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Our stages on the Camino del Baztan

Camino(s) past & future
Francés, Inglés, Fisterra/Muxia, Baztanés x2, Primitivo, Norte, Portugués & hopefully many more.
#1
Edits: I've made some changes to these posts, following the '5 peregrinas' Camino del Baztán in May 2017.

As promised in my 'overview' post, here’s a more detailed summary of our stages on the Camino del Baztan. Caveats: This is not meant as a guide (my previous post lists some useful guides). It's a very subjective account of our experience and the highs and lows. Where I've included walking notes, they are for the bits that we found a little tricky.

The landscape and weather were key elements of our experience, so it would be interesting to return to this Camino at a different time of year – possibly in autumn or spring. Another important consideration was the day on which we set out (a Friday). This meant that we walked through some of the more remote places on Sunday and Monday, when most shops and bars are closed. Not the end of the world, but I would probably plan it a little differently next time. Yes, I’m already thinking about going back ……

As I said in the earlier post, 5 days worked fine. However, if you aren’t short of time, a 6-day slower walk would be a real treat.

Day 0 – Bayonne
We flew from Dublin to Biarritz with Ryanair and took the airport bus to Bayonne (€1, takes about 30 mins, pay the driver).

Bayonne is a nice city for wandering and for people-watching. We picked up our pilgrim passports and first stamps at the Cathedral. There’s a desk just inside the door on the left hand side (open 09.00-12.00 and 15.00 to 18.00). They also gave us some useful information about the route and accommodation.

Restaurant recommendation – we had a really nice meal in a traditional Basque restaurant, l’Auberge du Petit Bayonne: http://auberge-du-petit-bayonne.fr Lovely people.


Day 1: Bayonne to Esplette (about 24kms).

The route out of Bayonne is pretty easy to find – just keep the river Nive (the smaller of the two rivers) on your left hand side. You’ll pass the riverside restaurants and join a track that is popular with runners and cyclists. The first route markings appear as you walk under a big road bridge. There are signs for a number of different walking routes, so over the next couple of days, always make sure that you follow the correct ones!
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About 6kms from Bayonne, there’s an equestrian centre with a bar and accommodation: http://www.nivheberge64.com/lheberge-de-la-nive/ It might be an alternative to spending the first night in Bayonne (although there’s nothing else nearby).

The path continues along the river Nive for much of the way to Ustaritz (14kms from Bayonne). It is really well marked and any time we were unsure of where to go, there was an arrow pointing the way, and often an X showing the incorrect route.

On the final approach to Ustaritz, there’s a pizzeria and a bakery on the left hand side. There are more bars and shops in the centre of the village. As before, the route is well marked. When leaving the village, pass the church on the right hand side (its grounds offer a short but welcome respite from the asphalt).

After Ustaritz, the terrain changes with a few ‘ups and downs’, but nothing too serious. There’s mix of asphalt, gravel and muddy forest tracks, with a few fallen branches and other obstacles. The route is well marked – however, in the final stages you need to watch for the signs to Esplette, rather than Souraide:

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NB: It's important to pay attention to the route into Esplette, as you’ll need to retrace it the next morning and there aren’t any arrows to follow.

Esplette isn’t actually on the Camino, but it’s a popular alternative to nearby Souraide, as there's a 12-bed municipal Gite de Pelerins. Accommodation is in 2 rooms, with single beds and bunks. It’s a little outside the centre, above a crèche. It was clean and comfortable, with an adequate kitchen and plenty of hot water. €15 per bed (and not €10 as most guide state). Some photos:

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This hostel also serves pilgrims walking from St Jean Pied de Port to Irun (typically Le Puy pilgrims connecting to the Camino del Norte). You pay at the tourist office, where you get directions to the gite and a code for the external door. It can fill up quickly. We didn’t book ahead, but the girl in the the tourist office made it clear that we should perhaps have done so. Telephone number: +33 559939502.

May 2017 update: The family-run Hotel Euzkadi has a pilgrim rate that includes dinner and breakfast. It was €50 per person in May 2017. It was very nice, especially after a long wet day.

Esplette is a very pretty Basque village, famous for its peppers. It also has a chocolate factory, with a shop selling all kinds of fancy chocolates and giving plenty of free samples! Overall, it’s a very touristy place, catering mainly for day-trippers. It has plenty of places to eat, a small supermarket, a good boulangerie and some nice deli/cheese/wine shops.


Day 2: Esplette to Amiaur/Maya (about 24kms).

As Esplette isn’t on the Camino, there are no arrows to guide you out of the village. There are signs for many other walking routes, so it can be quite confusing. Warning - don't follow the shells or Camino signs - they are not for the Camino del Baztan!

Leave the village by retracing your steps. Just before a garage, there’s a sign directing pilgrims to turn right (again, retracing steps from yesterday) to Souraide. Alternatively, you can avoid this detour to Souraide and remain on the road for about 3kms, rejoining the Camino by turning left and following the signs for Voie du Bastan and Ainhoa. There are a few points with signs for different walking routes, so make sure you follow the Baztan/Bastan ones.

May 2017 update - we used online maps to follow a country road that ran parallel to the main road (which we could see to our right) and joined the Camino without any need to walk on the main road.

Ainhoa is another pretty Basque village, and a nice coffee/foot-care stop before the border with Spain. The route out of Ainhoa is well marked but once again, take care to follow the correct arrows.

After a couple of kilometers, cross a river and enter Spain through the old (unmanned) border checkpoint. Just follow the road signs for Pamplona/Urdax and pass the petrol stations and big stores, which seemed to be full of French shoppers availing of the lower prices in Spain. Continue straight on, through a series of (about 5) roundabouts. As the long line of commercial premises comes to an end, turn right here:
IMG_7566.JPG and follow a short muddy/overgrown track, before turning left on to an concrete path. This brings you to an intersection with a road, where you turn right. After that, follow the arrows and turn left onto a concrete path, leading eventually to Urdax.

Urdax is a pleasant and well-maintained village. Like Esplette, it seems to cater mainly for tourists and day-trippers. There’s a pilgrim albergue in the monastery at the entrance to the village. The monastery is now an exhibition centre and the staff don’t take anything to do with the albergue (they were confused when I asked for a sello). To stay in the albergue, phone the number on the door.
A youtube video about the albergue:

We stopped for a break in Urdax and bathed our feet in the little stream. We also had really nice tapas in Café Montxo, which was a happy reminder of the difference in prices between France and Spain. Two green teas and two generously sized tapas cost just €5. Similar food in Esplette the previous day cost more than twice that amount.

When leaving Urdax, cross the little bridge (the monastery and tourist office will be on your right). You'll immediately see signs and arrows directing you to a path/cattle grid into the forest, and the first of the two steep climbs on the Camino del Baztan.
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In spite of our best intentions, we ended up doing this climb (500m over 5.5kms) in the hottest part of the day. Not a good idea, but the trees provided a degree of shade from the sun. There were some really nice views along the way, but it was still a pretty tiring walk. Most of the arrows are on trees. There was only one point where we got a bit confused, as we reached a ‘junction’ and saw two signs for walking back to Urdax. The correct onward route is straight ahead, over a stile and through a newly planted area.

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At this point, the worst of the climb is done and you'll soon reach a shaded picnic area with public toilets. We sat there for a while before crossing the road and joining the path/road leading all the way to Amaiur/Maya.

