Tag Archives: Hiking

Andorra for beginner’s

An old stone church in the Andorran countryside
Andorra is a uniquely independent principality. It ranks 16th wealthiest nation in the world and has a population of under 70K (only 30K being Andorran nationals). It is a small landlocked country nestled in the Pyrenees mountains between Spain and France. The official language is Catalan, but 27% of the country is Spanish, and almost another third is Portuguese. Many French speakers live on the border of France. There is also a smattering of retired UK residence living in the countryside. Making Andorra a truly multi-lingual destination.
After reading other people’s blogs and visiting Andorra myself here are a few things I learned to make your stay more enjoyable should you decide to visit this little gem for yourself. Andorra La Vella is the highest capital in Europe. Known for its excellent shopping and tax haven status it is not a quaint historic town. Most of the buildings have been completed in the last 50 years. La Caldea is an 18 story hotel and spa with modern glass architecture. It was one of the highlights of my trip. For only 35€ you can spend 3 hours enjoying geothermal pools, steam baths, and jacuzzi.
The interior of Caldea

The villages surrounding Andorra La Vella contain charming stone houses with shale roofs. Some buildings dating from the 12th century. Everywhere you go in Andorra you are surrounded by towering mountain views. Some residents complain of claustrophobia. Renting a car isn’t a necessity as buses run every half hour during the day to both the slopes and the local parishes. Of course a car is always a nice option for reaching remote trails and such.

Pal, Andorra

People come to Andorra to ski, hike, shop, and bank. So if you’re not into any of those things you won’t enjoy it here. Andorra gets most of its tourists during the winter months. Vallnord is one of the world’s best ski resorts. I can attest to that. If the views don’t take your breath away then the seemingly  limitless amount of slopes surely will. In the summer months when the snow melts the slopes become a hikers paradise with endless ridge climbs for the sure footed person who is not afraid of heights.

The modern exterior of Caldea

The best thing about Andorra however is the people. They are exceptionally kind and hospitable. I am truly grateful to the friends I made during my short stay and hope i can return again soon. Andorrans are both honest and conscientious contributing to a country that is both safe and clean. In my opinion Andorra is well worth a visit for like-minded folk.

Hiking Waihee Ridge Trail on Maui

The trail opens up to breathtaking views of the valley and stream below.
About 1 mile up the Waihee trail opens up to breathtaking views of the valley and stream below.

Waihee Ridge Trail is one of the best hikes on Maui. With spectacular views that include gulches, gorges and the deep blue sea. 270′ Makamakaole falls, Central Maui, Haleakala, and Molokai are all visible on a clear day. Waihee ridge Trail is a moderately difficult hike. Conquered by young and old alike.

View of the parking lot at base of Waihee Trail
View of the parking lot at base of Waihee Trail

A degree of physical conditioning is essential for successful completion of the trail. I’ve had several friends turn back around the halfway mark. All points of the trail boast outstanding views. I’m in relatively good shape, but I like to take my time to enjoy the views. For me, at a leisurely pace, it’s a 3-4 hour return. It’s 2.5 miles to the summit or 5 mile return. Waihee trail starts at 1,000′ and peaks at 2563′. That’s a 1,563′ ascent, making it a relentless uphill trek. A 2 hour return is easily attainable if you  rush, and are in excellent physical shape.

Central Maui
Central Maui

Choose a clear day and get an early start as clouds usually form by the late morning. The summit feels refreshingly cool on a hot day. Rain is common resulting in slick, muddy terrain. There’s a picnic table at the top making it a nice respite to eat lunch. The gate at the bottom of the access road is open from 7am to 5 pm. It’s important to plan accordingly if you don’t want your vehicle locked in.

Tip: Waihee can be pronounced why.hay.eh

Up in the clouds near the summit of Waihee Ridge Trail
Up in the clouds near the summit of Waihee Ridge Trail
There are a several narrow fences that have to be squeezed through on the way up.
There are a several narrow fences that one must squeeze through on the way up
Near the summit of Waihee Ridge Trail on Maui
Near the summit of Waihee Ridge Trail on Maui