Dry Stone Route, GR221 Pt 2

GR221 Dry Stone Route Mallorca HikingToday we continue our hike along Mallorca’s Dry Stone Route (GR221). In our last post we covered the first three stages of this walk from Port d’Andratx to Esporles. The complete route spans from Port d’Andratx in the SW of Mallorca up to Pollensa in the NE and realistically is a hike you would need to take over several days. There are several hostels or Refugis at various stages along the way, charging a very reasonable price for bed and breakfast, and usually typically Mallorquin meals (if you don’t fancy hostel accommodation there are plenty of really nice hotels to choose from too…)

Today we’ll walk sections 4 to 6:

Stage 4 Esporles through Valldemossa to Deia and Can Boi refuge

Stage 5 Deia to the Muleta refuge and the Port of Sóller

Stage 6 Sóller through the Barranc de Biniaraix to the Cúber lake, and finishing at Tossals Verds refuge

As mentioned in our previous post, there are still some issues with rights of way and some poorly marked areas (and sometimes no way-marks at all!) in the early stages of this long distance walk. We’ve flagged up some of the problematic areas and we’ll update these posts when things improve. Section 4, our starting point for this post, also has a few problems…

Dry Stone Route Stage 4 map

Section Four stretches from Esporles through Valldemossa and on to Deia. This is beautiful countryside and involves a challenging hike of about 6 hours and a spectacular descent into Deia. It’s best you have some walking experience to complete this section. There is partial signposting, but no right of way issues.

Can Boi Refugi Mallorca HikingAs well as the three beautiful villages of Esporles, Valldemossa and Deia, you will also pass historic charcoal burning sites, bread ovens, and aged olive groves. You’ll need a good route guide for this section, as there are some fairly overgrown areas that can be misleading. Your destination is the mountain refuge of Can Boi in Deia. This hostel was opened in 2006 and has 32 beds laid out in dormitories.

Section Five runs from the fabulous village of Deià to the port of Sóller and the mountain hostel of Muleta. This is an easy hike of about 3 hours and it is fully way-marked. It is a delightful old Moorish footpath from the 10th century and has been restored in a number of sections. But before you leave Deià, be sure to have a good stroll around – it’s an enchanting village.

Port Soller to Cap GrosAlong this stretch of the GR221 you’ll enjoy walking through olive grove terraces, and you’ll see pretty country houses and the superb protected estate house of Muleta Gran. Other things to explore include the small 17th century chapel of Castelló and the lighthouse of cap Gros built in the 19th century, from which you get great views of the Port of Soller. It’s also worth a little diversion from the GR221 to visit the defence tower of Sa Pedrissa, a building dating back to the 17th century. You could also treat yourself to a gourmet meal at the famous Bens d’Avell restaurant…

Tossals Verd lodge Mallorca HikingOur final stage for this post – Section Six moves inland into the region of Escorxa via a steep uphill climb. This section should take around 8 hours and has some quite difficult sections – reaching heights of up to 1000m. From the Muleta refuge you pass through the beautiful valley of Sóller up to the Cúber through the ravine of Biniaraix (declared a Cultural point of interest in 1994 for its dry-stone heritage value) and on to Tossals Verds – views from here stretch down to the bay of Palma. Don’t forget to watch out for birds of prey when you’re in the Cuber and Tossals areas – these are excellent spots for seeing them.

Make sure you take some time to appreciate some of the lovely historic buildings in Sóller, and stop for a freshly squeezed orange juice in the picturesque village of Biniaraix.  You’ll also see orchards of citrus trees laden with fruit, olive groves, impressive estate houses, country cottages and casitas, an incredible water-channelling systems (fountains, washing places, channels, troughs, water mills…) including a complete modular concrete channel linking the lakes of Cuber and Gorg Blau. You will also notice the changing plant life as you enter into the mountainous area of the Serra Tramuntana – a whole new world of island flora will unfold before your eyes. It’s also not unusual to see cows wandering free around the lakes and woods, as well as groups of mountain goats and sheep.  Many varieties of birds also nest and flourish in this area including the impressive  soaring birds of prey.

