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Just completed the Baztan in May

Afri-Can

Not so new member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015)
Finisterre (2017)
Baztane (2019)
Norte (?)
My family and I started the Camino Baztan in Bayonne on May 5 and ended 7 days later in Pamplona on May 11. This Camino proved to be a beautiful, beautiful route through the Pyrenees as reported on numerous websites and in this forum. The route, however, had a lot of surprises in store that we did not expect and did not plan for, and I will try to comment on our hike as best I can to help others that are considering walking this Camino.



First, some general comments and hints

  • Getting from Madrid to Bayonne should have been a train ride to Irun and a bus ride to Bayonne according to Rome2Rio. However, it turned out to be 4 train rides to San Sebastian, Irun, Hendaya and Bayonne……apparently no buses.
  • The pilgrim passports are still available inside the cathedral in Bayonne. I read somewhere that is wasn’t but we got ours there.
  • This route is very quiet. The visitor book at the monastery in Urdax showed only 120 pilgrims from January 1st of this year. All Spanish pilgrims except for 5 (maybe I wasn't supposed to count but you have to fill in the register yourself). This in comparison to the French Way that apparently launches 500+ people per day. When we got to Trinidad de Arre, we found some very tired youngsters there that had to walk from Roncesvalles because they could not find beds in Zubiri or anywhere in between.
  • All previous reports that I read, spoke of rain and mud…..we had very light sprinkles on two days and almost no mud to speak of. The weather was beautiful and warm during our walk.
  • English is rarely spoken or understood on this route, so basic Spanish goes a long way.
  • The route is much tougher than we expected. I can’t remember the walk to Roncesvalles, La Faba or O’Cebreiro being as difficult as the two climbs on this trip. My wife disagrees. Maybe I'm just weak. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful but strenuous. If you have walking sticks, take them.
  • Everything is closed on Mondays……seriously. And sometimes Tuesdays as well. Even restaurants and bars that advertise as being open might be closed so don’t bank on anything. Make sure you have something to eat and drink with you at all times.
  • Everything is closed from around 2:00pm to 5:00pm..….siesta, I guess.
  • You don’t find the standard pilgrim menu on this route. You eat what they have on their menu or what they want to prepare for you and you pay normal rates.
  • There are a lot more places to stay (casa rurals and hotels) than shown on the Buen Camino app, the Kelly guide or on Google Maps and you pay normal rates.
  • The albergue in Elizondo doesn’t really seem to be an albergue. It seems to be a hybrid that also acts as an albergue, so they might be full although you may be the only pilgrim around. They do have good food though and there is a good supermarket next door. In addition, the youth facility in Elizondo would not take pilgrims.


And a little bit about our adventure

Our original plan was to stay over in Ustaritz, Urdax, Elizondo, Berroeta, Olague, Trinidad de Arre and end in Pamplona. However, we ended up staying over in Ustaritz, Urdax, Amaiur, Ziga, Lantz, Trinidad de Arre and ended in Pamplona.

This happened because we walked from Ustaritz to Urdax on a Monday, could not find anywhere to eat on Monday night or Tuesday morning, had to do the climb over the Pass of Otsondo on empty stomachs, ran out of steam and decided to stop in Amaiur after 10km instead of doing the 20km to Elizondo. We were really bushed and dehydrated when we got to Amaiur but fortunately we were able to have a really good lunch at the small bar there. Once the lady from the bar realized that we were pilgrims, she looked after us. She made us a really large dish of eggs, cheese, different hams, sausages and chips and also organized for us to stay in the casa rural right next door for €25 per person, breakfast included, for which we were very grateful since the albergue in Amaiur is still closed. This casa rural is not on any website or app.

We then decided to only do the 10km to Elizondo the next day instead of trying to catch up the “lost” 10km of the previous day. However, we arrived in Elizondo only to be told that the albergue only had 3 beds available and there were 4 of us. Also, the youth center just outside town would not take pilgrims. The bar lady was helpful enough to do the phoning and talking for us as my Spanish is very basic and not of phone conversation standard. We decided to buy food at the supermarket next door and walk on to Ziga where we found rooms at the Casa Rural Aldekoa. And what a beautiful and luxurious casa rural this restored old pig and cow shed turned out to be……at a price.

