Otxandio-Ochandiano, Vizcaya - Bizkaia (0)
Travelling through the Urkiola Natural Park
The mountains that separate Otxandio from Durango treasure great natural and cultural resources. Here we can immerse ourselves in the marked character of these lands and their people as we travel along the GR 38 Route of the wine and of the fish as it passes through the magnificent Urkiola Natural Park, one of the jewels of this region.
The Stage 5 Otxandio-Durango along its 19.4 km will allow us to get to know and enjoy the forests and places it passes through. The well-kept town of Otxandio bids us farewell just before we start the long and easy climb to Urkiola, a stretch that takes us through the leafy beech and pine forests that populate these mountain hillsides. Once in Urkiola, the impressive sanctuary, the surrounding chapels and the spectacular Viewpoint of the Three Crosses, among other places, await us. We begin the rapid descent that, with the permission of Anboto, a symbolic mountain, and its illustrious inhabitant, La Mari, will take us to the valley where the monumental town awaits our arrival.
A dizzying descent that will provide us with a gradual change of landscape where the mountains continue to be the protagonists while the forest gives way to the meadows and the characteristic baserris. Mañaria is the starting point of the long and monotonous stretch of road that we will have to face. Luckily Izurtza takes us out of the noisy route we are forced to take for a moment. Now, without the company of the busy road, we will start our journey to Durango, quickly becoming aware of the rich heritage this town has to offer. The route through Durango, where we will put the end of this stage of the GR 38 Wine and Fish Route, will bring us closer to some of the most representative monuments of this town, thus compensating for the long road section.
Although the stage itself, for someone who is used to this type of hiking and trekking route, is not a very difficult challenge, having Urkiola almost halfway through, where we will have different services and even an open shelter, allows us to adapt our stages as best suits us. This is very useful, especially if we take into account the distances of the previous stages, and we can use Urkiola as the end point and the start of the stage, which is not a bad idea.
Otxandio is located on the road linking Legutio, on the N-240 between Vitoria and Bilbao, with Durango on the N-634 between Bilbao and San Sebastian. We also have a bus service that connects it with Bilbao, Galdakao, Bedia, Lemoa, Igorre, Dima or Ubide, as well as with Vitoria, Legutio, Mañaria, Izurtza or Durango.
Attentive to the regulations on pets in the Urkiola Natural Park, they usually only state the need to take our friend tied up. Physically, it is an interesting route that will require you to be in good physical condition.
Although we will find several options along the way, it is better not to be too confident. Be very careful at the crossroads and on the final stretch of road as it bears a lot of traffic.
The dogs of the farmhouses and the cattle is something that we will have to bear in mind since with all certainty we will have to find them. It is also important to inform us about the activity in the hunting grounds we will go through.
The Town Hall Square in Otxandio (0h 00min) will be our starting point for this fifth stage of the GR 38.
Leaving the emblematic building of the town hall on our left, we take the first steps of our route.
We quickly reach the street where we have to make a detour. This street leads us without any further complications to the monument to the blacksmiths where those who decided on their arrival in Otxandio to miss the visit to this beautiful town would join us.
Already together, we're moving forward in search of the outskirts of Otxandio. Shortly after passing over the river that bathes the town, it is time to say goodbye to it and start the long climb that will take us to Urkiola.
These first ramps warm us up without giving us much time to prepare. We follow at all times the conditioned path that gradually softens its remarkable initial slope.
After a while we arrive at a new crossroads, where of the two paths that emerge on our right, it is the second one that we must continue along.
The cement has given way to the typical cart path that will be in charge of guiding us from now on. Shortly after crossing a small stream, thanks to a small wooden bridge, our path reaches its end when we come across a wide dirt track where we will continue to gain height.
After crossing a gate we will begin a new stretch of demanding ascent. Fortunately, the almost perfect condition of the path allows us to overcome this stretch without too many complications.
For now, at none of the crossroads we will have to leave the track we are following.
A track that continues to gain height thanks to its relatively gentle slope.
There will be many crossroads that we will find along this part of the route, paths that we will ignore.
The slope should no longer put us in great difficulty as it is hardly noticeable in many sections.
