Bardenas Reales looks like a Western movie set. Rock formations, endless natural expanses and endless gravel roads.
Anyone visiting the Bardenas and going through the country will not forget this special border country. The aridity in the Bardenas Reales at the borders between Navarra and Aragon presents the most fascinating challenges and its geography is predicated on the profile of Africa and some regions of America, between desert moors and desolate rocky areas.
Location of Bardenas Reales
There are a constant wind and wild nature in Spain, in Navarre, in the center of canyons, covering up the remains of old castles. The Bardenas Reales Desert in Spain is less known than Tabernas Desert, but for trekking enthusiasts, mountain biking and nature-filled landscapes over geological eras it is an absolute must.
With its similarity to the great Mojave Desert in the United States, particularly in the Bardena Blanca depression, this vast territory of nearly 42000 hectares impresses. Located on the south east side of Navarre, the Bardenas borders on the Aragon frontier, there are no inhabitable centers, even though Arguedas is to the east and Carcastillo to the north is the gateway to this land of silence.
Once the interior of the Bardenas is entered by one of two alternatives, the park is divided into three separate sights; one is the Llano, with very little erosion on the isolated plateau; the other is the Bardena Blanca, white in color, which links the plains with ravines and heads, with the oddly distinctive mounds that define the region.
The Bardena Negra finally blends tops of various heights. The unbelievable forms were the background to movies like Mutant Action, Airbag or Agent 007 The world is never enough, etc.
One of the compulsory pictures of Bardenas is the impressive natural monument, Castildeterra, which resembles a truncated pyramid. You can just trace the trail of Bardena Blanca: you can’t skip it.
Then you can go to Mirador de Pilatos in Bardena Negra close to the nature reserve Rincon del Bu to get a clear overview.
Tudela, city steeped in history.
How to visit the Bardenas Reales?
You can take cars and motorbikes, accesses and special roads to the Bardenas Reales. There are six well-marked roads from El Plano to the south of Bardena Negra, to the Sancho Abarca shrine.
Camping inside the park is prohibited, but motorhome excursions are possible. In reality, a big, free and fitted parking lot is located outside the city center of Arguedas, close to a group of troglodyte houses graced into the river. It is located nearby “the Caves of Arguedas” At the end of the XIXth century, rock face.
Activities in the Bardenas Reales
In the north of Spain, on the border with Aragon, the Parque Natural de las Bardenas Royales covers over 42,000 hectares and provides two main countryside that corresponds with two main roads.
The first is the Bardena Blanca, the core ecosystem of the Park, which is renowned for its calcareous and salt colour. The second, Bardena Negra, on the eastern part of the town, is crossed by rivers flowing on the bottom of its gorges.
The Bardena Blanca has a typical head, pyramids or hill, with a column resembling a tall chimney. The desert Cabezo Castildetierra, situated along the main road that can be reached either by foot or by mountain bike, should not be missed among these. Sadly, it will one day disappear like Malta’s Blue Window.
Also worth a visit is the Cabezo de Sanchicorrota. It owes its name, by means of an artificial cave, to a legendary bandit of the fifteenth Century, Sancho de Rota. After going underground, thanks to his skill in the war over Navarre, the bandit was able to dominate the entire region.
Hiking and cycling
The hiking offer in the Bardenas Reales is very rich, characterized by 700 km of routes and trails, beyond which it is not permitted to go. Among these is one that is both more challenging but also more scenic besides the Cabezo de las Cortinillas and the Barranco de las Cortinas: a route almost 5 km long, with a vertical drop of 200 meters.
The park is very popular with cyclists and every year there are hundreds of cyclists who come together for the Bardenas extreme run, irrespective of the weather.
Sendaviva adventure and amusement park
Sendaviva Park is an adventure and recreation park for the whole family, offering visitors the perfect combination of fun, nature and emotion. With 120 hectares, it is the largest park in Spain and is located in the Ribera de Navarra, more precisely in the town of Aguedas, next to the Bardenas 15 m from Tudela.
