The Total Basque Mountain Experience

A medley of self-guided and guided walks, intrigue and idiosyncrasy at our mountain farmhouse

Self guided walks icon Pyrenean Experience

Documented Trails

No need for a car. Detailed maps of 15 circular walks from the house, and free (but optional) guided walks with Basque tales to tell

Self guided walks - Pyrenean Experience

Diversity

Just one hour from San Sebastian, Pamplona and Biarritz, discover the Basque river valleys, villages, watermills, sherpherding paths and mountain farms.

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All-inclusive

All inclusive 'open-house' holidays for individuals, couples and small groups. No week is the same and everyone is made to feel part of the family.

Exclusive Events

Informal dinner parties with home-cooked evening meals and unlimited wine/beer, etc. Private culinary and cultural programme.

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Tradition

Family business with 25 years of experience. Top reviews in The Observer, The Guardian, The Sunday Times, Wanderlust Magazine, Foder's Guide, etc.

The Total Basque Mountain Experience

Luxury self-guided walking holidays in the Basque Pyrenees from our mountain farmhouse

Circular self-guided walks from the house

Our self-guided walking holidays in the Pyrenees are ideal for discerning, independent travellers, curious about the landscapes through which they walk. Over 15 'circular' self-guided walks step out from our door, and our friendly 'join-the-family' ethos - with full logistic support - make these weeks ideal for walkers new to the freedom of 'self-guided' walking holidays. Several free (but optional) guided walks during the week give the inside story:  Basque traditions, pagan rituals, smugglers, the Camino de Santiago and WWII escape lines thicken the plot. Each morning after breakfast, let me help adapt your chosen walk into a colourful day's itinerary. Visit mediaeval Basque villages such as Ituren or Zubieta (from 'The Pyrenees with Michael Portillo' documentary), stop off at river pools, watermills, tapas bars, restaurants - even a local fiesta.

There is no need to simply follow your maps from one 'picture postcard' village to the next. Our different walking 'itineraries' give you the opportunity to interact with these landscapes and to appreciate the culture and values of the people - my neighbours - that you meet en route.

Walking in the Pyrenees sound-of-music trail
Autumn colours on our self-guided walking holidays in the Pyrenees

There is ABSOLUTELY no need to change accommodation every night when there are so many varied walking trails from just one door! Day trips to San Sebastian, Pamplona and Biarritz (1 hr away) are also easily organised from the house.

mountain farms in the Bidasoa Valley
Mists in the Baztan Valley near Amaiur
Joaldunak of Ituren and Zubieta carnival

The Basque Pyrenees Revealed

A different view at every turn

We are situated in the traditional Basque farmlands of the western Pyrenees, which offer a very different walking experience from the glaciated valleys of the high Pyrenees or the Alps. These landscapes are softer, dissected by hundreds of mountain streams and river valleys, and dotted with tiny medieval villages and isolated homesteads. Each turn of the path reveals another landscape and breathtaking views while griffon vultures fly high in the sky above us.

Decide over breakfast on our terrace which landscape or village to visit each day. No rush. No timetables. And if you prefer to pass the morning curled up with a book on our terrace, so be it. There are walks for most levels (see below). And I am here too to kidnap you from time to time and to entertain you with the legends and stories of the paths you walk. Apart from a guided orientation walk on the first day to understand the lie of the land, a couple of optional, guided walks are also offered during the week, picking up on themes from our tailor-made guided walking weeks. 

These walking holidays are ideal for walkers joining a self-guided walking holiday for their first time. We are there to help at every moment and, naturally, if you want a lift up the hill at the end of the day, I will drop down to get you!

kitten hitching lift on rucksack

Local Gastronomy and Basque Secrets

People need people

Basque music and tapas on the terrace

The last few years in tourism have reinforced my thinking on many subjects but, primarily, that people need people. Although during the day you may choose to explore the area on your own, in the evenings do join us around the dinner table for an informal, international meeting of minds.  During the week, our cook freshly prepares evening meals for our guests. On several evenings these are full three-course evening meals, while on other evenings the meals are slightly simpler buffet affairs. (This gives our guests the oppoprtunity to make the most of the wonderful 'Menú del Día' lunches served at village restaurants and support the local community). Whatever the day, do help yourself freely to wine, beer, coffee, tea, bread, cheese etc. at the house. 

And then - of course - (for purely altruistic reasons) - let me kidnap you to join me for a gourmet lunch at our favourite 'Michelin-recommended' restaurant. (It even turned down a star!).

Private Culinary and Cultural Programme

In addition to our house-party meals, we also organise a couple of private cultural and gastronomy events (which may change each week so I will keep them a secret for now). Activities and fiestas change at a moment's notice in this area - and are done by the people for the people - NOT for tourists. However, my mission on these eclectic self-guided walking weeks in the Pyrenees is for my guests to experience these landscapes not only in distance but in depth.

