Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve


The region of Busturialdea is formed by 20 municipalities composing a unique natural environment. A natural jewel in the heart of Biscay with an extraordinary landscape and ecological diversity.

This environment has been declared Biosphere Reserve and Wold Heritage Site by the UNESCO. This wetland shelters a worthy biological treasure where a great variety of ecosystems meet and live by particular communities of fauna and vegetation, having very relevant species.

Biosphere Reserve Route.

For better understand our Biosphere Reserve and its natural values, we encourage you to make the Biosphere Reserve tour. This route will take you to visit the four main ecosystems in the region through a route designed and prepared with information panels at every point.

A - Cantabrian holm oak grove

Vantage point: hermitage of San Pedro de Atxarre. A splendid watch-tower over the estuary and the holm oak forest, situated at the summit of Atxarre mountain, 312 m. high.

To reach the hermitage we can drive from the road in Ibarrangelu to the district of Akorda. Here we leave the car and continue walking on the path through the holm oak forest and, about 20 min. later, we arrive at the watch-tower. Among its botanical species, creepers stand out: zarzaparrilla, black bryony, ivy, "rubia peregrina" (the common wild madder), blackberry and honeysuckle. Species that face the lack of water with their wide roots and small leaves, and coriacea able to retain moisture using their stomata as regulators.

Fauna is very diverse inside the shelter created by its closed and dense structure. There are endangered mammals as the wild cat and many more as wild boar, genet, marten or badger.

Inside the platform, we cover a 360 degrees panoramic over the territory of the Biosphere Reserve:

To the North: the estuary, dominated by the island of Izaro, the coast and the open sea. And the holm oak forest in Akorda and Ogoño.

To the West: the Cantabrian holm oak forest in Atxapunte, Busturia and the massif of Burretxagane. The estuary of Mundaka, its sandy areas, channels and marshlands. And the mountains of Sollube and Garbola.

To the South: the big mass of holm oak trees, the mountain range and the forest. The mountains Muruaga, Gantzuri and Armendia are the perfect shelter for the wildlife fauna.

B - Countryside and Atlantic Forest

Advantage point: Axpe-Busturia open fields

The acces to the advantage point is comfortable and easy to do. You can drive from the road Gernika-Bermeo. Once you arrive in Busturia, after the neighbourhood of Axpe, you enter from the road of the beach of San Antonio.

There you can park your car, at the area near the access to the beach, and continue walking the last 200 m. Once you are in the fields of Axpe, you will enjoy the wide and clear views.

Atlantic countryside in Busturialdea an ecosystem created by human intervention in the environment. A natural setting made up of a mosaic of meadows, crops and small forests, accompanied by traditional farmhouses with a great economic and historical relevance. One of the most representative landscapes in the Basque Country.

The inhabitants of this region have been modifying this space all over the centuries, in harmony with nature, with the consequent and progressive reduction of the native rainforest.

The strips of Atlantic mixed forest create a microclimate that increases the level of humidity and reduces the temperature variation. They are dominated by oak tree, and lesser extent, chesnut, ash tree and some of the rose family.

A varied fauna have lived with human being in the countryside, as big mammals as fox or roe deer, birds as swallows or thrushes and a wide variety of reptile and small mammals.

C - Marshland

Advantage point: Arenal de San Cristóbal-Busturia

Urdaibai has now about 600 Hectares of marsh. The action of the tides makes this ecosystem being a great attraction for observation, due to its changing landscape.

The acces to the advantage point is comfortable and easy by the road Gernika-Bermeo. Once you are in the crossing, in the neighbourhood of San Cristobal de Busturia, you turn right until you reach the train station. Here you leave the car and, crossing the railways, you continue following the marked path at the "arenal".

Here we will enjoy a splendid view to the marshlands, absorbed by this ecosystem. You can appreciate the tidal and fluvial influence, as well as the limit and the transition areas between sandy and muddy lands.

The dominant flora paints the landscape in groups: dark green in reed beds, light green in purslane fields and high walls of plants that mark the reeds.

The place is exceptionally favourable to watch the birds that use the marshlands as shelter. It is common to see royal plovers and herons, egrets or snow geese as well as a variety of ducks.

Other species like spoonbills, swans or sea eagles occasionally take a break here.

In this environment apparently unspoilt, the view of an expert can discover traditional human practices which, built with good sense and respect for the environment, have made up a landscape full of details: old stone and mud dykes (munas), structures for gates, half-dried areas for pastures (polders) and channelling for old mills.

D - Open Sea

Advantage point: Cape Matxitxako

Basque coastal cliffs have a high landscape and natural value at their two ecosystems: the coastal area and the sea beds.

The watch-tower in the old lighthouse in Cape Matxitxako has an exceptional advantage point to the coastal area and it's the best to admire the sea and its extremely rich fauna.

It is very easy to reach this place by car on the road BI-4203 from Bermeo to Bakio. You can park near.

The sea bed

We can see dolphins at this place and whales occasionally. The submarine coastline, with big rocks, cracks, caves and holes, shelters a wide variety of animal species and, few meters deep there is a rich flora and fauna, not common in other waters: Winkles, limpets, oysters, octopus or cuttlefish. Shrimps, barnacles, lobster and sea crab (karramarro). As well as sea bass,  bream, mackerel, scad and red mullet.

The coastal area

This is the ideal setting to explain and understand life in the cliff. Bird colonies as Storm Petrel and the Shag rest and nest in the cliff and the nearby island of Aketz.

On the east coast, the big cliff of Cape Ogoño is providing shelter to cormorants, common petrels and gulls. At the top, the Cantabrian holm oak grove has botanical species as "acebuche" (wild olive trees).

And the west coast forms an inlet where Akatz and San Juan de Gaztelugatxe stand up.  An area declared Protected Biotope, with an extraordinary biological richness.


    Email: turismo@urremendi.org
    Tlf. 946 257 609

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