Although from time to time it does remind us that our initial destination is at the summit of the mountain. A mountain that we will have to ascend in part in order to reach it.
An effort that will be rewarded by the beauty of the forest that surrounds us and gives us all its pleasant freshness.
As usual at the many crossroads we pass, the marks of the GR 38 show us the direction we should take, marks that in some cases coexist with those of the different paths that cross these mountains of Bizkaia.
Trails such as the GR 282 with which we have already coincided on several occasions and which accompanies us from time to time.
The forest, in addition to changing its appearance on several occasions, accompanies us at all times.
But its thickness is gradually losing intensity as we approach our goal.
The clearings that open up allow us to contemplate the privileged landscape that can be enjoyed from up here. These clearings warn us of our proximity to the first destination of the day.
A gateway precedes our arrival at Urkiola (2h 35min) where we will undoubtedly stop to recover our strength and enjoy the charms of this spot.
The car park next to the Urkiola temple will serve as a reference point.
There we will find the detour that we must follow and that will bring us back to a leafy forest saying goodbye to the sanctuary.
There is a long, steep descent ahead of us, which is more remarkable than the one we went through to reach Urkiola.
Shortly before reaching the viewpoint of the Three Crosses, which we of course approach, the real descent begins, which we must overcome.
A steep trail leads us directly to the encounter with a path that comes from the nearby road.
We will have to cross this path to continue losing height along a trail that will take us back to the road that descends from Urkiola.
A road that for the moment we will not have to step on, thus getting rid of the traffic that runs through it.
After this first contact with the asphalt, we will have to face a demanding ascent that takes us past the Gatzaieta limekiln.
After a while, this stretch of ascent comes to an end and we resume the descent we had postponed.
Once again we find numerous junctions usually well signposted.
A route that takes us around the base of the majestic rocks on our right.
Although at a prudential distance, the trail allows us to contemplate in detail the walls through which the different climbing routes run.
The trail that had become the old path followed by the muleteers who traveled the Route of Wine and Fish, makes its way again with the vegetation that invaded it, to get away from the vertical walls that accompanied us.
Like every mountain path that is worthy, ours forces us to change course. Once again, it will be a battered but well trodden trail that leads us down the hillside.
A trail that begins to run into the green meadows that surround the farmhouses, warning us of the future landscape that awaits us in later stages.
After a while, the path we are following reaches its end when it meets one of the paved tracks that give access to these baserris.
But this section of the track does not last long, as a few metres further on we will return to the route of an old path.
A path that crosses the meadows, passing by one of the carefully cared for baserris that are so characteristic of these lands.
Although we continue to lose height with each step, there is not much distance left for it to stop being so evident.
This stretch of path takes us to the definitive encounter with the road that will accompany us from now on.
From this point until practically the end of stage 5 of the GR 38 the road will be the uncomfortable protagonist.
A road that brings us closer to our next objective, Mañaria (4h 05min).
We travel through this town following the course marked by the road that crosses it.
Fortunately, throughout the route that awaits us on this road, we will have an invaluable sidewalk that will take us away from some of the dense traffic that this road supports. A traffic marked in part by the different factories we will pass.
We also have to count on the security that will be transmitted by the regulated pedestrian crossings that will allow us to change sides following the layout of the sidewalk that guides us. Izurtza (4h 40min) comes to us quickly, although it will take us some time to cross it.
After crossing Izurtza and shortly before reaching the colossal viaduct that runs over our heads, we will have to change sides again to say goodbye once and for all to the uncomfortable company of the road.
We must follow the line marked by the viaduct in order to prepare ourselves to border the sports complex that is almost under it.
Now we'll see ourselves following the bike path that accompanies the road we're on. A cycle path that runs along the limits of the sports complex leading to our entrance in Durango.
Almost without realizing it, the road we were following has become a wide street through which we will enter this town of Bizkaia.
Although we still have a long urban route to finish this stage.
An itinerary that takes us through the streets of Durango without changing course.
As with every step, it brings us closer to the magnificent monuments that make up its rich architectural heritage.
The river that crosses the town warns us of the proximity of the end of this stage of the Wine and Fish Route. It is in Ezkurdi Square in Durango (5h 15min) where we will end our day following the course of the GR 38.
