The Irati Forest Spain

The Irati Forest Spain

The Irati Forest Spain

It’s a steady drive from our location at Isaba, near the French border, towards Pamplona in the Navarra region. First we’re taking a 20km diversion off the main route, towards The Irati Forest in this vast part of Spain. Unbelievably, Irati is the second largest forest of its kind in Europe, with over 17,000 hectares and we can’t wait to explore just a small section.

The Irati Forest Spain

Wild horses and remote countryside

This scenic driving route takes us through the parched landscapes of a Spanish Summer. We’re passing glorious scenery, where the Pyrenees meet the more gentler slopes which stretch for miles around.

Occasionally, we have to pause, whilst wild horses share the mountain pass. This beautiful sight of adult horses escorting their foals is just idyllic. There’s plenty of them to keep us entertained as they criss-cross the pasture land between us.

The road is a dead-end route, leading only to the vast expanse of the Irati Forest. We know we’ll be leaving here later today, because there’s no overnight parking permitted and little else in this remote corner of Navarra.

Wild horse Spain

A paid parking area ~ The Irati Forest Spain

Upon arrival, a friendly English-speaking parking attendant greets us and collects the 3 Euro fee. Before we know it, he’s guiding us towards a large parking area which is almost full. Luckily, we find a place to park. Although it’s a bit tight, we’re with plenty of other motorhomes, so feel right at home.

Not only, should Irati be an interesting place to explore, but it’s also a hot one. Unsurprisingly, the August heat is full on, so we’re ready for a plunge in a swim spot. Fingers crossed, it won’t be long before we find that ideal river pool but first we need to find a suitable walk.

So, with walking trainers and a strong flask of coffee at the ready it’s time to hit the trails.

The Irati Forest Spain

Walking trails galore

Soon we realise the forest is full of walking trails galore, which are of various lengths with plenty of signs. To be honest, we’d need longer here to explore many of the trails, and we don’t have time today. So, we decide to do two short walks instead.

First is a short, 2km out and back route, taking us through the forest towards some cascades.

It’s a gentle, picturesque path, popular with families, most of which have wet items of clothing and picnic bags.

Hopefully this means, there’s a good pool nearby.

Icy cold water ~ The Irati Forest Spain

Sure enough, a beautiful clear river and gentle cascades appear between the trees. There’s a small beach section which is busy, but large smooth rocks along the river make for a good rest stop.

Walking up the rocks gradually brings us at a series of pools, where calm water awaits before tumbling to lower sections.

Before long, we’re ready to do the big toe test. Then, Nigel decides to give a plunge a miss, after he looses feeling in his foot from the icy cold water.

I should know better, but decide to just go for it regardless of freezing off the skin cells. Soon, I realise it’s a mistake, because this water is absolutely icy and I soon feel queasy from the shock.

We’re no strangers to a river dip, but this is seriously cold water, enough to take your breath away and mine takes a few hours to recover.

A walk to a small Chapel

Trying to regain my composure, I limp on back along the trail, freezing cold despite the heat. Next, we choose another short trail, leading from the parking area up a short path towards a little Chapel.

Here we pass a cafe, where visitors enjoy refreshments with views across the forest. There’s also toilets here, another useful addition in these remote parts.

Luckily, the steps leading this way get the blood circulating again, and I begin to warm up again. It’s a cute little chapel here, pristinely painted in white, but not open to visit.

The Irati Forest Spain

Is it worth the drive?

Overall, we spend the afternoon wandering in the Irati forest, and it’s a beautiful and relaxing place to be.

However, it is far from anywhere, so it’s not too much of a practical option if you’re on a time constraint.

Another thing to consider is the lack of overnight parking. We do know of one campsite which is about a 20 minute drive away, Camping Urrobi, although we didn’t stay ourselves.

For those with plenty of time on their hands, the Irati forest is worth a detour but otherwise, it seems a bit out of the way.

At the end of the day, Irati is a perfect place for long walks, perhaps more so than the shorter routes. So, if you have the time, grab your rucksack and make a day of it. After all, the second largest forest in Europe has to be one of those good to see locations whilst travelling in this part of Spain.

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