Aralar Natural Park

Aralar Natural Park
 

Overview
The Aralar Natural Park is located in the southeast of the province of Guipúzcoa and covers 10,956ha. This is a stunning beautiful mountainous area, with jutting limestone massif’s, rivers, streams, beech and oak forests and pasture land. The area is also home to an abundance of megalithic monuments such as dolmens, tumuli, cromlechs and menhirs.

Walking
There is an information centre located at the Parketxea complex, which is found on the Lizarrusti mountain pass. Several large and small routes of the Mountain Federation (GR and PR) are marked within the park – these are routes for mountaineers. There are also many other trails for walkers. Some have been specifically tailored to take the walker past a series of megalithic monuments.

Sightseeing
The characteristic villages and farmhouses of the Aralar Natural Park are representative of the countryside in Guipúzcoa. The farmhouses in Madotz, Astitz and Baraibar are all worth visiting. As is the mill at Aitzarrateta.

The cave of Mendukilo at Astitz has now been opened for visitors (it was used for many centuries as a stable). It has the three spectacular galleries, with fine-looking stalactites and stalagmites reaching up to 60 metres long and 20 metres wide.

The hermitage of San Miguel, has beautiful views. On the second Sunday of August a sculpture of the saint is taken in pilgrimage to Igartza high plain (Gipuzkoa).

Animals/Birds
Griffin vultures, Egyptian vultures, golden eagles and even lammergeyers can be seen flying over the Aralar Natural Park. European minks and Pyrenean desmans can be found in the streams and rivers that descend from the mountain tops.

Plants
Inside the Aralar Natural Park there are nature reserves of exceptional importance, such as the beech woods of Akaitz, famous for the large number of yew trees, the Pardarri lapiaz and the hillsides and valleys of the northern face of Txindoki, with very singular species of flora and fauna, the crests of the "domo de Ataun", the Arritzaga valley and the glacial circus of Pardelutz of exceptional geological interest, large, leafy forests, etc.