Magical and evocative with its limestone massifs, its rivers and streams, its rich vegetation and fauna, myths and legends, the Aralar Natural Park captivates both locals and visitors alike, but only skilled mountaineers should attempt to climb the highest peaks.
The Aralar Natural Park is set in one of the most mountainous areas in the Basque Country. This Park, famous for its stunning landscapes, is located in the southeast of the province of Guipúzcoa, sharing a border with the neighbouring province of Navarre.
The centre of the massif is dominated by extensive pastures used for grazing large flocks of sheep of the "latxa" breed. Almost fifty shepherds farm in this area and live in huts scattered all over the mountainside where they attend to their flocks for much of the year (normally from the end of May to November). This sheep-breeding tradition goes back several thousands of years and the large numbers of megalithic monuments are elegant proof of this: dolmens, burial mounds, cromlechs and menhirs.
Inside the Park there are nature reserves of exceptional importance, such as t is a he beech woods of Akaitz, famous for the large number of yew trees, the Pardarri lapiaz and the hillsides and valleys of the northern face of Txindoki, with very singular species of flora and fauna, the crests of the "domo de Ataun", the Arritzaga valley and the glacial circus of Pardelutz of exceptional geological interest, large, leafy forests, etc.
Griffin vultures, Egyptian vultures, golden eagles and even lammergeyers can be seen flying over this area. European minks and Pyrenean desmans can be found in the streams and rivers that descend from the mountain tops. The Aralar Natural Park is well-equipped for leisure and recreational pursuits. The characteristic villages and farmhouses of this area, representative of the countryside in Guipúzcoa, are one of the major attractions for the general visitor to Aralar.
Some of the main features of most interest to mountaineers are its well-known peaks such as Txindoki, the mountain pastures, the presence of megalithic monuments, and so on. Several Large and Small Routes of the Mountain Federation (GR and PR) are marked as mountaineering itineraries, and there are routes for walkers between recreational areas. The Parketxea complex, which consists of the information centre and a hostel, has been built on the Lizarrusti mountain pass.