This article was translated by John R. Bopp

Our recent trip to Soule allowed us to offer you, dear readers, a goodly number of Viewpoints  from that part of our country.

We’re dedicating this entry to a fascinating corner of this part of the Basque Country: the Kakueta Gorges.  It’s a spectacular geological structure that was “built” by Urdaiteko Uhaitza, or the Saint-Engrâce River, on its way from south to north to join the Larraineko Uhaitza and make up the Uhaitzandi, or Saison, which is the “backbone” of Soule.

A corner of the route through the Kakueta Gorge, Soule
A corner of the route through the Kakueta Gorge, Soule

Today, the Kakueta is an attractive walk through the heart of the Basque Pyrenees that attracts thousands of people.  Going through it, we couldn’t help but think about all the people who’ve walked this same path, for example, during the Second World War, when it didn’t have any handrails, bridges, or maintenance like today, in order to escape the claws of the Third Reich.  Those people, guided by mugalaris,  would have walked against the flow of the Urdaiteko Uhaitza, in order to leave France, save their lives, and in the case of Allied pilots, go back to continue the fight against nazism.

Corner of the trail through the Kakueta Gorge, Soule
Corner of the trail through the Kakueta Gorge, Soule

Our walk is full of surprises, but at the end, we found the most spectacular of all, at least in size: a waterfall that comes straight out of the rock and falls 20m/65ft before us.

Waterfall in the Kakueta Gorge (Soule)
Waterfall in the Kakueta Gorge (Soule)

The trail starts, and ends, at the La Cascade bar and restaurant, where we had to pay to access the trail.  The fee was quite reasonable to maintain the infrastructure that allows us to walk the trail comfortably; provide help points; and that guarantees us good advance warning should the river rise.  Plus, the end of the trail makes for a great place to recoup with some ham and cheese sandwiches, which are to die for after a good walk.

It’s a walk that people of all ages can do, and there’s no special physical preparation needed.  There are some steep stretches at the beginning and end that do require some effort.  The rest of the trail, along almost the entire length of the gorge, is easy.  Just remember that you’re along a river for most of trail, so it’s often wet.

We’re not going to give everything away.  The best idea is to check out the video and photos that we’re sharing with you.  Again, as is our rule, we don’t want to become a tour guide, we just want to share our personal feelings and offer a summary of places on the web where there is more interesting info about this place.  But we will again make this same recommendation:

You have to visit this part of our country, which is extraordinarily beautiful and, as is most of the case, of great impact.

Soule / Urdatx-Saint-Engrâce / Kakueta Gorge
Soule / Urdatx-Saint-Engrâce / Kakueta Gorge

In Soule, we stayed at the Maison Biscayburu in Sauguis, and we recommend the hotel.  The owners, Hélène and Pantxo Etchebehere, are magnificent hosts who warmly open up their home.  The rooms are elegant, comfortable, and simple.  Plus, breakfast is magnificent, with gateau basque and home-made pastries.  Our stay was not paid for, and our comments are those of a paying customer.

Sainte-Engrace –   – Euskadi

En Sainte-Engrâce, un lugar indómito y espectacular

La garganta de Kakueta está considerada como uno de los parajes más salvajes y prestigiosos de Europa. Esta zona natural protegida es un paraíso para los senderistas y amantes de la naturaleza.

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Enciclopedia Auñamendi –  – Euskadi

Gargantas de Kakueta

Cañón de 4,5 km. de largo, situado en el término de Santa Grazia -Sainte Engrace- en la región vasca de Zuberoa. Arranca del collado de Urdaite o Arrakogoiti, límite con Isaba, Navarra.

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Guide du Pays Basque –   -Euskadi

LES GORGES DE KAKUETTA

Falaises vertigineuses, végétation luxuriante, refuge de rapaces majestueux, le cœur de la montagne basque réserve bien des surprises aux amoureux de la nature. Les Gorges de Kakuetta, Amazonie des latitudes tempérées, vous invitent à sillonner un canyon de 2 km de long, en suivant une rivière tortueuse sur sentiers et passerelles aménagés.

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Rutas Pirineos – – Cataluña

Las gargantas de Kakueta – Gorges de Kakuetta

La excursión a las gargantas de Kakueta, un espacio protegido situado en pleno País Vasco francés, no os dejará indiferentes. En unas dos horas efectivas de caminata podemos recorrer el camino que pasa por el fondo de la garganta superando varias pasarelas y puentes que hay instalados.

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