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The Urdaibai estuary
View from Mundaka in winter

The Urdaibai estuary is a natural region and a Biosphere Reserve of Biscay, Basque Country. It is also referred as Mundaka or Gernika estuary.

Urdaibai is located on the Bay of Biscay coast, in the north of the Iberian Peninsula. Urdaibai covers an area of 220 km2 (85 sq mi) with some 45,000 inhabitants, most of them concentrated in the towns of Gernika and Bermeo. The territory is characterized by a hydrographic basin of small streams that merge in a great salt marsh surrounded by high sheer cliffs. The surrounding countryside is occupied by meadowland, oak groves, leafy woods and specially by plantations of fast-growing conifers (Pinus radiata). The coastal landscape is covered with Cantabrian woods of Holm Oak and Strawberry Trees.

In Urdaibai have been described 615 species of vascular plants and 318 species of vertebrates, 245 of which are birds.

The area contains remnants of the Prehistoric, Roman and the Middle Ages. Being particularly notable the SantimamiƱe cave, that yielded remains from Mousterian to Iron Age.

The economy is based on metallurgy, fishing, farming and forestry. There is also an important tourist sector, centred mainly on the local beaches. Mundaka is specially appealing for surfers around the world.


There are four distinct areas of interest in the reserve:

  • The estuary.
  • The shores.
  • Holm Oak areas.
  • Archeologic areas.

Geographically three distinct areas can be distinguished: The mountains, the marshes and the coast with its cliffs and beaches.





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