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Walking through the Fire Mountains!
At the foot of Fuencaliente, 650 metres above sea level, we find the San Antonio volcano, about 3000 years old. From here, we can see the whole west side of La Palma and the small surrounding villages.
The Teneguia volcano erupted in 1971 and is now below this one.
The track descends from the crater of San Antonio, through an arid landscape of volcanic scoria and dunes of black sand contrasting sharply with the bright blue of the sea. The vines and other small shrubs lend a touch of green to the lunar landscape.
On Roque Teneguia, a pale-coloured rock that emerges from the black cinders, we can see engravings in the stone, carved by the original natives of the island. It is believed that the old thermal springs that were buried in the 1677 eruption, and which the village of Fuencaliente (Hot Spring) is named after, were located here.
Shortly afterwards, we get to the foot of Teneguia, the youngest volcano in the Canary Islands. Hot vapour stinking of rotten eggs, still emanate from the ground here. We can climb the left flank to see the rivers of lava that were spewed out and ran down the mountainside until they spilled into the sea. The scenery is spectacularly arid, giving us a dramatic idea of the extraordinary power that bursts out of the earth with a volcanic eruption. Our path runs down towards the Fuencaliente Lighthouse. The path is easy and pleasant to walk. Walking between the fields of volcanic sand, we reach the southernmost tip of La Palma. Next to the Lighthouse, there is a small beach, an idyllic place that is an invitation to take a dip in the crystal clear waters. Doña Josefina offers us a feast in her typical stall, fresh fish, tuna croquettes, “papas arrugadas” (new potatoes boiled in their jackets in very salty water).
ascent / descent: + 20 m / - 700 m
walking time: approx. 3,5 h. (incl. stops)
distance: 6 km
Picturesque villages and idyllic scenery. The sunny north west evokes peace and calm.
On the track of signs from the past, we walk from Las Tricias, through the idyllic scenery of the north-west of La Palma.
Like a lost paradise, there is a blend of exotic farms next to thousand-year-old dragon trees and almond tree orchards.
The Buracas Caves with their pre-historic petroglyphs, send our thoughts back to the time of the original island natives, who lived in a society that was culturally close to the stone age.
A lovely track leads gently down among country cottages. The rustic bar next to the church is the nerve centre of an exotic community of outsiders who share their time with the locals. We walk down a stone track that crosses the fields. You could almost say that we are sharing the everyday life of the people of this happy spot, in the glimpses we get through each half open door or window.
Lovely colonial style stone buildings with pitched roofs and wooden balconies are grouped together forming centres and squares on the edge of the Izcagua Gorge. Doña Acerina catches sight of us in the distance and awaits our arrival to offer us toasted almonds. We continue downhill until we reach the old Gofio Mill (Gofio is the local flour made from grinding toasted cereals such as corn or wheat) set on a promontory from which you can see the whole north-west coast.
In the distance, on a hill, we discover a copse of thousand-year-old dragon trees in the form of gigantic candelabra. The path continues to descend toward the gorge, where we can see caves that are now inhabited by new settlers.
With the bright blue sea in the background, we reach the Buracas Caves, where we can see the marks of the ancient inhabitants of La Palma; the Benahories, in their petroglyphs.
We can see interesting hieroglyphic figures in the shape of spirals, engraved in the stones that hold all the enigmas of these ancestors.
ascent / descent: + 150 m / - 200 m
walking time: approx. 3 h. (incl. stops)
The “Tapas” behind the Lava
Ash dunes, lava rivers and budding life.
Sunday, 09:30 am. The sun has yet not risen behind the peaks. Half-light invades the exuberant volcanic ash dunes. The hundred-year-old pine forests softly sway their needles to the rhythm of the morning breeze. We are at the Llano de Las Brujas (“the Witches’ Plain”), at more than 1,000 meters (3,300 feet) AMSL.
The trail winds through this exotic and impressive site, swallowing us inside the forest until we reach the imposing petrified flow of the San Juan volcano’s lava river.
At dawn on June 24, 1949, San Juan’s day, the earth opened up, and incandescent lava began slowly churning out from the core of the earth. Some rivulets flow swiftly downhill until they fused into the sea. Others, running thicker, flowed over each other, covering, engulfing and erasing all traces of civilization. When the volcanic fever eventually subsided, a new and Dantesque scene had been etched onto the face of La Palma.
Our path now moves on towards the Llano de Tamanca, skirting small groves where life is budding once again, fighting to reclaim the area snatched away by the volcano. In this picturesque landscape, dotted with vineyards and splashed with fruit trees, lovely farm houses start appearing, and the daily agricultural life of our island re-emerges.
San Nicolás, 13:00 hours. There is a festive air in the village today. Across from the town square, the church shelters the faithful, while in the streets around the square, small bars welcome their own, not so devout, parishioners. In one of these, Teresa awaits us with her tasty tapas prepared her own special way.
distance: 9 Km.
walking time: aprox. 4 h.
ascent / descent: + 50 m. / - 650 m.
