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Soule Valley & Iraty Forest

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Soule Valley & Iraty Forest Soule Valley & Iraty Forest
Soule Valley & Iraty Forest
Fact Box
The Soule Valley
Traditional Basque towns & villages
Sainte-Engrace
Holcarté gorge
The Kakouetta Gorge
On the Santiago de Compostella route

The Iraty Forest
Migratory bird watching
Hiking to the Orhy and Escalier peaks
The GR10 coast to coast walking route

Cross country skiing at Iraty
Between 1200m to 1500m
44km marked trails
Information centre at the Col de Bagargiak

Click links below for
Slope Info
Piste Map
Lift Pass Tariff

Diverse landscape ideal for
Mountain Biking
Horse Riding
Canyoning
Rafting

The Soule Valley, situated in the Basque country, is a diverse landscape influenced by the Pyrenees and the Atlantic. Rolling hills, stunning gorges, green pastures and immense forests divide traditional Basque villages and provide the ideal setting for walking, mountain biking and horse riding holidays.

At the entrance to the Soule valley is Mauléon-Licharre, perfect for a leisurely stroll. The town square is full of Cafes and traditional shops and throughout the summer hosts the Basque game Pelota. Visit the 12th century Chateau Fort in the upper part of town to enjoy its impressive views over the valley and the Pyrenees and for the interesting exhibition depicting its bloody past. In the lower part of Mauléon-Licharre you will find the 17th century Château d’Andurain with its imposing architecture.

Driving into the Soule Valley you soon reach the 13th century fortified village of Tardets-Sorholus set on the banks of the Saison river. From the viewpoint at La Madeleine you can enjoy breathtaking views over the Pic du midi d’Ossau and Bigorre. Continuing south, Larrau is the last French stop before reaching the Port de Larrau and the drive into Spain. The road follows the Orhy peak and offers stunning views over to the Erroymendi col. Nearby Logibar is the starting point to walk to the Holzarté gorge where after about an hour the path leads over an impressive Indiana Jones style footbridge, suspended 200m above the river below.

Sainte-Engrace is one of the most beautiful Soule villages. Essentially a shepherds’ hamlet set in the mountains, its 12th century chapel forms an imposing landmark amongst the surrounding wild scenery. In the middle ages it was a stop for pilgrims on the Santiago di Compostella route. Nearby you will find the spectacular Ehujarre gorge, up to 500 metres deep and the more famous Kakouetta Gorge, one of the wildest and most renowned spots in Europe.

The Iraty Forest straddles the French / Spanish border and claims to be the largest broadleaf forest in Europe. It is certainly a spectacular site and in winter provides 44km of picturesque cross country skiing pistes between 1200 and 1500m altitude.

The Col d’Organbidexka (1284m) is a major attraction for bird watchers during September and October as the area is a well travelled route for migrating birds preferring to cross the Pyrenees at the lower western end of the mountain range.

Situated on the GR10 Iraty is also a popular stop for walkers enjoying day hikes to the Pic d’Orhy and the Pic des Escaliers. The summits of Occabé (at 1456m) and Bizkarzé (at 1656m) offer fairly easy scenic assents. A good way to explore the area is to traverse the forest north to south which can be done in a day or with an overnight camp at the Casas de Irati on the GR11. The Col de Bagargiak provides an information office for those who want to explore the area.
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