We have recently been on La Palma, an island of the Canary Islands, part of Spain, to have some hiking vacation. We planned to go hiking during a vacation for some time now and this was the first time to realize that.
The trip was planned in advance, we looked up a route to hike, booked apartments and flights in advance, got a hiking map for the island and informed ourselves about it. Not as good as we might should but you will read that later on 😉
First of all, something about the island: La Palma is one of the seven main islands of the Canary Islands that politically belong to Spain. They are located off the coast of Morocco and south of the Portuguese island of Madeira. The Canary Islands a volcanic islands and that what characterizes the nature of La Palma. 40% of the island’s area is covered by forest and the island is marked with lava streams and fields as well as black beaches. The whole island is marked as the UNESCO Biosphere Preserve of La Palma and there are several natural reserves all over the island. La Palma Is yet spared from mass tourism and has retained its traditions and nature. Even if there are some small beached and beach hotels it is not a typical island for beach tourism but for active travelers such as hikers, mountain bikers or extreme athletes and for wellness and nature tourism. Beside that there is the La Palma Starlight Reserve on the island as it is used for observation of stars and space and there are laws that regulate street lights for example to have best circumstances for that.
We flow here on Airberlin and had a good flight. As the airport of Santa Cruz de La Palma (SPC) is quite small, we exited it quite fast and took a taxi to our first hotel in Los Cancajos. It was actually quite pleasant that it wasn’t necessary to bargain about the taxi rates in advance.
We stayed at Apartamentos Los Rosales for only one night and had a small apartment here (Tripadvisor). We took a short stroll in the surrounding, there is a beach nearby and restaurants, that was enough for us. We got water and fruits from the nearby supermarket for the next day’s hiking trip and had dinner at the restaurant Parilla la Habana (Tripadvisor). After the night and a small breakfast from the supermarket we checked-out and took a taxi to the starting point of our first hiking trip: the Monasterio del Císter in Buena Vista de Abajo.
We took the LP 2.1 route up to Pico Ovejas which is on a height of 1854m above sea level. As we started on around 400m above sea level this was quite a lot of altitude to walk up.
The hike started quite idyllic through a small valley parallel to a dry river with a lot of plants and trees around. From time to time there were small houses on the way but most of them were abandoned as even with a car it can’t be easy to get there.
But the first light ascend of the trail was misleading. After the first two kilometers we arrived on the access to the much steeper 3 kilometers of the remaining way up to the mountain crest. These three kilometer where really challenging and we hadn’t thought that it would become this steep and demanding. The trail was quite narrow through the forest, a short part was going through the riverbed of a dry river and in many parts fallen trees and branches made the ascent even more challenging. All that demanded high concentration as slipping or falling were the main risks here, decreasing concentration could’ve resulted in injuries and that would be a real problem up there. We made a lot of small breaks to drink and take a breath as we were not acclimated to the air aloft and didn’t meet anybody on the trail this day.
The ascend itself also made our heads work, as it was quite challenging and you begin to think about when you finally will be at the top and if you gonna make it but when we finally reached it we were more than happy that we made it. After 5.17 Km we reached the mountain crest in a height of 1767m above sea level. It took us 3:46 hours to get here and we ascended more than 1300m. That’s a gradient of about 25% in average and it was a real mammoth trip for us.
The view made the trip worth it and it was even possible to see the Teide, the highest mountain of Spain which is located on the neighboring island of Tenerife (as seen on our report about Tenerife last year: https://thealterlookout.wordpress.com/2014/11/20/report-trip-to-tenerife-canary-islands-spain/) . It was quite windy but we had our jackets with us so that wasn’t a problem.
From here we took the GR 131 route down to Reventón-Pass. Walking on the mountain crest was great, a beautiful view to both sides and not as steep as the ascending track. At the Reventón-Pass we saw the first other hikers this day that used the small plateau for a break. From here it is possible to walk on the GR 131 to the Refugio El Pilar where you have a camping site and a parking lot but we took the route LP 1 down to El Paso where we our accommodation for the night waited for us.
The descent wasn’t as steep as the ascend, but it wasn’t easy anyways, especially if your legs are already a little exhausted. After we passed the Ermita de la Virgen del Pino the track led us through residential areas of El Barrial and El Paso.
We arrived at the Dulce Valle Villas & Spa where we booked two nights. It is a small, quite new and neat apartment complex in El Paso, not far from LP 1. We were shown around and got our apartment keys. It was a great accommodation and if you are on La Palma this is a great basis to explore the island by foot, bike or car (Tripadvisor).
In the evening we went to the supermarket and got some food for next two days and made a dinner before we fell into our bed.
