The further south you travel in Navarra, the drier the landscape becomes, until it’s hard to believe you’re still in the Basque Country. Indeed, the extraordinary Parque Natural Bardenas Reales (Bardenas Reales Natural Park), 70km south of Pamplona, looks more like the deserts of the Wild West than anything you’d expect to find in Spain.
To reach these desolate, eerily beautiful badlands, detour east of the main north–south roads to reach the village of Arguedas, 20km north of Tudela, then follow the signs east. Entrance is free, but it’s worth stopping to pick up maps and advice at the information centre, 6km along. With an hour to spare, drivers can complete a short dirt-road loop to admire some of the most spectacular formations, including stark mesas, jagged striated hills, and bizarre isolated hoodoos. Any longer, and you can venture further off the beaten track into the back country, or explore the various clearly marked hiking trails.