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Smugglers Route in a 4 x 4

If we can show off the Andorran people, it is the natural wealth that we enjoy ...

19 February 2020
From snowy mountains in winter to incredible natural parks and green routes in summer.

Any time of the year is good to explore these landscapes. Today I invite you to discover together one of the most emblematic and most historic routes in Andorra, the “Smugglers’ Route” in a 4×4.

Why Is It Called “Smugglers’ Route”?

Yes, yes, this is what it seems. It’s called that because it was, exactly, a passage zone for smugglers. During the 80s, tobacco and other products were transported clandestinely on the border between Andorra and Spain, on the part of Lleida. Many were the headaches suffered by the authorities of both countries but finally managed to stop this activity.

With this, what was once a forest track of secondary and little known roads, has now become one of the most exciting routes to do by jeep. So, if you are planning to spend a few days in Andorra on holidays, I recommend you discover this sumptuous road full of history and adventures 

haven’t told yet.

We Start the Route!

Depending on the route you want to do, you can choose a route of about 42 km, or the mythical one of 100 km. The time difference may seem like a lot, but it takes almost the same to do it, about 2 hours. Of course, choose the one you choose, always do it in 4×4. They are complicated roads for a normal car and, you know, safety comes first.

We started the adventure in Alins and from there we headed towards Tor. Along the way, you will begin to appreciate the evolution of its landscape as you gain height. The lush forest disappears and we receive huge meadows. Once you arrive at Tor, I recommend you make a brief stop as this town has a history, something sinister, to tell us.

During the time of smuggling, tensions began to appear between neighbors (economic, personal interests …) and this, as you can imagine, did not have a very happy ending. Up to 3 murders were committed. It may not seem like much, but think that this small village only had 13 houses.

Once past Tor, we begin to climb following the mountain route. This section was formerly made in mule but, with the SUVs so well equipped with those we have today, you will go much more comfortable in a 4×4. At the end of the road, you will run into Port de Cabús, which indicates the entrance to Andorra.

Port de Cabús is a small but charming town, and it also has some of the best panoramic views of the entire valley that expand below the mountain. 

The Descent to Andorra la Vella

Once the equator of the “Smugglers’ Route” is over, it is time to begin the descent. This road is not suitable for those who get dizzy easily since the road is full of curves. Of course, the views it offers are amazing. It is very worthy.

After a half-hour of left and right curves, I can only tell you … Quiet, the most complicated part has passed and you have overcome it like a champion!

We are already in the Andorran area, from here we will pass through several villages: Pal, El Vedat de Xixerella and Erts, until we reach La Massana. Every single one of these villages has something to tell us, a little piece of history. But, if you are running late, I recommend that you make that little stop in Erts, where you can enjoy the charm of the church of Sant Romà.

Once in La Massana, you just have to go down to Les Escaldes – Engordany and follow the route to Andorra la Vella.

Route by Day … and Night

The truth is that smugglers, well, those of you who were ready, made this route at night, which was at least at risk of being “caught.” Thus, if what you want is being in their shoes for a few hours, you can do this same route once the sun has set.

You can go on an organized excursion, which will always be safer than doing it on your own. This type of excursions starts right at dusk and they usually stop at Tor for dinner and strength.

Honestly, I have done this route both day and night and, I have to say, that both impressed me a lot, but, all things said, the night route gave me landscapes and sensations that I had never lived before.

Alternative Routes

Although I have told you the route I usually do, it is true that there are many other similar routes but with stops in different villages or with a longer route.

For example, one of the stops that travelers like the most is in Noris, which you will find several kilometers after Tor. Noris is known as the “ghost town”, is quite remote from civilization and is not one of the crowdest. Of course, it has a unique charm that you won’t find anywhere else. Their houses are somewhat gloomy and there aren’t usually many people. If you spend the night, you will see that it is the perfect setting for a horror movie.

Do You Dare?

As you can see, Andorra never stops surprising us. It has many activities to do and places to discover. So much so that it is becoming one of the most adventurous favorite destinations in both winter and summer.

Now that you know the fascinating “Smugglers’ Route” and all its history, do you dare to do it and enjoy the landscapes that this natural paradise offers us?

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