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Self-Guided Trails of La Palma

from $1,649.00

Fantastic walking across La Palma’s dramatic volcanic terrain

  • Reviews 6 Reviews
    5/5
  • Vacation Style Holiday Type
    Self-guided
  • Activity Level Moderate / Challenging
All about the Self-Guided Trails of La Palma.

La Palma, nicknamed La Isla Bonita (the pretty Isle), is a relatively unheard of volcanic island in the western Canaries. For its small size it features a vast amount of diverse scenery, from dense cloud forest to volcanic landscapes with twisted rock formations and black sand beaches. This walking itinerary is designed to take advantage of the island’s well waymarked paths. These start on the eastern side of La Palma, follow the coast to the north and then finally head south across the great Caldera which dominates the island.

The tour package inclusions and exclusions at a glance
What is included in this tour?Items that are included in the cost of tour price.

* All accommodation (see below)
* All breakfasts and dinners
* Route notes and maps
* All baggage transport
* Airport transfers (at designated times)

What is not included in this tour?
  • Flights
  • Single Accommodation (available on request, inquire for supplement)

Highlights

  • Fantastic walking across dramatic volcanic terrain
  • Spectacular views reaching as far as Mount Teide on Tenerife
  • Local delicacies such as miel de palma (palm honey) and rum made on the island
  • The pretty capital of Santa Cruz
  • Beautiful coastal views and walks through plantations
  • Wonderful flowers all year round
  • 7 nights accommodation in hotels and apartments
  • 6 days walking, with luggage transfers
  • Altitude maximum 2426m, average 800m
  • Self-guided tour. Min age 14 yrs
  1. Day 1 Start Santa Cruz

    Arrive into La Palma and take an airport transfer (included) to your hotel in the capital. If time allows, have a wander round the pretty town which is famous for its iconic balconies and has a lively cafe and restaurant scene.*Overnight Hotel El Galeon or similar*

  2. Day 2 Follow the GR130 long-distance coastal path towards the village of San Andrés

    After a short 15 min transfer to Puntallana, today’s walk follows the GR130 long-distance coastal path that runs across La Palma, through dramatic barrancos (ravines) with stunning coastal views. You will walk through citrus groves, avocado and mango orchards, small vineyards and banana plantations, arriving in the pretty village of San Andrés, one of the first colonial towns on the island. Take some time to explore the cobbled streets and houses in the historic quarter, visit one of the oldest churches on the island, enjoy a side visit to a local rum factory or take a dip in the seawater pools at Charco Azul. Then walk for another 15 minutes up the coast until you reach your apartment where you spend the night. *Overnight Apartmentos Miriam or similar*

  3. Day 3 Walk uphill to Los Sauces; ascend to Barlovento 

    After  breakfast, begin to walk uphill to Los Sauces, a small town with a vibrant atmosphere on the north east coast. Enjoy negotiating the dramatic ‘Barranco de Herradura’, and then ascend just over 500m through several small villages to reach Barlovento (meaning ‘fresh breeze’) a village which enjoys breathtakingly beautiful sea views. *Overnight Hotel La Palma Romantica or similar*

  4. Day 4 Trek through the ‘Dragon Trees Forest’ and across the dramatic Barranco de Franceses before a final ascent

    From Barlovento, follow a path through the ‘Dragon Trees Forest’, across undulating coastline with spectacular views towards the cliffs. Navigate a series of barrancos to reach Los Gallegos, and then descend to sea level, crossing the dramatic Barranco de Franceses before ascending to the pretty village of Franceses; At the end of the walk, take the public bus (fare included) back to Barlovento. *Overnight Hotel La Palma Romantica or similar*

  5. Day 5 Trek down a steep sided gorge to the tiny hamlet of El Tablado. Then a steep ascent before a public bus back

    After a short transfer this morning you use ancient paths to discover the far north of La Palma, one of the most unspoiled parts of the island. Walk across the Barranco de Los Hombres, a spectacular steep-sided gorge, to reach the tiny hamlet of El Tablado. Then a steep ascent to yet another tiny hamlet, Roque del Faro, before taking a public bus (fare included) back to your hotel in Barlovento. *Overnight Hotel La Palma Romantica or similar*

  6. Day 6 Morning transfer to experience an exciting section of the GR131 route along the rim of the crater Caldera de Taburiente

    Today you take a transfer (1 hour) to walk an exciting section of the GR131 route from the highest point of the island, Roque de los Muchachos, along the rim of the crater Caldera de Taburiente, to the Pico de la Nieve. The route has breathtaking views across the island and the high mountain paths twist and turn across the rocky landscape. In the distance it is possible to see the peak of Mount Teide on Tenerife, emerging from the horizon, 3750m above sea level. After a soft descent, your transfer takes you to the capital of Santa Cruz.

