Izki Natural Park
Izki Natural Park is located in the south-east of Álava, covering 9,143 hectares and is home to an enormous diversity of landscapes, and natural and cultural treasures.
Izki is essentially a forest, comprising mainly of Pyrenean oak but also beech, holm oak, English oak, gall oak, alder, birches, etc., and rock.
Small rivers such as the Izki, Molino, Berrón run through the valley. At some points the water rises to form ponds, marshes and wet bog land, becoming home to amphibians and birds (little grebe, great crested grebe…) and a valuable flora (white water lily, carnivorous plants, etc.), all this under the watchful eye of the golden eagle, the peregrine falcon, the goshawk or the vulture.
The extensive highland pastures, where cows, mares and sheep graze, betray the presence of human beings.
The broad cultural heritage conveys the history of these valleys and mountains: caves, hermitages, fortified villages, lime pits, castles, archaeological remains… And to top it off, the medieval village of Korres, the only inhabited area inside the Park. The gastronomy, crafts, festivals, pilgrimages and rural houses of the nearby villages make this space even more interesting.
A network of 15 trails of varying difficulty and length allows the walker to discover the beautiful landscapes of Izki, study its fauna and flora, and appreciate the traditions and culture of those who inhabited and still inhabit this territory. These trails take the visitor to different points of interest, villages, valleys, woods, etc.
If you walk quietly through the shadows of the oaks, it is possible to hear the song of the middle spotted woodpecker or the croaking of the agile frog. You may be lucky enough to catch a fleeting glimpse of a burly wild boar.
Rock is a basic ingredient of the Natural Park. Its immense limestone crags – Sophia, La Muela, Kapildui … – are visible from many of the proposed routes, which also provide the opportunity to discover artificial caves, monoliths, castle ruins, bridges, mills, all accessible by following the different trails.
Originally Izki was water. Between 40 and 100 million years ago this area was covered by a shallow sea, as attested by the presence of fossilized bivalves, coral, algae and other marine life within the rocks of this Natural Park. Fossilized remains of large vertebrates, such as dinosaur eggs, have also been found.
Organized groups can arrange a guided tour consisting of an educational tour through some of places that best represent the Natural Park. This type of visit is conducted all year long on any day of the week, except Mondays, which is when the Park House/Parketxea is closed.
SThere is an extensive programme of activities, with visits designed for schoolchildren and the “Immerse yourself in the Nature of the Park” initiative which, aimed at all types of public, takes place during the summer season from Tuesday to Thursday. This activity consists of a guided tour with Park staff adapted to the needs of the group both in terms of duration and difficulty.
Exhibitions, workshops, outings and talks are also arranged.
The Park has a recreational area near the village of Korres with a fountain, tables, barbecue and swings.
- The mountain routes are not suitable for people with mobility problems.
Jewels of the Park
MIDDLE SPOTTED WOODPECKER
Few animal species can be considered as genuine a forest dweller as the woodpecker. Five types of this bird can be foundf at Izki: the wryneck, the European green woodpecker and the Picidae family: great, lesser and middle spotted woodpeckers. The last one is the most representative, as it is one of the rarest and least known forest birds, due to its small size and elusive behaviour.
To the north of San Román de Campezo, on the southern limits of Izki, stands one of the most impressive limestone rock faces: La Muela, at a height of 1,056 metres. The abrupt cut of its south face is home to a fascinating colony of griffon vultures. Beech trees grow on its summit accompanied by dense box shrubs.
Olandia lake lies on the edge of Izki Natural Park, between Vírgala Menor and Apellániz. This striking wetland, surrounded by a fringe of ash and oak trees, houses a remarkable aquatic flora – including the white water lily (Nymphaea alba) – and is home to precious amphibians such as the Iberian painted frog and the agile frog.
After centuries of constant erosion, the Izki river has carved out a beautiful gorge between mount Soila and La Muela, on its route from Korres to Bujanda. Sheer rock faces share this small space with a rich variety of trees and shrubs – beech, gall oak, holm oak, box … – bestowing this narrow valley with a broad range of colours and textures.
THE OAK WOODS OF IZKI
One of most significant assets that Izki possess is its forests. Most notably the woods formed by an oak called, within the confines of this Natural Park, Almez (Quercus pyrenaica) or Pyrenean oak, a species that is clearly distinct from other oaks because of its deeply lobed leaves with stellate hairs on the underside. Covering an area of some 3,500 hectares, there are the largest Pyrenean oak woods in Europe.
Full information about the Natural Park, fauna and flora, resources, routes and programme of activites at the website or at the Izki Park House in the village of Korres.
Entry to the park is free, however, the Park House has its own opening times and calendar.
Access to the towns in the area north of the Park (Vírgala, Apellániz, Atauri, Antoñana, Bujanda and Maeztu) is achieved via the A-132. From Maeztu, take the A-4124 that goes to San Román de Campezo and this will take you to Korres.
Access from the south is via the A-2124 that links Vitoria-Gasteiz with Logroño and turn off at Ventas de Armentia in direction Bernedo via the A-126, which will take you to Markinez, Arluzea, Urturi and Quintana