We stayed at Pension Goiz Argi, €47 for a small double room with en-suite bathroom. This included the use of a sitting room, a well equipped kitchen, a washing machine and an area to dry clothes. Had I known about the kitchen, I would have bought food before arriving!

Amauir is a tiny village, with a restored mill and two bars (one of which was closed). We enquired about food in the small bar on the main street. The lady told us that she would make us something if we came back at 8pm. We happily did so and she made a big ensalada mixta and a sharing plate of fried eggs, fried potato and bacon. She also used the local teenagers to help with translation, as my Spanish is very basic. We ended up having a really enjoyable evening, with the thunder and lightning storms providing extra entertainment!
Rush hour in Amiur!
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Camino(s) past & future
Francés, Inglés, Fisterra/Muxia, Baztanés x2, Primitivo, Norte, Portugués & hopefully many more.
#2
Day 3: Amaiur to Berroeta (about 19kms).

We left Amauir at around 7.30am on a rainy and misty morning. We were looking forward to the beautiful views of the mountains and valleys, but they were concealed by a very big cloud!
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The Gerald Kelly guide notes that there are two routes out of Amaiur. I have no idea which one we took – we just followed the first arrows that we saw. The route began on the road out of the village and then turned right onto a natural track (i.e. mud, stones and obstacles!). It was wet and slippy, but very peaceful and ‘authentic’.

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We reached the sleeping village of Arizkun after an hour or so. The rain and mist eventually cleared as made our way out of Arizkun, crossed the Baztan river and walked towards Elizondo.

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Elizondo is the biggest town on the Camino del Baztan, so we stopped for a coffee break and stocked up on some basic provisions. Most places were closed (Sunday), but we got bread in a boulangerie and other bits and pieces in a small tienda on our way out of the town. In spite of this being a larger town, we experienced the same warmth and friendliness that was rapidly becoming the norm for us in rural Navarre. The local people seemed genuinely interested in the fact that we were peregrinos.

Our next stop was just 3kms later in Irriuta, another pretty little village. Its small tienda was open and was better-stocked than the one in Elizondo, so we bought some more food, knowing that we would be ‘self-catering’ in Berroeta. This was fortuitous, as when we reached Ziga, we discovered that the Posada de Ziga (where we had hoped to have a ‘proper’ lunch) was closed. Damian was not amused!

I’m conscious that I keep using the word ‘pretty’ – but that’s how I remember so many of the little villages on this Camino. Berrotea isn’t just pretty. The traditional houses and immaculately tended gardens are framed by stunning mountain backdrops. It’s also an unbelievably quiet place – it has no services, other than a really good 16-bed municipal albergue, with a fully equipped kitchen (including a freezer!). We shared the albergue with the two Spanish peregrinos we’d met on the previous evenings. To stay at this albergue, you can just arrive and phone the hospitalera (her number is on the door). However, it’s probably a good idea to phone the day before to let her know that you’re coming. She can also provide some food – e.g. eggs, milk, bread (she has a list with prices). This lady was so helpful and friendly. She brought her 9-year old daughter who is learning English at school and keen to help with translation.

Here’s a Youtube video about the albergue:

And some photographs:
IMG_7745.JPG Berroeta Albergue - the door is at the top of the external staircase, on the right hand side of the ball alley and playground.

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The view from the albergue

All in all, this was a very pleasant and comfortable walk. The evening was really quiet - we regretted not bringing some reading material!
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Francés, Inglés, Fisterra/Muxia, Baztanés x2, Primitivo, Norte, Portugués & hopefully many more.
#3
Day 4: Berroeta to Lantz (about 16kms).

We had no fixed plan for this day, since we knew that there were albergues in both Lantz and in Olague (5 kms further on). The Spanish peregrinos recommended staying in Lantz as it has a better albergue and they’d heard there was a restaurant nearby that served dinner. This sounded good, but stopping in Lantz would mean a 29km walk to Pamplona the next day, so we set off with an open mind.

We left the albergue at about 7.30am. This was another morning when we were very glad of our bag of porridge/flaxseed - it was well worth its weight! The route began on the road out of the village and then followed a very muddy and overgrown (nettles and brambles) path towards Almandoz. It involved an initial descent, followed by an ascent. In Almandoz, we passed what looked like a nice bar/restaurant, but not surprisingly, it was closed.

The route after Almandoz was well marked and included a couple of road crossings, an underpass and a steep climb to Venta San Blas. We saw a bar ahead, which we assumed would be closed, so you can imagine our delight when we pushed on an open door. We were met with a very warm welcome, an open fire and our two Spanish buddies enjoying a hearty breakfast (with a bottle of vino tinto!). The lady in this bar was very passionate about the Camino del Baztan. She gave us lots of information and advice about the next stage of our walk. This place also offers accommodation (it’s on Booking.com), so that might be an option for next time.

Warning – this is where sensible, matter-of-fact Nuala morphs into what Damian calls ‘Nuala in her happy Camino bubble’….. On leaving the bar, we crossed the road and entered a forest, beginning the final stages of the climb to the Puerto de Belate, the highest point on the Camino Baztan (936m). This was probably my most perfect walk ever – I really didn’t want it to end. We walked under a canopy of beech and oak trees, on a deep carpet of fallen leaves. The forest was entirely deserted and had an enchanted feel. It was all uphill, but it was the perfect setting for a slow, contemplative, ‘kissing the earth with every step’ walk. Just as the lady in the bar had told us, we passed a little river before catching a first glimpse of the views that would await us when we reached the top.
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There were plenty of arrows, but as they were on trees and stones, some were hard to spot. We missed a few, but it was easy enough to get back on track. There was a lot of mud in places and a few fallen trees. I know that wild camping isn’t allowed in Spain, but this would be a most perfect place to pitch a tent, a hammock or to spend a night in a bivvy-bag.

We eventually arrived at the remote and windswept Puerto de Belate. It felt a little like the high points on the Route Napoleon, but without the crowds and the well-worn path. We were the only people there, apart from the wild horses. We sat for about 30 minutes and took it all in.

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We then unexpectedly met the two Spanish Peregrinos. They had left the bar about 20 minutes before us, but accidentally followed the wrong arrows at the old Ermita (currently being restored), where there are signs for a number of walking routes.

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The walk to Lantz was pretty easy and straightforward. From the summit, it descends towards the old Chapel of Belate (watch out for the bulls on the way down, they seemed young and energetic!). After that, it’s another beautiful forest walk with lots of mud and arrows that are sometimes difficult to spot.

Lantz is a bit bigger than Berroeta, but it was also pretty quiet, especially since it was a Monday. We decided to stay there, rather than continue to Olague. The albergue is quite new (opened in September 2015 in an old building) and is well-maintained. It has 10 beds, a basic kitchen and plenty of hot water – all for the princely sum of €4. And it was just the four of us again!

IMG_7865.JPG IMG_7858.JPG (comfortable bunks, with hooks and folding chairs)

As with the Berroeta albergue, you can phone in advance (particularly if you want the hospitalera to sell you some provisions) or you can just turn up and call the number on the door.

One of our main reasons for staying in Lantz was the hope of a ‘real’ dinner in a restaurant. However, the hospitalera insisted (quite emphatically) that everywhere was closed on a Monday. We resigned ourselves to another night of creative cooking with eggs and tuna, until our Spanish heroes arrived and told us about the very fancy hotel just around the corner from the albergue (which we never would have found, as it was down a lane). It did a really nice pilgrim dinner for €15. This was the perfect end to a perfect day – nice hot food and great conversations, in spite of the language barrier. It was funny walking back to our €4/night beds after spending a few hours in such a luxurious environment. Strangely, we weren’t even slightly tempted to blow the budget and book a room.

