The Urdaibai Natural Park, a biosphere reserve, contains great natural resources and important archaeological sites, but also surprises us with the perfect union between man-made art and the most exuberant nature. A few kilometres from the Cantabrian coast, surrounded by mountains and farmhouses, just a stone's throw from Gernika, in the municipality of Kortezubi, more specifically between the neighbourhoods of Oma and Basondo, is the Oma Forest, the painted forest of Ibarrola, a wonderful exhibition hall in the midst of nature.
The route through the Oma Forest, which is barely 7 km long, takes us from the car park, located next to the Santimamiñe Cave, through the unmistakable mountain of the Basque coast to this magical forest where the work of the artist Agustín Ibarrola awaits us. This trekking route, after requiring some effort to save the short but demanding slopes that characterize these lands, gives us a visit to a real natural museum. It was in 1982 when Ibarrola began to develop this work that plays with perspectives using the trees of the forest as a canvas. Trees that, together with the artist, give shape to the different figures and compositions that we can discover inside the Painted Forest of Oma, works that range from hundreds of eyes with which the forest seems to observe us, through animals and children to the rainbow itself.
Works that allow us to contemplate them with freedom, leaving the marked perspective in search of the different compositions that our imagination allows us to contemplate. There are several paths that, once inside the forest, will guide us through it and allow us to be part, even for an instant, and with the author's permission, of this unique work. Full of sensations, we will say goodbye to the enchanted forest of Ibarrola and return, this time going through the valleys that form these mountains. If we decide to do so, we will have the opportunity, upon arriving at the Oma district, to visit the mill and the sinkhole of Bolunzulo, where the Oma River flows into the bowels of the earth. From here we only have to take a pleasant walk following the typical "bidegorri" which will take us out of the valley of Oma after passing by the church of San Pedro. This bike path takes us without further detours and after crossing the Basondo valley to the car park, where we begin this route of the Oma Forest.
Legend has it that many years ago, the Oma and Basondo valleys were one and the Oma River flowed through it without any brakes. One fine day the earth began to tremble and the mountains collapsed over the valley, blocking the tranquil course of the river and separating the two valleys. The river then began to slowly flood the valley and the terrified villagers fled, abandoning their possessions. But a few remained, deciding to go to the hermitage of St. Peter's to pray for them and their houses. The water continued to rise until it almost covered the whole valley and threatened to flood the hermitage as well. The faithful, terrified and with every possible way out flooded by the water, thought they had drowned more. What was their surprise when the water touched the door of the hermitage and a tremendous and thunderous lightning bolt fell, making them shudder even more. At that moment the water began to retreat quickly, as it disappeared swallowed up by the earth as if it were a great sinkhole, a sinkhole that even today still prevents the valley from sinking under the water.
Kortezubi is located in the middle of the BI-2238 road that links the towns of Gernika and Lekeitio. Shortly before reaching Kortezubi, as you do from Gernika, there is a junction with the BI-4244 road that will take you directly to the Basondo district. Once there, we will have a shared car park for visitors to the Oma Painted Forest and the Santimamiñe Cave where we can park our vehicle.
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Entertaining tour that shouldn't be too much trouble for our partner. Once inside the forest, the regulations require that you be tied up. If you return through the valley, you must be aware of the relatively little traffic you will encounter.
It is very advisable that we do not forget to take some water with us, since except at the beginning and in the area of the Oma farmhouses we will not find more water points along the route.
Although it is a livestock area, generally we do not have to meet closely with the animals that live in the area. These are usually quietly in the fields enclosed for them. We can only meet some of the dogs that live here, if we return through the valley.
This route has been carried out on the ground by SENDITUR on 07-04-2017. The route can vary a lot depending on the time of year, the weather conditions and the terrain, as well as the actions of third parties and the evolution suffered by the natural environment where it is located. SENDITUR is not responsible for any misuse or improper use of the comprehensive guides of its routes and/or publications, nor for the variations for the above-mentioned reasons that could exist in their descriptions and recommends that each person be responsible and prudent in carrying out the activity. Likewise, we invite you to get information from books and specialized guides to complement the information described. All times are approximate and are for guidance only. Stops, however small, have not been taken into account. For any suggestion, SENDITUR invites you to send a mail to
We begin the route that will take us to the Oma Forest in the parking lot (0h 00min), leaving behind the stairs to the information office of the Santimamiñe Cave.
