Routes - Navarre   
   

THE SIERRA DE ARALAR AND THE ULZAMA VALLEY
The beauty of this area is spectacular. You will yet again be struck by the greenness of the Humid area of Navarre and the charm of the small farming villages.

In the Aralar Sierra the wild splendour of the mountain peaks, complete with more than 60 dolmens, blends with the leafiness of the woods.
  

In the Ulzama valley the scenery is softer and the meadows and valleys create a sensation of peace that is difficult to equal. 

To reach your destination, you should take the road towards San Sebastian and Vitoria either by the ring-road or via the Avenida de Guipúzcoa where the traffic is more dense.

Both roads join at Berriozar. 

   
At kilometre 17 turn left onto the Irurzun by-pass which takes you onto the motorway for a few kilometres and then take the N131 to San Sebastian. You will see the charming spot of the Dos Hermanas or two sisters, two twin mountains separated by the river Larraún and the road.

At kilometre 34, turn in the direction of Lecumberri. Accompanied by the impressive view of the crests of the Malloas, turn to the left to go to the Sanctuary of San Miguel. It is a narrow but safe road, please drive carefully whilst enjoying the magnificent beech wood on either side. You will soon reach the majestic San Miguel de Aralar, a sober construction with an impressive view.

On your return to Lecumberri, take the N750 turning and leave your vehicle at Iribas. The source of the river Larráun is half an hour away at Aitzarreta, an incredible spring at the foot of a cliff. However, if it has rained, don’t make this journey, the path becomes extremely muddy.

On the way back to Pamplona, at Urritza take the road to Lizaso. It’s a narrow road lined with woods, meadows and pasture lands showing the idyllic scenery of Basaburua Mayor. Without even realising it, after passing Erbiti, you will find yourself in the Ulzama valley.

In the beautiful district of Lizaso, you will find the oak woods of Orgi, a recreational area prepared for you to enjoy peaceful walks.

   

The Sierra de Aralar
The Sierra de Aralar is a spectacle in itself. With the clearness of a bright day or with the sinister magic of the customary mists, it is always majestic.

There are 208 square kilometres of limestone crests and gentle valleys extending as far as Guipuzcoa. Two thirds of the Sierra pertain to Navarre and the rest belongs to the neighbouring province. From the Sanctuary of Aralar you can get a view of much of the area.

Man has been present in Aralar since prehistoric times. The 44 dolmens and the menhir found here are evidence of this, forming the greatest concentration of Dolmens in Navarre.

Many researchers have studied these megalithic examples, the furrows marked in them and the remains found in these collective tombs.

   
Rain is frequent in this area however, you will be struck by the fact that the Sierra of Aralar has scarcely any streams or small rivers. This is because it is essentially a limestone structure with hundreds of deep chasms and grottoes, and with springs discharging the water absorbed by the land. Inside the mountains enormous quantities of infiltrated water circulate.

The river Larráun, like the river Guadiana, conquers the surface when it wishes and also, at its whim, disappears from the view of those searching for it. The Larráun has several “sources”. The first is at the spring at Aitzarreta, at an incredible cliff and with a strong flow, depending on the season. Then all the water is trapped in a sink which means that the following section is completely dry on the surface, unless there has been so much rain that all the water cannot be absorbed. Even if it reappears here, any trace is eliminated in the chasm of Legezalde. It then appears as a second “source” at Iribas, with an even stronger flow.

You can practice a considerable number of sports at Aralar: from skiing, canoeing and pot-holing, to walking, mountaineering or cross-country bicycling. The choice is yours.

   

The Sanctuary of San Miguel De Aralar
High up on the Sierra, at 1,235 metres, the Santuary of San Miguel de Aralar can presume to have an infinite number of virtues however there is no doubt that the scenery is foremost. The 1,494 metres of the Beriáin hill, the spur of San Donato, the Corredor of Araquil 700 metres below, the desfile of Oskia, the Sierra of Urbasa, the rocky bank of Putretoki and in the distance the ever-present Pyrenees, can all take your breath away. Even when it is misty, which is quite common at Aralar, providing it’s not too thick, the panorama does not loose its charm. What’s more, everything is wrapped in a magic halo of enchanted stories and legends.