The Roof of The Island
We climb up to the top of La Palma; to an altitude of 2,426 m.
Since the highest mountain on La Palma has been accessible by road, more and more nature-lovers feel the urge to climb Roque de Los Muchachos to look down on the island from an altitude of nearly 2,500 metres. Spectacular old paths cross these peaks, and they were used by the islanders taking their wares from one place to another. Our route starts at Pico de la Cruz (2351 metres), running over the mountains to Roque de Los Muchachos.
We immediately discover the impressive precipices that lead to La Caldera de Taburiente: cliffs over 1000 metres high that form a semi-circular rim with a perimeter of 27 kilometres. The views are spectacular, revealing every last corner of the island. Our path winds gently up and down though the mountain peaks.
When we get to Los Andenes Look Out Point, we look north. From east to west, we can see all the tiny little villages clinging to their coastal cliffs. The whole of the north of La Palma is covered with a mantle of green vegetation.
A little further on, the path goes through a stone wall that appears to be man-made. La Pared de Roberto (Roberto’s Wall), origin of innumerable legends, was created as the result of the cooling of a mass of magma that rose up and out of a crack in the mountain. Time and erosion have exposed this basalt dyke.
The Roque de Los Muchachos Astrophysics Observatory is located very close to the highest peak: Roque de Los Muchachos. A series of metal domes house instruments for observing space belonging to different European countries.
The last stretch of our walk takes us to the highest point on the island: Roque de Los Muchachos. We are now 2,426 metres above sea level, with a bird’s eye view of the whole island.
ascent / descent: + 50 m / - 50 m
The Enchanted Forest
A botanical trail through the laurel forest.
a: From the Cubo de La Galga, a pleasant path gently takes us through one of the most exotic and leafy environments on La Palma island: dense laurel and giant fern forests, perhaps the most lovely and spectacular in the entire Canary Islands archipelago, whose origins date back to the Tertiary Era, a time when the world was dominated by terrible predators, and enjoyed a fertile tropical climate.
After reaching La Somada Alta, a lookout point located 900 meters (3,000 feet) AMSL, we are overwhelmed by the superb view out towards the small villages on the verdant northeast area of the island, and we prepare for the descent.
Little by little, we make our way right into the very heart of the Enchanted Forest, a pre-historic jungle bursting with leafy vegetation, majestic ferns hanging from the damp cliffs, while lianas knit their networks through the tree tops, and a myriad beautiful plants and flowers fill every tiny corner of the forest.
A little further on, the path brings us into the first of the clearings where farmers are preparing their crop terraces. Small houses start to dot the landscape, and now we can enjoy watching the locals as they go about their day to day life, working hard at their daily chores.
a+b: In the village of San Bartolo, with a superb view to the northern ravines, we complete the first part of this marvellous botanical route. From here, the road continues on for another hour, for those who want to explore the impressive La Galga ravine, delighting in the spectacular landscape of the east coast.
distance: 7 km 11 km
Duración a pie: ca. 4 Std. 6 Std. (incl. Pausen)
ascent / descent + 350 m / - 550 m +450 / -950 m
Down to the Fishing Village
Dizzying cliffs bathed by gentle waves: This is a route of contrasts!
From El Jesus, in the northwest of the island, we climb along an old stone track through a sea of almond trees, until we reach the edge of the cliff that rims the spectacular Barranco de Las Angustias Gorge. At a small look out point, we find stone engravings from the Benahoare culture.
The view is exceptional and you can easily imagine how the forefathers of La Palma felt when they looked out from here, over the enormous crater of Caldera de Taburiente, the Aridane Valley, the southern mountain range that forms the Volcano Route, or the central peaks that give way to the unrivalled spectacle of the clouds falling like enormous waterfalls.
From here, it is downhill all the way to Puerto de Tazacorte, at the end of the Las Angustias Gorge.
In the distance, we catch a glimpse of the old fishing refuge, with its fishermen’s taverns and its bustling every-day life. At the turn of the century, this was a key spot for the development of the banana growing industry. From here, thousands of tons of fruit were shipped to England, and a new economy began to flourish on La Palma, which still survives.
Further on, the new harbour offers us a more modern view, with its fishing vessels just in from the fishing grounds. This is where Captain Argeo awaits us with his boat to give us an unusual trip. He will show us beautiful spots like Cueva Bonita (Beautiful Cave), La Candelaria Harbour and Paraiso Beach.
Dolphins accompany us on the trip and Argeo offers us a glass of Sangria and a cake. From the sea, we can see the winding track we have followed down from the cliff tops.
ascent / descent: + 200 m / - 650 m
walking time: approx. 4 h. (incl. stops)
distance: 8 km
The Wild North
Through the dense forests to the wild coast and virgin vegetation.