This figure will vary depending on the route we take to enter Durango and our final destination.
We must count on the time we devote to visiting Urkiola and its sanctuary, which is highly recommendable if we do not know it.
The fog, the mud and the rainy days will certainly not let us enjoy the tour as we should, besides making it more complicated. We can also find days in which the presence of the snow makes it inadvisable to undertake the route or leaves it reserved for people with enough experience and equipment to assume it with guarantees. On the contrary, autumn and spring with their colours will undoubtedly increase the beauty of this route.
As in any route, the weather we find influences the material we must carry and in this case could not be an exception given its special characteristics. The different places we will pass through, where we will have the possibility to eat or drink, cannot make us fall into the mistake of not taking some water and food with us. We must also bear in mind that although the maximum height we are going to climb is not the highest in the GR 38, this is a mountain stage par excellence. Consult our list of material and equipment for hiking. Read more.
The distance and the negative rather than positive slope mark the physical demand that this route requires. We can fall into the mistake of thinking that since the great majority of the stage is descending, it loses difficulty in this section and in reality, although it is true that descending is less demanding than ascending, when, as in this case, it is for a long time and with so much difference in level at the end, it ends up being harder than we thought.
Severity of the environment
Needless to say, the most dangerous thing, under normal conditions, of the entire route is the long stretch of road we will have to negotiate. It is true that the mud, especially on the descent, could also make the day more complicated than expected.
In general, it is the accumulation of marks that occur in many crossroads that will generate more complications in this section. Another point of conflict is the entrance to Durango as in the area of the viaduct the marks simply disappear to return to the first streets of the town, so it is very easy to skip the detour and continue on the road longer than necessary. In the interior of Durango, almost at the end of the stage, as is unfortunately usual, we will not have the help of the marks that can confirm the correct route, although fortunately we will not have to make a detour under any circumstances.
|1-Otxandio||0:00h||559m||0Km||30T 528139 4765334|
|2-Urkiola||2:35h||735m||8.9Km||30T 529021 4771971|
|3-Mañaria||4:05h||191m||14.8Km||30T 527608 4776192|
|4-Izurtza||4:40h||147m||17.3Km||30T 529220 4777953|
|5-Durango||5:15h||116m||19.4Km||30T 529875 4779645|
Coordinates UTM Datum WGS84
Slope +: 391m
Slope -: 835m
Maximum altitude: 805m
Minimum altitude: 116m
This sketch of the route is not made to scale nor does it contain all the information relating to the area, it is merely indicative.
This schematic with the path is approximate and has been created from the derived cartographic base © Instituto Geográfico Nacional "Cuadrante 087-4, 087-2 y 062-4 25.000"
Senditur has manipulated the tracks to correct the aberrant points that may exist, caused by problems with the reception of the GPS signal. In any case the tracks are always approximate. SENDITUR encourages you to use the new technologies within your reach, using them as support and consultation in your activity, not basing the realization and orientation of the same only and exclusively on them, since they may see their functioning altered by very diverse causes, not functioning correctly and their indications may not be precise.
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One of the most important funerary monuments of Euskadi
Home of the Patron Saint of Alava, a jewel of Alava's Romanesque style.
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¿Did you know that...
Limestones such as Gatzaieta were more common in this area than we could have imagined, providing the lime obtained from them to fertilise the fields and even for the construction of the altarpiece at the Urkiola Sanctuary.
Don't miss out...
A visit to the Sanctuary of Urkiola and the Urkiola Natural Park Interpretation Centre, which you will find on the other side of the road that crosses this symbolic place, where you can find out more about the unique nature of Urkiola.
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This route has been carried out in the field by SENDITUR on 19-08-2018. The route may vary greatly depending on the time of year, weather conditions and terrain, as well as the actions of third parties and the evolution suffered in the natural environment where it is located. All opinions, advice and/or assessments made by SENDITUR in their descriptions are for guidance only and are subject to and/or refer to the specific conditions of the specific day of the route, referring to that specific day, taken from trained people, with the appropriate experience and with a high level of physical and technical preparation as a reference, as well as correctly equipped.
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