The mountain hostel of Tossals Verds is your destination at the end of this section, and it will be a welcome sight after a long walk and a steep climb. This hostel has been open since 1995 and is roughly equidistant between Soller and Lluc. If you want to stay at the refuge you must reserve your bed in advance.

Here we will rest until our next post completing the final two sections and our destination, Pollensa. We have covered the equivalent of approximately 18 hours walking here, so it’s time to rest here – until the next time…

Mallorca Birds of Prey

Birds of Prey with Mallorca HikingBirds of Prey are not necessarily what you’d expect to see in brochures about Mallorca, but just as many other mountainous regions of the world are famous for their giant birds, so too are the Sierra Tramuntana of Mallorca. Off the beaten track with Mallorca Hiking, we often see these graceful birds gliding high in the sky above mountain peaks – graciously drifting up and down as they connect with warm thermals rising up from the lower valleys. Today we’re going to introduce you to some of the birds of prey you might see on one of our guided walking tours.

black vulture mallorca hikingThe most famous birds of prey resident in Mallorca are the Black Vulture. They were close to extinction in 1982 when only 20 birds survived as the only island vulture population in the world. However, thanks to a number of conservation initiatives introduced – initially by the Balearic Natural History Society and Ornithological Group and then the Black Vulture Conservation Group (BVCG), the black vulture population now stands at 120 birds with 15 mating pairs. With a wingspan of nearly 3 metres and a brown and black plumage, they glide majestically over the peaks of the Tramuntana range – make sure you have your binoculars ready for a closer look and if you’re lucky they may be close enough for some impressive photos.

Below is a video taken from a permanent nestcam positioned high above a vulture nest in the Tramuntana mountains. You can see more video footage here: BVCFMallorca

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9000AQwnd1M&feature=player_embedded

Other impressive birds of prey that you’ll see on Mallorca include the Griffon and the Egyptian Vulture, the Booted Eagle and Eleonora’s Falcon. A good place to see these fabulous birds is in the north of the island – the Boquer valley, the Albufeira reserve and Cap Formentor are all excellent spots, and are all within just a few miles of each other. The island of Dragonera in the southwestern tip of the island is a superb bird sanctuary and particularly popular for Eleanora’s falcons.griffon vulture mallorca hiking

Apparently in 2008 after some very heavy storms, around 100 Griffon Vultures landed in the Balearics. Most have since departed but quite a few settled here in the Cuber lake area. The Griffon vulture has a very white bald head, a broad wingspan of nearly 3 metres and short tail feathers. It has a white neck ruff and yellow bill. Vultures have a life span of between 50 and 70 years, with one reported case of 118 years!

Egyptian vulture Mallorca Hiking

The Egyptian Vulture is a rare sight in Mallorca. It is very distinctive with an underwing black and white pattern and wedge-shaped tail. Like other vultures it soars on the thermals. It has been seen to use stones to break the eggs of other birds, making it one of the few birds that makes use of tools.


Booted Eagle Mallorca Hiking

The Booted Eagle is another predator that lives in the mountains of Mallorca. It is a medium-sized bird of prey of about 47 centimetres in length and has a wingspan of 120 cm. It hunts small mammals, reptiles and birds.

eleanora's falcon mallorca hiking

Eleanora’s Falcon is a large and slender falcon, with long, narrow wings and a relatively long, rounded tail. This species comes in two quite different colours, a light and a dark plumage. It has a wing span of about 1 metre and can be seen throughout the Mediterranean islands – particularly in Greece.

If you want to see some of these wonderful creatures up close, and get a better idea of what you’re looking for in the wild, there is a fantastic Falconry show at La Reserva in Puigpunyent. You can view first hand the elegance of these wonderful birds with an impressive flight demonstration.  The falconer also demonstrates some training techniques and tells you all about the various different types of birds – well worth a trip..

