Bardenas Reales desert
Bardenas Reales desert
Castildetierra - Bardenas Reales desert
Spanish Pyrenees
From 530 (£ 470)
Self-guided holidays
5 nights - 4 cycling and exploring days
Level :
Holiday code : FP9PUBE
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The Spanish Badlands By Mountain Bike

This is a multi-faceted mountain bike adventure holiday on high plains, among "mesas", through deep canyons, and across real desert landscapes, and you can often choose to further raise the adrenaline by going "off piste". . This is tougher than most of our cycling holidays, and you need to bring your own bike, however, you stay in really comfortable, authentic rural hotels with good food, so while daytimes are a little demanding, the evenings are not!

A summary of your journey

This trip is suitable for electric or non electric mountain bike, supplied by you. With its dusty canyons, magnificent forests and verdant plains, this region is indeed like the American Wild West with its quiet lanes and cycle tracks, no Indians, but authentic villages and welcoming hotels often offering a refined regional cuisine. What's particularly surprising and enjoyable for us English speakers is how little discovered is this almost magical landscape that, despite its "rough tough" geology provides lots of accessible cycling.

The Plus Points

  • Dramatic landscapes, yet generally easy cycling - especially with e-bikes
  • The unique desert and canyons of Bardenas
  • El Cid and Game Of Thrones locations
  • Excellent rural hotel-restaurants - great places to stay

Le programme

Day 1

Standard option: Your journey begins at the small village of Uncastillo that, indeed, has one castle, but also a 14th century palace and five Romanesque churches. It's also a delightfully authentic village built with pinky sandstone that gives it such a warm and welcoming ambiance.

With option extra airport pick-up : We pick you up at the airport or train station in Zaragoza (sometimes Anglicised to Sarragossa - daily flights from London).
People say that this small, rural hotel, La Pastura Posada, is one of the best they have ever stayed in - certainly one of the most enjoyable, and we're delighted it's your first night. Its stone, honey coloured bare walls are cleverly complemented by contemporary furniture and features, so you relax as soon as you arrive. It just feels right, and the dinner will equally please you we are sure.

Day 2

A Memorable Tour Of The Sierra d'Uncastillo. Carrying only your essentials for the day, you set off across an ancient bridge, and climb gently until you are rewarded with a panoramic ridgeway ride, then a dramatic climb to the Three Peaks (e-bikes make it a pleasure) with magnificent views down to Sibirana castle and up to the Pyrenees. You now have a wonderfully free flowing descent of 2,500' through Alpine pastures, and oak woods down to the tumbling Arba river where the stunning Pozo de Pigalo, a large natural pool, has water deep enough to jump into - if you dare. Or a quiet swim before mounting up again to admire the Tours de Sibirina, and remains of the perched hermitage of Santa Quiteria - a wonderful location. Your final stretch back up to the Sierra passes impressive ravines and oak forests.
Another night "back home" at the Posada, and a well earned dinner!
Distance : 35 miles. Elevation : + 1240m / - 1240m.

Day 3

Uncastillo to Murillo El Fruto. We take you and your bikes to Murillo where you will be staying for the rest of the holiday, but a rest it is not! Your circular route today takes you towards Sos del Rey Catolico through fairly hilly countryside with plunging ravines below you one minute, and cool oak and pine woods the next. You complete this section with a swooping descent into the historic village of Castiliscar set mid-plateau, and boasting a once major hermitage, the 12th century church of St John The Baptist, and the more recent man-made reservoir - a great spot for a picnic, not least because of the many species of birds. From here its pleasantly flat and easy cycling at first alongside the canal des Bardenas, which transports water to the desert-like region you'll soon be exploring, until it meets the Aragon river at Carcastillo, a lovely, unspoilt town featuring the impressive 12th century monastery of Santa María de la Oliva. From there it's a quick pedal to Murillo El Fruto.
Txapi Txuri is the sort of family run rural hotel-restaurant you dream of finding - packed with character, a lovely terrace and walled garden, a restaurant with exactly the right ambience and regional cuisine, and just 5 good, smart bedrooms, en suite of course. Its also right in the equally quiet (except on its fiesta day at the end of August) and rural village of Murillo El Fruto, which does indeed mean where the fruit is grown - as you'll see for yourselves.
Distance : 31 miles. Elevation : + 620m / - 870m. Transfer time : 35 minutes.

