Apart from the fact that its mark on the landscape is exceptional, this range also looks completely different depending on the place from which we look at it. Seen from the Goierri area, we can admire its enormous northern crag with a steep drop and abrupt ending falling away towards the area of Zaldibia and Amezketa. One outstanding point on this profile is Mount Larrunarri (Txindoki) (1,346 m), which shows a different silhouette depending on our point of observation. On the other hand, if we contemplate the massif from the San Sebastián - Pamplona/Iruña Road, we can observe the clear tall outline of the crest known as "malloas". On one stretch it marks the boundary between the provinces of Gipuzkoa and Navarre, before making its way into the latter. It is on the Irumugarrieta Summit where the range reaches its highest elevation, 1,427 metres.
Karst phenomena and megalithic monuments
This area has a predominantly calcareous lithology, with important Karstic phenomena both above and below ground: fields of lapies, sinkholes and sources, caves, dolinas, underground river beds, etc. The waters often flow out of our sight, only to reappear where least expected. Mount Pardarri (1,393 m), easy to reach from the open fields of Igaratz, is a magnificent example of karstic morphology.
The significant number of megalithic monuments gives evidence of the early human presence in the area, which accommodates the largest concentration of dolmens in the Basque Country. Aralar offers several traces of prehistoric shepherds and hunters: some thirty dolmens, over a dozen tumuli, various monoliths, numerous cave sites and two stone circles, as well as an open-air site.
Routes and excursions
The massif welcomes numerous mountaineers and potholers. It offers many routes through forest paths and tracks, although climbing the summits requires previous mountaineering training. Some of the most common accesses are the hermitage of Larraitz up to Larrunarri (Txindoki); the recently restored mountain refuge in Lizarrusti; or, from Navarre, the road departing from Lekunberri to the forest ranger's house and on to Errenaga. In Navarre's part of Aralar we find the sanctuary of San Miguel, which has a significant historical-artistic interest and is situated between beech forests and pasturelands. Its privileged setting offers excellent views of Navarre's massifs and prairies.
The Lizarrusti Interpretation Centre -which organises several activities such as hiking, horse-riding, mountain-biking, canyoning, rock climbing, cross-country skiing, guided tours...- is closed due to restoration works. Meanwhile, an information office has been fitted out in Ataun's neighbourhood of San Gregorio, which also arranges thematic trips.
Barrio San Gregorio
For more information check out www.turismoataun.net or call 943 180 285.
Six recreational areas with tables, fountains, barbecues...
Municipal youth hostel in Abaltzisketa.
Mountain Refuge in Sierra de Aralar.