One-day Basque Mountain Experience Tour

In this full one-day tour we offer a back-stage introduction to the hidden Basque mountain villages of the Pyrenees. Following in the footsteps of Michael Portillo and his 'In the Pyrenees' documentary, we also draw from the stories in my own memoir, 'In the Footsteps of Smugglers' (to be published in 2024 by Bradt) 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. 

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


Transport to the Basque Pyrenees

Transport from Irun (or San Sebastian for larger groups). Journey time is one hour.


Morning Introduction

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.


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. We go on a gentle 1.30 hr walk around the surrounding countryside, understanding how geography has shaped culture. 


Local Basque Lunch in Donamaria

We enjoy a 'Menu de Degustacion' at a traditional, Michelin-recommended Basque restaurant hidden in a distant mountain valley far from the madding crowd. This award-winning, family-run restaurant only works with local Basque producers and Navarran wines. It is located by the side of the river with beautiful gardens and grounds - so there may be the opportunity for some wild swimming! A talk with its owner about the secrets of Basque cuisine.


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 meander 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 50 years.


Transport to Hotel

Transport back to Irun or San Sebastian.

Additional Information

Optional Extras

• Visits to a working watermill mill and ethnographic museum.
• Walks can be designed of different lengths and difficulties.


Price starts at 260 euros per person (Groups of minimum 4 people). Including gourmet meal at Michelin-recommended restaurants. Price for 2 people: 285 Euros pp. 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