Mercantour National park with donkeys
This walking tour with a donkey is full of variety. Through the foot-hills and the fragrance of Provence and up to the alpine panoramas of Mercantour National Park. From the oak to the larch; from the wheat fields to the gentian lawns; from a man made landscape to a sweeping scenery of wilderness. The last 2 days are a grandiose conclusion of the trip – with a good general idea of high mountain conditions and Europe’s largest glacial lake. Marmots, chamois and golden eagles will be there to meet you!
Suitable for families with kids from 5 years.
Path conditions: very well signposted and marked with easily distinguishable yellow rectangles. They do, however, remain mountain paths.
Accommodation: Family rooms in auberge, gites, shared rooms in “refuge de la Cayolle”. It is possible to book an extra option “hotel” to have the sheets and towels included : 80€ more per person. Otherwise with the basic option you should bring your own bag sheets and towels.
Duration: 7 days
Departure: june 1 - september 25
Price: 765,00 eur per person adults / 655,00 eur per person children 5-12 yrs
- The advice of a local English speaking guide
- Accommodation at Ecolodge, mountain refuge or guest house
- FB treatment – breakfasts, picnic lunches, dinners
- your own personal donkey to carry your bags
- a road book an IGN map of the paths a leafy booklet on the valley,leaflet published by the Mercantour National Park.
- Transfer from Estenc-Villeplane at the end of the trek
- arrival in Villeplane
- anything not mentioned under “the price includes”
Nica - Villeplane
Arrival in Villeplane in the afternoon. Dinner and overnight in ecolodge.
Collet de la Cime or les Gorges Rouges de Daluis
Welcome at 8.30 at the farm of Villeplane. Our local guide will introduce you to your donkey and assess the various possibilities together, taking into consideration the weather forecast and your physical abilities.
Option 1 – Collet de la Cime
This beautiful half day hike leads through a very quiet area. The Collet de la Cime, from which you have a wonderful panoramic view (360 °) on all the surrounding peaks, can be reached after a slight climb of 300 meters. A picnic in the shade of the larches near the Col de Devens and a a small stop at the stream, where you can refresh yourself in a water and take some relax.
Ascent: 300 m, descent: 300 m, duration: 2,5 hrs, distance: 6 km
Option 2 – les Gorges Rouges de Daluis
In the program: The Gorges de Daluis with their deep ravines of the wine-red rocks. All along the way there are explanatory panels on the animals, plants, minerals and other peculiarities of the area. This magnificent hike leads through a landscape that is unique in Europe; therefore, this exceptional area is protected as a European natural heritage and is included in various nature conservation programs.
Ascent: 350 m, descent: 350 m, duration: 4,5 hrs, distance: 9 km
Overnight at Ecolodge of Villeplane.
Villeplane – Saint Martin d’Entraunes
This fairly long hike borrows an ancestral path connecting villages between them. It will impregnate you with the wilderness charm of our mountains and their 2500 meter sommets cutting through the blue of the sky, punctuated by small hamlets perched with their walls made of dry stones, shaded forests and amusing halts in the pools of refreshing torrents.
Night at gite de Pelens or at hotel des Etrangers depending on availabilities. Shared bathroom at hotel des Etrangers.
Saint Martin d’Entraunes / Entraunes
Option 1 : by the Ubac and le Serre d’Au countryside.
This itinerary is entirely shaded along wide forest paths and crosses several beautiful streams suitable for bathing. Through ancient countryside, we spare a thought for the generations of mountain dwellers who have shaped the landscape to the best of their advantage. This itinerary offers refreshing aquatic fun in the stream of Chastelonnette.
Accumulated Ascent : 870 m – Accumulated Descent : 660 m – Distance : 10 km – Continuous walking time : 5hrs30
Option 2 : by the Postman trail
A connecting link to your next destination which will allow you to ‘tantalise’ the high mountain altitude at your own rhythm. This way with its evocative name, recalls the time (not so distant than that) when the public service had to provide only a good pair of shoes to ensure mail delivery … Before beginning to climb, the trail follows an old irrigation channel, to supply water to land or crops and then crosses the rocky Bramus in a spectacular waterfall. You will then travel through ancient country living sites, sharing a thought for these generations of mountain folk who transformed the landscape to get the best out of it. Now that nature has taken over, only the attentive eye can detect the traces. You will then be stunned by the power of the dense, vertical waterfalls waiting for you towards the end of your day.
