Onati is a town in the autonomous community of the Basque Country, in the North of Spain. It lies in a valley in the centre of the Basque Country and Onati actually means “place with plenty of hills”, which we can agree with from the rather challenging drive to get there.
It’s in a very picturesque area with lots of beautiful walks. We can again vouch for the hills as we actually went to Onaki because there was a lovely river to swim in and to get to the river was a long walk, up and down lots of hills. On a map, the swimming area with waterfalls is known as Usako.
When we got there there were quite a few kids there and more and more just kept turning up. It was really popular, definitely the place to hang out in Onati on a hot sunny day. The kids loved jumping off near the two waterfalls.
The only problem was the water was super chilly (read just above freezing) having come off the surrounding hills and mountains. No one, not even most of the kids, stayed in the water much more than a minute. It was a strictly jump and and get back out again as fast as you can.
On this trip, Deby had quite a few things she wanted to cross off her bucket list. One was to swim in a river, which she had never done before. That’s her jumping in, holding her nose, and she got out nearly as quickly because it was stupidly cold water. It was the perfect place for river swimming. Although the water was very cold, it was very clean and clear, deep water for jumping and diving, there was no weed or algae, and the bottom was rocky and gravel without any mud.
We spent a great couple of hours at the river and would have spent a lot longer if the water would have been warmer. I guess that is what you get in a hilly area.
We stayed in an official free aire campervan parking area that the local municipality had provided, including toilets. It was right next to a small wooded park in an open area with lovely views of the surrounding hills. It was lovely and quiet at night, and right on the edge of the countryside so Scruffy loved taking long walks here.
There is a map below, showing the Usako swimming area in the top left corner. There’s a car park quite near the swimming area (43.038185, -2.430355). The free aire is in the bottom right area (43.027290, -2.405107) of the map in pink. There’s a chocolate factory near the aire that you can just about hear but which you can definitely smell. Nice!
This place is well worth a detour to visit.