La Palma Island Walking

La Palma Island Walking

Trip Highlights

  • Beautiful Laurisilva forest, famed for its biodiversity
  • The volcanic crater of the the Caldera de Taburiente, the largest erosion crater in the World
  • Views of the crater from Roques Muchahos and Pico Bejenado
  • Views over to Tenerife, La Gomera and El Hierro
  • Classic walks including the Cumbre Vieja hike
  • Great sea food and interesting local wines
  • Possibility for whale watching

Trip Summary

La Palma is the most north-westerly and the fifth largest of the seven main Canary Islands. Its highest mountain is the Roque de los Muchachos at 2,426 metres, being the second highest of the peaks of the Canaries only to the Teide massif on Tenerife. The north of the island is dominated by the giant Caldera de Taburiente. In the centre of the island is the Caldera de Taburiente National Park, noted for its biodiversity as well as its size. Like the rest of the Canary islands, the origin of La Palma is volcanic.

On the south-east part of the Caldera rim is the dramatic viewpoint of La Cumbrecita; accessible by vehicle, and it affords spectacular vistas into the interior of the Caldera.To the south-west the Caldera opens out into the Barranco de las Augustias. The central and southern part of the ridge is the Cumbre Vieja, formed by more recent volcanic activity and there are about 120 volcanic vents distributed along its crest. It is possible to walk the Cumbre Vieja ridge, along the so-called 'route of the volcanoes.' All these places can be visited during these walks.

Famed for its biodiversity, in 2002 UNESCO declared the whole island as a World Biosphere Reserve. Also In order to avoid excessive light pollution, the island has been protected by law, becoming the first Starlight Reserve in the world, and in 2012 being designated a Starlight Tourist Destination. La Palma is an unrivalled location for stargazing and for learning about the scientific, cultural, natural and landscape related values of the stars.

The walks are designed to make the most of the wonderful natural features of the island based from the two main towns, Santa Cruz and Los llanos de Ariadne. There are several different walks that you can choose to do, starting off with some shorter easy to moderate ones around Santa Cruz. There are then a couple of harder choices. On day 5 you will be transferred either directly to start a walk at Cumbrecita, or you can opt to go directly to your hotel in Los Llanos. This side of the island the walking choices are generally longer and harder.

Suitability

We grade this tour as moderate to challenging (grade 4) although some of the walks are much easier and shorter. There are more walks than the number of days available, so you can choose to do different walks on some days depending upon weather and how you feel. Anyone used to hill walking / mountain hiking with a daily height gain / loss of 3,300 ft / 1000 m per day, should find the tour within their capability walking an average of 4-7 hours a day. Although the trails are generally safe and broad, there are sections around craters and sea cliffs that those effected by vertigo will find subjectively vertiginous. Some care is needed on steep slopes covered with volcanic ash.

Itinerary

Depending upon your time of arrival on La Palma, we recommend that you take a taxi to the accommodation in downtown Santa Cruz. Once settled in, you may have time to walk around the picturesque streets of the capital and possibly take the walk up to the Sanctuario des Nieves. This is the main pilgrimage site in the Canary Islands. Here there is a famous Madonna which was said to have arrived here before the first Spanish settlers, thus having been traded to the indigenous population. The walk takes you steeply up via a series of water powered mills from the 1500s, before winding back via the Sanctuary to the outskirts of Santa Cruz. Accommodation: Four nights staying at The Hotel San Telmo. The property is tucked away on a quiet road a few streets behind and up above the seafront. The oldest part of the building dates back some 350 years. The rooms are spacious and have good free Wi-Fi connections. There is a small lounge and a really nice feature is the candlelit patio with Parasols and easy chairs, as well as a carp pond, where you can sit outside and relax. There is an 'honesty bar.’ Breakfasts in the reception / lounge area are continental.

Meals:  Nil

A walk through one of the best preserved sections of Laurel forests in the Canary Islands. The walk takes you up into the beautiful Laurisilva vegetation before arcing towards the east coast and finishing at the village of San Bartolomieu from where there are some great viewpoints just out of town over the sea and towards a major ravine. Laurisilva vegetation is a peculiar type of laurel and fern based biodiverse forest which covers certain altitude bands of the Canary Islands and also Madeira, it can produce its own cloud and drizzle when all around is sunshine! The Cubo de la Galga reserve is a few kilometres outside Santa Cruz and you will need to take the public bus or a taxi both ways. You could also do a longer walk by taking the bus to the village of San Pedro and complete a circular walk along the Camino de las Fuentes, a walk that takes in a series of springs, mostly tapped these days, in the Laurisilva forest (9km 2.5 hours). You can either take the bus back from San Pedro, or walk all the way back down to Santa Cruz via the Tobacco Museum and locally made ice cream shop (add 5 km-1.5 hours).

