ZUMAIA : THE GEOPARK COASTAL FLYSCH EXPERIENCE

Zumaia forms, together with its neighboring village Deba, the Basque Coast Geoparkea. This geopark boasts of having the unique natural rock formations known as The Flysch. Just like the trunks of the tree, these Flysch tells 50 million years of geological history particularly in the Basque coast. That could be seen by the unusual formations that the rocks acquired through those years. It looks like the rocks were carefully cut off and sharpened; or they look like an open book with giant pages! This area of the Basque Coast is declared as a protected Biotope. The whole scenery could not be described in just one word!

The coastline of Zumaia and Deba has an 8-kilometer long of coastline that is made up of these fabulous flysh formations, towering cliffs and verdant green mountains. To get a closer experience of this Flysch phenomenon, We did the 15-kilometer long hike which starts in Zumaia and ends in Deba. We received the hiking map from the tourist office.

THE HIKE

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The hike begins at San Telmo chapel

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Hans, all set for the 15-km hike

Wednesday, November 4….it was a good day to do the long hike. The weather was fine, it was not too warm. Hans and I started the day earlier than we used to. We knew that we had a long hike ahead of us…15 kilometers, one way! Having done our preparations, we headed to San Telmo chapel where our hike should begin. It seemed easy. All we had to do was follow the signboard/mark to Deba (GR 121), which is to be recognized by a white/red painted marks along the way. So from San Telmo, we walked down from the cliff, then up again to the mountain. The first 5-6 kilometers was a very nice hike. We had changing sceneries before us. One moment we were walking very near the cliffs and had wonderful views of the Basque coast; the next moment we were walking between mountain farms and roads; and another moment, between thickly pine-forested areas. What was remarkable was we were also walking on some parts of the Santiago de Compostela path. About 8 kilometers from our starting point, we came to a kind of resting area, the Elorriaga. It’s some kind of crosspoint where the path splits to Deba and the Compostela path. There is also toilet and lots of picknick tables scattered around the green shady area. About 500 meters is a viewpoint. We did not go there because it would mean an extra kilometer for our hike!

We then continued our hike until we arrived at another viewpoint, the Arantzako Portua. From here is a nice wide view of the great part of the coastline. Not far from it are the impressive cliffs of Sakoneta and Mendatagaina. At Sakoneta point, we found one of the best views we had during the hike. The flysh formations are wonderful here, just like in Zumaia. The edges of the cliffs are amazing, and the rockbeds are just phenomenal! We spent a great deal of our time here, walking on the rocks and taking pictures. It was so beautiful that the pictures didn’t give justice to it!

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Absorbing the beauty before us

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The coastal landscape

Just 3 kilometers before Deba, we came to a kind of water cleansing industry. It smelled here really bad! And also we found this last part the most difficult part of the hike. The path was so steep, the steepest we had during the entire hike. Then we had to cross the national road by using a wooden bridge. Walking on the other part of the mountain, we came to the Santa Catalina sanctuary, a abandoned chapel overlooking the village of Deba. But before we came there, there were a big group of cows (about 20) which came directly to us. I had to stop and hide myself behind a tree because I was afraid that they were going to attack me!

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Flysh formation at Sakoneta point

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Sakoneta point

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The Mendatagaina cliff

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Santa Catalina sanctuary in Deba

After 6 hours of hiking, beginning from 10.00 up to 16.00, we finally reached the village of Deba. Yahooo! At this point I already had pains in my feet and in my legs that I could barely make some decent steps. The village of Deba is just one of those villages; it has little to offer to us. After strolling around a bit, we went to the bus station and took the bus in going back to Zumaia. The busride cost 2.35 euro per person and we were back in just 25 minutes.

The coastal Flysch hike is one of the nicest hikes we have ever had. Though tiring, it was very rewarding as we were treated to many spectacular views not only of the coastline but also of the mountains. It was not boring, every time, we were walking on different surroundings. And experiencing the Flysch formations up close and personal was all worth it! It is one of the most spectacular views we have had. Though, I must add that this hike is not easy.It has a lot of going up and down. So be prepared, wear sturdy hiking shoes, don’t walk very near the cliffs’ edges, and bring plenty of water. Take as many stops as you want, there is no rush. Only your hike would take longer time to be finished. And one more tip: do the hike when it is low tide, then you witness the formations better.

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Mountainview during the hike

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Our customary picture together (Sakoneta point)

Come and experience the Flysch. You’ll never regret it.

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