- GEORGINA HOWARD
- HOLIDAY TYPES
- DATES 2022 & 2023
- PRESS & REVIEWS
In a no-man’s land between Spanish Navarre and the Basque Country lie the ‘hobbit-like’ farmlands of the Basque Pyrenees. These tourist-free lands, often known as the ‘Basque Bermuda Triangle’, offer magical walking terrain.
Our Pyrenean farmhouse lies at the heart of these landscapes, surrounded by white villages with medieval church spires and terraced fields; you will think you have stumbled onto a Tolkien screen set!
Privately guided and self-guided walking holidays in the Pyrenees, Spanish immersion courses, WW2 resistance walks, history talks, great local wines and Basque music enter the plot - perhaps a pagan festival or disorientated smuggler or two. So join us backstage to experience a fairytale landscape that you probably never knew was here!
Two hundred kilometres of idyllic walks step out straight from our farmhouse door thanks to a maze of dry-stone walls and bridges built by generations of shepherds, millers, peddlers and smugglers. This means that our walking holidays in the Pyrenees need virtually no transport whatsoever. Just put on your boots at the door and head off north, south, east or west.
Like a lace doily extending out over the hills and dales from the farmhouse, our guests find virtually unlimited walks from the door, and ever-changing landscapes. Ten idyllic Basque villages - with restaurants and bars - can also be reached on foot.
Our home is a walker's paradise where 200 km of circular walks step out from the farmhouse door. They wind their way through chestnut groves and over medieval bridges, they pass handmade bracken stacks and climb grassy ridges on their way to the 10 different Basque villages that nestle in the river valleys circling our house.
These 'Basque Mountain Experience' walking holidays in the Pyrenees take on separate culture or nature focuses depending on the week. However, they all couple with our evening 'house-party' programme to offer a unique and personal introduction to Basque village and mountain life.
For two decades we have run total immersion Spanish language holidays in the Pyrenees. These holidays combine relaxed country walks, great food, wine, Spanish lessons and round-the-clock Spanish tuition. We are a highly-trained team of professionals integrating our teaching into every walk, lunch, lesson and activity. With the help of friends, neighbours and local experts we focus on friendly and authentic dialogue with native speakers - perfect for discerning adult students of Spanish wanting to avoid impersonal city language schools.
Have you ever yearned for a bit of headroom? Or an inspiring - yet friendly - setting far away from the madding crowd where you can hide away, reflect and write for a while?
If so then steal yourself away for one of our informal, unpretentious creative writing retreats in the Pyrenees with country walks, professional instruction, great food and - of course - these amazing views from every window in the house!
The Comet Line was a famous resistance network operating between 1941 and 1944 during World War II. It was the brainchild of a young Belgian woman, André de Jong (known as Dédée) who nursed Allied soldiers and pilots stranded behind enemy lines. Approximately 800 pilots were saved by the Comet Line and about 1200 people were involved in guiding, lodging, feeding and clothing the pilots along the way. Many of the resistance workers were women and children. If you are interested in walking the final stretches of the Comet Line, visiting the ravines of the Bidasoa river, the safe houses and mountain passes please get in touch. I can sometimes organise small, private organised tours.
This one-day immersion programme offers a unique back-stage introduction to the hidden Basque mountain villages of the Pyrenees.
Through a series of gentle village and mountain walks in the Pyrenees, we explore the culture, history, traditions and identity of these mysterious people and sample their world-famous Basque foods and wines.
At the end of the day, a private Basque concert offers us the opportunity to relax and immerse ourselves in the Basque music and language. Hosted by a guide with over 20 years of international reviews.
This programme can be tailor-made to include walks of varying levels depending on our guests' interests and abilities.
This is ABSOLUTELY NOT a Lego-like ‘holiday’ package of walks + food + accommodation, but rather a totally integrated ‘experience’ of this amazing area where every walk has its story and more than an anecdote or two!
An amazing, local team of cooks, wine experts, historians, musicians, shepherds, teachers and guides bring life, humour and integrity to every day! NONE of these experiences are available to the general public. Here we travel both in distance AND in depth.
We love our work and are acutely aware that these cultural exchanges with our guests vastly enrich our lives.
Our ethos is relaxed and informal, the international house-party spirit is dynamic and fun and every meal and glass of wine is on the house (which seems the only civilised way to run a holiday!).
But do not be deceived, we are also a team of highly-focused professionals, passionately dedicated to all we do. Is there any reason why the two should not go hand in hand?
The farmhouse is situated in a tiny hamlet near Ituren and has just 5 en-suite guest rooms with awe-inspiring views.
It is a relaxed and friendly place set amid landscaped gardens with comfy sofas, libraries of books and a fully-stocked kitchen, and our guests are invited to feel at home as soon as they arrive.
Lazy conversations on the terrace or over dinner are a constant source of inspiration and bonhomie.
Despite the Basques’ umbilical attachment to their land, this patchwork of neatly-tended fields and chestnut groves is slowly changing as younger generations look for more modern occupations.
We are lucky in Ameztia, (Ituren), that my neighbour’s son, Iñaki, has taken over the sheep farm and our lands remain in competent hands for the time-being.
However, there is no better time than now to experience these immaculately beautiful – Tolkienesque – landscapes of the Basque Pyrenees.
A language lover, teacher and writer, I first discovered the Basque Country with the help of an old Ford Escort called Fred, a Spanish-English dictionary, a pair of walking boots and a box of English tea bags.
I grew up near Birmingham but spent many years in Copenhagen where finally my passion for languages, maps and mountains rebelled and drove me south!
Just before leaving Denmark, I published my first book, 'Freedom to Choose' and - in many respects - the Pyrenean Experience put theory to practice. Now my third book, Life on a Basque Mountain', pays homage to the amazing shepherds who have stood by me through thick and thin, dug my car out of ditches and helped me raise, simultaneously, my fledgling business and my Basque daughter, Marion.
Today we host our house parties together with an amazing team of Spanish-Basque family and friends. Our lives here in the mountain villages of the Basque Pyrenees are closely entwined with shepherds, cooks, historians, teachers, artists, smugglers and musicians, all of whom are proud to share their language and culture with our guests.
These walking holidays in the Pyrenees are always vaguely idiosyncratic, no day is ever the same, and the intercultural exchanges we experience with our guests every summer greatly enrich our lives.
Articles on the culture, languages, traditions and values of the Basque Pyrenees as well as stories taken from over two decades of our own, personal Pyrenean Experience.