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Baztan - again, trip report/thoughts

bokormen91

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF, Via Podensis, Baztan, Coastal Portugese, sections on others...
Sooo - Baztan again, this time with a friend, and not continuing after. Slightly longer notes this time...

As there were 2 of us, and we did not continue after - we upped the budget. We were on a tight schedule due to RL commitments, and purists might get breathing problems.

Due to Easter - a lot more places were open compared to January, but for accomodation some places demand 3-4 nights continuous booking during the holls.

Our fitness levels can best be described as unfit and more unfit... So we took it slow, and were flexible

Day 1/Good Friday/ 19th April - Esplette overnight
Train from Bordeaux, changed in Bayonne, took the train to Ustaritz, which left us with a 10km walk. (Ustaritz was booked out, and having walked it before I decided we were better off skipping it. It’s a pleasant walk on concrete/tarmac along a river). Got lunch at supermarket in Ustaritz, bar/restaurant was also open. A really nice walk, undulating, but not too strenuous, only had a few very short sections with mud. Esplette was busy, 6-8 restaurants open in evening. We stayed in «Le Moulin de Pascale»- kitchen facilities if you want. Would recommend.

Day 2/ Easter Saturday/ 20th April - Arizkun overnight
The day starts with a hill... If staying in Esplette, you can go to Souraide and add some extra km, or just after leaving Esplette you can turn left just after the road named Gazitegiko Bidea, there is a yellow sign with a walking path marked - I did not take a picture, nor make a name of the path 🙁 The path goes uphill and joins the Baztan later, about halfway to Ainhoa. Being Easter Ainhoa had cafe’s open. The «border» had plenty of restaurants and supermarkets open. Nice easy walk to Urdax where all restaurants/bars seemed to be open. We arrived just before 2 pm, and I knew it would be hard going getting to Arizkun (where we had accomodation booked), so we took a taxi - had to wait 2 hours, but it was worth it for us. Stayed at Gontxea - there is a microwave, but no kitchen. Marian also runs a bar/restaurant/tienda just around the corner. She speaks really good English - is really helpful and super nice!

Day 3/ Easter Sunday/ 21st April - San Blas Venta overnight
It’s a flat walk to start, and beautiful. Elizondo has all amenities - including a vending machine for milk and cheese! Beautiful walk, with some short, but very steep hills until Berroeta, also flatter sections in between. Then down, crossing under the motorway, and uphill again, on (remnants of) Roman road to Almandoz, where there was a small tienda/newsagent open across from the church, and the Posada was also open. We continued on until San Blas Venta - where we had a lovely dinner, felt very welcome - and was so pleased to have less of a hill for next day... And the shower was fab!!! (getting spoilt)

Day 4/ Easter Monday/ 22nd April - Olagüe overnight
We walked the road until we hit the gravel path to the Ermita/Monastery (It’s an easy gradient - and quiet, in January I met 2 cars, we met 3 cars and 2 motorcycles this time). Lovely walk to Lantz, less leaves obstructing the path than in January, and drier, but still muddy in places. The Posada in Lantz was open, but we went down to Isabel’s tienda for a snack. Easy and non muddy walk to Olagüe - bar was open, but we seemed to have missed the shop/bakery that is open between 19-20, we tried it at 19:40. Olagüe has kitchen facilities and equipment, and there are disposable pillow covers and sheets on all bunk beds + blankets.

Day 5/ Tuesday/ 23 April - stayed in Pamplona
Lovely walk to Ostitz. Bar closed (same as January). No shop in Enderiz that we saw. Path was less muddy than in January, resembled bumpy dried concrete. Everything closed in Sorauren. Easy walk to Arre.


General thoughts/observations:
It is always easier budget wise if you are 2, but as there are limited refugios/albergues - especially true for the Baztan. Personally I like the accomodation in Urdax, Lantz and Olague, just bring warm clothes...

If staying in Ustaritz - good supermarket, and Natalie let’s you cook. If staying in Esplette - buy food in Ustaritz, Pascale at the Mill has cooking facilities, or eat out. If staying in Urdax, buy food at border or eat out.
Not sure about Amaiur-Maya, but in Arizkun at Gontxea there is a microwave, and shop/tienda where I would not expect microwavefriendly food. Eat out, or food you got at border, or Marion’s tienda has veggies and some dried goods (did not look too closely)
Elizondo has food, albergue has microwave and fridge.
Staying in Berrotea? Buy food/drinks in Elizondo for dinner - And breakfast - the shop we saw in Almandoz mainly had snacks (we might have missed other shops).
Staying in Olagüe - we did not enter the shop, only peered through the glass. Olagüe has decent cooking facilities - you might be better off shopping in Lantz

Hills... - you might think that the «hill» from Urdax to Amaiu-Maia is not that bad looking at maps...You might be right, we met someone that walked Urdax to Lantz in a day (I almost hyperventilated at the thought!). However, it is sort of a «sucky» hill as it gives little respite. Elizondo to San Blas Venta can actually feel less strenous as there are flatter sections that almost allows unfit people to talk and breathe, and there’s a shop and restaurant that is a perfect excuse for a break....

