A landscape of canyons, mountain peaks and forests
The Haute Soule is certainly the most nature-filled area in the Basque Country.
Here, the landscapes alternate between deep gorges and tall mountain peaks, such as the Pic d’Orhy that rises to 2,017m, and is the first peak above an altitude of 2,000m in the Pyrenees when heading inland from the Atlantic ocean.
The torrents and rivers have shaped this landscape by creating deep gorges and canyons. The most famous are the Kakuetta Gorges, which can be visited on foot.
Nature is present everywhere you look and gives this place a peaceful atmosphere, ideal for unwinding, recharging your batteries surrounded by nature and concentrating on the important things in life. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the Iraty forest, the largest beech forest in Europe.
Speleology and canyoning
Hiking is of course the main activity in the Haute Soule and Iraty mountains. There are options for all abilities, whether you prefer quiet family walks or if you’re looking for more of a challenge.
However the geographical layout of the Haute Soule allows the practice of two lesser known activities : canyoning and potholing.
These two activities are ideal for thrill seekers. Equipped with your suit and harness, you can experience the excitement of descending the torrents to the deepest parts of the canyons. The bravest will even be able to abseil down the waterfalls...
If you’re interested in speleology, also referred to as potholing or spelunking, head to Verna to go deep underground and discover huge subterranean caves. Deep in the darkness, with only the light of your headlamp, the atmosphere is definitely impressive, and totally safe.
Pastoralism: the life of a shepherd
Life in the Iraty mountains is set to the rhythm of the seasons and pastoralism remains an important part of the Souletin lifestyle. Every year, in May and June, the herds of cows and flocks of sheep are moved to the summer pastures.
During this period, the shepherd makes cheese in his cayolar, an old stone cabin in the mountain pastures. It is said that the summer cheese has a unique taste.
The mountains in winter
The roofs of houses in Haute Soule are proof that it snows here in winter.
The beautiful landscapes blanketed in snow are ideal for activities such as snowshoe hiking, cross-country skiing, sledging, and dog sleighing.
The Iraty Chalets, situated at an altitude between 1,300m and 1,500m, welcome you in a warm and inviting atmosphere surrounded by nature. Relaxation guaranteed!