Fun is guaranteed in Sendaviva Park with more than thirty attractions for young and old Some of the most impressive attractions are the great tube of Spain, the great Tyrolean (the largest in Europe), the bobsleigh, the labyrinth of water, free fall and the haunted mansion. In addition, the little ones can have fun with the storyteller or the attractions of the fair district.
Unique accommodation in Bardenas Reales
Navarre is one of Spain’s most exclusive hotels just outside Tudela, located by the desert and canyons of Bardenas Reales.
Aire de Bardenas is not only a hotel, but also a tourist resort. If you pause, a pilot of pallets is all that tells of its existence in this strange desert setting, in the middle of the green Basque Country.
Pallets mark the grounds of the hotel, the parking lot, the main building and the rooms. The main building consists of the ‘natural’ quarters, all but them.
These cubic-shaped buildings have enormous windows with a view over the private garden or around it, spacious bathrooms and very comfortable beds (my room even had a metal bath in the garden that we had filled with steaming hot water and saw in the middle of winter).
Outside the main structure is a wooden pallet area which gives the hotel an environmentally friendly and recurrent structural feature. Here live the bubbles. These lunar landing areas have been turned into spacious “rooms” open to the stars by the geniuses of Aire de Bardenas. You have a stunning view of the poisonous wheat fields around the hotel every day. You and the stars are all at night. These rooms are highly requested and must be booked in advance.
The restaurant is recommended to anyone who don’t want to leave the estate, with a tasting menu based on items from Navarra (think the best vegetables ever, some from the garden) and Mediterranean.
There are hotels which offer you a place to sit in between visits, followed then by hotels such as Aire de Bardenas which are worth a visit.
Natural park areas
Regarding the Bardena Negra, we recommend the well-marked path through the Aleppo pine forests that climbs to the panoramic Punta Negra (650 m above sea level).
The nature of the Bardenas offers other characteristic areas of small extension such as the cultures of Plano or the overhangs of Rincon del Bu, where the royal owl lives. The ruins of certain castles, witnesses of the border history of the Bardenas, are also part of the landscape.
In the center of the Bardenas Reales de Navarre, Vedado de Eguaras covers 1225 ha of territory. It is located more specifically between Arguedas, Bardena de Plano, Candévalos and Bardena Blanca areas. But this entire territory was still privately owned. It was first part of the royal heritage and was later aristocratic until the twentieth century when it became part of Valtierra, which remained fully independent of the Bardenas Reales administration.
This area is a privileged area with plants, an abundance of pine forests and the so-called ‘oais,’ located in the midst of the arid and rough Bardenas region.
Roughly 500 hectares in 1987. The nature reserve of Vedado de Eguaras is proclaimed for its protection and use of its natural riches. 150 hectares of this reserve. The remains from Penaflor or Blanka de Navarra Castle are still preserved on dryland and are used for the cultivation of cereals.
The King of Navarre, Sancho el Fuerte ordained in the 13th century that the Castle of Penaflor be built on top of the hill to strengthen the boundary between Navarre and Aragon.
Oddly enough, only a few remains of the fortress have survived from the whole castle until now, but they did so in the natural way, and only because of the time and the harsh weather. Penaflor Castle is the only medieval castle in Navarre never rebuilt, altered or used for other purposes in the history of the town.
The fauna and the flora
The botanically interesting nature of Barden’s plant and vegetation is related to its unique climatic properties and the aridity that has allowed steppe communities and species to be maintained. This is why the Bardenas Reales and Monegros are considered one of the paradigmatic examples of the Iberian steppes.
Ontonars and sisallaras, Spartales, Romrales on gypsum and some of the communities which comprise the Salt Marshes are among the most interesting vegetations in this regard. In a European background, the other Mediterranean communities also have an interest.
The flora of the Bardenas consists of many taxa which have to be nearly a thousand and which are obviously florist in the Mediterranean.. Some of these are widely distributed, and Bardenas also has the endemic Iberian flora
If you leave Navarre on the Camino de Santiago, but also fly in the Pyrenees or along the Basque coast, Bardenas realis is a must see.
While it is not advised to walk on the piste in the middle of a hot summer day, the time for visiting the Bardenas Reales does not have any real season limits, but rainy days are not recommended due to the specific conditions.