taken French or Italian in school are sure to get the opportunity to polish your linguistic skills as well.
After the Tour du Mont Blanc, you will make your way back to your starting point of Chamonix by bus. You will have the last four days of your trip devoted to stand up paddle boarding and whitewater rafting on the Giffre River, as well as day hiking. The Giffre River has everything from splashy waves and rapids, quiet inlets and fishing areas, to long stretches of sandy shorelines. Your European experience will conclude with the WA traditional end-of-summer banquet in Chamonix before heading back to Geneva on your final morning for your final farewells.
I had an amazing time getting to know everyone on my trip in different ways, and making memories in the most unexpected ways. I also loved exploring two beautiful places that have been on my bucket list for a while.
Lila, 2019 Alps & Pyrenees Student
Trip Price Includes
- Group gear
- Personal gear and clothing
- Airfare to and form the trip start and end