For anyone who fancies a splurge night, or a pilgrim dinner, here it is: http://www.hoteliribarnia.com It serves food after 8pm.

May 2017 update: The Lantz Posada also serves food (closed on Mondays). It's the local bar and meeting place and has a great atmosphere. The '5 peregrinas' ate there and we had a really nice evening. There was no menu as such - the owner asked us about what we did & didn't eat and prepared a big feast for us. @timr also had a very good experience here.


 
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Camino(s) past & future
Francés, Inglés, Fisterra/Muxia, Baztanés x2, Primitivo, Norte, Portugués & hopefully many more.
#4
Day 5: Lantz to Pamplona (about 30kms)

This was our last day on the Baztan and we finally managed to organise ourselves properly to leave before 7am. By now we were pretty familiar with the overgrown and obstacle-ridden trails, but we were soon to discover a completely new level of muckiness!

The path alternated between the road and some wet/overgrown natural trails in the first 5kms to Olague. After Olague, we passed through a few tiny places and stopped for a break (possibly in Etulain) to take a photograph of some sheep. A little girl came running over to enquire if we were peregrinos. She was clearly fascinated and asked us lots of questions, which we did our best to answer. She was very sweet and even showed us which way to go.

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After a short but steep road into Enderitz (I hope this is correct - my notes are a little unclear), our adventures in the mud really began. We joined a path that that gradually ascended and became more remote. We were ankle deep in mud as we walked through fairly narrow and overgrown tracks and fields. The low point of the day was banging my head as I climbed through some fallen branches, and momentarily wondering whether I was just briefly stunned or more seriously concussed! I rested for a while and all was fine as we continued to navigate our way though the hoof-prints of a herd of bulls. We had the pleasure of meeting those fine animals a little later!

As often happens, my low moment was followed shortly afterwards by a happier one. We suddenly found ourselves walking through a meadow of long grass and wild flowers, gazing at the hills above and the road below. Our feet were soaked and my head was sore, but it was so lovely! We eventually arrived in Olaiz where we sat for a while at the church and fuente.

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The camino was clearly marked at this point, but when we realised that it involved another mucky field, we decided that enough was enough. We walked the next 2kms by road, rejoining the Camino near Olave.

5 hours and 20 mins (and only about 19kms) after leaving Lantz, we eventually arrived in Souraren hoping that the bar would be open. It felt like a really long time since our morning porridge! The bar was open, and the kind proprietors insisted that we come inside, in spite of our very wet shoes. We enjoyed a break and a laugh about the morning's scramble through the various tracks. I changed my shoes and socks after our little rest and finally discovered why everyone raves about walking in Keen sandals. It felt as though I had been given a reconditioned pair of feet!

Rather than rejoining the Camino, we just followed the recreational river path (which is signposted for walkers and cyclists). There are no Camino arrows, but it's impossible to get lost.
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The path runs alongside the river most of the time, but veers onto a smaller track before Arre. At that point, we wondered if we were going the right way and asked a man and woman for directions. She was from Pamplona, he was from New Zealand and they had met on the Camino a few years ago! We had a very enjoyable conversation that perked up our spirits.

We stopped for a while at Arre as Damian’s feet were pretty sore. We got some strange looks – perhaps people though we had got lost on the Camino Frances. Damian took a bus to Pamplona at this point and I decided to keep walking. The 2012 guide seems to recommend road walking from Arre to Trinidad d’Arre, but I preferred the idea of a river walk all the way to Pamplona, especially since I was finally picking up speed in my sandals. I really enjoyed this long and leisurely walk and eventually joined up with a few Camino Frances pilgrims who had wisely chosen this quieter entry to Pamplona.

And so ended our 5 days on the Camino del Baztan. All in all, it was a fantastic experience and I will definitely walk it again. I'm inclined to think that the amount of mud we experienced on our final day may not be typical. There were some heavy downpours and thunderstorms in the previous days, so this was probably a factor.

May 2017 update: I'm pleased to report that this year's mud was in much more manageable proportions! It wasn't a big deal at all.
 
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wayfarer

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP-Santiago-Finistera-Muxia. April/May 2012
Sarria-Santiago Sept. 2013
SJPP - Almost Orrison April 2014
#7
Thank you for these great posts Nuala, I have them all bookmarked.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés, Inglés, Fisterra/Muxia, Baztanés x2, Primitivo, Norte, Portugués & hopefully many more.
#9
Camino(s) past & future
Francés, Inglés, Fisterra/Muxia, Baztanés x2, Primitivo, Norte, Portugués & hopefully many more.
#10
Wonderful Nuala @NualaOC . Thanks for the effort to keep notes along the way and write this up. I have booked flights to do this in October. I have put Hotel Iribarnia on my phone already!!!
Good for you Tim, but I hope I'm not setting you up for disappointment! It will be such a let-down if the mud has dried up by October :)
Let me know if you need any more info - I have loads of bits and pieces.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Several and counting...
#11
Oh and BTW I have just read this www.amazon.co.uk/Invisible-Guardian-Baztan-Trilogy-Book-ebook/dp/B00HPMW9F0/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1465755722&sr=1-1
It is a serial killer novel, which may not appeal to everyone, BUT it is set in the Baztan valley, centred on the town of Elizondo, and although a little gory at times, does expand quite a bit on the culture, language, and folklore of the region, not forgetting bears!! It is the first in a trilogy, which has apparently been an enormous success in Spain, France and elsewhere. I cannot wait for the second to be published in translation, in August I think!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés, Inglés, Fisterra/Muxia, Baztanés x2, Primitivo, Norte, Portugués & hopefully many more.
#12
Oh and BTW I have just read this www.amazon.co.uk/Invisible-Guardian-Baztan-Trilogy-Book-ebook/dp/B00HPMW9F0/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1465755722&sr=1-1
It is a serial killer novel, which may not appeal to everyone, BUT it is set in the Baztan valley, centred on the town of Elizondo, and although a little gory at times, does expand quite a bit on the culture, language, and folklore of the region, not forgetting bears!! It is the first in a trilogy, which has apparently been an enormous success in Spain, France and elsewhere. I cannot wait for the second to be published in translation, in August I think!
Thanks Tim, I've just ordered a copy for Damian. More his cup of tea than mine!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances ('14)
Norte ('15)
#13
Great post, I walked the Baztane way in just 3 days but I have to say one of my most memorable albergue experiences was in Urdazubi (after Espelette) it's a large Church/Museum and I was one of only 2 guests a somewhat surreal & spiritual experience. It makes a short day from Espelette or a longish day from Bayonne but if you have the time it's definitely worth a stay.

Reading your recount brings back a lot of the views vividly, it;s a beautiful Camino and somewhat of a shock once you arrive back on the French Way!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés, Inglés, Fisterra/Muxia, Baztanés x2, Primitivo, Norte, Portugués & hopefully many more.
#14
Great post, I walked the Baztane way in just 3 days but I have to say one of my most memorable albergue experiences was in Urdazubi (after Espelette) it's a large Church/Museum and I was one of only 2 guests a somewhat surreal & spiritual experience. It makes a short day from Espelette or a longish day from Bayonne but if you have the time it's definitely worth a stay.

