The Woodyer's Andorra Family Holiday
The Woodyer Family recently discovered what it’s like to go off the beaten track with The Family Adventure Company, taking their 9, 11 and 13 year olds on a family holiday to Andorra. Squeezed between Spain and France, the mountainous principality is a perfect place for an action-packed summer activity week.
What the parents say…
"This was our first group holiday and it was with a certain amount of trepidation that we met the rest of the families! Fortunately they were all great and, of course, everyone was united by a desire to have a bit of an adventure while we were away.
The children loved having other kids to hang out with and activities like walking, which they can grumble about at home, were much more fun with new friends. It took a bit of adjusting for us adults, doing activities as a group rather than doing our own thing, but we got used to it.
Also the guides were great at bringing everyone together, and keeping an eye on the children. I would recommend that you make the most of them! Our children responded much better to instructions and advice from the guides, and this took the pressure off us too. Don’t be a helicopter parent! Let your children try new things with the support of the guides and make friends at their own speed, and they’ll have a great time.
The best thing about the holiday for me was having everything organised by someone else. I didn’t have to make any decisions about what we were going to do each day or where we were going to eat. Although it was a very active holiday, getting a break from being the decision maker was really relaxing!” Jane Woodyer
A teen’s diary by Ella Woodyer…
Day 1 – Incles Valley
Within our group we were all still strangers to one another, maybe some people had introduced themselves, but I didn't really know anyone outside my family. Our guide was Andrew and straight away he seemed like a really nice person. The children in our group ranged from Andrew, 19 (who wasn't really a child) to Cicely, 9. The other seven were: Rebekah, 16, another Andrew, this one 15; me 13; Theo, Will and Ellen, all of 11 years.
Today was our first day and our group had to get our hiking boots on. I walked with Ellen.
The walk was really pretty. We found bilberries on the way to eat, but I don't like them so the ones I picked I gave to the others. We also had a paddle in a beautiful waterfall; Theo and Cicely put their swimming costumes on and dunked themselves, but I had forgotten to bring mine, big mistake! Later that night we took turns playing Mario Kart in the hotel whilst we waited for dinner.
Day 2 – Another walking day
Today we had our second walk, driving to our starting point of 2100m. We headed up hill almost immediately. On our way Sarah, a local guide, told us to keep our eyes open for marmots, and about half way up we got a sighting. The two boys (Theo and William) managed to get really close, climbing over the rocks.
At the top, after approximately climbing to 2400m we came to a lake. Then, dropping down we met up with two of the ladies from our group who had taken the shorter/easier route, up to the café. I had a pink Magnum that melted very quickly. We continued round, walking across the ski slopes and looking at all the stuff that is there for skiing. We saw snow cannons that are used to make snow if there isn’t enough for skiing, and the ski lifts up to the top of the slopes.
We stopped at a nice place for lunch. There was a brilliant view and from that point you could see the highest golf course in Europe. Also from the point dad saw a fox hunting marmots; unfortunately nobody else got to see this.
Sarah our guide was very nice and I had a lovely day hiking. Luckily my hay fever had improved after taking some antihistamine last night and wearing mum’s sunglasses helped also. It was a big surprise yesterday to find out that I suffer from hay fever here, as I’ve never suffered before.
I’m looking forward to dinner tonight. The walk was exhausting and we’ve got a big day biking tomorrow.
Day 3 – Cortals Valley Cycling
Today we went out in Land Rovers and took the mountain bikes for a ride. This time our guides were Stuart and Adele who were really nice.
The first path was very flat and you could cycle quite fast. At two points it actually went into the mountain and we got to cycle through the tunnels. Some of us also did a steep downhill bit, it was quite scary because the ground was really stony and the bike tires slipped. It was fun, but in a scary way! Also you had to cycle back up to the main path and it was very steep, I had to push.
After lunch we went to a bike park in the woods. There were lots of tracks with things to do like humps, ramps, and jumps. We didn’t get to do any jumps and Dad was a bit grumpy about this, we started calling him teenage dad because he was grumpier than any of the teenagers! But we did get to cycle on this path over a wooden seesaw. This was really fun and tricky but after a couple of goes with Stuart helping I did it by myself.
Back at the hotel the boys are obsessed with table football, or foosball, as they kept calling it. When I tried playing my brother they just cheated. Later on it was quiz night. Our team came in last but I was the oldest member so it wasn’t really fair. Mum was in the team that won, but they had three adults and a 15 year old (strange that they came second to us in the Disney section).
Day 4 – White Water Rafting
When we got up this morning it was raining really hard, and it kept on raining all day. But that didn’t matter because we were going White Water Rafting!
It was so cool. My family were in a boat with Adrian and Andrew (the dad and 19 year old from another family). We jumped in the river, had water fights with other boats, and also went down some bumpy rapids. Everyone was grinning and laughing all the time, it was awesome! My favourite part was when I went in the front and we went down a weir. I kept thinking I was going to fall out!
Today was so much fun. I want to go rafting somewhere like that in England.
Day 5 – Free Day
Mum and Dad had asked us what we wanted to do on our free day, we all wanted to try Via Ferrata. We went with Adrian, Andrew and Rebekah, their mum choose the spa instead.
Unfortunately this did not give us a later start than usual. We had to get a bus from outside our hotel and meet the Via Ferrata guide in a town a few miles down the main road (I think there’s only one main road in Andorra).
The guide, Sergei, drove us up into the mountains to a place where we parked and got our climbing harnesses and helmets on. Then we walked over a long bridge across a valley and up to the Via Ferrata spot. With Via Ferrata you have two carabineers on ropes attached to your harness and you clip these onto cable attached to the rocks. Then you climb to the next cable and clip onto that one.
When went up there were about six griffon vultures circling us in the sky and lots of marmots whistling below, it was quite spooky, especially with the clouds encircling us!
The Via Ferrata route was really good. We had to go across two bridges that were really difficult to get onto and very high up. I really like climbing but I’ve only done it on climbing walls before so this was very different.
Back at the hotel we had a special Spanish meal, lots of spicy sausages and we also got to drink wine from these funny glass jugs with a spout. I think the children got Ribena. It was karaoke night, unfortunately Dad disappeared quite quickly.
Day 6 – The Iron Route
Our last day. We went cycling again today with Andrew and Stuart (the guides). This time we did lots of off-road mountain biking down a valley, Andrew kept meeting us at different points with the Land Rover in case anyone wanted a break.
After lunch we finished the off-road section and then cycled to a town called Ordino on the roads. I really liked this because it was mostly downhill, and roads were really smooth and fast.
On the way back to the hotel we stopped at a highpoint overlooking the valley and most of us got back on the bikes to cycle down the road. It was a bit like being in the Tour De France! Fast with lots of hairpin bends, apparently we cycled (or free-wheeled) 6km but it didn’t take very long!
I’m really sad that this was our last day and we’re going home tomorrow. It’s been a really fun holiday, and the people in my group were really nice.
Other blogs for this trip
- 6 family travel myths debunked
- Aussie slang words you might need to know
- 5 Family Holiday Destinations with a Difference
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- 22 emotions you’ll experience flying long haul with kids
- Discover Europe's hidden Gem - Andorra
- Dad jokes
- Unplugged: 5 adventures to go techno-free
- 7 top tips for kids on how to take a great adventure travel picture
- Why it's good to go on a family holiday