MONDARRAIN

In common with most Basque mountains, there are several itineraries taking you up to the Mondarrain summit (749 metres). Starting out from the village of Ainhoa, you set out from Aubépine chapel, where a cross overlooks a disused Basque cemetery with its typical discoidal stones.

You can reach the Mondarrain summit in 2½ hrs. There are a lot of ups and downs, with four passes and a difference in altitude of 361 metres. Around the third pass, Gainekoborda, you will see a scattering of sheep folds. Each peak offers a different viewpoint of the surrounding mountains. At the summit, you behold a magnificent panorama of the Basque coast, La Rhune to the west, Atxuria and Alcurrunz to the south-west, Gorramendi down south, Artzamendi to the south east and the famous Pas de Roland looking north-east. In clear weather, you can even see the Pic du Midi de Bigorre (2,872 m), no less than 134 km away. Look all round to get hiking ideas for the rest of the week!

If you like climbing, the quartzite cliffs are an ideal site. A few years ago, they were organised into climbs of 20 to 60 metres.

The summit structure makes it easy to identify: it is surrounded by huge blocks of rock and the vestiges of fortifications, probably of Roman origin.
It takes 1hr 45 min to get back, partly following the same route as for the outward journey.

Towering over the landscape, this iconic peak is an easily identifiable landmark wherever you may be. The hike alternates between forests, pastureland and scree slopes. Even with small children you can enjoy the fabulous scenery at the summit, by taking the charming little rack-railway.

Soule is the smallest of the seven Basque provinces, but no less attractive for that. There are two walks you can do in one day, a 35-minute car ride from each other. One takes you through lush green canyon and the other over a bridge suspended at a height of 140 metres!

For winter and summer visitors alike, the magical site of Iraty will astound you. Trails have been blazed in this gigantic cedar forest for snowshoeing and cross country skiing. Enjoy the flora and fauna as you walk. You can retire to a wooden chalet for a break in the peace of the mountain.