Great Hikes and Cuisine of Basque Country

Mountain Trails and Ancient Cultures of the Spanish and French Pyrenees

Great Hikes and Cuisine of Basque Country route-map

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: $5495  
Length: 10 days
Arrive: Bilbao, Spain
Depart: Hondarribia, Spain
Lodging: 9 nights in historic hotels and inns
Meals: All meals included except 3 dinners
Activity: Cultural Adventures, Hiking / Trekking
Trip Level: 9 hiking days on moderate trails, some steep sections, 3-6 hours a day, van support (for luggage or tired feet)


  • Hike to hidden valleys, ancient monasteries, mountain hamlets
  • Colorful Basque heritage of Spain and France
  • Picnics including renowned Basque cheeses, 2 dinners in Michelin-starred restaurants
  • Charming hotels, even a Baroque manor house
  • Insider’s experience with Basque Trip Leaders

Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.


We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.

Special Offer!

$400 discount per person
Jun 3-12, 2014 departure

Limit 4 people, new sign-ups only. Please note that these special offers cannot be combined with other discounts.

Read about our new culinary programs recently featured in this article. Click here!

Basque country is a world apart, with its own ancient language, a renowned cuisine, and craggy mountains that offer some of the most gorgeous hiking in all Europe. We’ve designed an enchanting hiking and cultural adventure through this fascinating region, following smugglers’ paths into hidden mountain valleys and crossing spectacular high trails that bring us from Spain into France—on foot! Eating well is truly the second religion of the Basques (their cuisine is world famous for good reason), and between hikes, we sample local sheep cheeses, sip delicious red Rioja wines, enjoy lunches at a monastery and at a shepherds’ farmstead, and savor two dinners in Michelin-starred restaurants.

Itinerary at a Glance

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Days 1-5
Bilbao / La Rioja / Navarre High Country / Arbizu

Basque lore and legend is all around us as we hike amid the hidden rock labyrinths of Gorbea and over the rolling hills of Urkiola. In Navarre’s high country, our trails lead along undulating ridges in the footsteps of mountain tribes who settled here 6,000 years ago, and we hike to a remote monastery for a classic lunch. Overnights include a Baroque manor house in wine country and a historic windmill-turned-hotel in picturesque Arbizu.

Days 6-10
Roncesvalles / Bidarray, France / Hondarribia, Spain

From Roncesvalles Pass, where the Basques defeated Charlemagne’s army in 778, we hike into France on the spectacular Pyrenees High Route, passing mysterious stone megaliths as we hike across grassy summits. We also hike in the wild Urrizate Canyon, following a smuggler’s trail through the forest and stopping for lunch with a local shepherd family. After we explore the charming village of Bidarray on the French side, our final hike brings us across seacliffs, followed by a journey back into Spain by boat. From our hotel in the colorful fishermen’s quarter of Hondarribia, we join the locals for pintxo-tasting in the tavernas. Depart on Day 10.

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

What the Trip is Like

This trip is rated Level 3+, Moderate to Strenuous. We hike from 3 to 6 hours each day over rolling hills, with some steep sections. Distances are not long (4 to 9 miles), but trip members should be in good shape and have good hiking boots.  Most of our hiking takes place at medium elevations, between 2,000 and 3,800 feet. The maximum elevation we hike to is 4,300 feet. On a typical day, the elevation change totals about 1,800 feet of total accumulated ascent, and 2,500 feet of total accumulated descent. Typically, we drive to a mountain pass in the early morning and end by hiking the trail down into the valley on the opposite side of the hills, so there is usually less uphill than downhill. This makes it easier hiking, but can be tiring on the knees, which is why hiking poles are always recommended. On every hike, you can expect varied terrain. Broadly speaking, our hikes take place on about  45% shepherds’ trails, 35% wide dirt roads, 10% rocky mule tracks, 5% mountain roads, and 5% cross country routes with no trail. A vehicle transfers our luggage between overnight accommodations. On many days, we enjoy picnic lunches prepared by the Trip Leaders with local wine, breads, and cheeses. 

