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San Juan de Gaztelugatxe





desde el garaixe

Isla-de-IZARO.jpgIsla de Izaro

Ogo?oi-y--entrada-de-la-ria.jpgOgoÑO y entrada de la Ría




Amanecer desde la casa rural








Urdaibai emerges from the morning mists revealing one of the most beautiful natural areas of the northern Spanish coast . Forests that fall down to  the sea , cliffs guarding the brave thundering waves and endless beaches where time stands still. Marshes and villages decorating a dreamy place where summer blends immense sunlight with the transparency of the water and the intense blue of the sky .

Urdaibai, a biosphere reserve since 1993 , in all its splendour and all the magic of this beautiful estuary combined.

The sweet waters of the river Oka flow down the estuary to meet the salt marshes of the Cantabrian Sea .  The result could not be otherwise : an extraordinary natural area from Mundaka to Gernika , along both sides of the Estuary,provides a refuge for the largest group of waterfowl in the northern peninsula and painting a picture full of natural beauty of forests and mountains bordering with wild seas and spectacular cliffs.

Gernika serves as a point of departure for a route that is born within this beautiful environment. Its surroundings are full of small villages where agricultural resources provide our daily subsistence. The town of Gernika with the old oak tree , symbol of brotherhood , order and freedom of a people  anxious to achieve their own identity in peace with all the Hispanic people . Samples of the history and monuments of the village are the church of Santa Maria, the Palace of the Alegria , the Old Manor Hospital , the Convent of Santa Clara , and of course the Tree and the Building. Gernika Udetxea also houses the Palace which is now the seat of the Board of the Biosphere Reserve .
Leaving Gernika , we approach pre-historical times at Santimamiñe by visiting caves with rock paintings showing a good reflection of the wildlife ( bison , bears, ... ) and a way of life of early man in these parts.

On the western side of the river, towns like Busturia , Sukarrieta and Mundaka . all attest to the presence of man from early times in the environment. Off the coast of Sukarrieta , the immortal Txatxarramendi Island hosts the Oceanographic Institute of the Basque Government .
Meanwhile Mundaka is situated at the mouth of the river welcoming us with its seafaring atmosphere . This is a coastal tourism center and water sports paradise bar none and also has within its confines the Parish Church of St. Mary , 17th century , the Calvary of Kurtzio, a  seventeenth -century Renaissance building and the Palace of Larrinaga .
Even further north we find Bermeo , near the Cape of Matxitxako and facing equally the mouth of the estuary as well as to the open sea. A wealth of interesting historical monuments: The Arc of San Juan , the hermitages of San Miguel and Demínigus , Almike churches , Kurtzio , Santa Eufemia or Mañu , and the Tarasca monument , together with the museum of the fisherman, the Aritxatxu Beach and the  Izaro Island, all sites of undoubted interest for the visitor and of course Bermeo has a rich variety of cuisine worthy of the best palates .

Across the river lies ahead Kanala Burritxagana , and the most beautiful forest of Oma, an improvised and natural canvas by the painter Agustín Ibarrola . Further North we reach  the coast again and the fascinating old port of Elantxobe and Ogoño.

Explore a mixture of wilderness within the marsh wetlands and the banks of the estuary. Little coves and lush forests filled with varied vegetation . Reedbeds  and rushes fed by the  sea , full of wild fescue grass, sea fennel , mallow and xeric along the sandy boundaries , oak trees , holm-oak , gorse , heather and ferns form a unique landscape in these aspects. As regards the fauna this is the reign of seabirds and small and large mammals such as dormice , gray , hedgehogs, polecats , foxes , minks , martens , genets , weasels , wild cats , deer , boars , and rabbits. This variety comes complete with the presence of amphibians and small reptiles .
However Urdaibai has truly earned its declaration as a biosphere reserve and is a very dignified meeting place for travelers and locals. This natural area astounds in daylight, and as this disappears and night starts to fall, it comes to life with a  breathtaking symphony of sounds reminiscent of a thousand legends , endless adventures and dreams of fairies and elves . And that's when Urdaibai is defined as a magical paradise , a dream , an estuary of enchantment.