Mallorca has a wide and rich range of interesting bird-life (and is a popular destination for birding holidays) and here we have introduced you to only 5 of our most majestic inhabitants. Watch this space for more bird-related articles, and why not come along on one of our Tailor Made holidays and see how many different species you can spot – don’t forget to bring your binoculars!

(click on an images  for the enlarged slide-show)

Wild Orchids of Mallorca

bumblebee orchid Mallorca Hiking There are no less than 60 species of Orchid growing wild in Mallorca and the Balearic islands. They grow in hedgerows, meadows, woodland and even wet-lands, as they prefer a damp atmosphere. These beautiful specimens are protected in Spain and it is totally forbidden to pick them. But the pleasure of “collecting” them pictorially is even more enjoyable as you can look back on your find forever, and the Orchid can continue to give pleasure to all who pass by.

The areas around the island where you’re likely to find wild Orchids are the Mondragó nature reserve near Santanyí, in the s‘Albufera near Alcúdia, Cabrera National Park and (the most prolific) in the Tramuntana mountain range.

Orchids are incredibly adept at attracting insects to pollinate them, and have many tricks to attract their flyingOrchid Pollination Mallorca Hiking germinators. The flower grows to imitate a female insect such as a bee or a wasp (see examples in our slide show below), thereby enticing the male to mate with it. The male may leave disappointed, but the Bee or Wasp Orchid knows this will ensure it’s pollen will be attached to him and passed on to the next Orchid.

Other pollination ploys include emitting scents of the female insect and producing a form of glue so the insect has to struggle to escape. The flower then bends sufficiently as the insect breaks free to ensure the pollen is in the right position for when the insect makes contact with the stigma of the next flower.

Self pollination is also possible with Orchids, meaning if all else fails, they can do the job themselves! The result of this is that all genetic mutations are passed to all offspring of the parent. This gives rise to many stable populations as we can now see throughout Mallorca.All these factors have helped create a growing and varied range of Orchid species for us to enjoy on the island.

Orchids can be found blooming from as early as February . The White Helleborine with its white to cream-yellow flowers and the Giant Orchid, which grows to a height of 60cm are two early bloomers. Other popular species are The Mirror Orchid and the Ophrys Balearica or Balearic Orchid (the only native orchid species in the entire Balearic islands). Below we have created a slideshow of many of the varieties of Orchids you can find around our beautiful island. See how many you can find, photograph and identify later. We would also appreciate it if you left us a comment with locations on the island where you have discovered wild Orchids.

For a sure sighting of one of these beautiful flowers why not come along on one of our Tailor Made Holidays – or if you are resident in Mallorca join our Resident’s Walking Club – we have regular monthly walks and will bring you closer to all things beautiful in Mallorca.

Click on one of the images to open a lightbox slideshow

Photographs all taken in Mallorca

Photographs courtesy of:

Orchi at Wikimedia Commons (www.commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Orchi)

www.thinkoholic.com

The Peaks of Mallorca

Es Teix Peak with Mallorca Hiking

Es Teix Peak

The Serra de Tramuntana is the highest mountain range and the most extensive area of natural beauty on Mallorca. In this stretch of highlands, which spans from Valldemosa to Pollensa, we find some of the most enjoyable and demanding walks. There are many peaks (or Puig in Mallorquin) and each has a magic of its own, and it is from here that we get the most spectacular views across the island. Let’s take a virtual tour (or viaje) through these magical Peaks of Mallorca.

Starting from the beautiful village of Valldemossa we have clear views of our first peak, which is easily accessible on foot. Es Teix (meaning yew in Catalan and so named because of the yew trees growing on the slopes) stands majestically above the villages of Deia and Valldemossa – the central point of a long ridge running from Talia Vella to Sa Gelara above Sóller. It’s highest point is 1064m and from here there are far-reaching views of both sides of Mallorca as well as along the main ridge of the Serra de Tramuntana. This is a popular peak to ascend, as combined with the Archduke’s bridle path it is one of the island’s classic hikes.

