The Aizkorri-Aratz mountain range is a prominent massif (max 1551m) that demarcates the boundary between the Atlantic and Mediterranean basins. It is one of the main Basque mountaineering references, with multiple hiking and climbing routes. The area, which covers a surface of 19,400 ha, was declared Natural Park in 2006. Multiple habitats characteristic of Karstic landscapes can be found in this limestone mountain range, such as bare rock mountain peaks, high altitude grasslands, extensive beech forests and long and deep underground galleries. Many caves, such as Arrikrutz and Aizkirri, contain prehistoric paleontological remains of cave bears and lions. The Aizkorri-Aratz Natural Park is also an important part of the Basque cultural heritage. Human activity has shaped its landscape since the Neolithic: historical shepherding modified large grazing areas (Urbia), and the use of resources such as wood and charcoal influenced the development of some of the forests. Megalithic monuments, dolmens, tumuli and monoliths are witnesses of those thousand-year-old activities.
Conference attendees will have to choose between the four excursion options*, which have different schedules (some buses leave at 7:30 while others at 8:30) due to the different length of the proposed routes**. All itineraries will begin at the magnificent Sanctuary of Arantzazu (Oñati), located in the gully with the same name. After having been rebuilt three times along its history, the sanctuary was finally demolished and built again in 1951, with the participation of several renowned Basque artists, such as Eduardo Chillida or Jorge Oteiza.
After the morning trips, all groups will meet at Arantzazu Sanctuary at 13:00 (those climbing the Aizkorri Peak will probably arrive later), where lunch will be served. During and after the lunch we will enjoy rural sports and traditional Basque music exhibitions.
* Each one should bring water and snacks for the routes.
** Appropriate clothing is required (coat or raincoat, cap, comfortable footwear) above all for the hiking trips to Urbia and Aizkorri, as weather could be changeable.