Enkarterri, the green heart of Bizkaia

Pozalaguna Caves
Pozalaguna Caves

This is one of the most extensive and beautiful regions of Bizkaia. It extends to the west of Bilbao, articulated by the valleys of the Cadagua and the Carranza, perpendicular to each other.

While the Cadagua is an industrial and mining area, with medium-sized towns, the Carranza has meadows and forests, villages scattered throughout the mountains and a powerful natural setting bordering Burgos, Cantabria and Alava.

In few places does nature manifest itself with such splendour as in Enkarterri. Between the peaks and forests of the region lies an infinite tangle of paths and more than two hundred caves, such as the Pozalagua cave, which hides the world's largest concentration of eccentric stalactites, formations barely a millimetre thick that seem to defy the laws of gravity by intertwining at will. Only in Australia is there a phenomenon of this magnitude.

The cave is located in the heart of the Armañón Natural Park, among the karstic massifs that sculpt the steep relief of Enkarterri. The region is dotted with mythical peaks such as Zalama, Ganekogorta and Kolitza. The caves, grottoes and torcas of the area are known to potholing enthusiasts all over the world.

Mount Kolitza and hermitage of San Roque (Balmaseda)
Mount Kolitza and hermitage of San Roque (Balmaseda)

At the westernmost point of the region and the territory is Lanestosa, a unique village, located on the humid, wooded plain bordering the mountain range that leads to the plateau. The ancient urban fabric is articulated around the road and the stream that flows down from the cliff. Time seems to have stood still among its narrow cobbled streets, the popular houses with their balconies, the medieval bridge and the old lime kilns.

Much closer to Bilbao is the largest private collection of Rolls-Royces, inside a reconstructed fortress; the last forge from the 15th century, still in operation; and dozens of palaces of the Indianos who made their fortune in America and returned with the desire to build themselves an estate.

It is worth finding out about the Vía Verde de los Montes de Hierro, the longest in Bizkaia, which takes advantage of a section of the railway line that transported the ore to the Itsaslur maritime loading bay. The promenade skirts the Cantabrian cliffs and offers unbeatable views of La Arena beach, which stretches for more than a kilometre between Muskiz and Zierbena.

From the sea to the mountains; from the Cadagua to where the Carranza flows into the Asón; from the depths of the karst caves to the mountain peaks, Enkarterri is surprising.

If you like history, you can't miss it:

Navarre is in the middle of the artichoke season

Navarre is in the middle of the Tudela artichoke season and, if you travel around the Ribera de Navarra, you will see the fields dyed an intense green. The ‘Blanca de Tudela’ variety is the flower of the Navarrese market garden and is grown in thirty-three localities.

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