Tossals Verds Peak with Mallorca Hiking

Tossals Verds

Moving on in the direction of Sóller we come to the Puig de Tossals Verds, which is the highest of a group of peaks south of Gorg Blau, and east of the Cúber reservoirs. There are a number of good walks in the Tossals area, and one of the most popular is the circuit around the mountain via the Tossals Verds refuge. However, in this post we’re focussing on peaks…. and this is another easy peak to reach. Together with a climb to the top of nearby Morro d’Almallutx, it is a challenging – and very satisfying – day’s hike; by itself, it is a good afternoon’s work-out – see our fun video on Youtube!  The highest point is 1115m and again we get some spectacular views down to the Bay of Palma and across to Massanella and Puig Major (see below).

From Tossals we move on to Puig d’en Gallileu which looks over the monastery of Lluc. This peak can be reached from the reservoir of Cuber through woodlands and passing the watering hole of Font Des Prat. Our route now ascends again, moving into the mighty backbone of this mountain.

Two more easily accessible peaks in the  area are Sa Rateta at 1084m and L’Ofre at 1091m. Together they constitute a fabulous day’s hiking, starting at the Cúber reservoir. L’Ofre is a very distinctive cone-shaped peak and this walk is a high ridge walk between the two peaks with breathtaking 360º views. Get your binoculars out and watch for the birds of prey - we very often see them in this area. Alternatively we could descend into Sóller from L’Ofre via the famous Pilgrim’s Steps and the pretty village of Biniaraix.

The peak of Massenella with Mallorca Hiking

The peak of Massenella with Mallorca Hiking

The highest peak on the island is actually Puig Major at 1436m but this is military zone so it is not accessible by the public. The highest accessible peak is the Puig de Massenella (1367m) and it is a challenging but enjoyable hike to the summit. The route to the top of Massenella finishes at Ses Bassetes, where the atmosphere and views are truly breathtaking – this is definitely worth the effort and a very memorable experience!

The peak of Tomir with Mallorca Hiking

The peak of Tomir

Heading a bit further north now,  we come to Puig Tomir (1103m), another well known and popular summit to climb. It is very accessible and we can reach the top via a glorious climb in about 1 and a half hours from the Binifaldó road. This is an intriguing peak – bare and rocky with steep crags and a circular snowpit nearby – and gets a unique perspective of Pollensa and the Formentor peninsular. However, our views are saved right until the end when we reach the top and look down over the town of Pollensa. Stunning!

Puig Roig with Mallorca Hiking

Puig Roig

The last of our peaks in this post is Puig Roig (1002m) – a magical walk with smugglers paths and cave houses, makes this a classic finish in our mountain adventure. We’ll very likely see birds of prey circling in the sky above – a glorious sight. This is a stunning and very Mallorcan hike, which ends with the descent to the monastery at Lluc, a suitable destination to bring our post to a close.

Now enjoy a selection of stunning photos of these wonderful peaks – below. Why not plan your next walking holiday with us at Mallorca Hiking – and make this virtual tour a reality? We’ll design an itinerary just for you and your friends – see our tailor-made holidays. See you soon…

The Moors and the Christians

Moors & Christians1 Mallorca HikingThe second Monday in May (the 9th May in 2011) is a massive fiesta in the Sóller calendar. Much of the activity revolves around the annual re-enactment of the famous battle between the Moors and Christians originally fought on the beaches on 11th May 1561.

Celebrations commemorate a battle won by the bravery of the Pollença citizens who fought against 1,500 Moors led by the fearsome pirate Dragut. Probably the biggest pirate attack ever to be launched  on the island was thwarted primarily by the bravery of local hero, Joan Mas.  His warnings and  his heroic launch into battle, leading his local kinsmen to attack the pirates landing on the beaches, saved the day.