Reading your recount brings back a lot of the views vividly, it;s a beautiful Camino and somewhat of a shock once you arrive back on the French Way!
3 days - wow, that's very impressive! I agree - the Camino Frances is a serious shock to the system after the peace of the Baztan. I suppose it's probably the same for those who walk the Camino Arragones or any of the quieter routes that merge with the Frances.

Incidentally, are Urdax and Urdazabi the same place?
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
#15
3 days - wow, that's very impressive! I agree - the Camino Frances is a serious shock to the system after the peace of the Baztan. I suppose it's probably the same for those who walk the Camino Arragones or any of the quieter routes that merge with the Frances.

Incidentally, are Urdax and Urdazabi the same place?
Urdax and Urdazabi are the same place.
 
C

Castilian

Guest
#16
somewhat of a shock once you arrive back on the French Way!
I agree - the Camino Frances is a serious shock to the system after the peace of the Baztan
If you don't want the shock of the Francés, you can continue from Pamplona onwards on the Viejo Camino although that one isn't for everyone because there are some not signposted stages and very few towns have albergues (i.e.: you need to look for hotels, pensiones, casas rurales...).

Incidentally, are Urdax and Urdazabi the same place?
Yes, they are. Urdax is the name in Castilian and Urdazubi is the name in Basque. Both names are official.
 
#18
Thanks, Nuala! I must have missed this post while I was walking. But now that I'm twisting and turning about which camino to walk next year, the Baztan is on my radar screen. I'm thinking maybe I will start in Bayonne, walk to Pamplona, then get up to Irun and walk the Norte again. Hmmm, wondering if there are non-road ways to walk from Pamplona or Arre up to Irun? Anyone have info on that? It would add a few more days of Basque beauty.

Buen camino, Laurie
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés, Inglés, Fisterra/Muxia, Baztanés x2, Primitivo, Norte, Portugués & hopefully many more.
#19
Thanks, Nuala! I must have missed this post while I was walking. But now that I'm twisting and turning about which camino to walk next year, the Baztan is on my radar screen. I'm thinking maybe I will start in Bayonne, walk to Pamplona, then get up to Irun and walk the Norte again. Hmmm, wondering if there are non-road ways to walk from Pamplona or Arre up to Irun? Anyone have info on that? It would add a few more days of Basque beauty.

Buen camino, Laurie
Hi Laurie, the Baztan is a wonderful little Camino, with great waymarking and plenty of accommodation. It's like a quieter mini-Primitivo. As you speak Spanish, you'll have a huge advantage - the local people are so helpful and are genuinely interested in pilgrims.

I'll be interested to see if anyone answers your question about a route from Pamplona to Irun.

Happy planning!
 

donalomahony

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
"Camino Frances" 2013, "Burgos to Leon," February 2014 - "Frances" June '14
#20
Thanks Nuala. Great reading in very early '17! Ideas, ideas, ideas....
 

Bad Pilgrim

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Far too many...
#22
Uhm, it dawns upon me that a Camino of this size would be possible for me to do in April when I have an Easter vacation of 10 days! I long to do a Camino in spring, as I otherwise have to start in late June due to my work. But the Camino de Baztán would fit in perfectly in April.

What do you think about the weather & terrain in April? A lot of rain? Mud? Snow? Earthquake? Or should I wait until June? Pros and cons?

/BP
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés, Inglés, Fisterra/Muxia, Baztanés x2, Primitivo, Norte, Portugués & hopefully many more.
#23
Uhm, it dawns upon me that a Camino of this size would be possible for me to do in April when I have an Easter vacation of 10 days! I long to do a Camino in spring, as I otherwise have to start in late June due to my work. But the Camino de Baztán would fit in perfectly in April.

What do you think about the weather & terrain in April? A lot of rain? Mud? Snow? Earthquake? Or should I wait until June? Pros and cons?

/BP
Hi BP, I imagine that the weather considerations are much the same as for the first stages of the Camino Frances. You could be very lucky, or then again not!

Based on the numbers recorded in the book at the Berroeta Albergue, Easter seems to be a popular time to walk. 25th March 2016 (Good Friday) was a particularly busy day, with most of the beds occupied. I would take that as a sign that this Camino is definitely d0able in April.

If it turns out to be a nightmare, you can always connect with the Frances or Norte by public transport!

Happy planning and Buen Camino.
 

Bad Pilgrim

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Far too many...
#24
Hi BP, I imagine that the weather considerations are much the same as for the first stages of the Camino Frances. You could be very lucky, or then again not!

Based on the numbers recorded in the book at the Berroeta Albergue, Easter seems to be a popular time to walk. 25th March 2016 (Good Friday) was a particularly busy day, with most of the beds occupied. I would take that as a sign that this Camino is definitely d0able in April.

If it turns out to be a nightmare, you can always connect with the Frances or Norte by public transport!

Happy planning and Buen Camino.
My plan is to arrive in Pamplona before Good Friday so I hope there will be room for me... I will explore this option... Haven't checked when I can arrive in Biarritz, will do that now. Thanks!
 

Bad Pilgrim

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Far too many...
#28
I know walking in the pine forests from the seaside in Dalmatia (Croatia) and you have to walk few meters off the track where more of those pine needles are covering the sand. Helps a looot ;)
Well not if you have running shoes! Haven't you read in my posts that my socks look like hedgehogs with those pine needles everywhere... :O( But it has already crossed my mind that this Baby-Camino would suit me perfectly to try other shoes. I could try walking in boots for once and see if I like it! :O)
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés, Inglés, Fisterra/Muxia, Baztanés x2, Primitivo, Norte, Portugués & hopefully many more.
#29
My plan is to arrive in Pamplona before Good Friday so I hope there will be room for me... I will explore this option... Haven't checked when I can arrive in Biarritz, will do that now. Thanks!
Hi again BP, hope this works out for you! A few of us will be following in your footsteps in May - it would be great if you could do a quick post when you get home. A mud (and earthquake!) update would be particularly helpful :)
 

Bad Pilgrim

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Far too many...
#30
Hi again BP, hope this works out for you! A few of us will be following in your footsteps in May - it would be great if you could do a quick post when you get home. A mud (and earthquake!) update would be particularly helpful :)
*sigh* There are so many villains on the Camino... I feel like a hero in a Marvel Comics... I will clear the path for you! :O)
 

FLEUR

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2012 - 2016
#31
Thanks for all your useful info Nuala, I really hope to be able to walk this route in the early Autumn.
Do you know whether there is a certificate similar to the one for Finisterra that one can receive for the Baztan?
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés, Inglés, Fisterra/Muxia, Baztanés x2, Primitivo, Norte, Portugués & hopefully many more.
#32
Thanks for all your useful info Nuala, I really hope to be able to walk this route in the early Autumn.
Do you know whether there is a certificate similar to the one for Finisterra that one can receive for the Baztan?
Hi Fleur, I’m glad that you found the posts helpful. As far as I know, there isn’t a special certificate or indeed a credencial for the Baztán. It’s all pretty low-key.
Happy planning and Buen Camino!
 

FLEUR

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2012 - 2016
#33
I didn't really imagine there would be a credencial but didn't want to miss out on anything!
 
Camino(s) past & future
May June (2013) May June (2014) June (2015) Sept Oct (2016)
#34
Day 5: Lantz to Pamplona (about 30kms)

This was our last day on the Baztan and we finally managed to organise ourselves properly to leave before 7am. By now we were pretty familiar with the overgrown and obstacle-ridden trails, but we were soon to discover a completely new level of muckiness!