We travel a few meters along the road that brought us here, leaving on our left the asphalt track by which we will return.
Instantly a colorful sign indicates the beginning of the path that we must follow and that will make us leave the road definitively behind.
We start a strong ramp that makes us gain height quickly and not without effort. Soon we will be able to enjoy the magnificent view that rewards us for this hard work.
The valley of Basondo extends at our feet allowing us to contemplate part of the route from which we will return.
The enormous pines begin to gain prominence almost at the same time as the slope gives us a little respite by diminishing their demand. The perfect track guides us without complications making us leave behind the few paths we come across.
Soon we will have to face another short but intense ramp, this time protected from the sun by the shade of the pine trees that surround us.
We continue to gain height, forced to choose between following the path or taking a steep trail that will avoid us to go through the winding course that draws our track.
As almost always in exchange for a little more distance, the slope is not so noticeable if we follow the track that quickly turns sharply, leaving behind another of the paths that it crosses.
With the steep short cut, we continue our gradual ascent, which seems to be coming to an end. After a clearing in the forest, and in descent, we will reach the point and followed the track we were walking on.
It is in this place where we will have an area to leave the bikes if we arrive here in one, before starting the dizzying descent that awaits us. The route then begins to lose the height that we had gained with so much effort.
The route turns into a wide and conditioned trail that goes down the mountainside quickly. We will have to overcome a good number of steps, some of them of considerable size, which more than being a help are uncomfortable allies.
After a good while descending with certain care so as not to hurt our knees we begin to discover the first works that welcome us to the Oma Painted Forest (0h 55min).
Once inside this unique exhibition hall we will discover the different works that make it up as we walk along the trails that run through it.
There are several routes that we can follow, although there is no course that will prevent us from passing through the same place several times.
This more than being an inconvenience brings the possibility of being able to contemplate the works from different perspectives to the proposals.
Once we have enjoyed and dedicated the necessary time to this beautiful place, we will have to decide the way to return to the starting point. We can do it by the same itinerary we followed to get here.
If we choose to do it through the valley, we must go to the eye area. There is the beginning of the trail that goes down to the valley of Oma.
This trail leaves the lush forest making us in principle border it. Soon we will see ourselves walking again among the works of the artist that we used to observe from the top of the forest.
The wide trail zigzags down the slope losing height quickly. Once again, the remarkable slope makes us lose height quickly as we search for the bottom of the valley.
Almost without realizing it, we will find ourselves passing through a gate that separates the trail from the paved road that runs through the Oma Valley.
Our route continues now towards the farmhouses that make up the Oma district. We quickly find ourselves walking among them until we reach a new alternative.
A post on the route indicates the detour that, if followed, would lead us to the nearby mill and sinkhole of Bolunzulo (1h 10min).
If we want to cheer ourselves up, all we have to do is cross the Oma River and follow its course. Almost immediately we will leave the path we took to continue by the river's edge.
This short journey takes us to this beautiful spot where the river disappears swallowed by the earth. After the visit and having said goodbye to the remains of the old mill, we will return on our steps until we retake the track we had abandoned.
Once there, we will follow its course that leads us to the bottom of the valley. The small church of San Pedro marks the limits of the Oma neighborhood and the beginning of a new hard ramp that we have to face.
The narrow road has a conditioned bike path that separates us from the little traffic we have to meet. We calmly climb the hill that separates the valleys of Oma and Basondo.
As if it were a roller coaster and with hardly any time to catch our breath, we started a rapid descent that took us to the new valley we were going to travel through.
In the descent we can see the route that awaits us and intuit the one we made through the mountain at the beginning of this route of the Oma Painted Forest. Ahead of us is a pleasant shorter stretch than it seemed at first.
This part of the route takes us once again to a new ramp by which we will save the unevenness that separates us from the parking lot (2h 00min) where we begin and end this entertaining route.
