Navarre, sports country
Hiking in the Irati Forest
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Navarre is an outstanding destination for sports lovers. You’ll find everything from trails leading through vast forests, mountains for cross-country skiing in the heart of the Pyrenees, and a whole range of water, airborne and mountain sports. If you want to make the most of the holidays and enjoy your favourite sport, then Navarre is definitely the place for you.
Navarre, in northern Spain, is an especially attractive destination for hiking enthusiasts on account of the many trails on offer (such as the Way of Saint James and several of the disused railway tracks known as the green routes). The same is true for cycling. In fact, this region has produced cyclists of the stature of Miguel Indurain. There are a host of options available for cyclists, including particularly the routes in the Bardenas Reales Nature Reserve. But whatever your sport may be, you’re sure to find it in Navarre. Here are a few examples:
One of the most popular sports in the Navarre Pyrenees is cross-country skiing at the Larra-Belagua (Roncal Valley) and Abodi (Salazar Valley) resorts. This is one of the most peaceful styles of skiing, and will enable you to enjoy the stunning natural environment of Navarre. You can also do the same with snowshoes, which is easier to learn, and requires almost no practice. The best areas are Aralar and Urbasa, with gentle terrain.
Adventurous souls will have a ball in Navarre, with activities such as climbing, caving, canyonning and paragliding. The Pyrenees in Navarre, with the Mesa de los Tres Reyes (almost 2,500 metres) and the Aralar and Urbasa mountains, are traditional areas for mountaineering and climbing enthusiasts. If you prefer canyonning, the best idea is to come in spring and head for the Roncal Valley if you are not very experienced, or the canyons of the Urbasa y Andía Nature Reserve and the Belagua Valley if you are more expert.
Among the other exciting options on offer in Navarre are aerial sports. Paragliding and hang-gliding, for example, are very popular in the middle area of the region, in places such as Higa de Monreal, Monte del Perdón and Sierra de Leire. However, remember that before you fly you should contact a flying schools or clubs, unless you have the correct flying or pilot’s license.
If terra firma is more your thing, then what about caving? Navarre is home to some of Europe’s largest cave systems, in places like the Larra mountains, with caves such as Los Cristinos, Auandi, Tximua and Basaura.
Although Navarre is an inland region, sailing, windsurfing and water skiing are popular all year round. You can enjoy these sports on reservoirs like those at Yesa and Alloz, in the middle part of the region, or at the Morea Reservoir, close to the city of Pamplona, capital of Navarre. You can also go canoeing and kayaking, for which Navarre has several particularly good rivers such as the Ebro, Urrobi, Irati and Aragón.
Remember that to go sailing or water skiing you need a license and permit for the boat. To navigate on rivers you need a permit which is available free of charge from the Hydrographic Confederation.
These are just a few of the sports on offer. You’ll also have the chance to improve your par with the “Golf & Gourmet” programme, go horse riding on the Xorroxin trail, follow the Navarre Wine Route , go paintballing, ice skating, go-karting and quad biking. To enjoy these activities in safety and obtain the necessary permits, you should contact the tourist offices or check the official Navarre Tourism website.