Our next destination in Spain was Bardenas Reale National Park, a semi desert which had been eroded by water and wind creating a very stunning and unique landscape. Driving from Torla Ordesa to Bardenas Reales would take about 3 hours so our plan was to spend the first day getting to Argueda Navarre, a town very near to the National Park and leave the entire next day for the exploration of the park.
To break the long drive we made a slight detour to visit na interesting village. Agüero was a village with a fantastic backdrop! At about 4.30 pm we reached Argueda Navarre. There was still plentiful of daylight so we drove on to the National Park. The weather was rainy which cut short our visit. The next morning though the weather was still gloomy we visited the park again this time we did a thorough exploration. By early noon we completed our exploration and spent the rest of the day relaxing in a cafe near our stay.
We left Torla Ordesa at about 10.30 am after visiting the morning market in the town and drove toward Agüero. The drive took about 2 hours for 132 km, on the way we passed many agriculture lands, lavendar fields and villages.
We stopped at a broken bridge that looked interesting. The bridge spanned over Rio Gallego and it was located just outside the town of Murrillo de Gallego. We were hopping to see some activities in the river like river rafting but there were none, so we moved on.
We continued our journey towards Agüero. Just outside the village, before going uphill was a scenic viewpoint (co-ordinates: 42.348989, -0.793662), there we saw the stunning view that we came for. Agüero had a magnificent backdrop. Wow! it was a gigantic rock of unimaginable size! It loomed high over the village “seemingly” giving “strength and power” to this village.
The name of the rock was and it rose 200 m above the village. This rock was apparently very popular with mountain climbers and looking at the steep cliff walls we could understand the reason. The vertical surfaces definitely served as a “dream” challenge to these climbers.
The color of the “rock” was mainly grey with some orangy pink shades near the base. The Mallos were formed from eroded materials that were washed down from the slopes of Pyrenees. These materials/mixtures compacted over time to form huge massive rocks stucked together. The more porous parts of the huge rocks were subsequently eroded creating this special “looking rocks”.
We drove into the village in search of a place for coffee and rest. As we drove forward we came to a branch, the right branch led us uphill to the village. The road going into the village looked too narrow for a car to get through so we parked our car by the roadside outside the village.
The village was so “quiet”! Where were the people! We walked around searching for a main street that hopefully led us to a village square. Surely there would be some shops/stores at the square. We saw a clock tower peeking above the roofs of some building. Clock tower was usually erected as part of a church and a church was usually located in a village square. So we walked in the direction of the tower. Unfortunately at the square there was no cafe. Later we saw a sign pointing to a “panaderia” (which meant bakery) so we followed the signs. When we reached the location the panaderia was close! So sad, there was no place in this village for a coffee stop.
Coffee break at Ayerbe
We left Aguero village feeling disappointed. We still needed our coffee break and was determined to have it at the next town that had a cafe! After driving for about twenty minutes we came to the town center of Ayerbe. We saw some locals sitting at a sidewalk cafe. Wonderful! We were stopping to have coffee.
There were a few cafes to choose. We looked around and went into a nice looking Panaderia that served deli and coffee. We ordered cupcakes and cafe latte and the total cost was only €4.50. We were surprised that each cup of cafe latte costed only €0.75, so inexpensive! While enjoying our coffee we noticed the cafe owner switching off lights in the cafe. Upon checking we found out that she was shutting the place for siesta at 3 pm. Oops, we quickly gulped down our drink, swallowed our cakes and left. We were still getting used to the local “siesta timing”.
After a nice coffee break at Ayerbe we drove for another 1.5 hour before we reached Arguedas, a town where we had booked an apartment for a two night stay.
We had checked out a few towns near to Bardenas Reales National Park and Arguedas was the nearest. Conveniently we were able to find an apartment with a kitchen to stay for two nights at a reasonable price. Arguedas was a pretty town, it was a delight to see the houses on the main roadneatly aligned with colorful rose patches decorating the sidewalks.
After we checked into our stay and verified that we had a full kitchen the next step was to find a supermarket. From google map we found a couple of supermarkets nearby. The one in town was a small supermarket with not much selection, the next one was a large supermarket, DIA about 2.7 km away.
For the two days we bought fresh food from DIA supermarket and cooked 4 lovely meals (two breakfasts and two dinners). Fruits like orange, cherry and strawberry were all cheaper than those we bought at home so we had lots of them to go with our meals.
We found cooking breakfast and dinner gave us more flexibility during the trip. Cooking breakfast allowed us to eat leisurely at the comfort of our “stay”, we could sleep a bit longer as we did not have to go out to look for a “breakfast” place. Cooking dinner allowed us to eat at our own timing (most Spanish restaurants served dinner late) and once we had our dinner at our “stay” we could relax the night away.
