The Salazar valley lies in north-east Navarre. It is a Pyrenean valley of large forests
of Scots pine and beech trees, with a few oak groves marking the transition between both of these species. Its climate ranges from sub-Mediterranean to sub-Atlantic, which leads to great temperature changes and varying patterns of rainfall. The villages of the Salazar valley
The villages that grew up along the river Salazar have noble houses of stone and wood, many of them with coats of arms, and flat tile hipped or gable roofs at a steep angle to allow the winter snow to fall off.Ochagavía
is one of the most typical and picturesque villages in the Navarrese Pyrenees
, located at the confluence of the Zatoia and Anduña rivers. Much of its charm is due to its setting, with its mediaeval bridge, narrow stone streets, well-kept caseríos (large houses) on both sides of the river and its imposing church-fortress, which contains an interesting Renaissance altarpiece dedicated to San Juan (St John).
From Ochagavía, a country road follows the course of the river Zatoia up to the Sierra de Abodi, a 20-kilometre-long mountains range that reaches an average height of 1,500 metres. At the end of the road you come to the chapel of 'Virgin of the Snows' in the heart of the Selva de Irati
. This vast beech and spruce forest, one of the biggest in Europe
, offers excellent views of some of the peaks of the Pyrenees such as Mount Ori, the westernmost "2,000-metre peak
" in the Pyrenees.
If you leave Ochagavía following the river Salazar you will pass Ezcároz
, a village of real mountain atmosphere which is also the seat of the Valley Council.
Heading west on the N-140 road you reach Jaurrieta
, the highest village in the valley. It was reconstructed after a fire in 1880. Continuing on from Ezcároz towards the south you come to Oronz and Esparza
, where the Pyrenean buildings conserve Gothic elements and many have coats of arms on their façades.
The trout-filled river Salazar runs parallel to the road that takes you to Ibilcieta, Sarriés and Güesa. You can turn off here towards Igal
, where the atrium of the Romanesque church of St Vincent contains some discoid steles (funeral stones).
you will find the only Pyrenean hórreo
(outdoor granary store) in the valley. Opposite is the nobly village of Iciz, with Gothic buildings, Gallués and finally, Uscarrés, whose Romanesque church has some remains of Gothic paintings and a curious sagrario (side chapel).Routes to followThe Sierra de Abodi
, apart from its magnificent views from the Alto de Tapla, is a good starting point for trekking. To the left and right of the road you will see two information panels about the signposted paths. There are six local walks
in the heart of the Selva de Irati. They are all along paths between trees (mountain bikes are not allowed). There are other forest tracks for cyclists, with very small inclines. You can also enjoy trekking following the stages of the GR11 route
, either starting from Orbaitzeta up to the Casas de Irati and Ochagavía, or vice versa.
If you like climbing mountains we propose the Pico de Ori
(2,021 m.) It takes 1 hour to get there from the tunnel of Larrau or Abodi (1,533 m.) and 1 and a half hours from the ski station of Pikatua (in Abodi).Local festivities
There are many of these and they take place throughout the year. We would highlight the one on September 8th to the chapel of Muskilda
, in which dancers
from Ochagavía interpret centuries-old dances. The group is made up of 8 danzantes dressed in a red suit, etxarpa, coloured tapes, a hat, bells and castanets. They dance paloteados (dances with sticks) and a jota to the Virgin of Muskilda in front of the chapel
Another popular pilgrimage with a typical folk dance is held on August 15th in honour of the Virgen de la Blanca (Virgin of the Snows) in Jaurrieta, where the girls from the village dance the "Axuri Beltza" dressed in typical Salazar valley costume.Gastronomy
There is a wide variety of dishes in the area to tempt you. Among them are "migas"
, originally a shepherd's dish based on dry bread cut into small piece and fried in a frying pan with pork fat and bits of spicy sausage. Also try ternera (veal), cordero lechal (suckling lamb) and trucha (trout) 'á la Navarra'
(fried with ham). Particularly delicious are the area's wild mushrooms, perretxikos in spring and hongos in autumn.
There is also a great variety of dishes based on game
(deer, roe deer, boar, pigeon…). To round off the menu, home-made desserts based on dairy products and pacharán, a liqueur (made from sloe berries macerated in anisette) that is an ideal 'digestif' after a good meal.