The Basque Country

  1. 2021
    Thursday, June 3, 2021 to Saturday, June 12, 2021
    Tour Duration: 
    10 days
    Tour Price:
     $4,495 USD
    Tour Starts/Ends: 
    Bilbao, Spain / Brest, France
Highlights
  • Appreciate Basque fishing, whaling, and seafaring traditions
  • Taste regional specialties: Espellete peppers, white beans of Tolosa, traditional Beasain blood sausage, Idiazabal cheese, angulas of Aguinaga
  • Experience the joy of pintxos, the tapas-like snack at the heart of Basque cusine
  • Visit San Sebastian, a city with more Michelin stars per person than any other in the world
  • Explore Basque language, mythology, music, sports, dance, and folklore with local guides
  • Learn about the rich tradition of bertsolaritza, Basque competitive poetry
  • Taste unique wines, including sparkling dry white Txakoli and world-famous Rioja
  • Hike or bike in the region’s mountain and valley landscapes, including protected biospheres
Overview

Along the western coasts of Spain and France, Euskal Herria - the Basque Country - awaits rediscovery. This diverse countryside, with its mountains, estuaries, forests and winding coastlines, is a pleasure that can indulged by all of the five senses.

Yet it is the people of this land that are the most intriguing. Europe’s oldest nation, but never a country. An ancient language with no relation to any other language on earth. An enduring culture whose impact on the world stretches far beyond the stunning countryside nestled at the base of the Cantabrian Sea. 

To say that the Basque people have a strong sense of identity and belonging is an understatement. With this steadfast foundation, the Basques pushed boundaries during the age of exploration, were pioneers in trade and industry, and are known the world over as culinary innovators. The endurance of the great exteas (houses), and the strength and adaptability of the culture is worthy of celebration. 

Travel with an esteemed group of Basque hosts. Hike, bike, or simply wander and explore. Taste the wonders of the Basque Country on this eleven-day journey by sea!

Itinerary Hide Full Itinerary

Day 1 | Bilbao

Arriving independently in Bilbao, we’ll meet our group and staff for an afternoon guided walking tour of Bilbao’s Old Quarter which dates back to the 700s. Since 1979, the Old Quarter has been a pedestrian precinct, offering 240,000 square metres of shopping, architecture, and historical sites. The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao by Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry is widely considered an architectural masterpiece.

In the afternoon, we’ll embark the Ocean Endeavour and begin our journey down the Bilbao River, headed for the Bay of Biscay!

Day 2 | Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve

The Urdaibai Estuary is home to a vast salt marsh, making it an important stopping place for migratory birds. More than 245 bird species have been sighted in the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve, which is also home to hundreds of varieties of trees and plants, and numerous land animals. We’ll visit the marshland for birdwatching and sightseeing.

Day 3 | Getaria

The old fishing and whaling village of Getaria is considered one of the Basque Country’s most charming port towns. Maritime traditions run deep here in the hometown of Captain Juan Sebastian de Elcano, who completed the first world circumnavigation after Magellan’s death midway through, the voyage.

We will have the option to visit local archaeological sites or explore vineyards overlooking the village.

Day 4 | San Sebastian

The historic city of San Sebastian is framed by sandy beaches and a backdrop of green-clad mountains. Here you’ll find wonderful architecture and fabulous food. A tour of the Parte Vieja (Old Quarter) leads to an opportunity for pintxos, the tapas-like snacks that are the heart and soul of Basque food culture. We’ll also visit the Albaola Sea Factory Museum and the replica of the San Juan, a Basque whaling ship discovered sunk in the harbour of Red Bay, Labrador. 

Day 5 | Astigarraga

Only a few kilometres up the Urumea River from San Sebastian, Astigarraga is famed for its cider. We’ll visit a family of cider-makers who have five centuries of experience producing cider in the region. The Astarbe family were cultural contributors on a Basque-focused tour of Newfoundland and Labrador. They are keen to host us and showcase their unique connection to the land and history of their region.