The initial “attack” comes by boats from the sea and onto the beach near the pier in Puerto de Sóller; the action then moves down the coast –  accompanied by Moors & Christians Mallorca Hikingtraditional Mallorquin music. The battles then move into the town centre, where historically both men and women rise up against the pirates.

The whole town of Sóller gets involved in some way in this fiesta. The two warring parties are easily identified as the Moorish troops wear dark make-up, but sometimes within the chaos and modern day enthusiasm for the fight it is hard to see who is actually winning. Needless to say lots of food and drink is consumed and everybody – both participants and spectators have a thoroughly good and very rowdy time!

As well as a huge street party, there is also an amazing fireworks display in the evening. From about 8 p.m. everyone who has taken part in the battle arrives at the Plaza. Here everybody joins in the biggest “fight” of the day and the noise is quite deafening – thick clouds of smoke fill the village square. Banks and houses are “robbed” by ladder-wielding pirates; bodies are strewn everywhere as the enactment mimics history with people hanging from trees, and blood-stained clothes adding to the dramatic effects. Finally victory is announced and the village joins as one singing La Balanguera – the hymn of Mallorca. Now all become friends again and the party really begins!

Moors & Christians Mallorca Hiking

Moors & Christians Mallorca Hiking

Music and festivities continue late into the night.

Es Firó is the biggest and most dramatic fiesta that takes place in Sóller. It is well worth experiencing, so if you can get to Mallorca in early May it’s a great time of year to combine a walking holiday as well as some serious partying!

If you can’t take time off, take a look at our tailor made walking holidays – we can organise a walking itinerary especially for you and your group, exactly when you want it…

We hope to see you soon…

Under Mallorca’s Spell – From BBC to CB&B (Chic Bed & Breakfast)

Can Reus Fornalutx Mallorca HikingMallorca has a way of making you look at life in a whole different way. As I can vouch from my own conversion from London strife to country life – Mallorca has a way of making you appreciate a slower way of life.

Many expats complain about the mañana syndrome here in Mallorca. I still have difficulty accepting afternoon siesta closing times, queuing for meetings rather than telephone solutions, Sunday closing and more. But none of these “problems” would tempt me to return to the hectic life I left behind in the UK.  So it was with perfect understanding that I discovered another couple who made a similar escape – also due to a love of the great Mallorquin outdoors.

In the picturesque village of Fornalutx you will find a small rural hotel nestled between orange, lemon and olive groves. From theCan Reus 1 Fornalutx Mallorca Hiking garden of Can Reus there are spectacular views to the Tramantana mountains and endless hiking routes on the doorstep. Indeed the owners are keen walkers, and this is how they became the owners of this idyllic retreat.

The location of this lovely hotel made it an obvious choice for Mallorca Hiking and for a base for our Tailor Made Walking Holidays. The superb facilities and service would have you believe the hosts had been in this profession all their lives – but those of you familiar with TV news and current affairs programmes would be surprised to see Sue Lloyd-Roberts that formidable sleuth of investigative journalism greeting you from her “other job” here in Mallorca. And husband Nick Guthrie continues to produce and edit his weekly current affairs programme for the BBC, Dateline London (but he is back at his post at Ca’n Reus by Sunday).

Can Reus 2 Fornalutx Mallorca HikingSue recounts that they originally bought a holiday home in Fornalutx to have a quiet place to escape from the mayhem of London, enjoy the incredible walks in the Tramantana mountains and the relaxing Mallorquin country lifestyle. Then the boutique hotel next door became available, and against all the advice and protests of friends and family, Nick and Sue invested in their new venture.

