AIZKORRI-ARATZ & ARALAR
In Aizkorri-Aratz, two areas can be distinguished, according to their landscape and geology: the sharp limestone ridge with grass lowlands in the valley (Urbia) and the concatenation of hills and the siliceous mountain pass completely covered with varied vegetation, leaving the rock out of sight. The summits of the latter were the location chosen to open the first wind energy industrial estate in the Autonomous Basque Community. The treeless area increases the widespread livestock. The grass in the high mountains is always full of thousands of sheep that graze on them from the beginning of spring to the late autumn. Many species of birds of prey (peregrine falcon, griffon vulture, booted eagle…) and other forest and mountain birds fly over, while amphibians like the alpine newt populate streams and ponds in the high mountain. As for mammals, you can find wild cats and the pine marten, which are in danger of extinction.
Vegetation includes forests of limestone and acidophilus beech trees, majoral and pedunculate-oak groves in Alava’s side of Urkilla-Elgea. There are also areas of sessile oak and limestone oak, places like Arbarrain -Altzania mountains- with a very particular flora and a very specialised mountain flora in the calcareous crest and the “lapiés” areas -channels incised into the limestone by solution-.
Aralar mountain range offers an impressive layout with limestone elevations, rivers and natural springs. It presents a rich flora and interesting fauna: griffon vulture, golden eagle and bearded vulture. Horses, cows and sheep populate their fields, a very common spot to see the latxa sheep -producers of the delicious milk that turns into the famous Idiazabal cheese– grazing in the core of the massif. The most iconic peak is Txindoki, also known as Larrunari and Ñañarri. It is the most loved mountain in Guipúzcoa. You can spot its elegant silhouette from many points of the region!
Get into the park through two entrances:
Abaltzisketa or Ataun. Beech trees cover a quarter of its total area, 10,971 hectares, making it the biggest beech forest in Guipúzcoa, a true pride in our natural heritage.
At the top of Lizarrusti (Ataun) you will find Aralar’s Natural Park Interpretation Centre, where there’s a permanent exhibition as well as information about the park and its surrounding areas.
If you’re all about archaeological heritage, the megalithic wealth visible in Aralar will surprise you: the biggest concentration of megalithic monuments in the Basque Country is right here in Aralar, demonstrating the significance that prehistoric Basques gave to their pasturelands. In the megalithic station of Aralar they found the first dolmen in Guipúzcoa and the first diggings in Euskal Herria also took place in this site. You will see dolmens, menhirs, monoliths and cromlechs.
The long and short hikes are marked up for you to enjoy. In the port of Lizarrusti (Ataun) you will find an information point, a restaurant, a shelter and the recently inaugurated adventure park for the whole family.