Natural spaces


Fuentes de información:http://turismo.euskadi.net


Foto: bontx


Foto: Oargi


Itxina Protected Biotope (Bizkaia)

70,0 km – 1h 5 min

The Itxina Massif (570 Ha.) is found within the Gorbeia Natural Park and represents a magnificent sample of karst formation, a geological phenomenon that is a constant feature in the relief and landscape of many Basque mountains. Rainwater has been dissolving the limestone rocks, which have a high content of calcium carbonate, throughout millions of years… The point is that these rocks, so solid in appearance, are actually highly soluble over such long periods of time.

Rain gradually wears away the rock, making the fissures deeper and deeper. The water runs down through the hollows left by previous erosion attacking the areas of greatest solubility, leaving a cracked mountainous surface riddled with countless underground conduits. The oldest ones take the shape of caves through which water no longer flows, since it has moved to deeper substrata.

We can see from the air how a rocky plateau stands out in the surrounding, encircled by a crest-shaped border that looks as if it were protecting the inner concave surface. The highest rock on the ridge is Lekanda (1,302 m) on the eastern side. To the south we find the outstanding Altipitatz and Arteta Peaks, and to the north the Aizkorrigane Summit. At the feet and to the exterior of the latter, we scan a close-knit group of smaller jagged peaks, the Atxas (from the Basque word “haitza”, meaning crag).

We find the easiest way into the area to the northeast of the karst, through the “Ojo de Atxular”. This natural hole in the mountain has been used since time immemorial by shepherds (who also have their huts and sheepfolds in Itxina) and woodcutters. However, it is not advisable to enter the area without someone who knows it well, since there are no paths and signs or traces to orientate yourself. This warning should be particularly heeded on foggy days.

The interior of the massif is an enormous labyrinth of sinkholes surrounded by cracked and fissured rock elevations. The landscape, particularly in autumn when the beech trees have taken on their reddish tones, is simply superb, perhaps unequalled in the entire Basque Autonomous Region.
One of its best-known caves is Supelegor (one of the nearly 500 cavities excavated by water on the Gorbeia Massif), which is haunted by some of the characters of Basque mythology.



Foto: Kurtzio

Foto y tratamiento: Zaloa Etxaniz

The tidal platform and the flysch cliffs (Gipuzkoa)

38,2 km -36 min

The coastal strip located in the western part of Gipuzkoa’s coast, between the villages of Deba and Zumaia, covers around 8 kilometres of cliffs. In this spot mountains descend abruptly to the sea forming one of the most spectacular natural areas in the Basque Country. Besides, this strip includes elements of geological and geomorphological value with an internationally recognised prestige, as well as the richest and most complex marine ecosystem in the entire Basque coast. All these natural values have had an excellent conservation due to the difficult access to the area.

Its high cliffs rise over a peculiar phenomena known as the tidal platform, also know as “Flysch”. Over thousands of years, the sea waves have eroded the smooth clayey materials of the flysch, sculpting the amazing cliffs that form a plain surface on the coastal line. The horizontal platform consists of an endless sequence of sharp and quirk rock layers shaping a real visual caprice. Due to the earth’s movements in the Cretaceous Period many of this layers that were originally horizontal, turned upright. Thus, in the Mendata and Sakoneta areas we will find the most abrupt cliffs.

The layered materials of the flysch represent a first-rate geological sanctuary at an international level. Worldwide geologists study this phenomenon as it gathers all the information about the main climatic, biological and geological events of the Earth for 50 million years. Besides, the cliffs on the Itzurun beach are considered the best spot to analyse two key moments in the Paleocene. A new world to discover in an exciting journey in time.


