The Painted Forest of Oma is located near Kortezubi and can be reached by car. Our Michelin Green Guide for Spain advised us to park at the restaurant of Lezika. The trail to head up to the Forest or ‘Bosque Animado de Oma’ is just across the road from the parking lot.
It’s about an hour walking uphill, on a road between the pine trees, until you reach the Forest. It was a pretty decent climb.
Note: you cannot drive all the way up to the Oma Forest. You have to leave your car on lower grounds and hike up.
The Painted Forest of Oma is part of the Parque Natural de Urdaibai that was transformed into some sort of outdoor art gallery by the artist Augustín Ibarrola. He combined the techniques of rock painting out of the Paleolithic period with Land Art, an artistic movement that uses nature as the material with and on which to create something.
Ibarrola painted the pine trees in such a way that, when you look at them from a certain angle, the stripes and signs on the different trees form an image. There are small yellow circles with numbers on the spread throughout the Forest. They’re there to show you where to stand and in what direction to look to see all of the shapes and figures.
Online you can find a map of the Bosque de Oma with the titles of the different works next to the corresponding numbers, but the most interesting thing to do is just walk around and let your imagination run wild. You might spot something that no one else sees.
Visiting the Painted Oma Forest is thus truly an individual experience. What you see changes with every step you take and no one is able to see the exact same figure as you do at the same moment.
We spent about half an hour in the forest itself and between half an hour and an hour to get back to our car.
You don’t have to go back the same way you came though. At the beginning of the Forest, you can see a small road on your left side – it’s a nice viewing point as well – which says “Oma 2 km”. If you follow that path it will take you to the road through Oma. You just have to follow the arrows. This walk is entirely different than the one you took to get to the Forest, but nevertheless more than worth it.
You’ll get spectacular views of the valley in which Oma (a village consisting of 5 houses, a chapel and a cow) is located. At the end of the road, you’ll be back at the parking lot. You can, of course, also take the tour the other way around, but it will be less clear since there are no arrows directing you towards the Bosque if you start in Oma.