The Holzarte footbridge: a breathtaking discovery of the Olhadubi Gorge

Larrau
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The Holzarte footbrid ...

Between France and Spain lies in the back Basque Country a region called Haute Soule ("Basaburua" in Basque). Beautiful and fascinating, it is a flagship destination for establishing special contact with nature. In the heart of the Pyrenees, it offers a mosaic of picturesque landscapes made up of majestic forests, green pastures, charming hamlets nestled in the hollow of the reliefs, abundant rivers and vertiginous gorges. Thus, the municipality of Larrau is home to one of the most spectacular sites in the Basque Country: the Olhadubi gorges crossed by the Holzarte footbridge. A tourist curiosity to explore by taking the time to hike in the heart of a wild and lush nature.


The Olhadubi gorges crossed by the Holzarte footbridge  The Olhadubi gorges crossed by the Holzarte footbridge

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An unmissable hike in the Basque Country

The Holzarte footbridge (from Basque “Holtzearte” which means “between walls”) is one of the most spectacular and most visited sites in the Western Pyrenees. If, during the summer, you have to share this suspension bridge with a crowd of hikers, spring, autumn and winter are privileged periods for visitors who aspire to calmly enjoy the place. With a positive elevation gain of 350 meters, the hike that leads to the Holzarte footbridge is quite a physical challenge for beginners or seasoned walkers (it is also a section of the GR10). Classified level 1 (easy), it is accessible to all, even children, progressing at their own pace on the course and equipped with good shoes. In any season, get up early to take advantage of the best light, and don't forget drinking water, woolen wool and non-slip soles. Allow a good hour to reach the footbridge, a little more if you take advantage of a few contemplative breaks along the way!


Direction the Holzarte footbridge  Direction the Holzarte footbridge


The start of the hike is from the Logibar hostel, located on the D26 14km from Tardets. You can park your car there or take the next path on the left going up towards Larrau to access the small on-site car park which brings you closer to the site. From this parking place, the signs indicate 45 minutes to reach the Holzarte footbridge. We start the route along the torrential river Olhadoko Erreka which winds through the hollow of the gorges. We go up the stream before arriving on a small wooden bridge which reveals a waterfall. The steep path climbs through the forest. The slope is steep, the rocks slippery in places. A rope is made available to hikers to hold on during the ascent.


The good idea Read our article to discover the 10 prettiest villages in the interior Basque Country, there is of course Larrau, but others nearby are worth visiting too!


Direction the Holzarte footbridge
Direction the Holzarte footbridge  Direction the Holzarte footbridge


The landscape opens onto green mountain sides. The mist envelops the mountain peaks giving them a mysterious atmosphere. The path continues to climb, to then descend through the undergrowth. Last straight line, we now go along the gorges. A stop is essential to contemplate the beauty of the landscapes which surround us. In the distance, we see the footbridge suspended in the air which seems to float above the canopy. The panoramic view is magnificent.


Direction the Holzarte footbridge  Direction the Holzarte footbridge
Direction the Holzarte footbridge  Direction the Holzarte footbridge

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The Holzarte footbridge: thrills guaranteed!

View from the Holzarte footbridge
The Holzarte Gateway  The Holzarte Gateway


Suspended 150 meters above these gorges dug more than 80 million years ago by the Olhadoko Erreka river, the footbridge allows you to cross the Olhadubi canyon and reach the other side. Subject to vertigo? To abstain... or not! This monkey bridge is as much a technological feat as it is an attraction for hikers in need of adrenaline. From our first steps, the gangway swings slightly and the first creaks are heard. The view is breathtaking (and somewhat scary) over 150 meters of emptiness just under our feet.

Come on, let's get started. Rest assured, the 70-meter-long bridge is fully secure and is subject to restoration and permanent maintenance for the greater safety of hikers. This crossing is a unique experience to live in the Basque Country, new sensations that will remain engraved in our memories! The atmosphere is totally magical. We surrender to contemplation.


The Holzarte Gateway
The Holzarte Gateway  The Holzarte Gateway


At the end of the footbridge, it is possible to continue the path to the Pitxa waterfall and the Olhadibi bridge on the route that goes around the gorges. For the complete loop, count about five additional kilometers and nearly four hours of walking!


The good idea We offer you a road trip in Haute-Soule (fr), to enjoy the magnificent landscapes of the surrounding nature.


The Holzarte footbridge: a real technical feat

The history of the footbridge is captivating and deserves to be interested in it before discovering the site. In this wooded region, endowed with one of the largest beech groves in Europe, loggers and workers in the "timber" sector at the time had to bypass the gorges to transport tree trunks from one bank to the other. other of the valley. This laborious and perilous work prompted sawmills and professionals to work together to find a solution: a footbridge was built in 1920 by Italian workers from the Lombardi Morello sawmill in Tardets in order to link the two sides of the valley and facilitate operation. forest of Holtzarte wood. This technical structure then becomes a popular transit bridge for loggers accompanied by their mules loaded with wood, quickly connecting sawmills to cutting sites set up in the surrounding forests. At the end of the war, the footbridge served as a crossing point for smugglers operating between France and Spain. Today, this suspension bridge is one of the most spectacular attractions in Europe and attracts over 50,000 visitors a year!


The good idea Are we continuing the unusual experiences? Here are 10 others, to try in the Basque Country, during your holidays.


Both sides of the valley

Both sides of the valley

Specimens of flowers and aquatic plants  Specimens of flowers and aquatic plants

Beautiful specimens of flowers and aquatic plants to observe on the way!

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Photos and Article prepared by Lesley Williamson for the Guide du Pays Basque


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