• EUR
    • SEK
    • DKK
    • CHF
    • NZD
    • AUD
    • USD
    • CAD

Your Cart is Empty

The Spanish Lapland - An untouched wilderness

Bike, Merino

Join Bec, Sam and Karam as they discover the Montañas Vacías - A 700km bikepacking route through the heart of the Spanish Laplands
The Spanish Lapland - An untouched wilderness

Secret paths beyond Spain's packed beaches

Famed for its enchanting Mediterranean coastlines, sun-soaked islands and crisp Cava; it’s easy to see why over 80 million tourists flock to Spain each year. But beyond the bustling cities, packed out beaches and package holiday playgrounds, lies a secret bikepacking haven, dubbed the Spanish Lapland.

Sam and Bec laughing sitting next to bikes
The Bike Packers' Paradise

A hidden wilderness in the North East of Spain, the Serranía Celtibérica, (Spanish Lapland) is practically designed for bikepacking. It's dreamy gravel tracks – once occupied by horse and carriage – twist up high mountain plateaus, intersect with mediaeval towns and flow through infinite pine forests. At twice the size of Belgium, the region encompasses 10 provinces. However, despite occupying over 13% of Spain’s overall landmass, in the last fifty years it's population has been steadily draining away. Faced with dwindling job prospects, poor access to education and the worst public transport in the country, many of the region's residents have set up new lives in the neighbouring cities of Madrid and Valencia.

Enter; Montañas Vacías

Created in 2019 by Ernesto Pastor, Montañas Vacías is a 700-kilometre bikepacking route. Starting in Teruel and climbing 12,841 metres; the route links together the Montes Universales, Sierra de Javalambre and Sierra de Gúdar regions in the heart of the Spanish Lapland. First conceived as a peyea sursonal project, Montañas Vacías was designed as a way for Ernesto to connect with the land surrounding his homeland of Guadalajara. However, having experienced the effects of depopulation in the region first hand, he soon realised that the route had the potential to revitalise the area.

We connected and vowed to one day ride a route together. Four years later, with our bikes and cameras in tow, we made our way to Spain to experience the Spanish Lapland together...

Bec, Sam, and Karam.

Fast forward to today and the Montañas Vacías bikepacking route brings 1000 riders per year to these empty mountains. Sure, that might not be enough to repopulate the region, but by sharing the natural beauty of the land and educating people about the challenges it faces, this simple bikepacking route has enabled some of its previous residents to return home. Closed up cafes, restaurants and B&B’s that lay dormant and empty, are now open and each year buzz with the sound of riders and freehubs alike. This summer we were three of those riders. Inspired by Ernesto's mission, and our own desire to connect in the only way we know how – through bikes – our rag-tag group of explorers was born. But, what was the catalyst for a bikepacking Kiwi and British couple, and a Syrian Canadian storyteller to go riding in this forgotten region? Well, like all good millennial love stories, it all started with a DM on Instagram. Back in 2019, Karam cycled the length of Vietnam, while we had just begun our first world bike tour through South East Asia. We connected and vowed to one day ride a route together. Four years later, with our bikes and cameras in tow, we made our way to Spain to experience the Spanish Lapland together.

Our Route Highlights

Montañas Vacías takes you across unique Spanish landscapes; riding through the earth-tone hues of the Montes Universales and following endless gravel roads all the way south to the source of the emerald-green Tajo River. The national parks are wild, empty and perfect for keeping cool in the Spanish June/July high temperatures. In our opinion, Montañas Vacías might be the best bikepacking route in Europe. Here’s a few of our highlights to explain why:

1. History layered with epic sunsets - Albarracín

Perched up high on the banks of the Guadalaviar River, rests the fairytale town of Albarracín. Once the capital of a Moorish kingdom, its mix of Islamic and mediaeval flavour, pink-hued buildings and narrow twisting streets makes it an easy place to stop for a rest day or two. Continually in the running for Spain’s prettiest town and a candidate for UNESCO World Heritage status, you’d expect Albarracín to be awash with tourists. But when we were there, it was quiet, relaxed and unbelievably charming. Top tip: Sunsets in this area are amazing and definitely worth staying up for. Even if you’re knackered and just want to curl up into a ball in your tent.

2. Unreal Spanish food

It’s no surprise that the food in Spain is absolutely unreal, and Montañas Vacías is no exception. The local stores and supermarkets are full to the brim with fresh ingredients - the liquid gold that is Spanish olive oil, spicy homemade chorizos, local Valencian oranges, ripe tomatoes (some the size of my face!) paella rice and many delights that can be taken on the trail with you. We also enjoyed simple yet incredible long lunches in the small Spanish villages along the route. Top tip: Check out the Menú del día, or "Menu of the Day". For anywhere between 12-16 euros you’ll get a set menu during weekday lunch, one of the largest meals of the day in Spain. We’re talking an entree, main, dessert (enough to stuff you to the brim) plus endless wine and coffee. What more could a bikepacker want?


Pictured: Bec and Karam post lunch push up

Our Favourite Gear

Over the last 4 years of continual bike travel, Merino wool has been a staple in our kit. So, it’s no surprise that we reached for a mix of long sleeve and short sleeve Merino t-shirts on a trip like this. Here’s a run down of our top picks:

The Roam Cargo Merino Full Zip

Altitude is altitude, and up at 1,800 metres in the Spanish Lapland the mornings can get pretty chilly. When it did, we called on the Roam jersey. A lightweight Merino wool jersey that has all the benefits of Merino Shift plus three rear storage pockets – perfect for snacks and point ‘n’ shoot cameras. On the trail, we found the Roam to be really great at regulating temperature, whilst also wicking sweat quickly. The fit is relaxed and comfortable, unlike a lot of cycling jerseys and after a full 10 days on the trail, our Roams didn’t smell at all. Truth be told, we still haven’t washed them.

Shop Roam Cargo Merino: Women's → | Men's →


Pack Less, Do More with the Icon Tee

Versatile, breathable and rad AF: the Icon Merino t-shirt really stood out on this trip for all of us. Its Merino Air-Con fabric meant it was extremely breathable, packable, and kept us cool, even in 37℃ and full sun exposure. We particularly liked the longsleeve version as it helped protect our skin from the harsh UV rays that the Spanish sun was laying down. Plus, the designs are perfect for on-bike-adventures and around-town-chilling.

Shop Icon Merino Tee's: Women's → | Men's →

So what did we learn?

The route itself is a real tour de force and we can’t thank Ernesto enough for all his effort in its design. It takes real skill to design a trail that truly has something for everyone. The perfect blend of rough stuff to make it feel like a proper adventure, fused with a deep connection to the region's culture, history and challenges; reminding us once again, why we love travelling by bike. Riding Montañas Vacías as a group of three was an experience we’ll all never forget. We pushed, ate, cried, climbed and screamed together. We swam in emerald waters, bathed under the canopy of endless pine forests and spent hours talking under a moonlit sky. Building friendships through bikepacking is one of our favourite ways to connect with people, so we’re so thankful Karam trusted us and came along on this journey with us. Lets just say this isn’t the last time you’ll see this trio going on bike adventures together…

Shop Happiness Seekers Collection: Women's → | Men's →