Navarre Natural Reserves
The traveller, in Navarre, meets a well-preserved
vast natural environment full up with a wide variety of ecosystems.
The activities of traditional agricultural and livestock society
have keep up the balance with the environment, and there are vast
areas of forest and rivers in which the excursionist is left accompanied
only by nature.
The Pyrenees are an attractive reference area of the comunnity. This bordering range of mountains becomes less abrupt westwards, going from 2442 m. of the Mesa de los Tres Reyes to 800-1000 m. of those mountains close to the Bay of Biscay. The Pyrenean valleys are an exceptional setting for the practice of mountain activities: trekking, scaling, cross-country skiing, paragliding, deltawing gliding, canoeing and sightseeing of nature. These valleys contain beech and fir groves which are included among the largest and well-preserved forests in Europe, like the famous Irati forest. The peaks surrounding these wooded valleys, with hilltops between 1500 and 2000 m., are covered with alpine meadows and karstic rocky formations where lonely specimens of black pine grow. The Larra massif is the most noteworthy among them, which is located at the north-eastern part of the Community, where the Mesa de los Tres Reyes emerges. The hilltops provide a spectacular view of the Pyrenees. The whole area is crossed by trekking routes and contains the most significant preserved spaces in Navarre.
The rivers of the Mediterranean watershed have their origins in the Pyrenees and flow across Navarre, from North to South, so as to supply with their waters the main three tributaries of the Ebro River (Ega, Arga and Aragón Rivers). This fluvial fan has dug out on its way the pre-Pyrenean range forming deep narrow passes in the rock, which are referred to as “foces”. The most outstanding ones are those of Arbayún (the Salazar River), Lumbier (the Irati River) and Burgui (the Esca River). The “foces” are natural reserves and form an ecosystem with many resources providing shelter to the avifauna. Griffon vultures are nesting in their rocky walls, the most significant European settlement of which is located in Navarre. These shady deep narrow passes, at the bottom of which the thin silver stream of the river flows, provide a rarely awe-inspiring scenery experience for the travellers.
The Bidasoa Country and Atlantic Navarre
The running waters flowing into the Bay of Biscay cross through a region of hills covered with grasslands, where the robust country houses built according to the traditional architecture emerge among home vegetable gardens, hillsides covered with fern and small woods of oak and chesnut trees. It is the Bidasoa Country, in the north-western part of Navarre, where the landscape seems to be made tailored to the needs of mankind.
The Señorío de Bértiz is located within this magnificent landscape, which consists of a twothousand- hectare Atlantic forest natural park and a botanical garden surrounding a palacehouse built in the XVIII century being currently used as a Nature Interpretation Centre, as well as the vast and impressive Baztán Valley. The Atlantic Navarre is west-shielded by means of the mountainous foldings of Aralar and the Urbasa-Andía mountain range, which is a natural park. This landscape includes out-ofthe- way places of singular ecological value, such as the source of the Urederra River, with its long waterfall over a vegetable amphitheatre at the bottom of rocky walls. Most of the megalithic remains discovered in Navarre are found here, and the caves of Urdax and Zugarramurdi are located near of the France border, the latter being associated with the famous witchcraft processes which took place in 1610.