Fascinating flysch rocks by the sea
Nature has created astonishing things in northern Spain, on the coast of the Basque Country – an impressive geopark. The “obstetricians” of this phenomenon are wind and waves. Whenever the Cantabrian Sea retreats at the places Zumaia, Deba and Mutriku, the ebb obviously does something amazing. What is then visible is the so-called “flysch”, which can be translated as “slippery terrain”. These are unusual rock formations that geologists believe are of sedimentary origin and are among the greatest attractions in the north of Spain.
A geopark at the mouth of the Urola
Zumaia gave its name to this geopark, which extends over an area of almost ninety square kilometers on the Basque coast. The small town in the province of Gipuzkoa, and in the vicinity of San Sebastián, enjoys a particularly beautiful location at the mouth of the Urola River in the Bay of Biscay. The Urola has its sources in the Sierra de Aitzkorri and is only about fifty kilometers long. According to historical evidence, settlement in this area began as early as the end of the 13th century. The painter Ignacio Zuloaga, a representative of social realism, lived in Zumaia. His former home is now a museum with works by Goya, Greco and of course the Basque artist himself. In the town of Zumaia, the Gothic parish church of San Pedro is also worth seeing.
With rangers through the Lastur valley near Deba
According to topschoolsintheusa, most visitors do not come here because of the small town, but primarily because of the Geopark, which was included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Scientists have been arguing for years about the origin of the flysch. But for the visitors of Zumaia, this is probably rather irrelevant. Here you can admire the impressive cliffs and the stone formations right on the seashore. The flysch rises in the form of various layers of sandstone and limestone. Over the course of many centuries, the water formed the sedimented stone. These ancient rocks in the Atlantic are fascinating, including in the romantic Lastur Valley near Deba. There, too, guests can entrust themselves to the rangers of the UNESCO Geopark and, after viewing the stone structures, visit the historic cheese dairy or the Plazaola mill.
Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park
Landscape wonder on the French border
The Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park is located in the Spanish Central Pyrenees in the Aragonese province of Huesca and is dominated by the 3350 meter high Monte Perdido. The park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and merges into the French Pyrenees National Park in the north.
Landscape and vegetation
The Monte Perdido with its three peaks Tres Sorores forms a limestone mountain range that merges into glacial valleys in the higher elevations. The bizarre rocky landscape is barren and dry, as rainfall is immediately drained by raging mountain streams. Over deep gorges and plateaus it goes down into green valleys with lush vegetation. The park is home to animals that have become extinct in the rest of Europe, such as the brown bear and the Egyptian vulture.
Access to the park is free and possible through the villages of Escalona, Torla, Escuaín, Tella or Bielsa. Most visitors arrive via the central access roads in Torla in the west and Bielsa in the east of the park. In Torla there is a visitor car park and one of the information centers around the park. In the Easter week and between July and September (perfect travel time), a regular bus shuttle takes you from here early in the morning to the Valle de Ordesa. During the rest of the time, you can drive your own vehicle. The Pradera de Ordesa is the starting point for hikes to the Circo de Soaso with a breathtaking view of the surrounding gorges, or to the managed mountain hut Refugio de Goriz.
Protected area easily explored on foot
The hiking trails of various degrees of difficulty are well signposted. They lead through breathtaking landscapes with waterfalls, small lakes, beech forests and steep slopes. Along the way there are farms, small villages with fortified stone houses and abandoned hermitages, and in addition to butterflies and rare plants, visitors can observe marmots and chamois, among other things, while bearded vultures and eagles circling in the sky. There is a special route for wheelchair users and families with prams. The visitor can obtain information material in the information centers. The park is a frequent destination for study trips, but there is sufficient accommodation available in Torla and Bielsa. Early reservation is advisable in July and August.