Cabezo Castildetierra Bardenas Reales


Cabezo Castildetierra, Bardenas Reales 2019


I learned about the Bardenas Reales from an article in a travel magazine some years ago. As I’m a frequent visitor to Biarritz in the Basque country, I immediately put it on my list of things to do (it’s only ninety minutes drive from Biarritz) but I only managed to get there last month. A landscape of red sandstone mountains and canyons and sun-baked clay, Bardenas Reales is Europe’s Monument Valley and formed the perfect setting for Games of Thrones and Terry Gilliam’s movie ‘The Man Who Killed Don Quixote’. The Bardenas Reales is Europe’s largest single expanse of desert, on the border of Navarre and Aragon just outside the town of Tudela. This vast natural region of 42,000 hectares is divided roughly into three areas: in the north, the El Plano plateau; in the centre, La Bardena Blanca; and in the south, the highest part, La Negra, which rises to nearly 650 metres. You have a slightly uneasy feeling as you drive along the dirt road leading to the parque natural. The facilities you expect are just a bit further out of reach than normal. What happens if you run short of fuel? The nearest petrol station could easily be an hour’s drive away and I defnitely advise taking bottles of water with you because you won’t fnd a store and that’s quite disturbing with temperatures above 40 Celsius. But you forget the unease when you experience the breathtaking views across this stunning landscape of towers of sandstone that remained after the clay surrounding them was worn away. The Hotel Aire de Bardenas, Tudela, is the place to stay. The work of Barcelona-based architects Mónica Rivera and Emiliano López, the Aire has won many awards. You can stay in one of its comfort- able, minimalist box-like rooms in the cubist blocks. Or you can sleep in one of the hotel’s amazing other-worldly see-through bubbles which offer the surreal experience of observing thousands of stars on a clear night.




Bardenas Reales, Navarre 2019


Bubbles at Night


Bubbles at night, Hotel Aire de Bardenas, 2019