The path alternated between the road and some wet/overgrown natural trails in the first 5kms to Olague. After Olague, we passed through a few tiny places and stopped for a break (possibly in Etulain) to take a photograph of some sheep. A little girl came running over to enquire if we were peregrinos. She was clearly fascinated and asked us lots of questions, which we did our best to answer. She was very sweet and even showed us which way to go.

View attachment 27094 View attachment 27095
After a short but steep road into Enderitz (I hope this is correct - my notes are a little unclear), our adventures in the mud really began. We joined a path that that gradually ascended and became more remote. We were ankle deep in mud as we walked through fairly narrow and overgrown tracks and fields. The low point of the day was banging my head as I climbed through some fallen branches, and momentarily wondering whether I was just briefly stunned or more seriously concussed! I rested for a while and all was fine as we continued to navigate our way though the hoof-prints of a herd of bulls. We had the pleasure of meeting those fine animals a little later!

As often happens, my low moment was followed shortly afterwards by a happier one. We suddenly found ourselves walking through a meadow of long grass and wild flowers, gazing at the hills above and the road below. Our feet were soaked and my head was sore, but it was so lovely! We eventually arrived in Olaiz where we sat for a while at the church and fuente.

View attachment 27097 View attachment 27098 View attachment 27102

The camino was clearly marked at this point, but when we realised that it involved another mucky field, we decided that enough was enough. We walked the next 2kms by road, rejoining the Camino near Olave.

5 hours and 20 mins (and only about 19kms) after leaving Lantz, we eventually arrived in Souraren hoping that the bar would be open. It felt like a really long time since our morning porridge! The bar was open, and the kind proprietors insisted that we come inside, in spite of our very wet shoes. We enjoyed a break and a laugh about the morning's scramble through the various tracks. I changed my shoes and socks after our little rest and finally discovered why everyone raves about walking in Keen sandals. It felt as though I had been given a reconditioned pair of feet!

Rather than rejoining the Camino, we just followed the recreational river path (which is signposted for walkers and cyclists). There are no Camino arrows, but it's impossible to get lost.
View attachment 27101 View attachment 27100

The path runs alongside the river most of the time, but veers onto a smaller track before Arre. At that point, we wondered if we were going the right way and asked a man and woman for directions. She was from Pamplona, he was from New Zealand and they had met on the Camino a few years ago! We had a very enjoyable conversation that perked up our spirits.

We stopped for a while at Arre as Damian’s feet were pretty sore. We got some strange looks – perhaps people though we had got lost on the Camino Frances. Damian took a bus to Pamplona at this point and I decided to keep walking. The 2012 guide seems to recommend road walking from Arre to Trinidad d’Arre, but I preferred the idea of a river walk all the way to Pamplona, especially since I was finally picking up speed in my sandals. I really enjoyed this long and leisurely walk and eventually joined up with a few Camino Frances pilgrims who had wisely chosen this quieter entry to Pamplona.

And so ended our 5 days on the Camino del Baztan. All in all, it was a fantastic experience and I will definitely walk it again. I'm inclined to think that the amount of mud we experienced on our final day may not be typical. There were some heavy downpours and thunderstorms in the previous days, so this was probably a factor.

May 2017 update: I'm pleased to report that this year's mud was in much more manageable proportions! It wasn't a big deal at all.
@NualaOC Thank you for noting all of the delights of the Baztan Camino - you've inspired us to try it out and we fly out on Monday!
 
#35
@NualaOC Thank you for noting all of the delights of the Baztan Camino - you've inspired us to try it out and we fly out on Monday!
It was this thread that inspired five of us, including Nuala, to head back in 2017. We met in or near Irún, walked up to St. Jean de Luz along the coast, then hopped a bus to the lovely city of Bayonne. We also posted, maybe there is some additional info there that can help you. It is a wonderful walk. https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/5-peregrinas-on-the-baztan.48180/
 

SabineP

Camino = Empathy + Compassion.
Camino(s) past & future
some and then more. see my signature.
#36
Camino(s) past & future
May June (2013) May June (2014) June (2015) Sept Oct (2016)
#37
It was this thread that inspired five of us, including Nuala, to head back in 2017. We met in or near Irún, walked up to St. Jean de Luz along the coast, then hopped a bus to the lovely city of Bayonne. We also posted, maybe there is some additional info there that can help you. It is a wonderful walk. https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/5-peregrinas-on-the-baztan.48180/
Thank you @peregrina2000 - am checking that out right now. We're going for two weeks, so will continue on from Pamplona - not sure yet where we might finish. Really looking forward to it.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés, Inglés, Fisterra/Muxia, Baztanés x2, Primitivo, Norte, Portugués & hopefully many more.
#38
@NualaOC Thank you for noting all of the delights of the Baztan Camino - you've inspired us to try it out and we fly out on Monday!
Lucky you, Margaret - wishing you a buen y feliz Camino! Looks like you'll get nice weather.

I remembered another tiny detail that might be helpful: three of the places we stayed in had washing machines, but didn't supply detergent. It might be useful to bring a few capsules with you.

Also, I'd recommend taking the river route all the way to Pamplona (from Souraren and Arre). I did this in 2016, but took the road route in 2017. There's no comparison - the river path is much, much nicer.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés, Inglés, Fisterra/Muxia, Baztanés x2, Primitivo, Norte, Portugués & hopefully many more.
#39
It was this thread that inspired five of us, including Nuala, to head back in 2017. We met in or near Irún, walked up to St. Jean de Luz along the coast, then hopped a bus to the lovely city of Bayonne. We also posted, maybe there is some additional info there that can help you. It is a wonderful walk. https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/5-peregrinas-on-the-baztan.48180/
I still have to plan the rematch..;)
Ah, the memories!
 
Camino(s) past & future
May June (2013) May June (2014) June (2015) Sept Oct (2016)
#40
Lucky you, Margaret - wishing you a buen y feliz Camino! Looks like you'll get nice weather.

I remembered another tiny detail that might be helpful: three of the places we stayed in had washing machines, but didn't supply detergent. It might be useful to bring a few capsules with you.

Also, I'd recommend taking the river route all the way to Pamplona (from Souraren and Arre). I did this in 2016, but took the road route in 2017. There's no comparison - the river path is much, much nicer.
Thank you for that heads-up @NualaOC - stuffing the rucksacks right now, flight in the morning. Can't wait!!
 
Camino(s) past & future
May June (2013) May June (2014) June (2015) Sept Oct (2016)
#42
Hi @NualaOC, we're back from the Balzan and to such an unexpected Irish heatwave! It was a terrific experience, and I would love to do it again sometime. Pamplona was a bit overwhelming after the peace and quiet and beauty of the Balzan route. Once, in Lantz, we had the albergue to ourselves and twice, Urdax and Berroetea, we shared with just one other. I will add some replies to your posts above re our experiences that I hope might be helpful to others. But I highly recommend it. It is a special route.
 
Camino(s) past & future
May June (2013) May June (2014) June (2015) Sept Oct (2016)
#43
Edits: I've made some changes to these posts, following the '5 peregrinas' Camino del Baztán in May 2017.

As promised in my 'overview' post, here’s a more detailed summary of our stages on the Camino del Baztan. Caveats: This is not meant as a guide (my previous post lists some useful guides). It's a very subjective account of our experience and the highs and lows. Where I've included walking notes, they are for the bits that we found a little tricky.