Day 4

Exploring The Bardenas Desert. After a good dinner, a good night's sleep, and a hefty Spanish breakfast you'll be ready for desert trails! This region is unique in Europe: true desert stretching for upto 30 miles across, created by millions of years of water and wind erosion, and now cut through with canyons yet also featuring magnificent cliffs and ragged mountain tops - called mesas in the Americas. Whole areas have almost no vegetation, although 10 million years ago lakes and rivers flowed into the Mediterranean. You are first taken to the beginning of the Natural Park proper, then cycle through this arid, dramatic and constantly changing landscape via canyons to reach the magnificently situated ruins of the 12th century castle of Peñaflor, associated with El Cid. There's then more fictional history as you cycle through "El Paso" where some of Game of Thrones was filmed. Watch out for soaring and swooping vultures and eagles on your way back to Murillo el Fruto.
Your day's experiences will seem a world away from the tranquillity, comforts and good food of Txapi Txuri.
Distance : 29 miles. Elevation : + 350m / - 350m. Transfer time : 40 minutes.

Day 5

The Real Deserted Desert. Today you cycle around and through the dry heart of this desert, and one of the things that may surprise you is the huge range of colours and tones. Pinks, oranges, reds, browns and much in between, but also two deserts, one called the White Desert (its dominant sand colour), the other the Black Desert (deep, dark canyons, some vegetation). You are cycling on well marked, 4x4, but largely unmetalled, tracks, perfect for your bikes, and giving you the freedom to go "off piste" where and when you fancy making this as great an adventure as you like. The highlight will be the nature defying La Piskerra. Climb right up to it if you dare. Subject to access, you can also visit a region reserved for large birds of prey before wending your way back to Murillo.
A final pleasurable evening and restful night at Txapi Txuri.

Day 6

Standard option: After breakfast we transfer you back to Uncastillo Your trip ends after breakfast.

With option extra airport pick up : We transfer you back to the airport or train station at Zaragoza after breakfast.
  • Détails Pratiques
  • Formalités et Santé


February to December.


The holiday begins on any day you choose in Uncastillo during the afternoon.


The holiday ends on the morning of day 6.


This itinerary features some challenging conditions and cycling, and is suitable for people who are fit and preferably have some mountain bike experience. You are mainly in the foothills and desert, and can go "off piste" as much or as little as you wish, so this can be a very physically demanding holiday, or not, as you decide. In July and August it can be hot, and we recommend early morning starts. In our experience, the best months are April-June and September-October.




We will transfer your luggage to the next hotel, so all you need carry is a daysack with your choice of essentials plus picnic.


This is an independent, self-guided holiday.


You stay in double-twin rooms in authentic hotels with en suite facilities.


The cuisine is often regional in character, and all the better for it. Picnics are not included, but you can shop for them locally, or order them the night before from the hotels (pay locally).


Usually transfers are in people carriers, mini-buses, cars or taxis.

To make the right choice

Have a look at our detailed explanations on the types of hiking, the standards of accommodation, and understand baggage transport ... How to choose your trip ?


You need to keep your passport with you at all times, and ideally insurance information. You need to make your own arrangements to claim local healthcare. There are requirements in France and Spain for all vehicles to carry safety equipment.
Click on the price that corresponds to your choice.
FromToStandard priceWith extra airport pick-up
Fri 15/02/2019Sun 15/12/2019530 €  (₤ 470) 780 €  (₤ 692)
List of additional options (to select later)
TitleTime periodPrice
Location GPS from 15/02/2019 to 15/12/201940 € (₤ 35)
Single room (4 nights) supp. Per personfrom 15/02/2019 to 15/12/2019280 € (₤ 248)


5 nights dinner, bed and breakfast; people transfers as detailed; luggage transfers as required; detailed cycling directions; 1:25,000 maps as required; GPS tracking on request; 24/7 customer phone service.


The journey to the start point and from the finishing point (Uncastillo); the mountain bike ( hire is complicated in this area, we recommend you bring your own bike) menu choices at extra cost; all drinks; lunches; entry fees; booking fee of 20€ / person: personal and travel insurance.
Provided by TransferMate

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