Time... The Baztan is perfectly doable in 5 days with some flexibility for those that are slower, though I see no reason not to extend it into 6-7 days... Faster/fitter walkers should be able to do it in 3 if they’d want to.

I loved the Baztan just as much 2nd time around, if not more... There’s just so much that makes me happy. I was a bit sad to miss out on the river walk, and the stretch between Urdax and Maia, but - prefer to feel happily spoilt for getting the chance to do a repeat 😀

Yup, a bit of a Baztan fangirl ❤❤❤
 

biarritzdon

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF11, CF12, CP13, CF14, CA15, S.Anton15, CF&CI15
Ditch Pig16, CF&CP17, CdN18, CM18, CF18, LePuy19
Late April question. Was there still snow on the ground and was the path frozen turf?
 

Vacajoe

Traded in my work boots for hiking ones
Camino(s) past & future
2019 Biarritz-Pamplona-Lourdes
2018 Aragon/Frances/Finis
2018 Operation Sabre
2018 Marin Ramble
Did you cross paths with Eli the Ozzie?
 

bokormen91

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF, Via Podensis, Baztan, Coastal Portugese, sections on others...
Late April question. Was there still snow on the ground and was the path frozen turf?
There were no snow nor ice, the ground was thawed everywhere. We were lucky with the weather, mainly Sunny and dry - it started raining 15m after we sat down in Arre.
When I walked in January - there was some «black» ice on the road between San Blas and the Ermita, and the path between the Ermita and the Monastery was a frozen brook. This time - not frozen, no brook - it was dry; no sign of the brook that I walked down with crampons.
We had cold/coolish mornings, I’d estimate between 4-8 C, then it got up to 14-18 during the day. Lovely walking weather 😀
 

bokormen91

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF, Via Podensis, Baztan, Coastal Portugese, sections on others...
Did you cross paths with Eli the Ozzie?
Nope.... might have been a day before or after us? Unless he was the one that walked Urdax to Lantz in a day? The most we saw that followed the Baztan were 9 in a day, but met some other day walkers.

Hope Eli had a good time 🙂
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
@bokormen91 , this takes me back; it's very nice to read your notes!
However, it is sort of a «sucky» hill as it gives little respite.
Agree totally. It seemed to go on forever.
we met someone that walked Urdax to Lantz in a day
What?!😲 That's nuts.
We walked the road
Maybe in winter this is a good thing to do, but in summer the path is soooo gorgeous, the most beautiful part of the walk. Consider checking it out next time.
 

laineylainey

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
started in 2012, hooked ever since.
Thanks @bokormen91 for the great notes. I am off to do the Baztan 14th May but because a few people mentioned the "stretch" between Esplette and Azikun I have decided to do it in 2 stages, staying at Urdax. Also I have the extra day and it seems to be a wee Camino that needs to be savoured!
Sorry , where was the river walk that you didn't do?
Did you enjoy walking alone in January? I ask because I am walking alone and assume it's lovely to do so.
 

bokormen91

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF, Via Podensis, Baztan, Coastal Portugese, sections on others...
Did you enjoy walking alone in January? I ask because I am walking alone and assume it's lovely to do so.
Apologies for late reply....I enjoyed both times.

In many ways I prefer walking alone. I do often end up doing trips where I walk with either good friends or family. I like both - they give me something different, and there are only certain family/friends I go walking with.

Walking with people gives me shared memories and the chance to spend time with people that mean a lot to me in a different environment.

Walking alone gives me space to be with myself - and just indulge in whatever I feel like.

When I walk alone I miss people, and often turn to say something, and remember it’s just me - noone to share with.

When I walk with people I find I spend a lot of time thinking about their comfort level, their happiness...

They are both good😀 Just different... But I am blessed to have a few faboulatastic walking companions!!! I’ve never regretted walking with any of them - we’ve all had to make adjustments, but it has been no hardship (I think). The time shared has always been more precious than (minor) adjustments re: walking pace, distances, meal times etc.

I hope you have the bestest of times 😀
 

laineylainey

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
started in 2012, hooked ever since.
Apologies for late reply....I enjoyed both times.

In many ways I prefer walking alone. I do often end up doing trips where I walk with either good friends or family. I like both - they give me something different, and there are only certain family/friends I go walking with.

Walking with people gives me shared memories and the chance to spend time with people that mean a lot to me in a different environment.

Walking alone gives me space to be with myself - and just indulge in whatever I feel like.

When I walk alone I miss people, and often turn to say something, and remember it’s just me - noone to share with.

When I walk with people I find I spend a lot of time thinking about their comfort level, their happiness...

They are both good😀 Just different... But I am blessed to have a few faboulatastic walking companions!!! I’ve never regretted walking with any of them - we’ve all had to make adjustments, but it has been no hardship (I think). The time shared has always been more precious than (minor) adjustments re: walking pace, distances, meal times etc.

I hope you have the bestest of times 😀
Love your words.
 

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