Driving and hiking times are noted, but on first departures, and with full groups, these can vary, sometimes dramatically, from the anticipated times. Road conditions and the group’s level of fitness also affect the travel and hiking times. Please note that in Spain, the dinner hour is considerably later than what it is in the US. We do our best to secure the earliest possible reservations for our groups, but most often the evening meal will be after 7:30 pm.

PLEASE NOTE: This is a new Wilderness Travel trip for 2014. We have worked closely with our most veteran Trip Leaders in developing the itinerary, but as with all new adventures, the first few departures can be expeditionary in nature. We ask that you make a special effort to bring flexibility and a spirit of adventure to this unique trip. Since this is a new trip, we have no past travelers to refer you to, but we’d be happy to put you in touch with a client that has traveled with us on one of our other Spain trips.

Explanation of Trip Levels


Departures & Leaders

Jun 3-12, 2014

Jul 8-17, 2014
Aug 26-Sep 4, 2014  Joserra Combarro
Jun 1-10, 2015
Jun 29-Jul 8, 2015
Aug 31-Sep 9, 2015

Trip Cost

Prices are for 2014
$5495 (13-15 members)
$5795 (10-12 members)
$5995 (6-9 members)
Single supplement: $590
Forced single supplement: $390
more on pricing

Trip Cost Includes:

  • Expert leadership of a Wilderness Travel Trip Leader and local guides
  • Accommodations in hotels
  • All meals included except 3 dinners
  • Land transportation as noted

Trip Cost Does Not Include:

International airfare, transfers for independent arrival or departure, airport departure taxes, any meals not specified after each itinerary day, optional activities, optional tipping or gratuities to leaders or staff, hotels en route, an any additional hotel nights that may be necessitated by international airline schedule changes or other factors, pre-trip expenses of medical immunizations, visa fees, travel insurance, and other expenses of a personal nature (alcoholic beverages, laundry, etc.).

Trip Payment Schedule

At time of reservation: $500
120 days prior to departure: 20%
60 days prior to departure: Balance

Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule

Minimum fee: None per person
46-90 days prior to departure: 25% of trip cost
45 days or less: 100% of trip cost

Hotel Carlton

Hotel Carlton

Day 1 (1 night), Bilbao, Spain

This classic hotel has Old World grandeur in its marble, wood paneling, and stained glass and a commanding location on a major plaza. It is within ...
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Hotel Palacio de Samaniego

Hotel Palacio de Samaniego

Days 2 to 3 (2 nights), Samaniego, Spain

The lovely 10-room Hotel Palacio is a renovated Baroque manor house in the wine-making village of Samaniego, with a peaceful garden, a well-stocked ...
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Hotel Rural Olatzea

Hotel Rural Olatzea

Days 4 to 5 (2 nights), Arbizu, Spain

A tranquil, quiet setting and spacious, well-equipped rooms are part of the charm of the Olatzea, a historic grain mill converted to an inn.  ...
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Hotel Arce

Hotel Arce

Days 6 to 7 (2 nights), St. Etienne de Baigorry, Spain

The Hotel Arce enjoys a stunning riverside location and spectacular views of the mountains and hiking trails just outside the door. It has been in ...
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Hotel Jauregui

Hotel Jauregui

Days 8 to 9 (2 nights), Hondarribia, Spain

The Jauregui has a perfect location in the center of the town of Hondarribia, right next to the Old Town, the seafront full of fishing boats, and a ...
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Note: Listed above are our signature accommodations for this trip. Although it is highly unlikely, we may make substitutions when necessary.

Our Trip Leaders

Here are the Trip Leaders scheduled for this journey (please note that leader assignments are subject to change).

Joserra Combarro

Departure Dates: June 3-12, 2014, July 8-17, 2014, August 26-September 4, 2014

Joserra Combarro, a native of Bilbao, Spain, received a degree in law school but has never practiced as a lawyer, working instead for Bilbao's city council until he decided to become a mountain guide. "I love being a Trip Leader in the land I was so lucky to be born in. Basque country has ...
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Itziar Zorilla

Departure Dates: June 3-12, 2014, July 8-17, 2014

Itziar Zorrilla is a native of the Basque country in Spain and considers the mountains of the Pyrenees her home. An expert climber, she has traveled solo in Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America pursuing higher summits and exploring new cultures. Itziar loves to share her passion for Basque ...
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