And inevitably, as the evening grows long and the sun sets on the valley, our conversations around the terrace table turn to tales of Basque shepherds, smugglers and witches and also of the World War II COMET escape lines that helped Allied pilots across the Basque borderlands of the Spanish/French Pyrenees.

pyrenean experience views of the Pyrenees
Pyrenean Experience outside terrace and sofa area
Views from the Pyrenean Experience dining room

The Total Basque Mountain Experience

Self-guided walking weeks in the Pyrenees for all levels

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Gentle

These walks follow gentle country paths around our hamlet and along grassy ridge tops without descending to the valley floor. Our 4.2 km farm walk weaves between farmsteads and meadows giving walkers the chance to observe the shepherds at work on their farms. There are other gentle walks around the 17th-century villages on the valley floor which can be reached by a 3 - 4km downhill walk. Nevertheless, experience of hillwalking is required.

Moderate

The majority of the walks are of moderate difficulty and link one or several of the 10 villages surrounding our farmhouse. These 8 – 16 km village-to-village river walks (with 300 – 500m ascents) pass through quintessential Basque villages such as Ituren, Zubieta, Elgorriaga, Donestebe, Donamaria and Saldias. Here you can stop for a drink or a Basque lunch in the bar, visit watermills, swim in rivers and maybe even join in a local fiesta.

Challenging

For more advanced walkers we have multiple 18km plus crest top and summit walks. The higher peaks of Mendaur to the north and Muñazorrotz to the south (both over 1000 m) can be reached by a 5 – 7hr mountain walk with a 800 – 1000 m altitude gain with views of the Atlantic and the Central Pyrenees. Here you can find long ridgetop walks, lakes, mountain shrines, dolmens and stone circles before descending again to the valley floor.

To see examples of a couple of our self-guided walks in the Pyrenees such as the gentle Ameztia Farm and Meadow Walk 4.2 km (Ituren) or the high-level mountain walk Ituren -Mt Mendaur - Elgorriaga Walk 17.8km click here.

Further information on our self-guided walking weeks in the Pyrenees

Baztan Valley at Dawn - pyreneanexperience.com

Views from our house of our neighbours farm.

Spanish Dinner party in Navarre

Open-house Policy

These ABSOLUTELY all-inclusive weeks offer: 

  • Full continental breakfasts.
  • A lunchtime sandwich/buffet service.
  • Three three-course evening meals and four light buffet evening meals with wine.
  • One gourmet lunchtime meal at our favourite Michelin-recommended restaurant. (It even turned down a Michelin star!).
  • Privately arranged culinary and cultural events.
  • An open-house for guests to help themselves freely throughout the week to breads, cheeses, hams, salad, wine, coffee, beer tea, etc.  The house is always stocked and no one ever need go hungry! 
paella at the Pyrenean Experience
fresh basque produce
warm tossed salad in the Basque Country
pyrenean experience ituren in the Pyrenees

Ituren - our local village

Farmhouse

Guests on both these luxuary self-guided walking weeks are lodged in a separate wing of our home in one of our 5 en-suite double/twin rooms, each with a view over the Pyrenees and morning mists in the valleys below. These rooms can also be adapted for single and solo travellers.

Here you can breakfast on our sunny south-facing terraces or enjoy evening aperitifs in our landscaped gardens. Our guests have full use of our open-plan kitchen, library, living and dining spaces and a free self-service bar of tea, coffee, wine and beers. There is WIFI, central heating and a log fire.

Read more about our Farmhouse Accommodation.

Guesthouse gardens in the Pyrenees
Pyrenean Experience bedroom with garden terrace in the Baztan Valley
Pyrenean Experience B & B in Ituren views of our terrace

Basque Mountain Experience Self-Guided Walking Weeks

* Welcome reception * Introductory guided history & culture walks * Orientation walk * Accommodation in ensuite rooms with mountain views * Three-course evening meals with wine * Lunchtime sandwich bar * 18 local maps & detailed walking notes * Private culinary & cultural programme

Spanish Lessons: Guests on our self-guided walking weeks can choose a 10-hour package of formal Spanish lessons and informal conversation with a professional Spanish teacher. These 10 hrs of Spanish lessons cost an additional 300 Euros per booking.

Total Basque Mountain Experience Self-Guided/Guided Walking Weeks in the Pyrenees
Dates 2024:

SPRING MEADOWS 2024: Monday 20th - 27th May, Thursday 30th May - 6th June, Monday 10th - 17th June, Thursday 20th - 27th June. AUTUMN COLOURS 2024: Monday 9th - 16th September, Monday 30th September - 7th October, Thursday 10th - 17th October PRICE: 1650€

Further information

Blog

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.

Press Releases

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