This time we are heading for the Western Pyrenees, with almost year-round green valleys due to the proximity to the Cantabrian sea. We will follow a route that takes us from the Natural Park of Señorío de Bertiz, passing through the beautiful villages in the valleys of Baztan and Cinco Villas with their regal farmhouses made from pink stone and large balconies, to the "enchanted" towns of Urdazubi/Urdax and Zugarramurdi, known for their caves and witches. This is the Atlantic Navarre, with its mild climate, its mills, the land of noblemen, palaces, smugglers and hunters. Let's discover it...
Estimated duration of the route: 1 day, not including the alternatives marked with an asterisk (*)
Elizondo is where the plot of the successful trilogy by Dolores Redondo unfurls, and the Caves of Zugarramurdi is where the movie "Witching and Bitching" was filmed, awarded with 8 Goyas.
What better time than the morning to visit this natural space, located in Oieregi, 49 km to the north of Pamplona. The entrance has a pretty historical-artistic garden filled with exotic species and a Nature Interpretation Centre, providing a didactic explanation of the rich natural surroundings. The park has become an attractive recreational area and a starting point for different walks, enabling visitors to enjoy this Atlantic forest. (read more)
Always green, this was the land of noblemen, smugglers, shepherds and pilgrims that joined the Santiago Way on an alternative route. It comprises 15 villages that boast numerous stately homes and well-tended farmhouses, erected between the 17th and 19th century with money from the Spanish-Americans and neighbours that worked in the Spanish Courts. It is also dotted with woodland areas, crops and meadows where the livestock pastures. One of the most beautiful panoramic views of the valley can be enjoyed from the Ziga viewpoint. (read more)
visitors are met by the haughty figure of the medieval tower of Jauregia, whose construction was finished in the Baroque period.
The capital of the valley entices visitors to wander through its streets lined with elegant stately homes. Some of the best photo opportunities are: the views from the Antxitonea bridge, the Txokoto bridge, the Plaza de los Fueros, the Town Hall, the pink church of Santiago and the back of the Arizkunenea palace. Many of these scenes feature in the successful trilogy by the author Dolores Redondo. At the Baztan Museum we can also discover the reality of the valley in the late 19th/early 20th century. (read more)
If you have time, stop at Arizkun, a town with links to the history of the ‘agotes’, and visit the Xabier Santxotena museum, which displays wooden sculptures both outside and inside huts, related to Basque mythology. (+info)
Of all the beautiful natural corners where you can lose yourself in this area, a particular mention should be made of the Xorroxin waterfall in Erratzu, the views and dolmens of Izpegi, the megaliths of Erratzu-Alduides and the stone circle of Gorramendi.Afternoon
Along with the Romanesque monastery of Saint Salvador, a former 18th century mill shows us how wheat and corn flour were made traditionally. And hidden in the neighbourhood of Leorlas is the spectacular cave of Ikaburu, created over 14,000 years ago. A guided tour through its galleries will reveal its beautiful stalactite and stalagmite formations, accompanied by the murmur of the Urtxuma stream, which flows through the grotto. (read more)
This town has deep-rooted links to witchcraft, and now with the world of film, as the chosen setting for the 8 Goya-award winning movie “Witching and Bitching”. The beauty of this 120-metre long natural, in parts up to 12 metres high, is the magical halo that enshrouds it; up to the 17th century it was where witches Sabbaths took place, leading to the death at the stake for several locals. Near the cave is the Witches Museum, revealing the world of witchcraft, whilst also depicting the Navarran society in the 17th century. (read more)
A pleasant afternoon alternative is to take the winding local road to Bortziriak, a region comprising 5 villages that sit on both sides of the Bidasoa river. Here you can enjoy a walk along the leafy Bidasoa Greenway, which starts from close to the French border and reaches Elizondo. You can also get to know pretty villages like Bera , with its fascinating old part of town, Etxalar and its unusual garden of funeral steles, or Lesaka, with its beautiful stately homes.
The western Pyrenees also offers up outstanding gastronomy. Game meat, roasted lamb, grilled t-bone steak, mushrooms, pâté, liquors, cider, cheese and curd desserts are the area’s most traditional fare. If you have a sweet tooth, don’t leave without trying the local desserts, or the delicious traditionally made chocolate with whole hazelnuts from the local workshops.
You could enjoy any of the trails by foot or by bike, spend an unforgettable day launching yourself off a zip-line, or on the pendulum in the Baztan Abentura Park or the Irrisarry Land leisure parks, and try out tree-top walking in the Bertiz Abentura Park. There are also three water mills open to visitors: Urdazubi/Urdax, Etxaide in Elizondo, and in Amaiur. Don’t leave Amaiur without trying the typical ‘talo’ corn cakes. To finish off, you could also join a guided tour of the literary and film scenes in the area.