Turismo activo

Caving and canyoning

Caving

Chasms and caves are dotted across the region of Navarre, from north to south and from east to west, so cavities in the rock are common and (therefore) so potholing. Any time of year can be a good time for discovering the secrets in the depths of the caverns; however, it is important to know the actual condition of each cave in advance, together with its strata and the weather forecasts. For this reason, it is advisable to carry out this activity in the company of specialist guides.

The Karstic (limestone) phenomenon is most clearly in evidence in the geography of the northeast and east of the region. The main caves can be found in limestone regions such as Aralar, Urbasa and, of course, in Larra , which is home to some of the largest chasms in Europe, such as the well-known St Martin's Chasm, which is more than 1,300 metres deep.

Each cave has its own characteristics, as much to do with its composition as in relation to its pothole formations or the technical difficulties of traversing its galleries. For this reason, one cannot generalise in talking about the caves of Navarre and one has to refer to each one in particular. Some of the most visited ones are:

  • Los Cristinos: one of the most beautiful of the Urbasa mountain range.
  • Akuandi: also in Urbasa with pools marked out by stalactites.
  • Tximua (the Basque word for “monkey”): so called because of its anthropomorphous features, it has numerous stalagmites. It is of a high technical difficulty, requiring good knowledge of potholing techniques of descent and ascent. It is also located in Urbasa.
  • Ormazarreta: the same as the Tximua cave, but this time in the Aralar range, it is technically very difficult. Stalagmites of great beauty and size can be seen there.

Arrarats, Aezkoa, Ezkaldo in Baztán and the Ibón Cave in Roncal, which has a difficult access and boasts a chamber with stalactites, are other notable examples, although there is an infinite number of caves spread out across Navarre.

Useful information

Permits

Caving in Los Cristinos and Akuandi caves is subject to authorisation from the Junta of the mountain Limitaciones of the Améscoa valley (info@amescoa.com).

In the case of Tximua, authorisation depends on the manager at the Urbasa-Andía Natural Park (gestión.forestal.atlantica@navarra.es).

Links

Spanish Potholing Federation: www.fedespeleo.com
Potholing Federation of Navarre: www.fnespeleo.com

Contact Organisations

Federation
C/ Paulino Caballero 13, 31002 Pamplona
Tel.: +34 948 21 07 56 / Fax: +34 848 42 78 35
E-mail: fnespeleo@jazzfree.com

Companies that carry out this activity

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Canyoning

Canyons or ravines are numerous in the karstic (limestone) area of Navarre, where erosion scores deep grooves into the rock, creating impressive shapes. These are areas of great natural beauty where water, stone and light are the main elements.

There are various types of ravines, some with more water and some drier; it all depends on the weather and the varying amounts of water produced by the rivers. Another factor to take into consideration when choosing one or the other is the technical difficulty of the jumps and abseiling required for the descent. For this reason it is advisable to perform this sport under the supervision of guides and specialists who are familiar with the location.

When is the ideal time? Without doubt, Spring. The thaw fills the ravines with water and shows them off in their greatest splendour.

Some of the most common and exciting are:

Artazul:
Located in the foothills of the Urbasa-Andía Nature Park. A technically very difficult ravine, which has a very high abseiling leap (40 metres).

Access In the Ollo valley, 32 kilometres from Pamplona. We leave Pamplona on the AP-15 towards Arazuri, where we take the NA-700 towards Ollo and the turn-off to Aizpún. Leaving Aizpún in the direction of Goñi, after some 300 metres we come to the stream that signals the start of the canyon.
Difficulty It is approximately 600 metres in length, with a drop of 200 metres. The difficulties lie in its abseiling drops and the odd difficult pool.
Time Approximately 2 hours to get there and 40 minutes for the return.

Arandari:
In the Roncal Valley, this is a beautiful canyon in which to get started in this sport. La Garona is a ravine that boasts 3 fine abseiling descents; although part of it is located in the province of Zaragoza, it starts in Navarre.

Access Approaching the Roncal Valley, before arriving at Burgui, at the 14 km mark on the N137, is the path that leads up to the ravine.
Difficulty 300 metres in length, with a drop of approximately 100 m, 4 abseiling drops (one of 20 metres) and various overhangs.
Time 15 minutes to get there and over an hour for the descent.

Arrako and Jordán

Situated right in the Belagua Valley, these are very pretty, technical canyons, with plenty of abseiling and cold water. The difficulty level is average.

Access Leaving the Roncal Valley, on the road that leads up to the Belagua Pass, at the “Venta Juan Pito”, behind which the path leads to the ravine.
Difficulty It is approximately 600 metres in length, with a drop of 250 metres. It consists of various abseiling drops, a waterfall and overhangs of between five and 15 metres in height.
Time Allow 10 minutes to get there, over two hours when you are there and approximately 1.5 hours for the return.

Useful information

Links

Ravines on the Iberian peninsula listed by self-governing region: www.barranquismo.net
Spanish Potholing Federation: www.fedespeleo.com
Spanish Potholing Federation: www.fnespeleo.com

Contact Organisations

Federation
C/ Paulino Caballero 13, 31002 Pamplona
Tel.: +34 948 21 07 56 / Faxa: +34 848 42 78 35
Email: fnespeleo@jazzfree.com

Companies that carry out this activity:
Access the list of companies



Bibliography

Author: J.I. Calvo Pastor... [et al.]
Title: Cuevas y cañones de Navarra
Editorial: Bilbao : Sua, D.L. 1991

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