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Report 2075: Spain - Navarra and the Area Around Lerate

By Eleanor from UK, Spring 2013

Trip Description: We spent a cold and damp five days in Navarra in May, exploring the area around Lerate visiting small towns and churches.

Destinations: Countries - Spain; Regions/Cities - Basque Country

Categories: Vacation Rentals; Day Tours; Sightseeing; Independent Travel; 2 People

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Page 1 of 16: Background Information

photo by MAW

Chalet, Camping Aritzaleku, Lerate

We have spent two holidays in France, sailing with Brittany Ferries and taking our car. We had enjoyed the Auvergne and fancied getting further south into the Midi-Pyrenees.

This made us start to think about Northern Spain, an area we’ve not been before. Michael has wanted to get into the Basque country for many years. We could use Brittany ferries to Bilbao, spend a few days in Spain and then slowly work our way north and catch the ferry back from Caen.

We decided to begin with a few days in the mountains of the Picos de Europa (Trip Report 2074) before moving east into Cantabria. After that, we would spend a week in the Midi-Pyrenees near Foix (Trip Report 2076) followed by a week near Sarlat-le-Canéda in the Dordogne (Trip Report 2077).

We chose May which avoided school holidays and we thought the weather would be warm, but not too hot. Navarra is semi arid desert and can get very hot in the summer. It was a late spring and most days were dull and damp with temperatures struggling to reach double figures. We regretted not taking hats, gloves and scarves with us. On two afternoons it settled down to steady rain and we gave up and headed back to our accommodation.

We wanted to book accommodation through Brittany Ferries. There wasn’t a lot of choice for the area we wanted to stop. We wanted to be in the countryside and avoid large towns like Pamplona and Vitoria. In the end we chose Camping Aritzaleku, Lerate. This is a huge camp site on a small peninsula in Embalse de Alloz below the village of Lerate, about 10 miles south west of Estella.

It also has a few self catering chalets and we booked one of these. It was half of a typical wooden ‘A’ frame chalet with little space inside, very basically furnished and poorly equipped. It served once we got used to the quirks of the place and found the two additional electric fires hidden in a cupboard. Evening meals were bread, cheese and salad as the small cooker was very slow to heat up. There was no kettle and it took us over an hour for a saucepan of water to reach nearly simmering point for a cup of tea. We never did achieve a boil. It could sleep five, with just two we felt cramped.

Fortunately in May, the camp site was quiet and there was little noise. In high summer it would be very busy as there are nearly 200 pitches plus a lot of camping chalets. We felt it was expensive for what they provided and I can’t say we enjoyed stopping here. However this was the area we wanted to stay and this was the only choice.

We liked the area and it did prove to be a good base for what we wanted to do and see especially if the weather had been better.

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