The north, undoubtedly the most charming part of La Palma, is the setting for this impressive walk that will take us to El Tablado, a picturesque village clinging to the cliff tops between two deep gorges.
From San Antonio del Monte, a small church at 900 metres above sea level, our path descends toward Don Pedro between wax myrtle and tree heath, crossing terraces of farm land with a constant view of the impressive peaks of Roque de Los Muchachos.
In the distance, we start to see the first houses scattered over the green slopes of the north. Between the houses, we can see deep gorges separating settlements. In the background, the wild sea pounds the coastline, wearing away the cliffs. The barking of a dog indicates an inhabited house, the last house we pass before setting out to cross the Barranco de Fagundo Gorge, the most spectacular one on La Palma.
El Tablado, on the other side of the gorge, lazily lifts its head, as though it were sleepily emerging from its daily siesta.
The path zig-zags down the gorge between the layers of rock exposed by erosion. Nature’s garden stretches at our feet: blue, pink and white bugloss among the cactus spurge and the common spurge, yellow-flowered houseleeks and reddish sorrel. After climbing for 45 minutes, we reach the first houses. El Tablado is an oasis of peace. The people watch us with pleasure and surprise. Green terraces are dotted around the landscape, showing their crops of potatoes, corn, barley …. The only street leads us to Eliseo’s bar, on the edge of the Barranco de Los Hombres Gorge. From an improvised terrace invaded by the smell of the neighbouring stables, we have a grandiose view of the north coast of La Palma. Here, our walk finishes.
ascent / descent: + 350 m / - 900 m
walking time: approx. 6 h. (incl. stops)
distance: 12 km
Caldera de Taburiente
Natural spectacle in the National Park: A Walk with a capital “W”
The Caldera de Taburiente is one of the largest erosion craters in the world. It is located right in the centre of the island, made up of a circle of mountains nearly 2,500 metres high. The highest peaks drop vertically up to 1000 metres into the crater.
Within the crater, we find brooks, waterfalls, gullies and a wide variety of plants and flowers. The Caldera has a diameter of 9 km and a perimeter of about 27 km. Its special relief gives the crater a sunny, windless climate almost all year round. In 1954, it was declared a National Park.
After crossing the Barranco de Las Angustias Gorge, a winding path leads us to Los Brecitos (1040 metres above sea level).
From here, a well-kept track leads gently down to the “Camping Area”. Las Casas de Tenerra and Casas de Taburiente are the only inhabited settlements and their abandoned terraces are evidence of a flourishing agriculture of yesteryear. There are still some families that continue to live here, looking after their masters’ properties In the Camping Area, on the banks of the Taburiente River, we find an ideal spot for enjoying the splendid scenery around us. On the other side of the stream, our path heads for the Barranco del Almendro Amargo Gorge and descends sharply to the Barranco de Las Angustias Gorge. We spend the last two hours of our hike walking along this gorge. Water erosion has exposed layers of rock of different composition that are interspersed with pillow lava from underwater eruptions. Throughout this stretch, we are accompanied by the brook, which forms small pools of crystal clear water and lovely waterfalls from time to time. La Palma is wonderfull.
ascent / descent: + 100 m / - 850 m
walking time: approx. 7 h. (incl. stops)
distance: 16 km
The Volcano Route
We Trek the Volcanoes of the South. A bird’s eye view of the island.
The Volcano Route can possibly be described as the most spectacular and impressive trek, because of the dramatic volcanic landscapes and the incredible views of the two sides of La Palma from a range of 2000-metre-high mountains. The entire Cumbre Vieja (Old Peak) is an enormous volcano that has burst into life from time to time over the years. From the El Pilar Refuge to the Fuencaliente Lighthouse, an infinity of craters from different ages are scattered across a lunar landscape.
At 1440 m above sea level, our route starts from the El Pilar Refuge, from where we head south. The path gradually climbs, revealing the first scenes: the El Paso plain, Pico Bejenado (Bejenado Peak), La Caldera, La Cumbre Nueva (The New Summit), etc. After an hour, we reach the Hoyo Negro crater, formed by a conglomerate of ashes and cinders, which erupted in 1949. Las Deseadas (two old craters) represent the highest point on our trek; 1949 m. We are now above the clouds. The three neighbouring islands can be clearly seen on the horizon. To the west, a calm sea bathes the coast dotted with little villages. To the north, the enormous crater of La Caldera crowns the island.
After a gentle descent, we reach the Martin Volcano, which can be distinguished by its red tones contrasting with the green pine forests.
When we get to Fuencaliente, we will have spent over 6 hours hiking 19 km, and the route will have shown us how the inhabitants of the island used to have to carry their merchandise from the north to the south. In those days, the Volcano Route was the usual path that was tramped by merchants and country folk, who could enjoy these superb views in the course of their everyday work.
ascent / descent: + 500 m / - 1200 m
distance: 19 km.