Day 6 | Iparralde

Just across the Bidasoa River from Spain, Iparralde (Northern Basque Country) offers a more intimate and rural experience than its urbane Spanish counterpart. We will visit the town of Espelette, famed throughout Europe for its peppers and its picturesque Basque architecture of whitewashed facades and red roofs. Sare, a tiny village at the base of the Pyrenees, offers an option to travel by rack railway to the summit of Larrun Mountain, a sacred place in Basque mythology standing square on the border of Spain and France. From there we cross the border back into Spain to Zugarramurdi, in the mountains of Navarre. Known as the site of the Basque witch trials, we’ll visit the prehistoric caves where the witches’ sabbaths were alleged to have taken place. This day provides excellent opportunities for hikers and cyclists. 

Day 7 | Bordeaux

The wine capital of the world, Bordeaux, France has so much to offer visitors: cuisine, wine, markets, architecture, museums and more. Passengers will have the opportunity for a guided tour of the Old City, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. We’ll be alongside overnight to allow passengers to savour food, drink, and nightlife in fabled Bordeaux! 

Day 8 | Le Teich Ornithological Reserve 

The Ornithological Reserve at Arcachon Bay contains dunes, marshes, reed beds, and meadows, providing habitat for as many as 260 bird species year-round. The reserve is also an important migratory stopover and wintering ground for a wide variety of species. Both long and short walk options are available, with blinds and raised viewing platforms that offer excellent bird-watching opportunities for all. 

Day 9 | Belle-Île, Brittany 

Brittany’s largest island at 17 by 9 kilometres, Belle-Île is known for its plant life. The island’s flora includes eucalyptus, exotic gingko, mimosa, fig, and oleander.

There is excellent hiking and biking along coastal pathways and roads, many offering secluded beaches. Rock pyramids known from Claude Monet’s paintings form an intriguing geological attraction.

Day 10 | Brest

Heavily bombed during the Second World War and rebuilt in the fifties, Brest has been an important naval port for hundreds of years. The Maritime Museum here is in an 11th-century medieval castle remodelled by Vauban, who also oversaw the construction of the Citadelle at Belle-Île. Also, of interest is the Motte-Tanguy Tower, dating to the 1300s, which now houses the Museum of Old Brest.

This morning we bid farewell to the Ocean Endeavour and transfer to the airport, or passengers can independently stay to enjoy Brest and travel onward.

 

Map
Vessel
Ship Info

Sailing with a maximum of 198-passengers, Ocean Endeavour is the perfect vessel for expedition cruising. Outfitted with twenty Zodiacs, advanced navigation equipment, multiple lounges and a top deck observation room, she is purpose-built for passenger experiences in remote environments. The Ocean Endeavour boasts a 1B ice class, enabling her to freely explore throughout the Arctic summer.

Launched in 1982, she has had numerous upgrades, most recently in 2010 and 2014. At 137 meters (450ft) in length, Ocean Endeavour has plenty of interior and exterior space. Enjoy multiple decks offering comfortable lounge chairs, outdoor dining, a swimming pool, sauna and even a hot tub! The spacious interiors allow for multiple workshops and presentations to occur simultaneously. Community is at the heart of our expedition experience. We gather together to learn, enjoy a drink, sing a song or share a yarn – connecting with one and other. The three lounges aboard Ocean Endeavour are fantastic public spaces for seminars, events and dialogue.

The Ocean Endeavour’s private spaces are stylish and comfortable. All cabins have private washroom facilities, a phone for internal calls, radio, TV and air-conditioning. There are a variety of cabin categories available ranging from 9-30 m2 (100-320 sq ft). 

Ocean Endeavour’s crew is experienced, and friendly. Her shallow draft and maneuverability allow her to access isolated fiords, bays and secluded communities. The stylish vessel is at home among the glorious settings we seek. Enjoy the class and comfort of a boutique hotel, while venturing to some of the world’s last great frontiers aboard the Ocean Endeavour!

 

Deck Plan

Pricing

2021 Fares are per person in US Dollars: 

Category 1: $4,495  Deck 4 

Category 2: $5,495  Deck 4 

Category 3: $6,795 Deck 5 

Category 4: $8,095 Deck 4 

Category 5: $9,095 Deck 5 

Category 6: $10,095 Deck 7 & 8

Category 7: $11,095  Deck 8 

Category 8: $12,095 Decks 5 & 7 

Category 9: $13,095  Decks 5 & 7 

Category 10: $14,095  Deck 7 

If you'd like a single occupancy cabin, there are a limited number of single cabins in categories 3 to 7 available without a single supplement. Single cabins in categories 8 to 10 are available at 1.5x the fare quoted above.