Encamp’s Funicular “FUNICAMP”
Anyone who has driven up the main road to France, will have seen Funicamp, the cable car just beyond Encamp that goes up the mountains.
Here, Clare Allcard tells us all about it.
Yes, it’s arrived, Europe’s longest cable car. Built by Austrians, it is also said to be one of the two safest such lifts in the world as it hangs on two cables rather than on one, offering much greater stability in high winds.
This really is a terrific experience and an ideal outing for visitors – provided they don’t suffer from vertigo. However, there are still a few snags in the system. While they wait for a purpose built car park, Encamp comú have designated three ‘Funicamp’ car parks: one opposite the Motor Museum, one next to the black glass comú building and a few hundred metres below the Funicamp itself. The first two cost 10pst an hour, and are to supposed to be served by a free bus every 15 minutes. Not in my experience. There are none at all between 1.30 and 3pm and they come perhaps every 25 minutes at other times.
Once at the Funicamp you have a choice of tariffs. If you are one our lucky members with an All-Andorra or a Pas de la Casa – Grau Roig season ticket you travel free. If not, but you plan to ski once you get to the top, then you can buy the Pas de la Casa day ski pass and pay 400pts extra for the ride. Alternatively, you can buy a straightforward ‘tourist’ ticket at 1,000pts and just go up for the view.
Each car can hold 24 people but it is much more fun with only six or eight. There are excellent fixtures on which to hang skis and poles, and the all-round view is stunning. As they enter the station the cars slow down to a crawl but never stop; the great metal clamps, which attach them to the moving wire, lift off and the car is passed along by a series of rubber wheels. As the doors open you step in and make yourself at home. Passing an infrared ‘eye’ , the doors automatically close. Suddenly the car swirls into action, a bit like a fair ride. This sudden acceleration is to allow the car to catch up with constantly moving cables. As you hurtle out of the station the great clamps reattach themselves and you’re off.
The cable car goes straight as an arrow up the Cortals valley, one of Andorra’s best preserved. In the summer one should be able to get off at the El Cortals station to enjoy a walk or take part in the many summer activities that the comú have to offer.
The journey of 6.137kms took us about 20 minutes although the brochure claims the cars travel at 7,2 metres per second.
Once at the top, step out of the station and on the flat bit of piste. Just ahead is a knoll. Climb the knoll and, provided you’ve chosen a beautiful day, prepare to be overwhelmed. From here you have a 360° panorama of white-capped mountains. Take a picnic and you could stay up there for hours (though I didn’t notice any loos). Next year there should be a restaurant at the top but, till then, why not enjoy one of the most spectacular views in Andorra.
Published in Inter-Comm March 1999