  7. Day 7 Walk a popular part of the GR131 along the 'Ruta de Los Volcanes'

    Take an unforgettable walk today along the ‘Ruta de Los Volcanes’. Here you navigate a series of volcanoes in the south of the island, with some of them having erupted only a few years ago. This is the longest walk of the trip, and although it involves a substantial descent it is a very popular and well-marked path, following the GR131 from beginning to end.  *Overnight Hotel El Galeon or similar*

  8. Day 8 End Santa Cruz

    If you have time before your flight, take a small walk around Santa Cruz. This fascinating town attracted Flemish merchants who built imposing town palaces, which today accommodate museums and boutiques. A walk along the Calle Real, visiting the Plaza de España, Town Hall or the food market will be a perfect end to your La Palma experience before your flight home.

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Where you stay

Hotels & Apartments

7 nights accommodation in small hotels and apartments, all en suite. Hotel La Palma Romantica in Barlovento offers a pool (indoor and outdoor) and a Jacuzzi.

Please note that the accommodation is always subject to availability and named hotels may change.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts and dinners included.

In Santa Cruz and Barlovento, breakfasts are buffets in the hotels and usually include a selection of breads, cereals, pastries, cold meats and cheese, fresh fruit and yogurt. In San Andres breakfast is provided in a local cafe and is usually bread, eggs and fruit.

Lunches are not included. A packed lunch can be requested from the hotels in Santa Cruz and Barlovento (please request this the night before) or there are some nearby supermarkets where you are able to pick up food for your journey. Supermarkets are generally closed on Sundays so please be prepared for this.

Dinners are usually 3 courses and are taken from a set menu at a local restaurant or at your hotel and offer a variety of local specialities and international cuisine. There is a lot of fresh fish available.

Drinks are not included with dinner, but a soft drink should cost €1-2, a beer €2-4, a glass of wine €2-3 and a bottle of wine from €8 upwards.

Vegetarians: Please be aware that meat and fish are staple foods in Spain. Most vegetarians do not experience any problems, however please be prepared to be flexible.

Activity level 4 – Moderate/Challenging

The walks on this trip vary between moderate and challenging and each day involves a fair amount of ascent and descent (for more details please see the daily itinerary). As this is a self-guided tour, there will be no group or tour leader and you can walk at your own pace. We do recommend that you take some time to rest and enjoy the views!

The terrain and type of path will vary but many of them can be rocky and steep, especially on the gorge walks on days 4 and 5. Good quality walking boots and poles are highly recommended for the type of walking you will be doing. All of the paths walked are approved and monitored by the Federación Española de Montañismo and are well sign-posted. The walks on days 2, 4, 5 and 7 are classed as the more challenging walks of the trip. If necessary on days 3, 4, 5 and 6 it is possible to shorten the walks, this will be discussed with you on your arrival briefing.

Although the walking can be steep we don’t anticipate that vertigo suffers will struggle at any points. However if this poses a problem alternative shorter walks can be organised.

It is likely that you will encounter barking dogs during some of the walks, but walking poles are a useful deterrent.

Whilst the paths are well signed, it is likely that on the first 4 days of walking you will not come across many other walkers (if any), so it feels as though you have the views to yourself.

It is important that you are happy reading maps and following route notes, we make these as accurate as possible and they are regularly checked.

Families
Self-guided walking holidays are a perfect option for families as they offer the freedom for you to take your holiday at your own pace. You can stop as and when you want and need, places and sites that suit your family and that interest you. As a guide we have suggested that 12 years is the minimum age for this trip, but as it is self-guided and you will be leading your own family we will ultimately leave this decision up to you. The daily distances are all published in the trip notes along with a description of each days walking so you have a good idea of what to expect. However, if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact one of our experts. The principle idea is that these holidays can be as flexible as you like, with logistical support but no group or leader to dictate the daily activities.

