Photography in Urederra in Northern Spain
The TURQUOISE WATERS of the RIO UREDERRA
Fall arrives late in northern Spain, usually by the end of October or in early November. One of the most unusual places (guess you will never associate this kind of image with Spain!) is located more or less an 1.5 hour's drive south of Bilbao (map). This part of the Urbasa y Andia Natural Park is a true paradise for photographers and hikers.
The trail up to the Nacedero del Urederra, the source of the river Urederra, begins in Baquedano. The moderately easy path follows the crystal-clear, turquoise waters upstream through the woods for about 4.3 km (2.7 mi) and ends below high rising cliffs at the very first waterfall of the river Urederra (a nice topographic map of the route and the official information brochure). The small cascade shown here as "image of the month" is just one of the countless (!) small waterfalls along Urederra river. It is clearly visible and you can't hardly miss it on your way up on your left-hand side.
In Euskara, the Basque language, "Urederra" means "beautiful water" and probably it is easy to guess "why". The color of the river is truly mesmerizing and surreal. It reminds of Plitvice National Park in Croatia, Cataratas de Agua Azul in Mexico or Jiuzhaigou National Park in China. But do not expect the sediments at Urederra to look as bright white as on photographs. We were a little bit disappointed at first, since they appeared rather "beige" to our eyes. Strangely, as soon as we took a look at the live view on our cameras, there it was again, that lovely white, that makes the Urederra images look so special (besides the turquoise waters of course). Do not forget to bring your polarizing filters along!
A hiking permit is required in Urederra, but it's for free. If you want to start your visit early in the morning, just like we did, you need to apply online here. Note the application forms are in Spanish only. But they are easy to fill out: "sexo" = hombre (man), mujer (woman); "nombre o razón social" = your name; "país" = Estados Unidos de America (US), Alemania (Germany), etc.; "pasaporte" = passport number; "correo electrónico" = your e-mail address; "confirmar correo" = type in again your e-mail address. After that you will be forwarded to a page where you can select the day of your hiking tour. The number of available ("disponibles") permits is displayed just below the calendar. After entering the day and a security code, you are done. And if your application was successful, you will soon receive a confirmation via e-mail.
60% of the 450 permits issued on a daily basis are distributed online, the other 40% on site and on the day itself, but not just until the moment the small business at the parking lot in Baquedano opens (usually at 9:30 AM only!). We favor the online option (and well in advance if you plan your visit during busy holidays!) and we also recommend an early start. Just make sure you did not forget to print out your permits (e-mail confirmation) and to take them with you, when you do the hiking.
If you are looking for a place to stay, we can highly recommend the Hotel "Palacio dos Olivos" at the nearby town of Galdeano (easy to book e.g. via "booking.com"). There are not many accomodations in that area and this one is surely not the cheapest choice, but we really enjoyed the atmosphere of this old castle from the 13th century, that was renovated and turned into a great and luxurious hotel 10 years ago. We also enjoyed very much talking to the owner. But just make sure you know enough Spanish! English is definitely not a commonly spoken language - almost everywhere in Spain. ;-)
Safe travels and hope you enjoy!
Isa & Steffen
Image data: 2 s at f/13, ISO 100; Canon EF 16-35mm 1:2.8 L II USM at 22 mm, Canon EOS 5D Mark III
Related Links: More images from Spain will be coming up soon here at synnatschke.com!