The only time we visited an eatery in town was for coffee break. Near our stay, just across the road we found a local cafe. Cafe Mallen was in a square that was behind an arch doorway. We stumbled across the doorway when we were searching around for a place for our usual coffee break.
In the cafe were many locals having their coffee break too. We sat down and ordered a cake and two cafe latte. A cup of latte cost €1.30. Cafe Mallen did not close for siesta so we were able to stay as long as we like.
Bardenas Reales National Park
We visited Bardenas Reales National Park twice. On the first day when we arrived at Arguedas, the time was about 5pm, after we settled our bags in our rented apartment here was still plentiful of daylight so we drove into the national park to do some recee. It was a gloomy day and there was a drizzle appearing on and off. In the National Park we went straight to the visitor center but it was already closed for the day. The park was free (no entrance fee) and there was no gate or barrier on the road, so we drove on to the most iconic feature of the park, The Castildetierra, and took a couple of photos and left.
The next day we were back at the visitor center at about 8.30 am. The drizzle that started last evening was still around. At the visitor center we consulted a staff on how we should go about visiting the park.
We were given a map which had a few scenic viewpoints marked. We were also told that we could drive around the whole park (on the red road in the map) to see the sights. Good! We didn’t have to do much trekking after all.
We drove to the Castildetierra (the one we visited before) which was located at one corner of rectangular route cirulating the park. At the Castildetierra we took more photos. The Castildetierra was a very “weird” formation. It looked like somebody had placed a few flat mud plates on the tip of a small hill. After reading the information at a signboard nearby, we realised that the “weird” structure was a natural formation.
The Bardenas Reales National Park was a semi desert of 420 km². The ground was made up of clay, chalk and sandstone and had been eroded by wind and water creating many interesting shapes, plateaus, canyons.
“The Castildetierra” was not the only structure of that “weird” shape in the park, as we drove on we saw other “pyramid/conical” shape hills with mud plates sitting at their apex. These “pyramid hills” were made up of multilayer of different materials, the upper layers were harder so they were “less” eroded which explained these larger size “mud plates” at the top.
It was amazing driving through this terrain. For a moment we could imagine/pretend that we were in Mars, so bare with no vegetation in sight. Folds and folds of massive brown soil/mud lumped together forming undulating ground. The ground was wet due to the rain and it was “horrible” walking on it. After getting my shoes caked with a thick and sticky layer of mud/clay and spending many minutes removing them we stayed mainly on the tar road for the rest of the visit.
We drove on the rectangular route in the clockwise manner. In the morning there were not many visitors to the park and occassionally we would see a car from a distance. The entire rectangular route was about 26km and would take probably less than an hour to go round. We were not in a hurry to finish the loop and stopped frequently by the roadside to take photos everytime we saw an interesting “hill”.
Two hours later we were back at the corner where we started the loop route trip. We were back at Castildetierra. It was closed to noon, the drizzle had disappeared and the sky had cleared up. The ground which looked muddy brown in the morning looked more yellowish and orangy under the bright sunlight. This place certainly was more captivating on a bright day!
Our Stay near Bardenas reales
There was no lodging in Bardenas Reales National Park, so we had to look for accommodation in a town nearest to the Park. We found “Apartmento Lizanzu1” under booking.com and the cost was €120 for two nights. The apartment looked good in the listing. It had two bedrooms, a living room, a dining room and a full kitchen. We definitely did not need two bedrooms but this apartment was the best in terms of facility, price, carpark and location.
We had no problem finding the apartment even though the co-ordinates given on booking.com was not very accurate, it was a few doors down the road. Before our arrival we had already picked out the correct co-ordinates based on the photos of the external facade of the apartment shown in booking.com and the street view on google map.
Before arriving at our rented apartment we had communicated with our host on “Whatsapp” messaging in English, so we were rather surprised when our host could not speak English at all when we met him in person. Anyway through a lot of show-and-hand actions we managed to check in without any issue.
Our apartment was on the third level of the building so there was a bit of climbing up with our bags as there was no lift. Beside that bit of inconvenience everything else was great! The apartment was clean and spacious. There was a stove, oven, huge fridge, microwave, kettle , sink and all the crockeries and utensils. Fantastic it was a full kitchen and cooking would be a breeze.
The apartment had a toilet with shower and towels and all the necessary toiletries. We definitely loved this place. A big, cosy and private place to rest and relax at the end of a day of sightseeing!
Our host had told us that this town was a safe place and parking our car on the street was perfectly fine. Directly below our apartment were a number of free parking spaces (white lines). We managed to park right under our apartment a couple of times and when they were filled we just moved down to another bigger carpark a few doors away.