My personal trajectory into Mallorquin life also involved taking on an agroturismo in the south east of the island, so I understand what Sue means (when she recounts in an interview for abc Mallorca) that it didn’t begin auspiciously. As somebody who took on a business with more sentiment from the heart than the head, I know the learning curve can be very steep – I’m sure strong nerves from all Sue’s reporting experience came in very handy to overcome some of the pitfalls of Mallorquin bureaucracy, and the very different ways in which things get achieved in Mallorca.

However, regardless of the inauspcious start, the result is a beautiful 9 room hotel with the Serra Tramantana mountains literally Nick Guthrie & Sue Lloydoutside the back garden. This is truly a place to escape and forget the world. Relax and enjoy one of Nick’s chicken casseroles with olives, or one of Sue’s fish specialities fresh from the local market – complete with organic vegetables and accompanied by the very latest world news and current affairs!!

Nick still commutes between Mallorca and London for his weekly news shows, and Sue confines her award winning documentaries to the low season for the hotel. Both return to Mallorca as soon as they can, ready to kick off the world and share their Mallorcan oasis with their guests at Can Reus.

We can highly recommend this lovely hotel as a base for a walking holiday…

The importance of Hydration

Hydration with Mallorca HikingWith the Spring weather upon us and perfect conditions for taking that excursion into the countryside – it is important to remember to carry sufficient water with you. Today’s tip from Mallorca Hiking concerns adequate hydration

Never underestimate your water requirements. The slightest bit of dehydration will cause a decrease in your physical performance. If allowed to deteriorate further, it can lead to much more serious problems. Start with easy walks to understand your body’s individual requirements. The average person should consume a minimum of 3 quarts of water per day especially when walking energetically (which is definitely the case on some of our hikes in Mallorca with peaks of up to 2000m above sea level). Also important to bear in mind is how much of your walking route is shaded – the more open and exposed, the more water intake you’ll need.

Hydration function in our bodies:

Our bodies are composed of about 66% water. Fluid and electrolyte balance is a major function of homeostasis (which is our body’s ability to maintain its internal environment as it adjusts to challenges and stress). If our bodies are able to adjust to these challenges a healthy balance is maintained. Proper hydration is important for cellular metabolism, blood flow and our physical performance.

Hydration bladder with Mallorca HikingLack of water can lead to muscle cramps, major headaches, fatigue, heat exhaustion and heat stroke so it’s important to ensure this vital ingredient is always high on your preparation list for long walks.

For those of you looking to hike or take longer walks on a regular basis, there have been some superb accessories hydration bladder with Mallorca Hikingdeveloped for maintaining your hydration easily. Hydration packs have almost become a ‘must have’ accessory for hikers worldwide – we quite often pass fellow hikers with a tube running from their rucksack with a mouth piece clipped to their shirt. These hydration “bladders” fit conveniently into any rucksack pocket, as the bag adapts to it’s surroundings. A pipe then runs from the backpack and can be attached to your shirt or jacket collar. Regularly topping up your liquid intake is made super easy – no more stopping, unpacking, unscrewing, repacking etc – just lean forward and drink!

WATER BOTTLE TIP

If you take traditional water bottles as part of your hiking hydration system, invest in some good quality 1 litre bottles (Nalgene is a recommended brand). They have wide mouths and are easy to clean, secure lids that are attached to the bottle (lids don’t drop  in the dirt), and they are sturdy enough to take some abuse in your backpack.

How to calculate your fluid intake needs when walking

The best hydration strategy for hikers is to ensure you stay fully hydrated. This really needs to start about one week before your hiking trip. Good hydration is especially important for the two to three days prior to your trip. Two litres is the minimum daily intake, but remember hiking is a physical activity and through perspiration, exposure and climate you can become dehydrated very quickly.

