A walk through the Irati Forest


Visiting the Irati Forest, located in the heart of the eastern Pyrenees of Navarre, in the headwaters of the Aezkoa and Salazar valleys, is a pleasure at any time of the year. However, doing so in the fall becomes a true gift for the senses: forests covered in fallen leaves and centuries-old beech trees that paint the landscape in shades of ochre and yellow.

It’s a time when the second-largest beech and fir forest in Europe, after Germany’s Black Forest, invites you to explore its history through mountain biking or hiking, such as the new interpretive trail Errekaidorra, which demonstrates how Irati’s forest resources were used.

During the autumn, the 17,000 hectares of the Irati Forest undergo a magical transformation, filling its forests with shades of ochre and red, increasing the flow of its streams and torrents, and carpeting its paths with fallen leaves. This natural treasure, with significant ecological value, is home to two Natural Reserves, Mendilatz and Tristuibartea or Ariztibarrena, and the Integral Reserve of Lizardoia.


Autumnal Landscape in the Irati Forest


The best advice for discovering this paradise is to take your time, without rushing, and explore the many corners it holds, which are also inhabited by mythological creatures such as lamias or the Basajaun (‘lord of the forest’). Don’t be alarmed if, among its trees towering over 60 meters high, you hear a thunderous sound. It’s the rutting season, a long and deep sound emitted by male deer during their mating season.

The Irati Forest has two entrances in Navarre: the western one from Orbaizeta and the eastern one from Ochagavía, a town that could be a perfect postcard of the Navarrese Pyrenees with its cobbled streets, well-kept steep-roofed houses, and a river with an ancient medieval bridge.

From both towns, a road leads to the Arrazola information point for those coming from Orbaizeta, and to the Casas de Irati information point for those coming from Ochagavía.

And let’s not forget the delicious local culinary offerings found throughout the valley. Dishes like migas, a pastoral dish made from dry bread cooked in a pan with bacon fat and sausage, as well as beef and suckling lamb, or trout a la Navarra, fried with ham.

Another option is the exquisite mushrooms, such as perretxikos in spring and wild mushrooms in autumn, or game meats like deer, wild boar, or pigeon. To finish, enjoy a cuajada (a dessert) or Roncal Denomination of Origin cheese, along with some Navarrese pacharán, a very digestif liqueur.