Protected natural area located to the northwest of the Comunidad Foral de Navarra, between the regions, Barranca, also called Corredor de la Barranca or Corredor del Araquil, to the north, and Tierra Estella to the south, was declared a Natural Park in 1997. The Urbasa and Andía Natural Park covers four areas, the Urbasa mountain range, the Andía mountain range, Mount Limitaciones de las Améscoas and the Urederra River Spring Nature Reserve.
From the remains and vestiges found, dolmens, menhirs, tumuli... it is known that in the area there were population settlements since prehistory, Lower and Middle Palaeolithic, and that its inhabitants, who at first could have been hunters, learned to domesticate animals and became shepherds. This activity has survived in the territory through the ages since these mountains, once royal, enjoyed a unique legal system by which all Navarrese had the right to bring to graze their cattle, make huts and sheepfolds for their shepherds and herds as well as to use firewood and wood to cover their basic needs. Traditional rights that today and as long as they are carried out in accordance with the existing regulations continue to be enjoyed by Navarrese people. At present the territories of this natural park are shared by the great affluence of people who approach them with the intention of enjoying a beautiful and exuberant nature, by the animals that have made the place their habitat, and by the contained and rational cattle exploitations, with their cattle grazing in freedom.
In the declaration of the Natural Park of Urbasa and Andía by Foral Law 3/1997, of 27 February, published in the Official Gazette of Navarre, number 31, of 12 March 1997, it is literally stated that "The mountain ranges of Urbasa and Andía are configured as a natural space endowed with a wide range of geological, biological, ecological, aesthetic, landscape, archaeological and socio-cultural values". These lands, which millions of years ago were covered by marine waters, today show all the environmental, landscape and socio-cultural wealth that it has treasured throughout its history.
The Natural Park of Urbasa and Andía shows us the spectacular contrast of its four zones. The dense forests of Mount Limitaciones, the aridity of the Andía mountain range, or the vertical amphitheatre through which water flows from the underground aquifers of the Urbasa plateau giving rise to incredible places such as the nativity of the river Urederra, receive a multitude of hikers, speleologists, mountaineers and visitors who come to enjoy incredible natural viewpoints such as the Balcony of Ubaba better known as Balcony of Pilate from which dominates the rocky circus of the Nacedero del Urederra and the beautiful valley of Améscoa. Discovering caves, chasms, dolines, ground, pastures, making mythical ascents, entering magical forests of beeches and oaks that share land and water with gall oaks and holm oaks and where foxes, wild boars, badgers, hares, vultures, harriers, Egyptian vultures and real swifts have made their habitat coexisting with sheep, cattle and horses that graze at will providing a typical and colourful photo of the place, are attractive place not to be disdained.
Like any park that prides itself, it is furrowed by paths that take the nature lover to visit the different enclaves, each one with its history and particular beauty, the Path of the Shepherds, the Path of the Fountains, the Path of the Mountaineers, the Enchanted Beechwood... In the Natural Park of Urbasa "Agua del Bosque Salvaje" or "Monte de Agua" and Andía "el Monte Grande" or simply "la Grande" we can also admire singular trees declared natural monuments, such as the oak known as "de la verruga" because its trunk has a bulge of more than one metre in diameter, the beech of the Virgin of Urbasa, located near the fountain of the Mosquitoes, which has in its trunk a niche with the image of the Virgin, "The Sentinel", a gall oak that once had a hole that is said to have served as a sentry box in the Carlist Wars; the yew of Otsaportillo; or the spectacular holm oak of Eraúl. All this has led to the designation of the Natural Park of Urbasa and Andía as a Site of Community Importance (SCI) and subsequently the Foral Decree was approved designating it as a Special Conservation Zone (ZEC) to form part of the Natura 2000 Network of Navarre.
There are numerous pilgrimages that the different villages of the Urbasa and Andía mountain ranges make to the hermitages located in the Urbasa and Andía Natural Park. The day of the Trinity and the 18th of July are celebrated in the hermitage of Santa Marina. On the third Sunday of June the pilgrimage is to the hermitage of San Adrián. Another chapel-refuge that has its pilgrimage is that of San Donato, on the second Sunday in August. The hermitage known as Las Santas, because it is dedicated to saints Nunilo and Alodia, which dominates the Raso de Urbasa and belongs to Eulate, celebrates a pilgrimage on 23 June. Once a year, the Santiago de Lokiz hermitage welcomes the people of the villages to which it belongs and shares it.
In the undulating plateau of the Urbasa mountain range you can still see, in total abandonment, the Palace of the Marquises of Andía and Dukes of Rivas which was built at the end of the 17th century by the second Marquis of Andía, Fernando Ramírez de Baquedano. This marquis had civil and criminal jurisdiction in the mountains of Urbasa and Andía and therefore the Court of the Royal Council ordered him to build this house which in turn had to have a prison and chapel. The Marquises never lived in the Palace of Urbasa. In it lived the chaplain of the chaplaincy-abadía and the guardians or caseros of the Baquedano. With time, the palace became a refuge for shepherds and cattle ranchers as well as for travellers who passed through here. Its main façade still bears the coat of arms of the Baquedano family.
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In this land of caves and chasms it is said that one day some speleologists in their eagerness to discover the intricacies of one of these chasms met with a dog that scared showed them the fangs, because months ago that in one of their raids had fallen into it and without seeing any human being had survived feeding on the animals that died when they fell into it. When after the animal had taken confidence with the speleologists accompanying them in their adventure, they brought it to the surface, and the dog after showing gratitude by playing between their legs and licking their hands, began to run in the direction of the house of their beloved masters.
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The access to the Natural Park of Urbasa and Andía can be done either by the NA-120 road that joins Estella - Lizarra with Echarri Aranatz, or by the NA-718 from Estella - Lizarra or from Olazti - Olazagutía.
In different areas of the Natural Park of Urbasa and Andía, we will find duly signposted parking places, as it is forbidden to park vehicles outside these areas.
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Urbasa tiene un montón de sitios para visitar, y alguna de las rutas de senderismo más chulas de Navarra, lo recomiendo.
9:20 h.34.8 km.