After Ziga, Lantz and Trinidad de Arre seemed logical layovers and all went according to plan for those 2 stages before we arrived in Pamplona. In Urdax there were 6 of us pilgrims in the monastery, but we 4 were the only pilgrims in the albergue in Lantz and the supper at the Posada in Lantz was excellent.



More on the two passes

Be aware, these 2 passes are not to be underestimated! I had my walking app going and the stats are below.

To get over the Pass of Otsondo we started in Urdax at around 9:15am and only got to the top of the pass (4.5km later) after 2 hours. Another 2 hours got us to Amaiur for 10km in 4 hours. We started at about 90m above MSL with the top of the pass at about 575m above MSL, which is roughly a 485m climb. However, with ups and downs it turned out to be a 583m climb.

To get over the Pass of Belate we started in Ziga at around 9:30am (the owner just shook his head when we explained that we were aiming for Lantz) and only got to the top of the pass (16km later) after 6 hours. Another hour got us to Lantz for 20km in 7 hours. We started at about 303m above MSL with the top of the pass at about 944m above MSL, which is roughly a 641m climb. However, with ups and downs it turned out to be an 1172m climb.

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful but not an easy stroll.



And that’s it. Hope this is helpful to some.
 

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Thornley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances x 2 , Norte x 2 , Le Puy x 3 , Portuguese x 2,
Mont St Michel , Primitivo .
To get over the Pass of Otsondo we started in Urdax at around 9:15am and only got to the top of the pass (4.5km later) after 2 hours. Another 2 hours got us to Amaiur for 10km in 4 hours. We started at about 90m above MSL with the top of the pass at about 575m above MSL, which is roughly a 485m climb. However, with ups and downs it turned out to be a 583m climb.

To get over the Pass of Belate we started in Ziga at around 9:30am (the owner just shook his head when we explained that we were aiming for Lantz) and only got to the top of the pass (16km later) after 6 hours. Another hour got us to Lantz for 20km in 7 hours. We started at about 303m above MSL with the top of the pass at about 944m above MSL, which is roughly a 641m climb. However, with ups and downs it turned out to be an 1172m climb.

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful but not an easy stroll.

What are the paths like Afri-Can?
Rocky , forrest floor , small roads etc .
Any advice appreciated .
Will explain after MRI on tuesday.
 

Afri-Can

Not so new member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015)
Finisterre (2017)
Baztane (2019)
Norte (?)
What are the paths like Afri-Can?
Rocky , forrest floor , small roads etc .
Any advice appreciated .
Will explain after MRI on tuesday.
Hi again Mr Thornley

Thinking back on the hike my overall impression was of walking predominantly on paved or gravel road surfaces. But funnily enough, I asked my wife what she remembers and she said walking in fields!!!! Not sure if we were on the same Camino!:)

However, I went through our photos and posted some here to give you an idea. I seem to remember one or two transitions from roads to paths and vice versa that had a bit of a rough, steep climb, and the roughest piece of walking was done inside what seemed to be a riverbed with loose cobbles, but that was only for a short stretch. One can actually walk next to the riverbed on soft pine needles and leaves if you wished.

As you can see from the photos, the Camino Baztan has a mix of paved roads (rural and main, concrete and asphalt) , gravel roads, grassy paths between farmers fields, forest floors (the best), Roman road type surface and towards the end actually over fields. But the good news is that, although the passes are pretty tough to cross (in my experience and opinion), the Camino Baztan is very walkable. and although the photos show varied surfaces, my overall impression is still of mainly walking on paved and gravel roads with shorter stretches of other surfaces in between.

Hope this gives you an idea.
 

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Last edited:

Thornley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances x 2 , Norte x 2 , Le Puy x 3 , Portuguese x 2,
Mont St Michel , Primitivo .
Hi again Mr Thornley

Thinking back on the hike my overall impression was of walking predominantly on paved or gravel road surfaces. But funnily enough, I asked my wife what she remembers and she said walking in fields!!!! Not sure if we were on the same Camino!:)

However, I went through our photos and posted some here to give you an idea. I seem to remember one or two transitions from roads to paths and vice versa that had a bit of a rough, steep climb, and the roughest piece of walking was done inside what seemed to be a riverbed with loose cobbles, but that was only for a short stretch. One can actually walk next to the riverbed on soft pine needles and leaves if you wished.