The Algorri Interpretation centre and the Zumaia Tourist Office offer a complete range of hiking routes, geological guided tours, visits and boat trips through the biotope. Begi-Bistan, an active tourism company, also offers activities related to the environment. Phone: 657 794 677

More information:
La ruta del Flysch
Geoparque de la Costa Vasca



Foto: txaille

Foto: txaille

Foto: Alfredo.Ruiz



Natural Park Pagoeta (Gipuzkoa)

54,0 km -43 min

Mount Pagoeta (678 m) rises over the villages of Aia and Laurgain (Gipuzkoa), and occupies one of the northern foothills of the Ernio-Gatzume Massif. The coastal towns of Zarautz and Orio, which attract many tourists, are barely 10 km to the north as the crow flies.

Although the aforementioned mountain is the centre and emblem of the nature park with a surface area of 2,860 square metres, from an environmental point of view, most of the land is in fact closely connected to agriculture and to the farming activities in a farmhouse. It is therefore a space that, compared to others of the same category, shows different characteristics. We could say that it is an excellent example of humanised landscape and traditional exploitation, including a number of specific elements that should be highlighted.

Environmental education

Owing to this fact, and since the area belongs to the Provincial Council of Gipuzkoa, the park’s educational and recreational aspects in connection with nature have been promoted, while experiments on forest plantation have continued. This way, a nature school and an environmental interpretation centre have been opened at the Parketxe Iturraran (a 14th century farmhouse). It is a museum containing both purely natural aspects and others related to farm work. The creation of botanical gardens containing exotic species follows the aforementioned policy.

Agorregi forge and archaeological remains

On the other hand, the reconstruction in the vicinity of the water-run Agorregi forge, the origin of which dates back to the early 15th century, gives us an idea of an activity that was once enormously significant in the area. All valleys are dotted with installations devoted to charcoal making with wood from the nearby forests. In the park we can also observe the so-called “elurzuloak”, which are kinds of fridge that provide information about how people in the old days managed to keep the food cool (by packing snow into the cavities prepared for this purpose during winter), when refrigerators had not been invented yet.

The human presence in Pagoeta dates from long ago. The park accommodates important traces of its prehistoric past: dolmens (Otagain, Olarteta, Zaingo), tumuli (Muzin, Arreta) and important cave sites (Erratia and Amalda in the Alzoralas Valley).

Visitors can request general information about the park and the activities that are organised there at the Iturraran Park House (Parketxe Iturraran). Besides, several picnic areas have been fitted out in open areas adjoined by oak groves.


This exceptional setting accommodates an interesting fauna, especially the one related to birds. The park is home to species typically mountainous such as the citril finch, the water pipit, the peregrine falcon, as well as scavenger birds that comb the area.

Mammals include species such as wild boars; wild cats, genets, beech martens, badgers or the southern water voles, as well as roe deer, thanks to the reintroduction carried out over the last years.


One exceptional characteristic of this landscape is its large woods, which are specially spectacular and colourful in autumn.

Beech groves (Basque word “Pagoeta” means a place with beech trees) are mainly located in the shady places of the mountain range, being the most outstanding wood the one that covers and protects the northern slopes of Mount Ernio. Other smaller beech grooves can be seen between pastures and scrublands.

On the other hand, oak tree woods standing along the watercourse and the alder groves at the bottom of the valleys, combine with shrubs, groves and fields, forming beautiful scenery rich in habitat and species.

Species related to limestone crags that include those endemics of the Pyrenean-Cantabrian area, are other interesting vegetation and are to be found on the crest of Ernio.


Several signposted walks. Guided visits for groups are organised that include a visit to the Parketxe Iturraran Museum, to the Agorregi complex (the mill and the old foundry), deer watching, cheese and cider tasting, etc.

More information



Foto:Jean Michel Etchecolonea


Protected Biotipe Iñurritza (Gipuzkoa)

49,0 km -38 min

Located in the surroundings of Zarautz urban area, the Iñurritza Protected Biotope constitutes the widest and best preserved dune field on the coast of Basque Autonomous Region. This natural area stretches between the north part of the beach and the left bank of Iñurritza Estuary. It covers an area of 177,200 square metres, being most of them occupied by the Zarautz Golf Club’s facilities.

