The Los Monegros region is wedged between the Pyrenees to the north and the City of Zaragoza to the south. It is a region, famous for the amateurs of Georges Orwell who spoke about it in these accounts of the clashes against the troops of Franco during the Spanish Civil War, located in the Province of Aragon, to the west of the Catalonia. But today, this sector is mainly known for its geological curiosities who promise a beautiful road trip in Los Monégros. Less frequented than the Bardenas desert, the constraints are less strong there, but it is therefore necessary to take particular care of this place!Here, Anne France tells us all about her itinerary and visit to the region ofAragon with family, in 4X4 and roof tent, with 2 teenagers!
Travel location: Monegros region road trip in Aragon.
Can you present, give us the ages of your children during this road trip in Spain?
We are a family of 2 adults (mom and dad aged 46) and two teenagers aged 14 and 17. We live in Haute-Saône in eastern France, near the Vosges.
Why did you choose this destination?
We chose to spend our first vacation in a 4 × 4 and roof tent, which we bought this summer. We tested this formula over a few weekends, and since we all had a week together for All Saints’ Day, we decided to leave!
In our region, on All Saints’ Day it freezes regularly the nights and the days can be unpleasant in terms of weather… so too bad for the kilometers, let’s go !!
What activities did you practice during this stay?
We mostly drove during these holidays, and then also took the time to admire the fabulous landscapes that were offered to us. Since we had never been through Toulouse, we spent a day to visit the City of Space, it was very interesting.
What are the stages of this road-trip in which you followed, your route?
Route and visit of Toulouse
D1: From Haute-Saône, we went down the first day to Toulouse.
D2: visit of the city of space: really very interesting, but we couldn’t see everything because there are so many things.
Spanish Wall of China in Finestras
D3: road to Spain, then first track to go to abandoned village of Finestras, where we were able to admire the ” Spanish wall of China ”. A natural wall, two “cliffs” of symmetrical rocks which constitute a kind of wall, all by a lake. The place is very wild and difficult to access if you don’t have an all-terrain vehicle. But it’s worth the detour!
Salar de Bujaraloz
D4: tracks and roads up to Valfarta + salar de Bujaraloz : on the instructions of the lady of the campsite, we went to see a small salar, as in South America ! Certainly the layer of salt and the expanse has nothing to do with the salar d’Uuni, but for us who had never seen one, it had a little effect.
Los Monnegros desert and the ruta Jubierre
J5 : tracks in the Monegros desert : the highlight of the show! A desert area that looks like the far west, so close to us ! The main track is called the «Jubierre route» (ruta = track – route = strada) and allows you to visit the main geological formations, called “los tozales”. But we can also (unlike Bardenas desert quite close which is a protected area where everything is prohibited) go where you want, take additional tracks, walk where you want around the tozal.
Tour of the Sarinena lagoons – Loarre castle to Aguero
D6: Sarinena lagoon, Loarre castle, roads and tracks to Aguero + mallos de Riglos: we made a stop at the Sarinena lagoon ; renowned for being home to many species of birds. There is an observation point to watch the animals. Alas, that day, the animals hardly showed themselves. We have seen an otter barely 5 seconds, a duck, and a vulture.
In the afternoon, a short stop at superb castle of Loarre, built in the 11th century. Very well preserved with a fortified surrounding wall all around the castle. Unfortunately, it was closed, due to filming!
We continued until “Mirador de los Bruitres” where we have a magnificent view of the “Mallos de Riglos”, a set of giant monolithic cliffs, where many vultures nest. Here again, access to the watchtower is via a track (possible all the same with a normal robust vehicle). This trail then continues through the mountain, which we did, but this time the 4X4 is absolutely necessary.
D7: road to Pau (visit to the family): last day in Spain, I had imagined a small hike starting from the village of Agüero, as close as possible to the monoliths and vultures, but a rain as sudden as it was heavy made us give up. So we decided to go in the direction of Pau, to visit my uncle who lives there.
D8: return home.
In one week, we have covered 2700km.
Prepare your trip to Spain
What is your best memory from this week?
My best memory, the abandoned village of Finestras. A place that gives off something in me, with the view a few hundred meters further on, on the Spanish “Chinese wall”! An absolutely startling natural curiosity. It is also there, in this context, that we made our first wild bivouac of the week. I felt very good there, despite the fact that I had seen a viper pass a meter away from me on the way up to the point of view, and that I am very afraid of snakes! (long live the roof tent !!)
I also really liked the Monegros desert itself, a particularly pleasant place, especially out of season, because we passed only 2 vehicles there during our whole day. This atmosphere of “end of the world”, of the American West, is absolutely incredible.
Where did you stay ?
Apart from the wild bivouacs, we slept in campsites:
- “Le Rupé” campsite in Toulouse: beautiful facilities, heated sanitary facilities out of season. Close to the city, but located in a sort of poorly frequented industrial zone and close to a boulevard, you can hear a lot of road noise.
- camping «the steppe», near the village of Valfarta in Spain: great welcome, very nice little campsite, around this place, really a lot to visit; the owner of the campsite told us about it for 45 minutes! (we hadn’t told him we were only staying one night!)
- municipal campsite à Agüero : close to Mallos de Riglos
What did you dislike (visit, way of traveling, atmosphere…)?
Nothing, we had a great week, Except perhaps the storage time needed every morning to dismantle and tidy up the whole camp. So we never managed to do much in the morning, but hey we’re on vacation! (see our article advantage and disadvantage of the roof tent!)We could test the 4X4 bivouac-roof tent mode over a full week, alternating between wild bivouacs and campsites, because we were not fully up to date with the shower equipment.
Despite the fact that we left at the end of October, we had very good weather. Hot during the day, but you had to accept the cold that “fell” in the second part of the night (you have to be well equipped) and having lunch in the morning with down jacket and hat. The hardest part is getting out of the sleeping bag and getting dressed!
What budget for a road trip in the Monégros desert in Spain?
We did a lot of kilometers, so the fuel budget was quite large for the week (although it’s cheaper in Spain). Otherwise, we didn’t spend much, except obviously for the Cité de l’Espace in Toulouse, the only paid outing of the week. Spain remains a cheaper country than France for food and also for restaurants.
Tips for fellow travelers:
Depending on the age of your children, it will surely be necessary to adapt the stages and the visits, to have occupations for the little ones. With our two grown-ups aged 14 and 17, their phone was enough for them to keep busy during the long link trips between the sites we wanted to see!
>> See our tips for managing long journeys with children.
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