HIKING HYDRATION TIP

Never pass up an opportunity to fill your water containers while hiking. Always start your hike with a full load of water and don’t depend on the availability of water at some future point on the trail – you may end up disappointed and heading toward dehydration…

Signs of Dehydration:

The following tell-tale signs of dehydration may help you react earlier and begin rehydrating sooner. As a rule of thumb if you are feeling thirsty you are already dehydrated. Other signs include:

  • Muscle cramps
  • Headaches
  • Dry mouth
  • Weakness
  • Unclear thinking
  • Fatigue
  • Bloating
  • Dark yellow urine

Try and remember these simple guidelines when planning your next hike – particularly as the weather is improving and temperatures are steadily increasing.

For further tips on preparing for a walking trip, read through some of our other helpful articles:

10 After Hike Recovery Tips

Practice Makes Perfect

Top Tips – Preventing Blisters

Wonderful Walking Facts

Happy (Hydrated) Hiking!

Soller to Lluc via the Pilgrim’s Steps

Monastery at Lluc MallorcaThe Pilgrim’s Steps are part of one of the most popular and enjoyable walks on the island of Mallorca – a 14 km hike from Soller to the monastery at Lluc, that continues on into Pollensa. The route passes through many different terrains, from mountains to valleys; woodland to spectacular coastal views; a limestone valley that descends into the canyon where the actual Pilgrim’s Steps are found – a cobbled pilgrims’ trail comprising almost 2,000 shallow stone steps.

Starting from Soller follow the road to the village of Biniaraix, which leads through groves of orange, lemons, figs and almonds. This is a picture postcard perfect Mediterranean village where each doorway and windowsill has been carefully tended with flowers, vines and bougainvillaea. Then moving on up to the Barranc (or gorge), the Pilgrim’s Steps lead us into the mountains. You can just imagine the work required to produce these steps and appreciate all the effort made by our ancestors to make our access to these mountains so much easier. More enchanting terraces of olive trees dropping down into the narrow valley of the Cornadors, and from here we move onto the Coll de L’Ofre. From the Coll there are spectacular views down to Sóller and in the other direction to the Cuber reservoir below and Puig Major above.

There are several routes leading to the Cuber dam from here, one passing over the L’Ofre peak and a testing ridge walk, which then leads down to Cuber – look out for the abundant birdlife around the lake, including many birds of prey (covered in more detail in our previous post).

From the Cuber lake there is a gentle incline up through woodland to the Tossals Verd summit and more spectacular views (see our Youtube video of the route to the summit). If you are hiking over several days, the Tossals Verd refuge is a perfect stopping point. Here you can enjoy a home cooked meal complete with vegetables from the garden, and stay overnight if you want to. There is a circular path around Tossals Verds mountain and the refuge is located on this route. You can therefore access the refuge via either direction. Both paths to the refuge are well marked – one runs through a number of tunnels via one side of Tossals Verds and the other via the canaleta which is a slightly longer route the other way around.

Continuing on to Pollensa from the refuge, the route takes you through holm oak woods and an ascent of Massanella, the highestThe Pilgrim's Route to Lluc Monastery accessible peak on the island. This is a fabulous experience you will remember – not least for the care you need to take over the last part of the route (good hiking boots required!), but ultimately the views from the summit are amazing.

From the top of Massanella, the route leads down through the woods of Comafreda to the road and finally, the pilgrim’s destination at Lluc Monastery. The Monastery is another great stopping place that takes on a wonderful silence at night time when all the tourists have departed. You will be transported back in time to the origins of this sacred place and the peace and tranquillity the monks sought for their religion.

This lovely walk from Sóller to Lluc monastery via ancient pilgrims’ steps is just one of the many routes we can offer you on a Tailor Made holiday with Mallorca Hiking. We can combine fabulous local hospitality – either in the rustic simplicity of the refuges (or mountain “huts”) or in delightful boutique hotels –  with wonderful mountain scenery, fauna and flora and all the other good things that Mallorca has to offer! We look forward to hearing from you….

Salt of the Islands – Flor de Sal

flor de sal mallorca with Mallorca HikingReturning to products Made in Mallorca, today we’re going to look at the incredible success story of Flor de Sal – naturally harvested sea salt from the beaches of Mallorca.

