From Ripoll we climb to the town of Ribes de Freser where we exchange the car for a rack railway which, after a thousand metres of elevation gain, drops us at the head of the Vall de Núria. The vista from here is worthy of an oil painting: trees, green meadows and a sanctuary that looks tiny against the backdrop of the Pyrenean peaks. From the sanctuary of Núria there are several simple routes where it is easy to encounter chamois and marmots. Part of the group goes for a small guided excursion and the heads out on a horseback ride to the Verge forest. Some other visit, when we have more time, we could take on the challenge of climbing to Puigmal, an iconic beak with an altitude of 2,913 metres that acts as a natural border with France.