Manon Vallin
Daylight in the mountains
Tips and spots

Bivouac in the Pyrenees

  • Sports activities
  • Outside
  • Summer
  • bivouac
  • Hiking

Imagine yourself in complete silence, facing the Pyrenees, enjoying a good dish in your meal… Then continue your evening in the warmth of your duvet, to observe the stars from your tent. It is an experience to live at least once, to have the privilege of meeting the Gavarnie Valleys in their greatest confidentiality. For a trek, or for the evening, everyone can find a bivouac spot that suits them, with little walking or in roaming mode over several days.

Bivouac & campsite

What differences?

As wild as they may seem, our mountains are full of bivouac spots where you will be invited, for one night, to have a one-on-one with the peaks. However, before preparing for its release, it is first necessary to consider the applicable regulations.  

The bivouac

It's a light camp, set up at sunset and dismantled the next morning at sunrise. The maximum duration is therefore one night, and allows hikers to set up camp during roaming hiking stages, for example.

wild camping

It is the fact of establishing a camp over one or more days. We talk about wild camping because we consider that it is a question of camping in areas that are not intended for this use, as is the case in a campsite. In our valleys and our natural spaces, these practices are also regulated.

Manon Vallin
Two women facing a sunrise in the mountains

Regulations

Pyrenees National Park

Camping is not permitted in the heart of the National Park. However, it is possible to set up a small tent to spend the night, from 19 p.m. to 9 a.m. the next day. Around the refuges, there are also bivouac areas to set up your tent.

The Néouvielle Nature Reserve

The bivouac in the Néouvielle massif is allowed between 19 p.m. and 9 a.m., only in the areas provided for this purpose near the Orédon and Aubert lakes.

The Pibeste-Aoulhet Regional Nature Reserve

On the Pibeste side, bivouac is authorized from 20 p.m. to 8 a.m. To respect their tranquility, set up your bivouac far from the herds in the mountain pastures.  

Estaing Lake

Wild camping and bivouac in all its forms are prohibited on the Lac d'Estaing site, from the Canadian passage, at a place called Bayelle, where the pastoral area is delimited. 

How to make a success of your bivouac?

Once the route has been selected, the first step is to set a date based on the weather information (by promoting Mountain Weather). But success also depends on the content of your backpack (non-exhaustive list in summer conditions in the absence of snow of course!).

Prepare your bag well

Prefer a very comfortable backpack of at least 40L and make your walk more pleasant with hiking sticks.    
To prepare your cozy nest, obviously, you have to fit in your bag all the bivouac equipment : tent, duvet, mattress or carpet, headlamp, stove and gas, its toilet bag and warm clothes for the nights which can be cool at altitude, even in the middle of summer.  
 
Finally don't forget to leave accessible in your bag: a first aid kit, a survival blanket, water purification tablets, sunscreen, a cap and sunglasses. In order to leave no trace behind you (even your toilet paper), remember to take an empty garbage bag.

Manon Vallin
Trekking backpack for a summer hike in the Pyrenees
Water and food side

First you have to calculate the amount of water to take with you. This may depend on the expected temperatures but also on the intensity of the selected route. It is therefore better to plan wide and slip purifying tablets in his bag. If you spend the night near a water point, you can also boil water to recharge your water bottle or your hydration bag.   
 
As for the food, energy bars will be your allies to reboost you on the way. For dinner and breakfast, depending on how much weight you can carry, consider freeze-dried meals. Otherwise, compose a picnic based on tasty local products. Nothing like a blueberry pie in the early morning, facing the peaks.

Manon Vallin
Stove in bivouac

Think about it before you go!

Before you leave, remember to redo a weather point, because it can change quickly in the mountains. Re-study the route, even if it means download the plot on your smartphone, and mark it on a paper map. Finally, consider notify a relative of the route taken and an approximate time of return.

Where to make a bivouac?

The pleasure of finding the perfect spot to settle in after a good day's walk... It's sometimes a moment of satisfaction, after falling on the flat patch of grass to set up your tent, sometimes a moment of relief when you know finally that we will be able to put down our bag and dine peacefully. But it is above all a great moment of wonder where one feels invaded by a feeling of freedom. Each evening is unique. And to help you select the most beautiful bivouac spot in the Pyrenees, here is our selection !

Manon Vallin
Sunrise in the mountains
Tristan Buchot
Evening lights in the Pyrenees
Ines Trey
Ines Trey
Lower Batcrabère Lake
Ines Trey
Sunset over the Pyrenees from Balaïtous
Manon Vallin
Rafting on mountain river

Easily accessible, Hautacam is an ideal spot to try bivouac. From the Tramassel car park, follow the track that runs along the ridges: you are sure to find a place to pitch your tent for the night. A front row seat to the sunset, Act II is right above your head. Lie down in the grass to observe the stars, in the International Starry Sky Reserve, and on a clear day, perhaps make out the Milky Way...

Hautacam ridges | Argeles-Gazost Valley

164m D + 
2:30 a.m. (round trip)

Detailed itinerary

Guided outings

A day hike

to begin

To bivouac in complete serenity, the Gavarnie Valleys are there to guide you: itineraries adapted to your level, knowledge of the regulations, good plans... And for those who do not yet feel ready to spend the night in the mountains, a accompanied outing by a mountain professional will give you confidence for your next escapades.

An accompanied bivouac

The mountain professionals of our valleys offer supervised bivouacs for all tastes. After selecting the route that suits you best, they will show you their little secret corners. Beyond a mountain experience, a supervised bivouac will allow you to share a human experience, with a guide who will share his anecdotes and knowledge with you.

Guided bivouacs

Manon Vallin
Observing the moon at dusk
Travel journal
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