As it is situated in a humanised environment, Iñurritza is a periurban area that possesses natural elements of great interest. Characterised by a dune landscape, the space is also associated to other typical coast environments, such as cliffs or rocky coastline, as well as the marshes and the estuary connected to the mouth of the irrigation channel of Inurritza.

A newly built footbridge is going to allow us to visit the dunes that, together with the marshes and cliffs, make this place specially attractive. It is a meeting point for species of flora and fauna with various requirements, resulting in a patchwork of specialised and interconnected communities.More information


Foto: Iñaki LL

Foto: mongide

Foto: mongide

Único lugar en el País Vasco en el que se puede observar todo el proceso de explotación del hierro de primera mano y en el mismo lugar. Situado en un bonito paraje a las puertas del parque natural de Aizkorri.Foto: arangoierri

Foto: goierritarra1


Natural Park Aizkorri-Aratz (Guipuzcoa)

29,3 km -38 min

The Aizkorri-Aratz Mountain Range accommodates the highest summits (Aitxuri 1,551 m) in the Cantabrian-Mediterranean watershed, as well as other mountains, which all together form a beautiful massif that is a point of reference for the Basque mountaineering. Declared a nature park, the area covers a surface of 16,000 hectares, 13,000 of them belonging to Gipuzkoa and 3,000 to Alava.Two areas are clearly obvious from the geological point of view and taking into account the landscape: the steep, rocky limestone ridges, with grazing areas in some of the valleys such as Urbia; and a series of siliceous hillocks and passes covered with vegetation only allowing small areas of rock to peep through here and there.

The former comprises the high ridges of Aloña-Aitzkorri-Aratz, an extremely important landmark on the landscapes of both Gipuzkoa and Alava. To see it for yourself, simply head for the Valley of Oñati for example, or drive along the N-1 road via Idiazabal-Etxegarate and the Alava Plain. The latter forms the long, gentle crest of Urkilla-Elgea, which can be seen in its entirety from all the roads on the plain. The first wind park in the Basque Autonomous Community was constructed on its hilltops.

From Arantzazu (Oñati), located on the gully of the same name and home to a magnificent sanctuary, several mountain paths will lead us to the meadows of Urbia (including a shelter and hermitage), situated at the foot of the highest part of the range. From Araia we can climb to the top of Aratz (1,443 m) and there, walk on varied tracks. In Aretxabaleta and Eskoriatza, we will find ourselves at the foot of Kurutzebarri (1,146 m), an outstanding limestone crag on the far western stretch (Zaraia Mountain Range).

Three of the rivers in Gipuzkoa: Deba, Urola and Oria, have their sources on the foothills of this mountain range. On Alava’s side, the waters flow into the upper course of the River Zadorra -and its reservoir- and the River Arakil-, which flows towards Navarre.

Karstic phenomena are as remarkable here as they are on all of our limestone mountains: fields of lapies, circular depressions, dolinas and multitude of caves, some of which are frequently visited, like that of Leze in Eguino. Many caves such as Arrikrutz and Aizkirri are prehistoric and paleontological sites that accommodate remains of cave bears and lions. The mountain range is also part of the Way of Saint James.

From the Otzaurte Pass, we will get to the San Adrián Tunnel, a natural cave that historically has been an access road between Gipuzkoa and Alava. Besides, the area is dotted with a large number of open-air sites, dolmens, tumuli and monoliths, as well as it offers an interesting historical-arquitectural heritage represented by many hermitages, farmhouses, etc., being the most outstanding elements the Nuestra Señora de Arantzazu Sanctuary and the town of Oñati.


Organised activities: hill-walking, rock climbing, biking, guided tours through medieval Old Towns of neighbouring towns, as well as potholing in caves, bungee jumping, paragliding, canyoning, abseiling (although the former ones take place in the park area belonging to Alava).

Camping is allowed at nights, including bivouacing in outfitted areas. If you want to extend your camp time, you have to ask for permission.More information

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