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Baztan Tours

Elizondo, Spain
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About Baztan Tours
Baztan Tours es una empresa de turismo cultural que se dedica a ofrecer tours y visitas guiadas por el valle de Baztan, Zugarramurdi, Urdax, Bertizarana y Bortziriak. Ofrecemos tambien la posibilidad de incluir otros lugares de Navarra y del Pais Vasco. Los tours van acompanados de explicaciones de la historia local, costumbres y tradiciones de los pueblos. Visitas en castellano, ingles y frances.
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Baztan Tours
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explorer_md wrote a review Feb 2019
Frederick, Maryland33 contributions17 helpful votes
Summary: A local tour company that will help you discover the heart of the Basque Country Our family had a precious few days to explore the Basque country outside the popular cities of Bilbao and San Sebastian. We specifically wanted to spend time on the ground in Navarra, east of Tolosa, north of Pamplona in the Pyrenees in the beautiful and verdant Valle de Baztan. Over the centuries this rugged and remote region of the Basque country has been home to a sturdy and proud people who have participated in the rise and fall of kingdoms and empires--all the while maintaining their distinct language and identity. Upon entering this remote rural area, nestled among steep mountain slopes with clusters of houses forming small villages like strands of pearls on a necklace, one feels transported back in time. Solid stone houses in the Basque architectural style date back hundreds of years. Churches built by shepherds and farmers have cornerstones dating back to the 15th-17th centuries; in some of the larger villages they have been lovingly maintained by those hearty and courageous few who remain in these mountain valleys scratching out an existence from a demanding, beautiful, and historic land. Yes, there are modern schools, grocery stores, and other conveniences in the larger towns, but the draw of this region is to visit the villages that are barely dots in Google Maps: Maya, Urdax, Ziga, Zugarramurdi. The Camino de Santiago winds its way through this area. Tourists are not uncommon, and are a growing portion of the economy in the larger towns. What if you want to step off the path, and take a closer look at scenic small towns away from tourists? There are precious few museums--certainly nothing to compare with Bilbao or San Sebastian. The history is worn into the cobblestones of the public squares, the lovingly cared for buildings, and the lives of those whose ancestors were living in those villages before the rise of the Roman Empire. Where do you go? Who do you talk to? How do you go about preparing for such a visit? And with precious time on the ground, how do you choose from one ancient village to the next? On a previous visit to this region I had driven a rental car into this scenic region. My experience is that this isn't a preferred way to get to know the area. I am reluctant to approach strangers in my own city let alone a small village in a foreign land where I don't speak the language. The villages are small. The roads are narrow. The history of each village or home is not heralded by gaudy tourist signs in multiple languages. No one has compiled a tour brochure that touts the charm of any individual location. Few people want to talk to tourists and the few you meet will most likely speak Basque. In the tourist cities English and broken Spanish can get you a meal. Here in the interior broken Spanish will get you a few smiles, but not much more. Before arriving in country I had come across the website for Baztan Tours. Several of the standard tours explored areas of great cultural and historical interest to our family. I thought this would be a great way to explore the Basque country without having to worry about the logistics of driving, parking, and navigating. In short, any of the Baztan Tours expeditions was an excellent introduction to an amazing region that knows how to keep secrets. We want to go back to this region again--we have a better understanding of what is there and what we missed and what we want to explore in more depth. I recommend Baztan Tours; there are several of their tours I have yet to try. They offer tours in Spanish, English, and French. We arrived in the Baztan Valley in mid-October. The mornings were cool. Many of the trees were golden yellow with the peak autumn colors to arrive in another week. We began the tour at the Baztan Tour office in Elizondo. They have a couple of small passenger vans emblazoned with their company logo. These vehicles are a perfect way to travel to the remote small towns with narrow roads. When we visited the historic town of Maya we saw a large tour bus that had brought a crowd of people up from Pamplona. The large bus had to park in the only spot large enough for it to navigate--which happened to be about 0.4 km from the walls of the city proper. As our tour progressed the roads got narrower, the villages older, and we never saw the bus after that first stop. Ours was a boots-on-the-ground tour that touched several villages. Our guide, Gervasio, was fluent in Spanish and English and his French was much better than mine. The tours started at 10:00 and went until around 14:00. Even though we shuttled from village to village there was ample walking, many opportunities for photos, and enough historical elements that we couldn't help but fall in love with the beauty, culture, and traditions of this remote region. We went on two tours. The first tour was on a weekend and we shared the van with a family from Madrid (we are from the USA). The tour was in Spanish and English. The second tour was just our family on a school day, in October--not a popular day for tourists. We enjoyed both tours. The advantage of Baztan Tours being a local company was evident on our second tour. Gervasio is familiar to many of the locals across the region. He has a network of community resources he includes in his tours. In Zugarramurdi we visited the museum, and he was able to highlight and narrate the exhibits pertinent to the history and region. This was an experience I would not have thought to engage in had I been roaming around in a rental car. The 30-minute museum visit fit in nicely with the tour and informed the outside activities, enriching the overall experience. The tours were active, we did a fair amount of walking. The best way to experience these mountain villages is on foot, walking among the people and buildings. It helps to have a guide who knows the history and can walk you through the portions of each village that make it unique and memorable. The tours ended at the same place we started. The Baztan Tours office has a small collection of books for sale that relate to the region and tours they offer, as well as several locally-produced food items. The selection of books is excellent, and curated for the region. The large elkar bookstore in San Sebastian had some of the same titles in their Basque history section, but the Baztan Tours book selection had more depth in topics of local history and culture.
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Date of experience: October 2018
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anitaonaindia wrote a review Sep 2016
Elizondo, Spain2 contributions1 helpful vote
Thank u very much for providing an excellent and beyond professional tour. This tour was relaxng and also so informative and spectacular.
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Date of experience: August 2016
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