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8 Days Walking, Ancient Traditions & Secret Gastronomy Holidays in the Basque Pyrenees

Pyrenean Experience, Iaulin Borda, Ameztia, Ituren, Navarre, Spain

Cultural Culinary Holidays Spain

Join Pyrenean Experience at the bijou mountain home in the Basque Pyrenees for a totally unique introduction to ancient Basque culture and amazing Basque cuisine. Walk these medieval farming landscapes through walnut and beech woods, past mountain homesteads, over stone bridges, and mountain streams. Meet the shepherds with their sheep and the millers in their watermills. Join cooks and wine specialists and enjoy private cooking demonstrations and wine tastings. Enjoy with a circle of friends, neighbors, historians, artists, and musicians, and treat yourself to an unparalleled, one-of-its-kind, introduction to the ancient mountain culture of the Basque Pyrenees.

Highlights

  • Enjoy a wine tasting session
  • A visit to a Michelin-recommended restaurant
  • Different cultural and gastronomic experiences each day
  • Daily walks exploring the hills and villages at the Basque Pyrenees
  • Join the Basque neighbors at the village festivals and feasts
  • 3-course meals and handpicked local restaurant meals
  • Unlimited wine, teas, beers, and snacks
  • 7 nights accommodation

Skill level

  • Intermediate

Styles


6 days with instruction in English
The organizer also speaks: Danish, French, German, Spanish
Group size: Maximum of 10 participants
Airport transfer included: Biarritz Pays Basque Airport
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Accommodation

Check-in Time:
17:00
Check-out Time:
12:00

Facilities

  • Dining area
  • Fireplace
  • Kitchen
  • Terrace
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Library
  • Tour assistance

During this food holiday, you will stay at Basque farmhouse. It is a renovated Basque farmhouse with five en-suite rooms, based high up above the morning mists in Ituren on the outskirts of the Baztan Valley. Each room has the most incredible views of the Pyrenees. The grounds include many flowery sunny terraces, landscaped gardens, a library, and living rooms.

Guests are lodged in a separate wing of the farmhouse which has five en-suite double rooms and this allows the guests full use of its open-plan kitchen, library, living, and dining spaces which are encased in a large glass conservatory. There is Wi-Fi, central heating, and a log fire. The house has enormous south-facing terraces with tables and sofas and has such incredible views over the valley.

Program

On day one, there will be a Cava reception and welcome to the ancient Basque homelands of the Pyrenees, followed by dinner. There will be five days of guided gentle, relaxed four to five hours of walks exploring the valleys, villages, homesteads, and hilltops of the Basque Pyrenees. Walks are between 12 to 16 kilometers along mountain tracks and animal trails and wind their way gently through hilly landscapes.

Some ascents may be up to 600 meters. You will enjoy many stops to talk to local farmers, friends, and neighbors, and explore the cultural background and history of every path you take. Each day takes on a different theme: The Basque Farmer, The Basque Villager, The Basque Smuggler, The Pagan Basque Soul, or The Basque Chef.

Each day also offers a different cultural experience, you may enjoy rustic corn tacos with local sausages and cheeses at a local watermill, a visit and talk at a Michelin-recommended restaurant, a wine tasting where wines are married with local artisan cheeses and patés and chocolate, tapas, a paella demonstration, etc.

On some weeks (depending on the local cultural calendar), you will join the Basque neighbors at the village festivals and feasts. This is a sample itinerary. Each week, the itinerary is personalized to take into account the activities on the local cultural calendar, the weather conditions, and the guests personal interests.

You will be living in an incredibly traditional and wildly beautiful hamlet of the Pyrenees about four kilometers up in the mountains from the village of Ituren, Navarre. It is 10 kilometers from the nearest shops in Santesteban and Doneztebe. There are banks, supermarkets and chemists where most supplies can be bought. The holidays are perfect for guests who enjoy the outdoors and walking and exploring, but not for those who enjoy great shopping sprees. All guests need to be used to hill-walking and be fit and healthy and have sturdy footwear.

Walking and Ancient Midsummer's Festivals (June 21-28, 2018)

During this week the Basque valleys of the Spanish Pyrenees erupt with fire and pagan fiestas as they celebrate the summer solstice of San Juan on the June 23. Your walks weave in and out of the local villages to take advantage of the festive atmosphere.

You stop in the village squares for a drink and watch the traditional dances and Basque rural sports before heading up again into the hills and on to the following village.

Having lived here for almost two decades (and working with small, select groups of guests at any one time) Pyrenean Experience is able to introduce you to friends and village ceremonies at a personal level. During the walks the themes of smuggling, witchcraft and ancient Basque herbal remedies all enter into the plot!