As you can see from the photos, the Camino Baztan has a mix of paved roads (rural and main, concrete and asphalt) , gravel roads, grassy paths between farmers fields, forest floors (the best), Roman road type surface and towards the end actually over fields. But the good news is that, although the passes are pretty tough to cross (in my experience and opinion), the Camino Baztan is very walkable. and although the photos show varied surfaces, my overall impression is still of mainly walking on paved and gravel roads with shorter stretches of other surfaces in between.

Hope this gives you an idea.

I'm down to about 10 -12 km [max] per day according to the specialist.
Medial meniscus torn and Grade 111 Chondromalacia.
Walking down hill on very rocky paths slowed us up last year .
I need a complete knee replacement when we return from June / July trip to Spain.
Will take our time on Baztan , don't care how short some day are as HRH can explore where we are.
Norte after Santander for the many available stops will see the three weeks out.
Then the holiday.
Thanks for the lovely photos and info very much appreciated.
 

Afri-Can

Not so new member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015)
Finisterre (2017)
Baztane (2019)
Norte (?)
Ouch..just ouch!
I have a reconstructed knee myself.....rugby....but it rehabbed nicely and doesn't sound as bad as yours.
I any case, I saw that someone else suggested a doable itinerary on another thread, so you can brake the hike down. And the only real downhill that I can remember is after one of the passes, I think it was after the first one, and it wasn't rocky, just winding downhill. Not too long but definitely going down. I've attached a screenshot of the start of the downhill. The path goes down just to the right of the little pillar with the arrow. Unfortunately, that's the best I can do to give you an idea of the downhill.
You'll have to let us know how everything went afterwards, please. And here's to a successful knee replacement afterwards. Let me know if you have any more questions.
 

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RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times
Ouch..just ouch!
I have a reconstructed knee myself.....rugby....but it rehabbed nicely and doesn't sound as bad as yours.
I any case, I saw that someone else suggested a doable itinerary on another thread, so you can brake the hike down. And the only real downhill that I can remember is after one of the passes, I think it was after the first one, and it wasn't rocky, just winding downhill. Not too long but definitely going down. I've attached a screenshot of the start of the downhill. The path goes down just to the right of the little pillar with the arrow. Unfortunately, that's the best I can do to give you an idea of the downhill.
You'll have to let us know how everything went afterwards, please. And here's to a successful knee replacement afterwards. Let me know if you have any more questions.
I like your avatar. The rooster 🐓 atop the fountain in Hornillos. I must have taken twenty photos of him over the years.
 

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)
Photos here, @Thornley.
It was a mix of stuff underfoot. Some of the uphill to Belate was an old road - cobblestones, IOW - as was some of the downhill after that. But none of the downhills were anything near as bad as on the Frances after Alto de Perdon or Acebo. They're much easier.
 

Thornley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances x 2 , Norte x 2 , Le Puy x 3 , Portuguese x 2,
Mont St Michel , Primitivo .
Photos here, @Thornley.
It was a mix of stuff underfoot. Some of the uphill to Belate was an old road - cobblestones, IOW - as was some of the downhill after that. But none of the downhills were anything near as bad as on the Frances after Alto de Perdon or Acebo. They're much easier.

Booked for 13/6 to 26/7
Panadol 🤞
We love the area VN and there are parts of the Norte we want to revisit ....we have missed so many villages .
HRH has already decided 3 nights in Burgos . Every time there we wanted to stay and didn't.....you know you must keep going.
After Op ...... Primitivo to Grandas [ not doing the next stages after that again ] & Invierno.
And some how a little village near Sahagan with a present for a great lady on this forum.
 

laineylainey

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
started in 2012, hooked ever since.
Thanks @Afri-Can for your Baztán journey and great photos. Brought back lovely memories for me of my own walk last May. I stayed at Arizkun to break up the hike up over the Pass and the following day stayed at Venta San Blas, but that following day was the wettest through the beautiful Forrest.
A gem of a Camino and one I would do again in a heartbeat.
 

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