The source of the River Bidouze is in the Arbailles massif, in the northern part of the Basque Country. It winds its way along more than 80km through more than 20 municipalities, including Saint-Just-Ibarre and Saint-Palais, before joining the River Adour in Guiche. There is a lovely hike to the grotto where the source of the river is found.
Learn more about the Bidouze
Every year, many nature lovers and hikers enjoy exploring the River Bidouze and its source. The river source is a small subterranean lake named Eltzarreko Ordokia. The grotto is found in Arbailles forest. Legends claim that this forest, which covers multiple municipalities in Soule and Basse Navarre, lost part of its land to Herensuge, the large serpent-like dragon in Basque mythology. It is supposedly also a refuge for the laminak, which are small elves in Basque mythology.
If you want to spend more time in the area, you can continue along the only road that crosses it, the D918, to reach the Ahusquy fountain.
The Bidouze hike
Hiking along this 9km trail to the source of the Bidouze will take approximately 3hr30 and a difference in altitude of 460m.
Starting point : go past the village of St-Just-Ibarre and follow the directions to Eztigar, the cider maker. Follow this road for about 3 km and you will reach a small car park: this is the start of the hike. Don’t forget to wear proper walking shoes, and avoid going on a rainy day as the trail can be slippery.
To begin you will take a pleasant, flat forest path alongside the river. Then the path becomes a little more difficult through a dense beech forest. After a while, you will reach the grotto where the source of the River Bidouze is located. Take a few moments to catch your breath and admire its magnificent entrance forged by nature.
The cliff which overhangs the site is home to some unusual inhabitants. If you’re lucky, you may see a bearded vulture in flight, but they tend to be discrete animals. You will also be able to admire Egyptian vultures.
The somewhat narrow valley through which the trail passes is bordered on one side by the Pic du Belchou, which overlooks Hosta.
All efforts deserve compensation, so when you arrive back at Saint-Just-Ibarre, make sure you call in to Eztigar. In the 90’s a group of local apple producers created this organisation in order to revive a cultural tradition. You will be able to discover the ancient tradition of Basque cider. Marie and Clément produce the “apple wine” using local varieties of apple produced using local and organic farming techniques.