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Aizkorri Aratz natural park, Arrikrutz caves

aizkorri1Through decree 76/2006, of 4 April, Aizkorri-Aratz is declared a Natural Park.


The Aizkorri-Aratz area is located between the Historical Territories of Gipuzkoa and Araba, occupying the mountain range that separates both Historical Territories, approximately between the mountain passes of Arlaban and Otzaurte. Geographically speaking, it includes the alignments corresponding to the sierras of Zaraia, Elgea, Urkilla, Aizkorri and Altzania, in which the most outstanding summits are located: those of Aitxuri, with 1,551 m in altitude, and Aratz, with 1,442 m. The dividing line of Cantabrian-Mediterranean waters also is placed around this alignment.


From the administrative viewpoint, the area is divided among four municipalities of Alava (Asparrena, Zalduondo, San Millán and Barrundia) and seven of Gipuzkoa (Leintz-Gatzaga, Eskoriatza, Aretxabaleta, Oñati, Legazpia, Zerain and Zegama), in addition to the lands that correspond to the Parzonería General of Gipuzkoa and Alava. Geomorphologically, the area of Aizkorri-Aratz is characterized by abrupt relief, with differences in altitude that reach nearly 1,000 m among the boxed-in valleys and the summits, ending in limestone faces such as those of Aizkorri, Aratz and Egino, in the eastern sector, or in siliceous materials, like in Elgea and Urkilla.
Other geomorphologic elements of great interest are depressions, hills, canyons, dolines and karst basins. The rivers that flow into the Cantabrian Sea are the Deba, Urola and Oria, while those that flow to the Mediterranean are the Arakil and the Barrundia.

However, the flow of the surface courses are conditioned by the great development of the underground aquifer system.
A large extension of original forests is preserved, especially calcic and acidophilic beech wood trees, as well as red-berried mistletoe. This type of formations corresponds to nearly half of 40% of the area. It is also worthwhile to highlight some stands of sessile oak.
Nevertheless, human actions have modified the potential vegetation in such a way that the forest plantations and the areas of Atlantic countryside also achieve a good representation, especially in the Guipuzcoan sector.
Twenty-two types of habitats of regional interest have been identified.
The populations of birds of prey, woodpeckers, chiropterans, forest carnivores, micro-mammals and saproxylic invertebrates can be highlighted, many of them threatened or with distribution areas in the CAPV (Autonomous Region of the Basque Country) restricted to well preserved and large forests. In this regard, the contribution of the area to the preservation of the populations of black woodpecker (Dryocopus martius), red kite (Milvus milvus), Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus), European pine marten (Martes martes), European snow vole (Chyonomys nivalis), greater horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum) and Osmoderma.

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Oñati-Arridrutz cave

arrikrutz1Arrikrutz the caves of Oñati form part of the Karst system of Gesaltza-Arrikrutz, being situated in the Aizkorri massif, at around 400 m above sea level.


It is a cave that was formed in the limestone and dolomites in the upper Jurasic-lower Cretacic ages (between 154 and 96 million years ago). The system with 14 km of interconnected galleries and 6 superimposed floors is the largest cave of Gipuzkoa.

The visit will be made to Gallery 53, located in the eastern sector of the Arrikrutz cave; a fossil gallery and former drain of the Aldaola River, it presents large galleries with interesting stalagmite concretions. The gallery of 390 m in length descends 55 m with an average slope of 9 degrees.

During the 60 minutes that the tour of the interior of the cave lasts, the system will permit taking on, in a fully educational and attractive way, such subjects as:
-Water and hydrology as sculptors of the cave.
-The Arrikrutz Cave as a fraction of the more than 15 km that make up the complex and vast karst system of Gesaltza-Arridrutz.
-The geological formation of the cave and the evaluation of its wealth; among which stand out an underground river and a gallery adorned with enormous stalactites.
-The origin of the mineral universe.
-Archaeological and paleontological findings in Arrikrutz (complete skeleton of a Cave Lion, partial skeletons and skulls of panthers, bear sites).


More information and reservations: 943 08 20 00 / 943 78 34 53

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