Castellano | Euskera | English | Français

Aizkorri, Camino de Santiago

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.

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 the series of siliceous hillocks and passes covered with vegetation only allowing small areas of rock to peep through here and there.

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. 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 Álava. 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.

Due to large unforested lands, the park has a significant cattle raising activity. Thousands of sheep graze on the highest pasturelands from the beginning of spring to the end of autumn.

On the other hand, numerous species of birds of prey (peregrine falcon, griffon vultures, booted eagles, etc.) as well as forest and mountain birds overfly the park, while amphibians such as the Alpine newt inhabit streams and ponds in the high area. Among the mammals, the list is varied, being the most remarkable ones the wild cat and the endangered pine marten.

We encounter a rich flora in the area, such as several forests (calcicolous and acidophilous beech groves, Pyrenean and pedunculalate oak woods on the Álava side of Urkilla-Elgea, areas of white and calcicolous oak...), and enclaves that are home to specialised flora, an outstanding example of which is that of Arbarrain (on the mountains of Altzania). Extremely interesting mountain flora is to be seen on the limestone ridges and areas of lapies.

More information on this activity