The landscape and weather were key elements of our experience, so it would be interesting to return to this Camino at a different time of year – possibly in autumn or spring. Another important consideration was the day on which we set out (a Friday). This meant that we walked through some of the more remote places on Sunday and Monday, when most shops and bars are closed. Not the end of the world, but I would probably plan it a little differently next time. Yes, I’m already thinking about going back ……

As I said in the earlier post, 5 days worked fine. However, if you aren’t short of time, a 6-day slower walk would be a real treat.

Day 0 – Bayonne
We flew from Dublin to Biarritz with Ryanair and took the airport bus to Bayonne (€1, takes about 30 mins, pay the driver).

Bayonne is a nice city for wandering and for people-watching. We picked up our pilgrim passports and first stamps at the Cathedral. There’s a desk just inside the door on the left hand side (open 09.00-12.00 and 15.00 to 18.00). They also gave us some useful information about the route and accommodation.

Restaurant recommendation – we had a really nice meal in a traditional Basque restaurant, l’Auberge du Petit Bayonne: http://auberge-du-petit-bayonne.fr Lovely people.


Day 1: Bayonne to Esplette (about 24kms).
The route out of Bayonne is pretty easy to find – just keep the river Nive (the smaller of the two rivers) on your left hand side. You’ll pass the riverside restaurants and join a track that is popular with runners and cyclists. The first route markings appear as you walk under a big road bridge. There are signs for a number of different walking routes, so over the next couple of days, always make sure that you follow the correct ones!
View attachment 27048

About 6kms from Bayonne, there’s an equestrian centre with a bar and accommodation: http://www.nivheberge64.com/lheberge-de-la-nive/ It might be an alternative to spending the first night in Bayonne (although there’s nothing else nearby).

The path continues along the river Nive for much of the way to Ustaritz (14kms from Bayonne). It is really well marked and any time we were unsure of where to go, there was an arrow pointing the way, and often an X showing the incorrect route.

On the final approach to Ustaritz, there’s a pizzeria and a bakery on the left hand side. There are more bars and shops in the centre of the village. As before, the route is well marked. When leaving the village, pass the church on the right hand side (its grounds offer a short but welcome respite from the asphalt).

After Ustaritz, the terrain changes with a few ‘ups and downs’, but nothing too serious. There’s mix of asphalt, gravel and muddy forest tracks, with a few fallen branches and other obstacles. The route is well marked – however, in the final stages you need to watch for the signs to Esplette, rather than Souraide:

View attachment 27053
NB: It's important to pay attention to the route into Esplette, as you’ll need to retrace it the next morning and there aren’t any arrows to follow.

Esplette isn’t actually on the Camino, but it’s a popular alternative to nearby Souraide, as there's a 12-bed municipal Gite de Pelerins. Accommodation is in 2 rooms, with single beds and bunks. It’s a little outside the centre, above a crèche. It was clean and comfortable, with an adequate kitchen and plenty of hot water. €15 per bed (and not €10 as most guide state). Some photos:

View attachment 27055 View attachment 27056

This hostel also serves pilgrims walking from St Jean Pied de Port to Irun (typically Le Puy pilgrims connecting to the Camino del Norte). You pay at the tourist office, where you get directions to the gite and a code for the external door. It can fill up quickly. We didn’t book ahead, but the girl in the the tourist office made it clear that we should perhaps have done so. Telephone number: +33 559939502.

May 2017 update: The family-run Hotel Euzkadi has a pilgrim rate that includes dinner and breakfast. It was €50 per person in May 2017. It was very nice, especially after a long wet day.

Esplette is a very pretty Basque village, famous for its peppers. It also has a chocolate factory, with a shop selling all kinds of fancy chocolates and giving plenty of free samples! Overall, it’s a very touristy place, catering mainly for day-trippers. It has plenty of places to eat, a small supermarket, a good boulangerie and some nice deli/cheese/wine shops.


Day 2: Esplette to Amiaur/Maya (about 24kms).
As Esplette isn’t on the Camino, there are no arrows to guide you out of the village. There are signs for many other walking routes, so it can be quite confusing. Warning - don't follow the shells or Camino signs - they are not for the Camino del Baztan!

Leave the village by retracing your steps. Just before a garage, there’s a sign directing pilgrims to turn right (again, retracing steps from yesterday) to Souraide. Alternatively, you can avoid this detour to Souraide and remain on the road for about 3kms, rejoining the Camino by turning left and following the signs for Voie du Bastan and Ainhoa. There are a few points with signs for different walking routes, so make sure you follow the Baztan/Bastan ones.

May 2017 update - we used online maps to follow a country road that ran parallel to the main road (which we could see to our right) and joined the Camino without any need to walk on the main road.

Ainhoa is another pretty Basque village, and a nice coffee/foot-care stop before the border with Spain. The route out of Ainhoa is well marked but once again, take care to follow the correct arrows.

After a couple of kilometers, cross a river and enter Spain through the old (unmanned) border checkpoint. Just follow the road signs for Pamplona/Urdax and pass the petrol stations and big stores, which seemed to be full of French shoppers availing of the lower prices in Spain. Continue straight on, through a series of (about 5) roundabouts. As the long line of commercial premises comes to an end, turn right here:
View attachment 27061 and follow a short muddy/overgrown track, before turning left on to an concrete path. This brings you to an intersection with a road, where you turn right. After that, follow the arrows and turn left onto a concrete path, leading eventually to Urdax.

Urdax is a pleasant and well-maintained village. Like Esplette, it seems to cater mainly for tourists and day-trippers. There’s a pilgrim albergue in the monastery at the entrance to the village. The monastery is now an exhibition centre and the staff don’t take anything to do with the albergue (they were confused when I asked for a sello). To stay in the albergue, phone the number on the door.
A youtube video about the albergue:

We stopped for a break in Urdax and bathed our feet in the little stream. We also had really nice tapas in Café Montxo, which was a happy reminder of the difference in prices between France and Spain. Two green teas and two generously sized tapas cost just €5. Similar food in Esplette the previous day cost more than twice that amount.

When leaving Urdax, cross the little bridge (the monastery and tourist office will be on your right). You'll immediately see signs and arrows directing you to a path/cattle grid into the forest, and the first of the two steep climbs on the Camino del Baztan.
View attachment 27063

In spite of our best intentions, we ended up doing this climb (500m over 5.5kms) in the hottest part of the day. Not a good idea, but the trees provided a degree of shade from the sun. There were some really nice views along the way, but it was still a pretty tiring walk. Most of the arrows are on trees. There was only one point where we got a bit confused, as we reached a ‘junction’ and saw two signs for walking back to Urdax. The correct onward route is straight ahead, over a stile and through a newly planted area.

View attachment 27064

At this point, the worst of the climb is done and you'll soon reach a shaded picnic area with public toilets. We sat there for a while before crossing the road and joining the path/road leading all the way to Amaiur/Maya.

We stayed at Pension Goiz Argi, €47 for a small double room with en-suite bathroom. This included the use of a sitting room, a well equipped kitchen, a washing machine and an area to dry clothes. Had I known about the kitchen, I would have bought food before arriving!