The next day was a small wellness day. After breakfast we enjoyed the small Spa area of the complex. Unfortunately it was a little cold for the outside pool but the inside part with a whirlpool, a steam bath and a sauna made us relax a little. Afterwards we went to the small village center of El Paso again to do some groceries shopping, we had a coffee here and got postcards at the local tourist information. The rest of the day was relaxation and reading again, we had a good self-made dinner and went to bed as we wanted to continue hiking the next day.
We got up early the next day, packed our things together, took a shower, checked-out and started another hiking tour. Our next accommodation was located in Puerto Naos on the western coast of the island. Unfortunately it was almost impossible to hike there as we would’ve needed to walk along a main road for a few kilometers which is not only unsafe but no fun either. So we started on the LP 1 in the center of El Paso again and walked until we reached the junction with GR 131 in Los Llanos de Adriane. From here we walked south on the GR 131.
The trail leads through residential areas and banana plantations with almost no shadows so that we walked all the way towards the sun all the time and it was becoming quite hot. As the trail is on small roads most of the time we also had to pay some attention to the few cars that were passing by but that wasn’t a big problem.
Just before we reached La Manchas we walked along a lava stream, the Coladas de San Juan. Really impressive to see the path of the solidified lava that came down all the way from the volcano and made its own path. We walked on top of it for a few meters and then walked towards Las Manchas.
Las Manchas was the destination of this day, we had Sprite in a bar here and took a taxi down to Puerto Naos from here where we arrived at our Hotel, the Sol La Palma Apartments (Tripadvisor). We had a Studio with sea view which was quite good.
We used the evening to go to the Supermarket and have dinner at one of the restaurants, the La Nao on the nearby beach promenade.
The next day was our last full day on the island. We decided to rent a car that we would return at the airport the next day as it was cheaper than a taxi there. We got a car from Pemai Rent a Car, actually the only rental car station in Puerto Naos, it is located at the beach promenade, too.
As we had the car now we decided to take a trip around the northern part of the island. We drove through the tunnel to Santa Cruz first and drove up to Barlovento afterwards. There are no streets like highways on the island, most street wind through the landscape with a lot of serpentines and there are many stops with great views.
We made a short break in Barlovento, unfortunately it was siesta time and we had to get some snacks at the supermarket as most bars or restaurants were closed (there weren’t many anyways).
We drove along to Garafia and on the way we caught a great view onto the Roque de los Muchachos and the astronomical telescopes on top of it.
On our way back to Puerto Naos we passed along a restaurant called La Muralla in Tijarafe. We decided to have lunch here are the view from the terrace was great and the prices were good. It was delicious and it was a great idea to stop by here (Tripadvisor).
After arrival back in Puerto Naos we let the day fade away with some cocktails at the beach promenade and a little TV time with a beer back at our accommodation.
The next day was our departure day. We checked-out, took our car to the airport and returned it there. We had a last coffee on the island and bought something in the duty free shop before we departed on Airberlin back to Germany again, another good flight with them.
In the end we have to say that we had a great time on La Palma, it’s a beautiful island that is not yet flooded with tourists. It is possible to experience the nature and traditions here, do a lot of different activities on the island and to have some time to relax away from the city atmosphere at home. We loved it and will definitely return one day to do another hiking trip, not sure when, as there are a lot of places to visit on our list, but let’s see.
How to get to La Palma?
The easiest way is to fly to La Palma. The airport of La Palma is quite new and modern and there are different airlines flying here from Europe: Airberlin, TUIFly and Condor from several German airports, Enter Air from Paris, Jetairfly and Thomas Cook Airlines from Brussels, Thomson Airways from London and Manchester and Transavia from Amsterdam. Iberia and Vueling are flying here from the Spanish mainland and several small carriers are flying short routes to other islands. If you are coming in from anywhere else, the best and fasted way is to fly with Iberia and their partners through Madrid. The IATA-Airport Code of La Palma is SPC.
Where to stay?
There are a lot of different types of accommodations available on La Palma. We chose to stay in apartments most of the time as most of them have their own kitchen what makes the stay quite affordable if you cook your own meals and get your groceries at a supermarket. For sure there are also hotels in all different classes available on the island as well as vocational homes for rent.
Thank you for reading, we hope we were able to give you some interesting insight into our trip 🙂 As always, you can contact us by commenting below or just dropping an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org in case you have any questions or suggestions. Also don’t forget to follow our Twitter ( http://www.twitter.com/thealterlookout ) and Instagram ( http://www.instagram.com/thealterlookout ) to be always up to date about our blog posts and to see some pictures even while we are travelling.
Hendrik & Jardena