Accumulated Ascent : 970 m – Accumulated Descent : 750 m – Distance : 12,5 km – Continuous walking time : 6hrs30
Night at Villa Noë or auberge Roche Grande depending on availabilities. Shared bathrooms at auberge Roche Grande.
Entraunes - Estenc
Option 1: By the waterfalls.
You will follow a pretty path along the bed of the impressive Var river, between towering cliffs, and across the footbridges over the torrent of Garréton, Aiglière and the Var, with their gorgeous vertical falls!
Accumulated Ascent : 530 m – Accumulated Descent : 0 m – Walking time : 3 h – Distance: 7 km
Option 2 : By the “ Villard”
Typically alpine, deep into the Mercantour park, this course combines all the attractive elements of high mountain environments: panoramic passes, barren ravines, gnarled larch and prancing chamois.
Accumulated Ascent : 650 m – Accumulated Descent : 235 m – Walking time : 4 h 30 – Distance: 9 km
Night at refuge de la Cantonnière or gite Ferran depending on availabilities. Shared bathrooms at refuge de la Cantonnière
Estenc / Col de la Cayolle
Option 1: By the woods of the Garrets – with donkey
An ascent which progresses in altitude up a beautiful path through a centennial larch tree forest to the timberline (edge of inhospitable climate), where you emerge to find high mountain pastures and the charming mountain range of Sanguinière with its wild scenery, typical of the contrast and diverse southern Alps.
Accumulated Ascent : 590 m – Accumulated Descent : 0 m – Distance : 7 km – Continuous walking time : 3.5 hrs
Option 2 : Col de la Boucharde (2539m) – without donkey
For this option you will have to leave your donkey and the rest of your stuff at refuge de la Cantonnière : the meeting point the last day. There is no bags transportation by car to refuge de la Cayolle. You have to carry your stuff for 2 days and 1 night in a day backpack.
A mineral valley, where chamois and marmots soak up the sun! Crossing over the Garret torrent, you will head for the core of the Mercantour national park. A charming journey through the woods, following the torrent, will bring you to the ‘Cabanes de Sanguinière’, shortly after which the woods will be replaced by a high mountain pasture.
Accumulated Ascent : 990 m – Accumulated Descent : 440 m – Distance : 13 km – Continuous walking time : 6 hrs
Night at refuge de la Cayolle. Rooms and bathrooms shared.
Col del la Cayolle - Estenc
Option 1 : The breathtaking tour of the lakes – with donkey.
Your weeks trek rounds off in a climax with an enchanted tour around the glacial lakes of Allos, Garrets and la petite Cayolle. You will lose yourself on this journey through nature, where the blue sky is reflected in the clear waters of the lakes and the endemic flora strewn with alpine pastures.
Accumulated Ascent : 410 m – Accumulated Descent : 970 m – Distance : 13 km – Continuous walking time : 5.5 hrs
Option 2 : Highest summit, the Mont Pelat at 3050m – without donkey
If you are a keen mountain-goer, you will not be able to leave the region without climbing the Mt Pelat, the highest local summit. A mountaintop whose name is etymologically transparent, it’s flanks of barren rockslides cut across the blue sky. The tradition is to reach the summit at the rising of the sun and, on a clear day, enjoy this majestic 360° view : To the south, Corsica; a faint
shadow on the liquid horizon, to the north, the distant Mont Blanc glistening white, and to the east, the Italian and Swiss Alps.
Accumulated Ascent : 1260 m – Accumulated Descent : 1820 m – Distance : 20 km – Continuous walking time : 8 hrs
You will be picked up at at 17.00 in front of refuge de la Cantonnière and driven back to Villeplane. You will be back to Villeplane at 18.30.
If you have not come by car, you have the choice at the end of your week between staying an extra night in Villeplane (depending on availabilities) or returning to Nice by the mountain train which leaves Entrevaux at 19:21, arriving in Nice at 20:53! Please specify your choice when booking.