Amauir is a tiny village, with a restored mill and two bars (one of which was closed). We enquired about food in the small bar on the main street. The lady told us that she would make us something if we came back at 8pm. We happily did so and she made a big ensalada mixta and a sharing plate of fried eggs, fried potato and bacon. She also used the local teenagers to help with translation, as my Spanish is very basic. We ended up having a really enjoyable evening, with the thunder and lightning storms providing extra entertainment!
Rush hour in Amiur!
View attachment 27065
[June 2018] In Espelette we stayed with the wonderfully named Andy Le Sauce - he's a visual artist (aka Andy Le Bleu) and the ground floor area is also a gallery. A v interesting host https://andylesauce.wordpress.com/ The following day we walked to Urdax but there is no shop there and we really should have bought provisions as we crossed the frontier. V good albergue, with kitchen, attached to the monastery - shared with one other peregrino. However, we were able to buy some tapas from the bar for our breakfast.
 
Camino(s) past & future
May June (2013) May June (2014) June (2015) Sept Oct (2016)
#44
Day 4: Berroeta to Lantz (about 16kms).

We had no fixed plan for this day, since we knew that there were albergues in both Lantz and in Olague (5 kms further on). The Spanish peregrinos recommended staying in Lantz as it has a better albergue and they’d heard there was a restaurant nearby that served dinner. This sounded good, but stopping in Lantz would mean a 29km walk to Pamplona the next day, so we set off with an open mind.

We left the albergue at about 7.30am. This was another morning when we were very glad of our bag of porridge/flaxseed - it was well worth its weight! The route began on the road out of the village and then followed a very muddy and overgrown (nettles and brambles) path towards Almandoz. It involved an initial descent, followed by an ascent. In Almandoz, we passed what looked like a nice bar/restaurant, but not surprisingly, it was closed.

The route after Almandoz was well marked and included a couple of road crossings, an underpass and a steep climb to Venta San Blas. We saw a bar ahead, which we assumed would be closed, so you can imagine our delight when we pushed on an open door. We were met with a very warm welcome, an open fire and our two Spanish buddies enjoying a hearty breakfast (with a bottle of vino tinto!). The lady in this bar was very passionate about the Camino del Baztan. She gave us lots of information and advice about the next stage of our walk. This place also offers accommodation (it’s on Booking.com), so that might be an option for next time.

Warning – this is where sensible, matter-of-fact Nuala morphs into what Damian calls ‘Nuala in her happy Camino bubble’….. On leaving the bar, we crossed the road and entered a forest, beginning the final stages of the climb to the Puerto de Belate, the highest point on the Camino Baztan (936m). This was probably my most perfect walk ever – I really didn’t want it to end. We walked under a canopy of beech and oak trees, on a deep carpet of fallen leaves. The forest was entirely deserted and had an enchanted feel. It was all uphill, but it was the perfect setting for a slow, contemplative, ‘kissing the earth with every step’ walk. Just as the lady in the bar had told us, we passed a little river before catching a first glimpse of the views that would await us when we reached the top.
View attachment 27080 View attachment 27082 View attachment 27083

There were plenty of arrows, but as they were on trees and stones, some were hard to spot. We missed a few, but it was easy enough to get back on track. There was a lot of mud in places and a few fallen trees. I know that wild camping isn’t allowed in Spain, but this would be a most perfect place to pitch a tent, a hammock or to spend a night in a bivvy-bag.

We eventually arrived at the remote and windswept Puerto de Belate. It felt a little like the high points on the Route Napoleon, but without the crowds and the well-worn path. We were the only people there, apart from the wild horses. We sat for about 30 minutes and took it all in.

View attachment 27084 View attachment 27086

We then unexpectedly met the two Spanish Peregrinos. They had left the bar about 20 minutes before us, but accidentally followed the wrong arrows at the old Ermita (currently being restored), where there are signs for a number of walking routes.

View attachment 27091 View attachment 27087 View attachment 27089
The walk to Lantz was pretty easy and straightforward. From the summit, it descends towards the old Chapel of Belate (watch out for the bulls on the way down, they seemed young and energetic!). After that, it’s another beautiful forest walk with lots of mud and arrows that are sometimes difficult to spot.

Lantz is a bit bigger than Berroeta, but it was also pretty quiet, especially since it was a Monday. We decided to stay there, rather than continue to Olague. The albergue is quite new (opened in September 2015 in an old building) and is well-maintained. It has 10 beds, a basic kitchen and plenty of hot water – all for the princely sum of €4. And it was just the four of us again!

View attachment 27092 View attachment 27093 (comfortable bunks, with hooks and folding chairs)

As with the Berroeta albergue, you can phone in advance (particularly if you want the hospitalera to sell you some provisions) or you can just turn up and call the number on the door.

One of our main reasons for staying in Lantz was the hope of a ‘real’ dinner in a restaurant. However, the hospitalera insisted (quite emphatically) that everywhere was closed on a Monday. We resigned ourselves to another night of creative cooking with eggs and tuna, until our Spanish heroes arrived and told us about the very fancy hotel just around the corner from the albergue (which we never would have found, as it was down a lane). It did a really nice pilgrim dinner for €15. This was the perfect end to a perfect day – nice hot food and great conversations, in spite of the language barrier. It was funny walking back to our €4/night beds after spending a few hours in such a luxurious environment. Strangely, we weren’t even slightly tempted to blow the budget and book a room.

For anyone who fancies a splurge night, or a pilgrim dinner, here it is: http://www.hoteliribarnia.com It serves food after 8pm.

May 2017 update: The Lantz Posada also serves food (closed on Mondays). It's the local bar and meeting place and has a great atmosphere. The '5 peregrinas' ate there and we had a really nice evening. There was no menu as such - the owner asked us about what we did & didn't eat and prepared a big feast for us. @timr also had a very good experience here.
[June 2018] Agree with you about Lantz @NualaOC, the walk from Boerreta is gorgeous. Uphill but mostly through forest and heavenly. And we had the same experience in Lantz re asking about eating out, the shopkeeper told me there was nowhere. But having read your forum posts I got up the hotel website on my phone and showed the picture to a local woman who brought me to it. We were within two minutes of it! Not an indication anywhere that there was such a place in the village. And we had a lovely meal there before heading back to the albergue, all to ourselves. Also the Posada seems to be undergoing renovations - it's definitely not open.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés, Inglés, Fisterra/Muxia, Baztanés x2, Primitivo, Norte, Portugués & hopefully many more.
#45
Hi @NualaOC, we're back from the Balzan and to such an unexpected Irish heatwave! It was a terrific experience, and I would love to do it again sometime. Pamplona was a bit overwhelming after the peace and quiet and beauty of the Balzan route. Once, in Lantz, we had the albergue to ourselves and twice, Urdax and Berroetea, we shared with just one other. I will add some replies to your posts above re our experiences that I hope might be helpful to others. But I highly recommend it. It is a special route.
Hi Margaret, I'm so glad that everything worked out l for you - especially with the hotel in Lantz! It's so close to the albergue, but impossible to find without help.

Thanks for updating the information above. Good to see that there's now a shop in Lantz.

You're now an official member of the Baztán fan club :)
 

FLEUR

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2012 - 2016
#46
're reading all of your useful information.

All being well we The Baztan 4 (3 oldies and a youngster) will hook up in Bayonne on 19th September and aim to start walking on 20th. Wish us luck.
The Buen Camino app has already proved useful.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés, Inglés, Fisterra/Muxia, Baztanés x2, Primitivo, Norte, Portugués & hopefully many more.
#48
're reading all of your useful information.
All being well we The Baztan 4 (3 oldies and a youngster) will hook up in Bayonne on 19th September and aim to start walking on 20th. Wish us luck.
The Buen Camino app has already proved useful.
That’s fantastic Fleur. Wishing you a Buen and mud-free Camino!
 

