One-day Basque Mountain Experience Tour

In the footsteps of the Channel 5  'In the Pyrenees with Michael Portillo' documentary, this one-day immersion programme offers a back-stage introduction to the hidden Basque mountain villages of the Pyrenees. Gentle village and mountain walks combine this day as we explore the culture, history, traditions and identity of the Basque farmers and sample their world-famous Basque foods and wines. At the end of the day, larger groups can enjoy a private guitar concert which offers us the opportunity to relax and immerse ourselves in the Basque music and language. Hosted by guides with over 20 years of experience.

sheepdogs in Ameztia
Michael Portillo and Georgina Howard in Zubieta
Basque music and tapas on the terrace
Joaldunak of Ituren and Zubieta carnival

A One-day Basque Mountain Experience Tour

Sample Itinerary

9:00

Transport to the Basque Pyrenees

Transport from Pamplona or San Sebastian. Journey time one hour.

10:00

Morning Breakfast / Introduction

Morning tea, coffee and biscuits and an introduction to the medieval landscapes of the Basque Pyrenees and the Basque farming culture. Here we offer an insider’s portrait of Basque life and explore their umbilical links with the land, and the importance of honesty, trust, hard work and solidarity within our mountain community.

11:00

Village Tour of Zubieta or Ituren

A walk around the village of Zubieta, as profiled in the recent Channel 5 documentary 'The Pyrenees with Michael Portillo'. We take the time to explore the characteristics of village life, the striking architecture of its village houses, and ‘palacios’, its church, washing stones, lime kilns (full of witching tales), plaza, bridges and watermills. We also talk about the famous pagan carnival characters of the Joaldunak who come to bless the land and ward away the evil spirits. (The main date of the Ituren and Zubieta village carnivals are in January and are hailed by anthropologists to be among the most ancient ceremonial rites in Europe.) They also appear on other dates too but these are less publicised.

13:30

Local Basque Lunch in Donamaria

A three-course Basque lunch with local produce and Navarran wines at a Michelin-recommended restaurant in Donamaria, located by the side of the river in beautiful gardens and grounds. A talk with its owner about the secrets of Basque cuisine.

15:30

Drive to the Pyrenean Experience Cultural Centre

We drive to the Pyrenean Experience Cultural centre in Ameztia / Ituren.

16:00

Walk the Farming Hamlet of Ameztia

We have a gentle walk through the farming hamlet of Ameztia, Ituren and an introduction to Basque farming life as we walk gently along paths lined with dry-stone walls. We pass farmsteads, fields, meadows, mountain barns and working homesteads as we step back in time to understand the lives of the Basque mountain families. These lives have changed dramatically over the past 100 years.

18:00

Experience Basque Gastronomy and Music

We head back to Pyrenean Experience guesthouse for a few Basque tapas before heading homewards. Larger groups may have the option of a private guitar concert of typical Basque ballads and songs, given by a professional Basque folk singer (and family friend).

20:30

Transport to Hotel

Transport back to Irun, Pamplona or San Sebastian.

Additional Information

Optional Extras

• Walking part of the WW2 COMET Escape Lines on the Spanish / French border and the ravines of the Bidasoa river. • Visits to a working watermill mill and ethnographic museum. • Walks can be designed of different lengths and difficulties.

Price

Price starts at 190 euros per person (Groups of minimum 4 people). Including gourmet meal at Michelin-recommended restaurant. Discount for larger groups. All participants require a minimum level of fitness and good walking/hiking shoes.

mountain farms in the Bidasoa Valley
medieval bridge Sunbilla
The church in Zubieta
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