Basque Fact of the Week: Spectacular Waterfalls of the Basque Country

Waterfalls capture our imagination. Somehow, watching water crash hundreds of feet down the side of a cliff fills us with wonder. Indeed, last summer when we visited Costa Rica, waterfalls were one of the main attractions. The Basque County has its own share. I might have thought there would be even more grandiose waterfalls in Euskal Herria, given the mountainous terrain and the copious rain, but these still look breathtaking.

Some waterfalls of the Basque Country. Top left: Salto del Nervión (photo from Top right: Cascadas de la Tobería (photo from Bottom right: La Verna cave (photo from Cueva La Verna). Bottom left: Nacedero del Urederra (photo from El Diaro).
  • The Salto del Nervión is the highest single-drop waterfall in all of Spain. Falling 222 meters, or about 730 feet, this waterfall lies near the border between Araba and Burgos. The Mirador del Salto del Nervión, a view point to see the waterfall, is about 1.5 hours from Bilbao, and the closest city is Amurrio. The ruins of a monastery lie nearby. The waterfall sits where the Delika River is cut by the Delika Canyon. Fed by seasonal streams, water only falls a couple of months a year.
  • The Gujuli (or Goiuri) waterfall lies close by, also in the province of Araba near the town of Urcabustaiz. During the summer, there is little water flow, but during the rainy season, the Oiardo stream falls some 100 meters/328 feet.
  • The Tobería waterfalls are also in the province of Araba, near the town of Andoin, on the slopes of the Sierra de Entzia. Rather than a high drop, the Tobería falls is characterized by a fluvial flow over rather porous rock, leading to a cascading set of streams that flow over the rocks.
  • In the heart of the Parque Natural de Gorbeia in Bizkaia, near the town of Orozko, lies the Belaustegi waterfall. Though not very tall – only 30 meters/98 feet – this waterfall is situated in the middle of a beech forest, adding to the beauty of the area.
  • The tallest waterfall in Gipuzkoa is Aitzondo, in the natural park Peñas de Aia, near the town of Oiartzun, about 30 minutes from Donostia. This waterfall falls from a height of 140 meters/459 feet. The area is also known for its mining history, with the Irugurutzeta Furnaces nearby.
  • One of the most popular sites in Nafarroa is the Natural Reserve of Nacedero del Urederra. A series of waterfalls punctuated by pools of turquoise blue water, Urederra means beautiful water in Basque. Because of the delicate ecosystem, only 500 visitors are permitted each day. The Reserve is close to the historic city of Estella-Lizarra, so there is much to see.
  • In Iparralde, you can find the Gargantas de Kakueta. Situated in the Irati forest near the small town of Urdatx-Santa-Grazi in Zuberoa, it falls into a gorge carved by the Uhaitza River. Nearby is La Verna cave, a large underground room that was once considered for a hydroelectric project but which is now considered an exceptional geological site. It is the largest “show cave” – a cave open to the public – in the world.

Primary sources: Las 15 cascadas más espectaculares del País Vasco, Noradao; Ur-jauzi, Wikipedia

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