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Take a long weekend break and visit the Baztan valley and mythical lands of the Atlantic Pyrenees in Navarra, where nature, legends and magic offer some incredible sensations. Discover the world of witchcraft at Zugarramurdi and the underground kingdom of caverns at Urdazubi/Urdax. Explore the woods at the Señorío de Bertiz nature park, admire its surprising Botanical Gardens and the peaceful Bidasoa Greenway. Slide your hands along the wooden sculptures at the Santxotena Museum in Arizkun, explore the landscapes of the Baztan Trilogy, the famous literary work by Dolores Redondo, and visit the Zubieta mill. Come along with us. You'll need walking boots and a trekking pole.
The plot for the successful trilogy by Dolores Redondo takes places in Elizondo and the film "The witches of Zugarrmurdi", awarded 8 Goyas, was shot in the Zugarramurdi Cave.
We'll start with the famous place of Zugarramurdi. We suggest you book a guided tour of the Witches Museum, an hour which will allow you to find out about the history and legends of lands of an incredible yet disturbing past. Let the staff know that you are visually impaired, the museum guides will let you touch some surprising objects, such as the ram's head. The audiovisuals will make you think about how human beings have persecuted and punished the unknown and the different. Listening to the interactive recordings, you'll become acquainted with those women who were considered to be witches and sentenced to be burnt at the stake, many of whom were young girls.
In the cave which is said to be where the aquelarres or covens practiced, you can listen to the "Stream of Hell", the brook that crosses the woods and mountain. A magic, captivating environment.
At Zugarramurdi there is a large selection of bars and restaurants to choose from, so that you can relax and recharge. Get more information here.
If you're in to trekking, then after your morning of witchcraft and your dining experience, we suggest that you and your companions take the trail linking Zugarramurdi to Urdazubi/Urdax, a trail that has a variety of names: the route of the Caves; the route of the Smugglers, or the route of the Blue Pottoka pony. There are a few small sections of road, but most of the trail is gravel. It's an easy trek, but you do need to be accustomed to this type of uneven ground. Wear boots and enjoy the music of the herds of cattle and the dancing streams. Calculate one hour to get there and another to get back. At the end of the trail, you'll come to the town of Urdazubi/Urdax. We'd recommend a guided tour of the Ikaburu Cavern to discover a unique, underground kingdom. If you inform the staff of your visual impairment, then the team of guides will show you some stalagmites which you can touch, although other visitors are not allowed to do so. It's a real experience to feel water falling from the ceiling just at the point that you're touching. The river Urtxuma has been creating these caverns for the last 14,000 years. There's no danger involved in the visit, with a rope handrail for the stairs and you need to stoop a little in some sections. Audio recordings start up when the group passes by, and this information is supplemented with explanations from the guides. If you have to walk back to Zugarramurdi, then remember to leave sufficient time to get back before sunset.Saturday morning
Start the day with a walk through the mysterious green woods of the Señorío de Bertiz nature park. At the entrance, next to the botanical gardens, information is available on the different routes that you can take through this lush, mixed beech wood. All the trails are on easy ground if you are at least used to doing a bit of trekking. Your choice of trail will depend on how far you'd like to walk. We'd recommend the "Suspiro" (sigh) if you'd like to spend a few hours trekking and feel the silence full of magic sounds. You'll have to cross a few streams, but this isn't a problem. If you're used to walking, then your trail is "Plazazelai", which will take you 4 hours. This is wider with more even ground. There are a couple of bridges across the bubbling streams. If you listen hard to the sound of the water, then you might just hear the singing of the nymphs, those mythical sirens who comb their hair with a golden comb. There's a braille guide in the botanical gardens and a video explains the history of this woodland and Señorío or manor. An enormous redwood tree stands in the grounds, which you'll feel obliged to embrace, as if drawn by some magical force.
Well, now it's time for lunch. Click here to discover the restaurants near the nature park. The choice is yours.
In the afternoon we suggest caressing art, a peaceful activity full of sensations. Use your hands to discover the wooden sculptures on show at the Santxotena Museum. These are housed in the 9 huts making up the artist's museum, standing in a magical field. You can enjoy the most stimulating branch of art, as well as discovering all about the history of the Agotes, an ethnic group renowned for its craftsmanship. There is an interpretive guide in Braille and you can independently move around the entire circuit, thanks to the changes in soil texture, and listen to the audiovisuals. Some 90 minutes of tactile sensations.
Another suggestion for a leisurely activity for the afternoon could be taking a walk with your companions along one of the sections of the Bidasoa Greenway. For example, the one starting at Oieregi, next to the Señorío de Bertiz up to the lovely square of Legasa, bordered by huge traditional Basque houses. It then runs alongside the Bidasoa river, shaded by a lush grove of trees, up to Doneztebe/Santesteban. This section has a few slopes that are not suitable for wheelchairs, although it is a route easy to walk on foot. From Doneztebe onwards, the trail is flatter and is just as pleasant.
Some 15 km from the Señorío de Bertiz nature park lies Zubieta, a locality with cobbled streets and traditional stone built farmhouses, on the banks of the river Ezcurra. The force of the water is used to drive the mill, Zubietako Errota or Zubieta Mill. The grinding process produces corn flour, used in the preparation of the town's traditional talos or corn pancakes. Edorta, the miller, will give you a demonstration of his trade. The smell of the corn, the music of the water and the sound of the mill gears make this experience a joy to your senses. It is said that a miller can be blind, because everything happening inside the machinery can only be perceived by its noise. Don't miss experiencing the smooth, fine touch of the flour falling onto your hands. The audiovisual presentation on the 1st floor allows you to discover all about the town's carnival, which is deeply rooted in the past.
We'd recommend a stop for lunch.
As a final contact with the valley, we would suggest exploring Elizondo, a town through which inspector Amaia Salazar walks in the novels Baztan Trilogy by Dolores Redondo. There is a guided tour which lasts approximately 3 hours, in which the guides will read the passages describing the places you are visiting and you can experience the magic of the major town in the valley, the roar of the river and the peacefulness of the cemetery. You'll get the opportunity to sample the flavoursome Txantxigorris cakes made with cake, with pork suet, flour, sugar and lard, or use your fingertips to touch the stone angel adorning one of the graves in the cemetery.