FLEUR

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2012 - 2016
#49
We the Baztan 4 conquered the Baztan and thankfully no one died. But for us three older ones it was tough! Of course our 36 year old member (half our age) sprinted up and down the mountains like a gazelle!
Weather was kind, ground was dry and we only had rain on one day on the walk (climb) to San Blas and on to Lantz.
We made use of Gerald Kelly's book, Nuala's notes and the Buen Camino app. The hints about when to carry food were so useful . Thanks for all your help and advice.
Certainly on the Spanish side the arrows looked as though they'd been recently re painted and finding our way wasn't too hard.
Fabulous, breathtaking views, out in the wilds, no people, we only met 3 other pilgrims, all Spanish and they were at the albergue in Lantz.
Seeing so many people and pilgrims in Pamplona was quite a shock to the system.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
St Olav/Francés ('16)
Baztanés/Francés ('17)
Ingles ('18)
#51
We the Baztan 4 conquered the Baztan and thankfully no one died.
Wonderful memories of this very special route, Fleur, thank you!
Like the Invierno, this way is mysteriously under-appreciated - which is nothing but lovely when one is walking it. So if there is anyone out there who wants to step back in time and see what the camino was like before it became a 'thing,' check this out!
 

FLEUR

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2012 - 2016
#52
Now home again and time to review our walk. .

Baztan 4 took 6 days to walk the Baztan stages a follows:
Bayonne - nightstop chez Veronique Miramon ( details on Buen Camino app) . promised 4 beds but our youngest member ended up with a mattress on the floor. However the excellent breakfast more than compensated for slightly iffy sleeping arrangements.
1) Bayonne to Espelette. Left later than intended, stopped at L'herberge de la Nive for coffee and again at Ustaritz for pasta lunch. Not the best idea as the afternoon became very hot and the walk on the dry but rutted path through the woods seemed endless. Rang and booked nightstop at Andy la Source b and b. Warm welcome. Good accommodation but at 9 pm there was no food to had in town.
2) Espelette to Urdax where we stayed at the monastery. The tourist office were helpful and we signed ourselves in, stamped our credenciales and left our money in the blue money box. Good facilities at the monastery, tapas bar for evening meal and fortunately we had some food and made our own breakfast. No one else stayed there that night.
3) Urdax to Arizkun where we stayed at Casa Gontxea. Excellent .The owner kindness itself. She works in the cafe / shop where we enjoyed a good dinner. We made our own breakfasts.
4) Arizkun to Beroetta. Thanks to the Kelly guide and Nuala's notes we had stocked up with food in Elizondo where we found a good shop open on Sunday. Excellent albergue, just us four in Beroetta. No wine Sunday!
5) Beroetta to Lantz. There we actually met three Spanish peregrinos at the albergue but we couldn't face climbing to top bunks after the Venta San Blas climb in the rain so we opted to stay at the casa rurale. Excellent choice as we 4 had the house to ourselves and cooked an evening meal there.
6) Lantz to Pamplona a long but easier walking day. No cafes open until Sorauren, fortunately we had taken a picnic lunch which we ate in a lay-by after Ostiz.
We followed the river walk towards Pamplona where I had booked us into an excellent Airbnb apartment almost next door to Cafe Iruna, pure luxury!!!
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Francés, Inglés, Fisterra/Muxia, Baztanés x2, Primitivo, Norte, Portugués & hopefully many more.
#53
Now home again and time to review our walk. .

Baztan 4 took 6 days to walk the Baztan stages a follows
Bayonne - nightstop chez Veronique Miramon ( details on Buen Camino app) . promised 4 beds but our youngest member ended up with a mattress on the floor. However the excellent breakfast more than compensated for slightly iffy sleeping arrangements.
1, Bayonne to Espelette. Left later than intended, stopped at L'herberge de la Nive for coffee and again at Ustaritz for pasta lunch. Not the best idea as the afternoon became very hot and the walk on the dry but rutted path through the woods seemed endless. Rang and booked nightstop at Andy la Source b and b. Warm welcome. Good accommodation but at 9 pm there was no food to had in town.
2, Espelette to Urdax where we stayed at the monastery. The tourist office were helpful and we signed ourselves in, stamped our credenciales and left our money in the blue money box. Good facilities at the monastery, tapas bar for evening meal and fortunately we had some food and made our own breakfast. No one else stayed there that night.
3, Urdax to Arizkun where we stayed at Casa Gontxea. Excellent .The owner kindness itself. She works in the cafe / shop where we enjoyed a good dinner. We made our own breakfasts.
4, Arizkun to Beroetta. Thanks to the Kelly guide and Nuala's notes we had stocked up with food in Elizondo where we found a good shop open on Sunday. Excellent albergue just us four, in Beroetta. No wine Sunday!
5) Beroetta to Lantz. There we actually met three Spanish peregrinos at the albergue but we couldn't face climbing to top bunks after the Venta San Blas climb in the rain so we opted to stay at the casa rurale. Excellent choice we 4 had the house to ourselves and cooked an evening meal there.
6) Lantz to Pamplona a long but easier day. No cafes open until Sorauren, fortunately we had taken a picnic lunch which we ate in a lay-by after Ostiz.
We followed the river walk towards Pamplona where I had booked us into an excellent Airbnb apartment almost next door to Cafe Iruna, pure luxury!!!
Thanks for posting your stages and accommodations, @FLEUR. It's good to see some other options and how they worked out. Glad you stocked up before Berroeta, but shame that your groceries didn't include some vino! And well done on finding that Airbnb in Pamplona!

Was the shop open in Lantz? There was none there in 2016, but I read somewhere that one had opened last year.

I agree that Lantz to Pamplona is quite a long day, but at least it's a lot flatter than some of the other stages. It can be shortened by staying in the Olague albergue, but it's apparently in bad shape.
 

FLEUR

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2012 - 2016
#54
@NualaOC
Lantz. The lady who is in charge of the albergue runs the shop and the casa rural.
One of our group joked that she was probably mayor of the village as well.
The shop was well stocked.
 

FLEUR

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2012 - 2016
#55
If we had had an extra day then a night stop at the Posada at Sorauren would have broken up that last day very nicely. We were very glad of an afternoon stop there for a beer and an omelette.

If anyone needs 2 nights or more in Pamplona then book Airbnb Aloha apartments. We paid a total of £208 between 4 of us, we ate out at times but also appreciated being able to make and sit over a leisurely breakfast and a large homemade tomato salad went down a treat one lunchtime.
There were three bedrooms and enough beds for five or six. Modern decor (mostly Ikea). Two good bathrooms, a good kitchen with washing machine, dishwasher, oven, microwave etc.. Excellent, airy lounge/ dining area. Double glazing to cut out noise from the city below. There was a good lift as well so no need to lug our weary selves and rucksack up four flights of stairs. AND in addition...... good WiFi.

This was my first time walking the whole way as a group of four but it worked very well.
 
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FLEUR

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2012 - 2016
#56
Thank you to the person on here who recommended taking a few washing machine detergent cubes. We did this and used them.
We also took those paper sticks of coffee and sugar. Life savers for days when no breakfast was available.

We were bereft on our no wine Sunday but there was no way we could have carried a bottle of vino.
One member ventured out to see whether she could accost a local and try to buy a bottle but sadly that didn't work and we made do with water.
 

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