Overall Rating
5/5
Reviewed On 26/07/2019
5/5

Self guided La Palma

  • What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Two main ones stand out. The views from the rim of the Caldera de Taburiente and seeing a 'giant' lizard at the bottom of one of the barrancos (valley) which is actually believed, by some, to be extinct! (By giant, it is actually about 13 inches long, we are not talking Jurassic Park here).
  • What did you think of your group leader?

    As we were self guided this is not relevant. That said Alberto, who was our contact on the island, was very helpful and answered any questions we had quickly and efficiently via texts.
  • Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Allow yourself more time than the information gives you. The time stated is fine if all you want to do is walk, but if you want to stop and look at the plants, rocks, scenery, banana plantations etc. then you will need longer. This is particularly so on the Cumbre Vieja day, yes one could power walk it in the 4 - 5 hours given, but stopping to look at the incredible views, examine the volcanoes, including diverting off the main route to 'summit' many of them and so on does take time, but is well worth it. We allowed 6 hours but still ended up having to rush the last few km. Be aware that, as it is unspoilt, you are only staying half board in a hotel for three nights. Other nights are in apartments where you will have to go out for the evening meal (Exodus do arrange this very satisfactorily) and you will need to walk a bit for this. Also, one morning you have to walk for your breakfast. (This is not really a problem, it is part of the adventure, though the bar was shut the day we were supposed to visit it).
  • Is there anything else you would like to add?

    It would be really helpful to receive other information about the island in advance. It was not until we were flying home that we realised we had almost walked passed some interesting cultural and geological 'museums'. Had we known, we would have made time to visit them. (Again, if you are just going to walk from a - b as fast as you can, then this would not be an issue for you, though you will miss so much). We will return to La Palma now we have been introduced to it as there are so many bits we could not see in the time, e.g. the whole of the west side.

Reviewed On 26/07/2019
5/5

Awesome and varied walks

  • What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I think some of the views into and out of the ravines on days 2 and 3. The volcano walk is also awesome. What is great is that the North of the island is very unspoilt.
  • What did you think of your group leader?

    N/A
  • Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take your time - don’t rush the walks. We generally took an hour extra each day than the guide book suggested to really suck up the views. We also managed to get much cheaper flights going via Madrid and Tenerife, than a direct flight. It takes longer of course, but we saved over £400.

Reviewed On 26/07/2019
5/5

Excellent way to walk in La Palma's rugged scenery

  • What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The Caldera crater walk was stunning - the rock formations have to be seen in real life - photos don't do them justice.
  • Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for the number of steepish descents and ascents the ravines (of which there are many) entail - they're fine but good to be mentally prepared!

Reviewed On 26/07/2019
4/5

A lovely holiday in a beautiful place

  • What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Walking along the top of the Caldera looking down on the clouds and the volcanic landscape.
  • What did you think of your group leader?

    N/A
  • Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Although the walks aren't long in distance be prepared for a lot of up and down! Walking poles are highly recommended as some of the descents are very steep.
  • Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The only annoying factor was the inclusion of the evening meal within the package. Whilst the meals we had were generally excellent, there was little choice and we would have preferred the flexibility to chose off the main menu. In Santa Cruz the evening meal was at the same restaurant on all three nights and whilst it was a lovely restaurant choosing from the same set menu was very limiting, particularly for my partner who does not eat gluten. We ended up only eating there two nights and therefore, incurring extra cost. I would recommend taking off the evening meal and reducing the cost of the holiday accordingly. The fixed price menu will still be there was those that want it.

Reviewed On 26/07/2019
4/5

A great trip

  • What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The views from the Caldera de Taburiente were incredible. Also the sense of satisfaction and rewarding panoramas on completing some of the more arduous climbs. I also really enjoyed meeting the local people, who are really friendly.
  • What did you think of your group leader?

    We were self-guided - the notes and map were largely adequate, though occasionally signage or instructions were not completely clear. The local manager was responsive to queries and requests, for example to switch some walking days around due to weather conditions, and not wanting to eat in the same restaurant 3 times.
  • Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    It's a great way to see plenty of the island and have everything logistical taken care of for you. We found that we got a lot of benefit from being able to chat to people in Spanish - this is a much less touristic island and good English is not so widely spoken.
  • Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Do leave time to do a couple of extra walks - we went to Los Tilos, which was very tranquil (and walked out to Los Sauces afterwards), but we were also told about the marcos y cordero tunnel walk (needs a full day I think).

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