THE ROUTE OF THE NATURAL PARKS
ÁLAVA’S BOUNDLESS NATURE IS AIMED AT ENJOYMENT WITHOUT ANY OTHER PRETEXT. THEREFORE, THE CIRCULAR ROUTE OF THE NATURAL PARK REQUIRES MORE TIME TO SAVOUR IN ITS TRUE PROPORTIONS AND IT WILL TAKE YOU A FEW MORE DAYS TO COMPLETE THAN THE OTHER ITINERARIES. YOU SET THE PACE, HOW LONG YOU WILL TAKE AND THE PLACES YOU WILL STOP FOR PROVISIONING AND REST. WHEN EXPLORING IT, THE LANDSCAPES AND THE SENSATIONS CHANGE IN THE SAME FASHION AS FIGURES IN A KALEIDOSCOPE. DO NOT FORGET TO BRING YOUR CAMERA OR YOUR CELL PHONE, BECAUSE SURPRISES HAPPEN ALL THE TIME.
This unique journey through nature starts at the north end of the historic territory. In the Ayala District, there is a setting waiting for you where you can chew on the silence, the calm. Sierra Salvada (1) ) is an imposing mountain range with an irregular profile and large abysses. Challenge yourself with this grand natural wall. Tologorri, Ungino and Txarlazo, its most emblematic peaks are a point of reference in Basque mountain climbing. They are waiting for you: vantage points, canyons, landscapes…, as well as a park: Parque Lineal del Nervión, where you can feel, touch and breathe nature in its pure state.
The port of Orduña will act as a bucolic bridge until the second landmark on your route, Parque Natural de Valderejo (Valderejo Natural Park) (2) . Its unbridled nature and geographic isolation turn Valdrejo into a magic place full of contrasts. From the imposing limestone outcrops of its peaks, where you will enjoy beautiful panoramic views of nearly 360º, to its beech, pine and oak forests. This privileged flora is the natural habitat for many living species. The largest population of Griffin vultures in North America settle in the high rocky places. The town of Lalastra is the point of departure for nine marked trails to visit this spectacular semi-circular valley in the depths of nature in the Añana District. Among them, you can easily get lost along one of the paths that cross the gorge of the Purón River.
The third stage of the route will take you deep into the land of Baco. The Laguardia-Rioja Alavesa District hosts a natural indulgence of high ecological value, the Protected Biotope of the Lagunas de Laguardia (Laguardia Lagoon) (3) . The four wetlands of the biotope, with specific marked trails are an idyllic ecosystem for numerous species and they draw a really beautiful post card. With some patience you will be able to follow the erratic flight paths of the birds that inhabit it. It is worth your while to recreate the settings where the Lagoons are formed. Take your time, let the afternoon catch you by surprise there, turning you red with its last rays.
Review your camera’s memory. Do not forget to immortalize the images that are waiting for you in the Montaña Alavesa District. The Parketxe in the town of Korres will immerse you in the Parque Natural de Izki (4) , a peaceful oasis where you can indulge your senses. Its over 9,000 hectares offer you a world of biodiversity where forests and rocks coexist. From its high plateau surrounded by limestone mountains, you can look out at the horizon of Montaña Alavesa District in search of answers. You will find many of them in La Muela de San Román or Soila. On its slope grow yews and linden trees, which are considered to be unique trees. Do not stop trying to hug its imposing trunks with one arm.
Guiding you down the route of the Camino Ignaciano, your cravings for more real-life nature will be fulfilled in the Llanada Alavesa District. In the Parque Natural de Aizkorri-Aratz (5) nature expresses itself in various ways. Get onto the roller-coaster of sensations and contrasts that awaits you, ranging from Aratz mountain, a summit with beautiful settings and views, to the San Adrián Tunnel, sculpted by nature in the rock.
When bidding farewell to the plain as you make your way down the course route GR 25, you will arrive at a spectacular highway that circles the Ullibarri-Gamboa reservoir. If you are motivated to explore it by bike or on foot, its perimeter walk will reward you with magical scenes of your figure reflected upon the rippled mirror of its waters. Thus, you will reach one of the most authentic stops in the Zuia-Gorbeialdea District, Aramaio. Very nearby, along the border between Álava and Bizkaia, stands the Parque Natural de Urkiola (Natural Park of Urkiola) (6) , ), the second-to-last landmark along the Route. The setting for various stories, traditions, and legends, the magic is felt in every natural shape of the park. People say that a deity from Basque mythology, Mari, the wife of Anboto, lives in a cave along the mountain’s impressive vertical wall.
The circular route of the Natural Park Itinerary ends at yet another one of the natural borders between Álava and Bizkaia. In the over 20.000 hectares of the Parque Natural de Gorbeia(Gobeia Natural Park) (7) feelings surface with each step you take between its infinite palette of shades of green. Overlooking the largest natural park of Euskadi stands Mount Gorbeia. Its peak is a natural emblematic enclave full of connotations, and the location is perfect for replenishing your energy and feelings, contemplating the vastness of the landscape.
On the way back, delight in the peak you just reached while you walk along its slopes and valleys spotted with green and deep forests. Among the many aspects the park has to offer, do not forget to walk through the beech tree forest of Altube. Its peculiar geography traces paths for quiet walks in a unique atmosphere that invites you let yourself go and be integrated into the surroundings.
Discovering Álava makes a very deep impression. Fill yourself up with the feelings from that place inside you, where reality turns into dreams. Your destiny has been written. It is called Álava. See you again soon..