Meals:  B

This is one of the classic walks on the island taking you up along the crater rim of the Caldera de Taburiente to the highest point of the island, the Roque de los Muchachos (2462m). Along the whole way, in good weather there are excellent views. You will probably see Tenerife and Mt Teide, La Gomera and Mt.Garonajay and the smaller island of El Hierro. The route is a bit of a roller coaster, with a succession of 'peaks' or viewpoints. The walk is fairly easy to follow but needs good weather. As there are no public transport options you will need a taxi to the start (approx. 30 E) and a taxi at the end (approx. 60 E). If you prefer there is another walking option that you can reach with public transport. Not quite as far is to take a bus to El Pueblo, Villa de Mazo. There is a quiet circular walk linking up several existing paths which thread high up into the laurisilva forest and ultimately to ‘Rock Niquimiomo’, a rather overgrown view point on the eastern side of the crater wall. Good views of Tenerife and La Gomera possible along the way. 13.8km / 5.5 hours.

Meals:  B

Recommended is the walk along the northern coast following the rocky trail between the villages of Franceses and of Barlovento. The walk undulates into a series of 'Barrancos' (gorges) and passes some picturesque bays and seascapes, with a possible bar stop half way through. This is a very different walk to the others as you go to the north of the island and walk on the GR 130 above the sea. It can be hot work as a lot of the sections are exposed to sun, however the views are stunning. You will also visit a good stand of Dragon trees towards the end of the walk. Altogether a beautiful day out! All transport can be done by public bus.

Meals:  B

Today you will be transferred with your bags towards Los Llanos de Ariadne, the second main town of the island. The plan is that you will be taken up to the car park at Cumbrecita at 1300m and your bags will be moved directly to the hotel. Here you can do an excellent walk up to the lofty heights of Pico Bejenado at 1854m, the highest point of the southern crater rim of Caldera de Taburiente. On the summit you will find some of the island’s indigenous blue lizards scurrying around. From there descend on a pine needle smothered track to join a minor road which takes you to ‘Centro de Visitantes del Parque Nacional’, the national park centre. From here catch a bus or take a taxi to your hotel in Los Llanos -15 minutes. (You could travel directly to the hotel with your bags if you prefer not to walk). Accommodation: Three nights in the Hotel Benahoare, in Los Llanos de Ariadne, the sister hotel to the San Telmo. This attractive town hotel is in a quiet side road opposite the archaeological museum. Good rooms, often with small balcony and a sun terrace on the roof. Continental & cooked breakfast options.

Meals:  B

This is one of the most popular walks on the island however you will need a taxi transfer (60 E approx. although you may find other hikers to share with) You descend into the Caldera Taburiente in a long arc, cross the Rio Taburiente, one of the only watercourses that runs throughout the year and then follow that river out towards Llanos on a well-made track or the Barranco bottom. There is a short diversion to a mineral coloured waterfall, the 'Cascada de Colores' before the walk along out of the gorge and short taxi back to Los Llanos. If you prefer not to use the taxi transfers or the weather is not favourable, another option would be to visit the attractive seaside resort of Tazacorte, a short hourly bus ride from Los Llanos. It is one of the best and safest beaches on the island and there are some good seafood restaurants. You could also go out on one of the regular dolphin & whale watching boat cruises with swimming possibilities. Boat trips start from around 30 E for 2.5 hours.

Meals:  B

This is a terrific walk to end on. It will require a taxi at the beginning of the day (45 E approx.) to take you up to El Pilar where the walk commences following the ‘Cumbre Vieja’ a rolling ridge of volcanoes down to the village of Los Canarios in the far south of the island. It is called the ‘Old Ridge’ but in reality this is the youngest part of La Palma as volcanic activity extends the island southward. Located between the central and southern regions of the island of La Palma, the Ruta of the Volcanoes has great natural trekking and because of this it was originally an important communication route between the island’s regions. Historical eruptions occurred in 1470, 1585, 1646, 1677, 1712, 1949, and 1971. Walkers with more time and interest could go a few kilometres further to visit the interesting volcano museum by Volcan de San Antonio. It is then possible to walk past Volcan Teneguia, the most recent site of eruption in 1971, to end up at the southern tip of La Palma, the lighthouse and saltpans at ‘Faro de Fuencaliente’. This however is a long walk, and you may wish to finish at the Volcano Museum and walk up the road to Los Canarios to catch the bus back to Los Llanos. Buses can also be caught from Fuencaliente back to Los Canarios to connect with the bus to Los Llanos. Alternatively, spend your last day relaxing on the beach at Tazacorte as described on Day 6.

Meals:  B

Depart Los Llanos for your onward journey. Take the public bus from Los llanos back to Santa Cruz and then another bus to the Airport (two an hour, one an hour on weekends). Journey time approx. 2 hours. Taxis will cost approx 45 E and take around 45 minutes.

Meals:  B

What's Included

  • 7 Breakfasts
  • 7 nights twin share accommodation in 2-3 star hotels with ensuite facilities
  • Transfer to Cumbrecita, luggage transfer to Los Llanos
  • Information pack including route notes and maps
  • Emergency hotline

What's Not Included

  • Dinners, lunches and beverages
  • Taxi fares and bus tickets
  • Entrance fees
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal expenses such as laundry and phone calls
  • Unscheduled transfers required during the trip

Upcoming Travel Dates

AT A GLANCE

Duration:8 Days
Countries:Spain (La Palma)
Starting Point:Santa Cruz de La Palma
Finishing Point:Los Llanos de Ariadne
Activities:Self Guided Walking
Trip Code:JIP
Prices From:GBP£650 Per Person
Single Supplement:GBP£240  Click for more information