Road trip in northern Spain :
From Navarre to the Bardenas desert
A road trip between lake, gorges and desert, to vary the pleasures and landscapes!
A visit to Mael @Campervan_landes to pick up our rental van and here we are on the roads of northern Spain for a 4/5 day road trip.
This time I take Laura, a friend of mine of long standing who is just as much a fan of road trips and adventures as I am.
To tell you a little more about Mael and “Campervan Landes“, he does not rent ordinary vans. They are Dodges that he has rebuilt himself while preserving all their authenticity and charm. All have a different name and soul. An original way to travel differently!
However, it is important to take into account that these are original vans, some of which have been in existence for more than 35 years, and naturally consume more gasoline than newer vans. So forget this idea if you plan to do a lot of miles. But to stay in the surrounding regions is top! You will have the style and comfort because these vans are very well aménag’s with all the necessary for a road trip of a few days.
Night 1 / Day 2 :
After a few hours drive from Capbreton, we arrive at Lake Yesa (Navarre) at nightfall. Not a cat on the horizon, we were alone in the world on this 3-star spot!
This lake is formed by a dam on the river Aragon, so it is not natural but it does not diminish its charm. This place is ideal for fleeing the crowds of the Basque and Landes coasts in the middle of summer.
GPS Point :
42.6108, -1.1340 (lat, lng)
N 42° 36′ 39″ W 1° 8′ 2″ (lat lng)
The next day we took the road to the «Foz de Lumbier» where we could admire the birds of prey and this beautiful Canyon with cliffs of more than 100m height that overlook the river. The walk is very pleasant and accessible to all because the trail is completely landscaped and there is almost no difference in altitude.
It is a true haven of peace for wildlife (vulture, lynx, golden eagle, etc.) which is why this place has been rated as a nature reserve and bird protection area.
The number of these raptors flying above us during the ride was impressive.
On the way you will pass a tunnel, it’s a bit of a horror movie but go see further, because behind are still beautiful landscapes.
Then we went to the «Mirador d’Iso» to admire the Arbayun Canyon.
We stayed there for a while to admire this beauty. It is here that we really realize the height of the cliffs and the depth of the gorge. The 6km of vertical walls make this place one of the most important and impressive gorges of Navarre. It is simply grandiose.
Night 2 / Day 3 :
Then we headed towards the Bardenas Desert where we slept at the entrance to the National Park just outside. Camping in the national park is obviously forbidden, it is a fragile ecosystem that we must respect with the utmost care.
It was a moment out of time with a view of this arid desert and a breathtaking sunset. We took out the nomadic cuisine to make a good meal, the wine, all the elements were gathered to spend a beautiful evening.
To visit the Bardenas Reales, walking is good but the ideal is cycling. This allows you to see as much as you can in a short time, while doing sports. And the advantage in the desert is that it’s flat and there’s no drop. This remains very easy and accessible to all the family and at least sportsmen. If you do not have one you can rent it on site. Electrical or manual to you!
You can also rent Segways, I’m not very fan but I admit that it can be practical to visit without getting too tired and it can please children!
Must do :
The Bradenas icon “Cabezo de Castildetierra” par excellence with its shape in a fairy chimney.
To tell you the truth, we barely stopped there, there were a lot of people gathered in the same place. We preferred to flee the crowd and head to the Mirador for lunch with the view!
“Mirador de las Bardenas blancas”: This viewpoint offers a superb view of the Bardenas.
«Cabezo de las Cortinillas»: It is the only place where you can climb to the top by concrete stairs. You can then enjoy a superb view of the park and admire the different layers of colors of the rocks.
«Pisquerra»: The wildest part of the park where you can walk on paths little marked. Be careful to locate and orient yourself.
You can also pass by many abandoned stone huts. At the time, they were used as accommodation for farmers and storage for all seeds and equipment needed for agriculture.
The Park is open every day from 8 am until sunset.
The Visitor Centre is open from 9am to 2pm and from 4pm to 7pm from April to August, then from 9am to 2pm and from 3pm to 5pm from September to March. During the Easter holidays, the Visitor Centre is open from 9am to 7pm non-stop!
The months to avoid are July and August as temperatures can easily reach 45 degrees. Knowing that there is no shadow it is best not to visit the Bardenas at this time of year. Spring and autumn are ideal times to get there.
It is important to remember that the Bardenas are considered a Natural Park, its ecosystem is extremely fragile and it is essential to respect the places, the marked trails, and to collect ALL its waste.
Night 3 / Day 4 :
We chose another sleepy spot for the night. Always near the desert. I did not note the GPS point of the spot but you will find plenty of spots on the park4night app. Be careful not to put you anywhere because, I repeat, camping is prohibited within the Bardenas National Park!
The awakening was fabulous. With the rays of piercing suns.
I loved taking my “shower” view of the desert with no one on the horizon… The feeling of being alone in the world!
The weather spoiled in the late morning, so we left to discover Pasaïa. A small Spanish border town full of charm where Victor Hugo even resided.
If you go there, I advise you to stop there to visit this old fishing village. It is very authentic, what a pleasure to taste a good glass of wine in this square and even in the rain. I loved this little stop, I thank my friend Laura for this discovery, she always has many good addresses to discover.
We then drove along the Jaizkibel road along the coast. However we were not able to enjoy the beautiful view because of the fog but this road is just amazing. Admittedly it lengthens the return to France a little but it is well worth the detour.
Back at my friend Laura’s in Biarritz in the rain, it’s time to clean the van and say goodbye!