The easy to moderate commemorative trail with experienced guides, from Saint Sauveur chapel above Mendibe to Orbaizeta in Navarre, will involve a two-day walk (each of approximately 3.5 – 4 hours). We will thus emulate the escape route of 75 years ago. Places of historic and other interest will be pointed out on the way and there will be tribute events with local people and representatives in Mendibe, Orbaizeta and Donostia/San Sebastian.
Friday, 22 June 2018, 19:30
Participants from abroad to arrive at the Olarain hotel in Donostia-San Sebastián. Briefing at 19:30 in hotel conference room. Free evening – recommended walk down to the beach and along the picturesque “Concha” marine promenade to the Old Town of this Basque city with its gastronomic “pintxos” (tapas).
Saturday, 23 June 2018, 08:00
At 08:00 sharp, our coach will leave the Olarain hotel with walking and non-walking participants to take them to Mendibe village in the French Basque country where, at about 09:45, we will meet local people and representatives for a tribute event to give thanks to all those in this region, such as Charles Schepens and local mountain guide Jean (Manex) Sarotxar, who helped fugitives escape during WWII. We will see the latter’s grave (inscribed “Hero of two World Wars”) in the village churchyard and make an equally short visit to the nearby scale model of the Dr Schepen’s sawmill.
The coach will then take us the 15 minutes up through some of the most spectacular mountain countryside in the Basque Country to start the first leg of the walk at approximately 11:00 from the little chapel of Saint Sauveur (890 metres), where there is a memorial plaque to the helpers of the escape line operation.
The ascent is less than 300 metres to the top of a mountain with spectacular views (in clear weather), from where we descend to the Burdintxuruketa pass and continue for another hour alongside the Urbeltz (Blackwater) stream until we come to the Chez Pedro safe house and a rest. Then a flat or gently upward walk along well-beaten paths and through the beautiful Irati forest (the largest beech wood in western Europe) and on to the frontier at Orgate; another hour. The last hour by foot is a gently undulating descent, still through the famous forest and skirting the river Irati, to the Casas de Iraty/Iratiko Etxeak in Navarre for a picnic lunch at about 15:30. (A 4-hour, 14km walk).
The coach will then collect us here to take us to the Navarre capital of Pamplona and our city centre hotel, Maisonnave, where there will be free time (recommended shopping in nearby Estafeta). At 19:30, there will be an optional free guided tour of the city centre streets which host the annual July Bull Running festival of Saint Fermín, made internationally famous by Ernest Hemingway and his writings, as well as along the spectacular ramparts of Pamplona, a city with a long history of military defence since Roman times. 21:00 dinner, included in the BPFTA agreed tariff for participants-hotel guests (see Notes on Accommodation).
Sunday, 24 June 2018, 08:00
At 08:00 sharp, after breakfast in the hotel (from 07:00 and included in the BPFTA agreed tariff for hotel guests-participants – see Notes on Accommodation), the coach will leave the hotel to take us back to Casas de Iraty/Iratiko Etxeak for a 09:15 start to walk the second leg to Orbaizeta in Navarre, again through the Irati forest; a non-mountainous walk of about 15km and 4 hours. In Orbaizeta, at about 13:15, there will be a tribute event with local people and authorities to give thanks to all those in the region who helped fugitives escape during WWII. Lunch locally.
At about 16:00 our coach will then collect us to take us back to Donostia/San Sebastián for 18:00 and a final, short tribute to Lizarrituri, the former Belgian consul; and to the Aracama family, responsible for escape lines’ logistics. We then return to the Olarain hotel and free time. At 20:00 there will be an optional free guided tour of the city centre’s Old Town and its famous “pintxo” bars.
NOTES ON ACCOMMODATION (All prices include VAT): Taking into account the high quality of the hotels and the high-season, favourable tariffs have been agreed with both hotels for the BPFTA group. In order to take advantage of this deal, each participant must book directly, quoting “BPFTA”.
Taking into account the high quality of the hotels and the high-season, favourable tariffs have been agreed with both hotels for the BPFTA group. In order to take advantage of this deal, each participant must book directly, quoting “BPFTA”.
For Friday and Sunday nights, 22 and 24 June, at the Olarain hotel, Ondarreta Pasealekua, 24, 20008 Donostia, Gipuzkoa. Phone: 943 003300; email: email@example.com;
For Saturday 23 June at Maisonnave hotel, Calle Nueva, 20, 31001 Pamplona, Navarra. Phone: 948 222600; email: firstname.lastname@example.org Hotel Manageress, Esther, and Reception Manager, Jaime, will help you.
The room-only tariff for the Friday and Sunday nights at the Olarain hotel in San Sebastian is 89.91 € per room per night (double or single use). That is, for the two nights the cost is 189.81€ for the room. After the 1st of March there is no guarantee of availability or at this rate.
Breakfast at Olarain on Saturday and Monday is not included in the price but can be paid for at the buffet restaurant for 3.50€ (continental) and 7.00€ (full). At the Maisonnave hotel in Pamplona dinner on Saturday 23 June and breakfast on Sunday 24 June are included in the BPFTA group tariff. Please ensure you confirm in your booking with the hotel.
The final price for the Saturday night at the Maisonnave will depend on numbers and early booking and will be between 114€ and 132€ for two sharing a double room and between 85€ and 102€ for single occupancy. Once our block reservation is full, there is no guarantee of availability, or at this price. The tariff is half-board (evening meal and breakfast included). You may upgrade your room to superior or suite at extra cost, depending on availability.
If participants wish to stay at Olarain or other hotel in Donostia/San Sebastian prior to 22 June or after 24 June 2018, they will need to make those arrangements directly with the hotel, not necessarily at the BPFTA-agreed tariff.
NOTES ON TRANSPORT and LOGISTICS
A coach will be at our disposal from 08:00 on Saturday until Sunday evening. Please note that coach pick-up and drop-off points in Donostia/San Sebastian and Pamplona during the weekend are at the two BPFTA-listed hotels only. As logistics back-up, the vehicle, with non-walking participants, will shadow our walks as much as road access allows and, thus, at two points along the route each day, the coach will meet us.
The cost per participant, walker and non-walker, is 60€. This includes transport for the two days, back-up logistics, the packed lunches on the Saturday and Sunday. the guides and the guided visits on Saturday evening in Pamplona and Sunday evening in San Sebastián. See the registration form on a separate page for registration and payment details. Any costs arising from banking or transfer operations must be paid for by the participant.