Aralar Natural Park
(Parque Natural Aralar)
You will find Aralar Nature Park in one of the most mountainous areas of the Basque Country. This park, famous for its beautiful landscapes, is located in the southeast of the province of Guipúzcoa and shares a border with the neighbouring province of Navarre.
The centre of the massif is dominated by vast meadows that are used for grazing large herds of sheep of the “latxa” breed. Nearly fifty shepherds farm in this area and live in huts scattered around the mountainside where they attend their herd for much of the year (generally from the end of May to November). This tradition of breeding sheep goes back several thousand years, and the large numbers of megalithic monuments are an elegant proof of this: dolmens, burial mounds, cromlechs and menhirs.
Inside the park, there are natural areas of exceptional interest, such as the beech forests of Akaitz, famous for a large number of yew trees, the Pardarri lapiaz and the hills and valleys of the northern face of Txindoki, with very unique species of flora and fauna, the tops of the “Ataun Domo”, the Arritzaga valley and the glacial circus of Pardelutz of exceptional geological interest, extensive green forests, etc.
Griffin vultures, Egyptian vultures, golden eagles and even bearded vultures fly over this area. European mink and Pyrenean desmans can be found in the streams and rivers that descend from the mountain tops. The Aralar Natural Park is well equipped for recreational and recreational purposes. The characteristic villages and farms of this area, which are representative of the Guipúzcoa countryside, are one of the main attractions for the general visitor to Aralar.
Some of the essential characteristics of mountain climbers are the famous peaks such as Txindoki, the mountain meadows, the presence of megalithic monuments, and so on. Several large and small routes of the Mountain Federation (GR and PR) are marked as mountaineering routes, and there are routes for walkers between recreational areas. The Parketxea complex, consisting of the information centre and a hostel, is built on the Lizarrusti mountain pass.
The cities of Abaltzisketa and Ataun offer the two gates to the park. The park is located in one of the essential mountain regions of the Basque Country. The considerable size, the height of the mountains and the varied and traditional use of the country make it one of the most popular parks in the region. With the symbolic mountain Txindoki (Larrunarri) that stands high in the background and the places Goierri and Tolosaldea below, the landscape is quite breathtaking.
Tourists can choose from a wide range of activities:
- visit a traditional Basque farm
- taste some Idiazabal cheese
- learn to donate cider in a family-run cider house
- go mountain biking
- horseback riding
- visit megalithic monuments (there are some 30 dolmens), burial mounds, monoliths, cave and country sites and two cromlechs).
- The Barandiarán museum and the interpretation centre in Ataun offer visitors extensive information about every aspect of the park.
Both the GR and the shorter walking routes are littered with road markings, and there are also walking paths that lead to the recreational areas with playgrounds. Visitors will find another information centre, hostel and restaurant on the Lizarrusti mountain pass.