Walking and The Day of the Joaldunak (September 17-24, 2018)

This - now famous - walking holiday coincides with the 'Day of the Joaldunak' (Bell Wearers): the mysterious 'carnival' personalities of Ituren who are thought to be possibly the oldest pre-Indo-European 'carnival' characters in Europe.

Although the carnivals of Ituren and Zubieta are in early spring, this far more private ceremony is less well-known. It is dedicated to the Joaldunaks' ancestors who stomp en masse, in trance-like state, blessing the neighbors' mountain farms. Whips, lace, petticoats and bells enter the stage during these visceral and primordial pagan rituals.

During the day you join Pyrenean Experience' neighbors and Joaldunak for tapas on their farms and the village celebrations.

Walking, Basque Celebration and Autumn Colors (October 5-12, 2018)

The scarlet, marigold and tangerine colors of the Basque Pyrenees in October are so beautiful that it is a sacrilege to keep them to myself. Villages also erupt with ancient pre-christian autumn festivals throughout the valley as we wander through the Basque villages, over hill and dale from restaurant to restaurant. Farmers forage for walnuts, figs and mushrooms; cider kegs are uncorked; stone walls are mended and quince preserves bubble away on farmhouse stoves. As the morning mists clear, you may surprise the neighbors out mushroom hunting nearby (local secrets you should to keep to yourselves!).

Included excursions

There will be five days of guided gentle, relaxed four to five hours walks exploring the valleys, villages, homesteads, and hilltops of the Basque Pyrenees.

Location

The farmhouse accommodation in the Basque Country lies to the north of Navarre and to the west of the Baztan valley. It is situated in a tiny farming hamlet near the traditional mountain village of Ituren in the Basque Pyrenees. The farmhouse is surrounded by mountain farms, river valleys, and over 200 kilometers of circular hill walks which start at the farmhouse door.

Nearby places

  • Doneztebe, 10 kilometers
  • Santesteban, 10 kilometers
  • Village of Ituren, Navarre, 4 kilometers

Features

Activities

  • Mountain walking
  • Wine tasting

General

  • Dining area
  • Fireplace
  • Kitchen
  • Terrace

Services

  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Library
  • Tour assistance

Food

Each evening Pyrenean Experience offers a three-course meal with wine around the communal farmhouse table either in the glass conservatory or on the terrace. The lunches vary depending on the gastronomy programme chosen by the guests and are usually taken out in one of the neighboring Basque villages at a variety of hand-picked local restaurants.

Continental breakfasts are a self-service arrangement. Unlimited wine, teas, beers, and snacks are readily available to the guests and at no extra cost.

The following meals are included:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
  • Drinks

The following dietary requirement(s) are served and/or catered for:

  • Regular (typically includes meat and fish)
If you have special dietary requirements it's a good idea to communicate it to the organiser when making a reservation

Things to do (optional)

During the program, there is one free day where many guests chose to explore further afield and go to San Sebastian or Pamplona. Naturally, the extra costs incurred this day by each guest are covered by themselves.

What's included

  • A unique guided five-and-a-half-day walking, cultural, and gastronomy program
  • Free shuttle service from Biarritz Pays Basque Airport (BIQ) at specific times on day one
  • Unlimited wine, teas, beers, and snacks
  • Local bus service
  • 7 nights accommodation
  • Daily three-course evening meals
  • Daily lunch at hand-picked local restaurants
  • Daily continental breakfast

What's not included

  • Visit to San Sebastian and Pamplona

How to get there

Recommended Airports

Arrival by airplane

Please book your flight to arrive at Biarritz Pays Basque Airport (BIQ). Transfer from the airport is included. Pyrenean Experience will pick you up from the airport. Please inquire about the time of the pickup which is only once a day on the first day of the holiday.

Arrival by bus

San Sebastian has a direct hourly shuttle bus service to and from Bilbao Airport (BIO) just 60 minutes away. It has an easy local bus service to the area. Pyrenean Experience will also happily pick up guests from the local village of Santesteban and Donesztebe which is served by La Baztanesa buses that run daily between San Sebastian and Pamplona.

Airport: Biarritz Pays Basque Airport Airport transfer included: Biarritz Pays Basque Airport No additional charges. You can request this in the next step.

Cancellation Policy

  • A reservation requires a deposit of 10% of the total price.
  • The deposit is non-refundable, if the booking is cancelled.
  • The rest of the payment should be paid 30 days before arrival.

Value for money
Accommodation & facilities
Food
Location
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8 days / 7 nights
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Tailor-made holidays can be organizerd for groups of more than 4 people.

Monday June 28, 2021
(8 days / 7 nights)

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