Brook Salamanders and Hiking in the Basque Pyrenees is a collection of day hikes out of the village of Ixtassou in the green hills of the French Basque Pyrenees. This is a stunning landscape of low cloud and dense woods cut by numerous small gorges and steep green hills.
Wild boar, deer, vultures and eagles are numerous. In Spring wild flowers are abundent and in September it is Mushroom season for those who like to rise at ther crack of dawn and forage in the woods. For the more adventurous hiker there can be 4 days of basic camping along the small tributary of the river Nive upstream from Bidarry where we can explore the small ajoining brooks for the elusive Pyreneen Brook Salamander above 700 metres. The trip is an easy hike along a small brook cut into a steep wooded gorge.
Below is sample of day hikes:
1. Ixtassou – Mondarrain et Artzamendi. 8 hour hike up and over 2 small peaks and along the French Spanish border. Wild horses and vultures are a common site. (French IGN Map 1345 OT)
2. Hondarribia – Pasaia. A delightful coastal walk across the border in Spain. 7 hours of simple hiking. (Start: French IGN Map 1245 OT)
3. Bidarry – Pic d’ Iparla. A stunning trek along part of the GR10 trail. 6 hours. (French IGN Map 1345 OT)
4. Atxurria from Sare. From the Grottes de Sare (a huge cavern in which you can take a tour) it is a 4 hour round trip to the top of the small crags of Atxurria. Great views of the green rolling hills and of the pretty villages in Spain and France. as we are on the border. (French IGN Map 1245 OT)
5. Autza from Izpegui Pass. Autza is an old volcanoe standing just over the border in Spain, 1308 meters high. A short but steep climb along the border with great views. (French IGN Map 1346 OT)
6. Rubelakaskou from Bidarry. We start in France and soon cross the border for this remote Pyreneen trek circumnavigating the peak of Rubelakaskou. 8 hour trip (Spanish Map MTN50 66/26-05)
7. Occabe from Col de Sourzay. The summit is 1456 meters and our strating point 1100m, so a not such a steep climb for fantastic views. There is an important ancient stone cirlcle at 1380m. About 4/5 hours (French IGN Map 1346 ET)
8. Zerkuppe and Chateau Pignon. A forest and ridge walk near the source of the river Nive. 6 hours. ( French IGN Maps 1346 OT and 1346 ET) – 8 hours if you hike to the actuaL water source in Spain.
9. Pic d’Orhy. A classic Pyreneen hike to a stunning the magnificent peak of Orhy, 2017m. An acsent of 700m and some a fabulous ridge. 8 hours. (French IGN Map 1346 ET)
10. Brook Salamanders. Can be done as a series of long day hikes but much better to camp and enjoy the terrain and solitude along and in the streams and brooks. No gaurantees we will see the Salamanders, but usually they gather in very shallow pools above 700m away from trout, snakes, pollution and fertiliser in water below 15 C. (Spanish Map MTN50 66/26-05).
Short Video of Pyreneen Brook Salamander
Depending on your requirements.