In the past a great effort had to be made to reach San Miguel since there were no roads and it could take over two hours to get their on foot. The sanctuary was the prize for the weary pilgrims or romeros after completing their pilgrimage. There was even a chaplain who was constantly opposed to the construction of any roads since he believed that by road the arduous pilgrimage would become senseless.

The Sanctuary of San Miguel de Aralar was erected in 1074. There are three naves, three apses and a portal. Inside there is a 12C chapel which, so the story goes, is built at the place where the knight from Navarre, Teodosio de Goñi, saw a dragon. According to the legend, the archangel saved him from the dragon and freed the knight from the chains tying him down as a punishment for having killed his parents in an attack of jealousy.

  
The most treasured jewel of Aralar is a reredos considered to be one of the most emblematic enamel works of the Middle Ages. It is from the end of the 12C and offers an unusual beauty and colour combination. It shares its fame with the silver on gold carving of San Miguel, a saint who visits the villages of Navarre every Spring with the desire to bring rain. He blesses the people, cattle and fields and is received with full honours by all.
   
The Ulzama valley
The Ulzama valley appears to come out of a painter’s imagination. In his paintings he reflects an undulating, sweet and gentle, green scenery. There are no high aggressive peaks but, gentle mountains instead. On this beautiful canvas, the wide green meadows are interspersed with woods of beeches, oaks, pines and chestnuts.  The land is separated by natural, living bushes with plots of different sizes and colours.

In this valley, surrounded by mountains, with meadows and woods, small streams and cattle, you can breath in a gentle humid climate, typical of pasture land and fern covered ground.

  

The villages are small and beautiful. The houses are usually large, built of stone, with ridged roofs and half pointed doors adorning facades with large balconies. We would highlight the villages of Auza and Elzabura, some beautiful localities in the Ulzama valley.

The villages of the Humid zone of Navarre are related to cattle farming and forestry, although the last few years have seen an important development of the milk product industry. They also offer an extraordinary cuisine.

For some nice views of the valley, you can visit Elso or go to the viewpoint at Guelenzu, from where you can see the Ulzama Valley and Basaburua, right up to the Malloas and the Aralar Sierra.

At Auza, going towards Elzaburu, hardly one hundred metres along, you will find a track leading to the Stud of Ultzama. 120 hectares of ponies and mares bred for thoroughbred racing. It is a real spectacle.

Close to Lizaso, you will see the signs taking you to the fascinating Recreational Nature Area of Orgi. Orgi can offer you tracks and paths, bringing you close to Nature and the freshness of the oaks and over 50 other species of trees.

   
The Oakwood at Orgi
Very close to Lizaso and scarcely 30 kilometres away from Pamplona lies the Natural Area of Orgi.

The oakwood has been specially prepared for visitors and offers many tracks and paths for some pleasant walks. There are 80 hectares of common land on the hill with pedunculate oaks and over fifty species of trees, plants and bushes. Also, over 40 types of birds live there, ranging from thrushes and the woodpeckers to sparrow hawks.

At the entrance there is an information board located next to the picnic area and car-park.

Walking along the paths, which are over 2 kilometres long, at every step you can feel the calmness of the oak wood. At Orgi every care has been taken to give Nature a free reign. You will be in the midst of a living area which grows according to its own laws. There are merely some paths and very rustic bridges to facilitate access, but you will get the opportunity to experience first-hand the spectacle offered by the plant life and the free roaming animals.

Along these walks there is a small plant labyrinth designed with the young ones in mind. Moreover, there is a final and beautiful part of Orgi with limited access. It is at the other side of the road leading to Guelbenzu and is a forestry regeneration area.

    

We should point out that the Orgi oak wood develops a very interesting program for those with some type of visual handicap. Activities are organised giving priority to senses other than sight: a different way of feeling nature and which helps many to fully enjoy all the oakwood has to offer. The fact is that all too often many people haven’t the resources necessary to get the best out of their surroundings and, in general, we all miss out on some indescribable sensations, as we don’t know how to use our capabilities to the full. Today you can put yourselves to the test.

   

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