In the north of Navarre in Spain, and also located in some land of France, is the Irati Forest, a forest area of over 17,000 acres considered by many as the second largest forest of beech and spruce trees and one of the best preserved in Europe, surpassed only by Germany’s Black Forest.
This is an area of great natural wealth framed around Irati River valley and near the headwaters of Salazar and Aezkoa valleys. Most of the forest is in pristine condition despite the massive reclamations made during the past centuries.
The adoption of various forms of protection, its very natural terrain feautres and the invested good work of the people from these valleys have contributed significantly to its conservation.
Currently, the Irati is presented as a natural space of first order in which the trees of their forests draw extensive layers of various color tones that are especially attractive during the autumn.
Flora and Fauna
Within this place, there are spaces protected such as the natural reserves of Mendilatz and Tristuibartea and the Lizardoia Integral Reserve, one of the most interesting places from the ecological point of view for its virgin forests up to 40 meters high.
Mases of beech and Fir trees make up the primary forests of Irati. Alongside these trees there are numerous other species that are reintroduced such as elms, lindens, hazel, willow and the oak tree, which is one of the native trees.
Hiking and Access
Irati has several marked itineraries suitable for walking tours, cycling, snowshoeing or cross country skis. Locations such as Ochagavía and Orbaizeta are the main points of departure for these excursions. One of these roads, Erreka – Idorra, delves beyond the border thus facilitating the visit of the French part of the jungle.
Orbaizeta and Ochagavía are the main entry points to the Irati Forest. The NA-140 road offers a path to both locations.