All the information related to the route, texts, images, videos, maps, diagrams, tracks, towns and places of tourist interest are published as a guide and may not coincide with the current state of each place. Before carrying out any activity, value your technical knowledge, your physical form, inform yourself about the meteorology and the variations that the route could have suffered, equípate correctly, be prudent and responsible at all times, not surpassing your capacities. From the commitment of SENDITUR with Nature and the respect to the balance of the environment, SENDITUR urges you to travel in a responsible way, with low environmental impact and respecting at all times the Natural, Cultural and Social environment wherever you go. For any suggestion, SENDITUR invites you to send an email to
Total distance. 7 km
Total time. 2h 00min
This is what the circular route will take us, to which we must add the time we spend enjoying this unique spot and the 10 minutes that the small detour to the Bolunzulo mill will take us. If we go and return through the forest we will save 10 minutes approximately.
Time of year. Clear and bright days
The colourfulness of the works we are about to see stands out even more with a good luminosity that counteracts the sombreness of the forest that shelters them. Apart from this and with a few exceptions, the route allows us to travel it with a certain ease throughout the year. Check before going the state of the Oma Forest because in certain periods you can find closed the passage by maintenance.
Required equipment. Appropriate footwear is important
Although the route runs, almost entirely, along good dirt tracks and even the typical Bidegorri or cycle path of the Basque Country, it is advisable to do so with sports shoes such as hiking shoes. It is also advisable to carry some food and water in your rucksack to allow you to enjoy the place for as long as you deserve. Of course the camera will be a great alidade, and do not forget that we must adapt to weather conditions as we can not forget that we are in the forest. Consult our list of material and equipment for hiking. Read more.
Slope acumulate. 616 m Slope positive. 308 m Slope negative. 308 m
Without a great distance are the hard ramps that we will have to face next to the great steps that save some of them, which will create the greatest difficulties. If we have the necessary time and foresight, we will be able to take these steep slopes slowly enough to make them a little easier.
Severity of the environment
The possible traffic on the road in the valley and the sometimes large stairs should be all the complications we have to face, although it is true that with the wet ground the possibilities of slipping on the descending sections increase considerably. Be careful in the area of the stairs to avoid injuries or falls, some of them are quite large.
Perfectly signposted, it is in the interior of the forest where we will be presented with different options that we can follow as we please in order to discover the different works that await us here, without any route to follow that is more advisable than another.
|1-Parking||0h 00min||93 m||0 Km||30T 529359 4799179|
|2-Painted Forest of Oma||0h 55min||157 m||3,1 Km||30T 530960 4797810|
|3-Bolunzulo||1h 10min||60 m||4,5 Km||30T 531128 4798287|
|4-Parking||2h 00min||93 m||7 Km||30T 529359 4799179|
Coordinates UTM Datum WGS84
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 062-2 y 038-4, 1:25.000"
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. SENDITUR is not responsible for any misuse and/or operation of its electronic guides and recommends that everyone be responsible and prudent in carrying out the activity. All opinions, advice and/or assessments made by SENDITUR in its descriptions are subject to and/or refer to the specific conditions that SENDITUR encountered on the specific day of the performance of the tour, referring to that specific day and always taking as reference trained and experienced people, with a high level of both physical and technical preparation, as well as correctly equipped, therefore all opinions, assessments and/or advice are for guidance only.
Sin duda un sitio curioso.
Localities close to the route
¿Did you know that...
This type of work is included in the artistic style known as Land Art, which emerged as an escape route from commercialism. Broadly speaking, this artistic trend, which is much older than we can first imagine, directly integrates his works into the unbeatable exhibition hall that is nature, following the particular relationship that the artist establishes with nature.
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The thousand-year-old Santimamiñe cave, considered the most remarkable archaeological site in all of Biscay. In it, numerous remains have been found that are more than 14000 years old, as well as a good number of different cave paintings that have earned it the title of World Heritage Site in 2008. This cave was discovered in 1916 and is located within the Urdaibai Natural Park, a Biosphere Reserve.
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