A few weeks ago I found myself in the strange position of having a rental car in Spain! Like most young expats here, I don’t own a car, but I get by just fine with the great public transportation system or with my friends who have pity on my.
Luckily, my best friend who’s living in Switzerland hopped on down to sunny Spain to visit me for a week! For the special occasion, we decided to be grown-ups and rent a car.
With all of northern Spain at our feet, I decided to take C to some of my favorite spots in the Basque Country and around La Rioja. However, there was one place in Navarra that I had been dying to go to for a year: Urederra (make sure you roll the double rrs like a good Spaniard-Urederrrrrrrrra)!
Now I first saw pictures of Urederra last fall when some of my American friends went hiking there with locals. An hour from Logroño, it makes for the perfect day trip if you are looking to do some hiking in Spain.
Nacedero del Urederra is a national park and it’s part of the bigger Parque Natural de Urbasa-Andía chain in Navarra. It’s next to the tiny village of Banquedano, and it’s probably one of northern Spain’s best kept secrets! The village itself is quaint and charming, filled with medieval little houses, narrow crooked streets, and overgrown gardens that smell like lavender.
We got completely lost trying to get there, even with a GPS as there are no signs, but eventually we found it! The women at the info hut in the visitors parking lot spoke to me in Basque before Spanish, which should give you some indication of how unknown this place really is! In fact, Urederra means “beautiful water” in Basque, and here is why:
The park is a series of connected pools and waterfalls in the woods, but it’s the color that is really shocking-it’s the brightest, clearest blue you have ever seen. It looks fake! In fact, the only other place I have seen like it are the Plitvice Lakes in Croatia, which are actually very similar. I think it is the special karst and minerals found in the water that gives it that color.
Walking around Urederra felt like walking in a fairytale land. The bright green of the leafy trees creating a cool shadow over glowing blue pools makes for a surreal and magical atmosphere. It is a really easy and peaceful hike, and even though you can’t swim in the water, you can easily sit next to it having a picnic and relaxing for a while. The hike ends at a series of waterfalls at the foot of a huge crescent shaped cliff surrounded by the Urbasa mountains.
Luckily, I befriended the women at the info desk, who was quite shocked to meet an American. She let me in on a little secret, a place called Balcón de Pilatos (Pilate’s Balcony), which is at the top of the crescent cliffs. We made up the winding switch-backs and arrived a long field leading towards the edge of the cliffs. Literally on top of the world, we sat down and stared out in the distance, taking it all in. Ironically, the place looks exactly like the Creux du Van in Switzerland, near C’s house. Having C with me seeing a place like in Spain was like coming full circle.
As we made our way back to the rental car, we both had silly smiles on our faces that can only come from a great day trip out in the country and experiencing a place so beautiful and so unknown.
Tips: go to Urederra in the fall when the leaves are changing or in summer when everything is blooming bright green. The water will also look better and brighter blue in sunny weather. Wear regular tennis shoes and bring snacks and water as there are basically no places around it. Try to go on a weekday and you’ll have the place to yourself.