Urkiola Natural Park

Parques_naturales-de-bizkaia-vizcaya-españa-fascinanteUrkiola Natural Park occupies 5,768 hectares between the provinces of Vizcaya and Álava. It is a protected area of the Spanish Government since 1989 and includes the mountains of Duranguesado and the mountains of Aramontz and Aragio.

This area situated on the dividing line between Cantabrian and Mediterranean waters has its main axis in the port of Urkiola.

Its section is abrupt rather than low since its highest peak is located in the mountain of limestone Anboto at 1,337 meters height. This fact contribute to the appearance of diverse karstic landscapes throughout its geography.

The valleys of the lower areas are flanked by rough slopes full of ravines and cliffs that descend from the ridges of their highest heights. This place has several associated legends such as the one that places the home of the pre-Christian Basque goddess Mari in a cave located on top of the Anboto mountain. The human exploitation of these lands throughout history has focused on mining and agricultural activities.

Patrimonial highlights include the sanctuary of Urkiola or Santos Antonios, where San Antonio Abad and San Antonio de Padua were consecrated. As fun fact, Urkiola marks the geographical centre of the Basque Country and the line that divides the waters of the Cantabrian Sea and those of the Mediterranean passes through its roof.

Vegetation and fauna

The beech forest is the main forest in the Urkiola Natural Park, although there are several examples of holly oak or birch (urkia in Basque). In addition, the orchid limodorumabortivun, that it is not very frequent in this area, grows there. Livestock farming makes possible the presence of mares, sheep and cows in the meadows of Urkiola.

Urkiola Natural Park has many animal species such as the Falco peregrinus, the griffon vulture, Egyptian vulture, goshawk, sparrowhawk. As mammals, there are examples of wildcat,  marten and polecat.

Hiking and how to get there

There are several hiking trails signposted. There are divided into two different parts. Those that goes through the Urkiola pass and those going along the Desfiladero de Atxarte.

The road B-623 (between Durango and Otxandio towards Vitoria-Gasteiz) cross the park from north to the south through the Urkiola pass.

Recommendations on where to eat and where to sleep around

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Province of Biscay

In Abadiño – Abadiano

Bizkarra restaurant

Landajuela restaurant

Ostendi restaurant

Taberna Zarra restaurant

Santuario de Urkiola restaurant

 In Durango

Barria restaurant

Kukutze restaurant

Gorrotxa restaurant

Txantonesa restaurant

Province of Álava

In Aramaio–Aramayona

Sidrería Iturrieta restaurant

Unzueta restaurant

Dukiena restaurant

Añai restaurant

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Province of Biscay

In Abadiño – Adadiano

San Blas hotel

Zelaieta hotel

Santuario de Urkiola hotel

Buenos Aires holiday cottage

MuruetaBaseria holiday cottage 

In Durango

Gran Durango hotel

Kurutziaga hotel

O Camiño hotel

Juego de Bolos hostal

Province of Álava

In Aramaio – Aramayona

Uxarte holiday cottage

Etxebarri holiday cottage

Muru holiday cottage

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Active tourism and rural development Alluiz Natura (Abadiño)

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Interpretation centre Toki – Alai. Puerto de Urkiola, s/n. Carretera BI-623. Phone: +34 946 814 155. GPS coordinates. 43º 6′ 3.29″ N – 2º 38′ 46.4″ W)

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