YOU MUST NOT FORGET TO PACK AN OPEN MIND AND HEART IF YOU WANT TO ENJOY THE FULL RANGE OF THE NATURAL ATTRACTIONS THAT AWAIT YOU ON THE ROUTE OF THE EXPERIENCES. SCENARIOS TAKE PLACE IN MONTAÑA ALAVESA, LLANADA ALAVESA, VITORIA-GASTEIZ AND ZUIA-GORBEIALDEA, WHERE YOU WILL EXPERIENCE THE FEELING OF FINDING YOURSELF IN PERFECT HARMONY WITH NATURE AND WITH YOURSELF.
Although you get about by car, the itinerary follows the old trail of the Vasco-Navarro railway. In fact, ever since the opening of the Olarambe footbridge in Vitoria-Gasteiz, you can cross the entire province from Navarre to Gipuzkoa by bike or on foot. Do not discard this option, which will take you on a trip to authentic and very quaint areas of Álava.
Your journey begins in the Montaña Alavesa District, the cradle of hiking and mountain biking in Álava. In the town of Antoñana, the Interpretation Centre extends you a warm welcome before sending you on to your first milestone, the Vía Verde del Vasco-Navarro (1) . As soon as you start your hike you will realize that you are in the midst of a natural setting free of any unnecessary items, so that you can relax and enjoy. Get ready for a challenge. After a flurry of natural shapes instil a deep state of mind, you can approach the isolated Ermita de La Soledad or stroll through the old restored tunnels to arrive at the town of Maestu, where you can replenish your energy.
After a peaceful postprandial conversation with flashbacks to what you have experienced so far on this trip, head towards Vitoria-Gasteiz. Along the way, using the emblematic Olárizu Hill as a reference, you will find yourself traveling on most of the city’s Anillo Verde (Green Ring). One of its treasures is ATARIA – Interpretation Center for the Salburua Wetlands (2) . Its symbolic building is a hymn to the surrounding wetlands. Full of services, its exhibition space demonstrates environmental values and the importance of biodiversity and the city’s natural heritage. From its observation deck you will enjoy picture-perfect scenes that will make you understand why Vitoria-Gasteiz is fully deserving of its title as a European Green Capital and its Biosphere certificate. Nevertheless, as the capital of Euskadi, it also offers a different sort of experience. With the moon as a witness, the city’s liveliness and gastronomy rule its streets, regardless of whether you are walking through the medieval centre, the urban expansion area or the emerging neighbourhoods.
The next morning, heading towards the Ullibarri-Gamboa Reservoir (3) , before you know it, you will cross the boundary into the Zuia-Gorbeialdea District. The time you may lose by taking the perimeter trail around the reservoir will be vindicated by the scenic views where nature takes on a more poetic nuance. Depending on where the easy-going stroll takes you, you will be able to taste the gastronomic delicacies of the region in the establishments of Ullibarri-Gamboa, Landa or Marieta.
In the afternoon, as you make your way along the shores of the reservoir, you will reach the second natural landmark of the day, this time in the Llanada Alavesa District, Garaio Park and Medixur Ornithology Park (4) . You can hire a bike for to get around on the trails. Garaio, known as the fresh water beach of Vitoria-Gasteiz, is a park full of bucolic scenes that offer vivid experiences when moving along its quay or swimming in its relaxing waters. Very close to these beaches designated by their Bandera Azul (Blue Flag) you will be able to enjoy the Parque Ornitológico de Mendixur, a spectacular shallow water area designated as a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance and included in the Natura 2000 Network. A gift of biodiversity, the park is an unparalleled habitat and a migratory bird watching site, which is the park’s emblem.
As night falls, look for shelter and new gastronomic experiences in any of the restaurants, hostels, farmhouse hotels and hotels, namely in Murgia, Legutio and Elosu. The next day, take the trail close to the Urrunaga reservoir heading toward the town of Elosu.
That is where the Museo de Alfarería Vasca de Ollerías (Basque Pottery Museum of Ollerías) (5) , is located, which brings together the history of a trade turned art. What stands out is its valuable collection with pieces dating from the fifteenth century, its kiln from the eighteenth century is a declared Historical Monument. And so does Blanca, the museum’s passionate host who tells visitors the history and development of the museum in a hypnotic fashion.
In the afternoon, the nature’s calling will guide you back to the Urrunaga reservoir. Drive parallel to the Wine and Fish Route until you reach the marsh in Albina. The last landmark of the itinerary is located on the northern border with Bizkaia: the Parque de Aventura Hontza Extrem (Hontza Extrem Adventure Park) (6) . Challenge your fears by climbing through the park’s trees or in its various circuits made up of Tibetan bridges, zip wires and oscillating trunks. This is the perfect ending to a trip riddled with experiences in nature.
When you leave, with the sensational high from the experiences still fresh, you will realise that Álava is now part of your imagination. That inner bucket where you store positive experiences that you would like to relive. See you again soon!.