Flor de Sal is one of the highest quality sea salts in the world, and due to its scarcity it is also one of the most expensive. It is harvested by hand along the coast of Mallorca, and has become a popular ingredient in the kitchens of many of Spain’s top chefs. It is now produced in many flavours & combinations and exported from our little island around the world. The salt obtained is 100% natural without any modification (apart from the new flavoured salts that have, e.g. herbs & spices added to them).

The salt producing area of Mallorca is Ses Salines (named after its salt flats) in the south east of the island, and about 7 kilometers from the coast. Winter storms bring seawater onto the salt flats, which are then left to dry in the sun… The whole area has been designated an area of special scenic and rural interest, and it is a fascinating place to walk, as we observe its intriguing and unusual ecology. Watch this space – Mallorca Hiking has a few fabulous new guided walking itineraries in this area that we’ll be adding soon (and in the meantime of course you can take a look at some of our other fantastic walks)

Flor de Sal (or “Flower of Salt”) is extremely beneficial as it retains its natural moisture, many minerals and other essential elements from the sea – enhancing both its flavour and its health benefits. Because its crystals are so small, flor de sal dissolves faster than regular salt when used in cooking, so it’s best used by sprinkling it over food just before serving.

La Sal de la Vida with Mallorca Hiking

In the past salt was as valuable a commodity as oil is today. Many wars and treaties were declared over the trade of salt. Some even say the fall of the British Empire started when India objected to a tax on salt that escalated into a backlash against British rule.

Historically, the Egyptian’s were the first to discover the process of evapourating sea water to extract the salt and the Phoenicians brought the technology to Portugal where mass production and export was first started. The French introduced Fleur de Sel in around 1975 in Guerande, on the French Atlantic Coast. In Mallorca farming of Flor de Sal is relatively new with the first commercial production beginning around 2001.

The ancient process for harvesting salt is  still used today.  Seawater is left to evaporate in progressively smaller, shallower, and lower pools—or salt pans—until the salt is so densely concentrated that it can just be scooped out of the water. The salt is harvested every five to seven weeks, depending on the heat of the sun and the force of the drying winds.

Once harvested the salt can be enriched with other ingredients – this process has resulted in a star product of the Balearic Islands. Numerous awards have been bestowed on the companies now producing Flor de Sal from Mallorca. Flor de Sal d’Estrenc and Llum de Sal are the main producers here and have already earned an impressive list of awards.

Flor de Sal Awards with Mallorca Hiking

If you haven’t yet discovered this wonderful product, look out for it in the quality delicatessen outlets. If it’s made in Mallorca – you can be sure it’s a quality product! It’s great for a present when you’re travelling back home – but you’ll probably get hooked for your own use once you try it…

Don’t forget it’s always important to maintain your salt levels particularly when Walking and Hiking, so why not do it in style, with Flor de Sal…!!

Don’t destroy what you came to enjoy!

dasyatis pastinaca common stingray

dasyatis pastinaca common stingray

… that’s Brad’s motto and we totally agree with him!

Brad and Bea are a passionate team and we’re happy to say that Mallorca Hiking is increasingly working together with them, particularly when it comes to activities such as scuba diving and snorkeling (as well as canyoning and rock climbing, but we’ll save those for another day!). Brad is a qualified and highly experienced PADI dive instructor and today’s post is his story:

“Another beautiful summer day in Mallorca, clear blue skies and a slight sea breeze…what an Island!

Txus is a good friend of mine and a non-diver but he asked me to take him diving for the first time….”Hombre!!! For sure…lets go!!”  We were about to see the largest concentration of rays that I have ever seen anywhere in the world… in Mallorca!

I had been told about a spot in Mallorca that has a large population of sting rays. Coming from Australia and having dived with rays there, I wasn’t expecting too much. People say there isn’t much to see in the Med… haha… this is so far from the truth.

We arrived at our dive site and unpacked the gear whilst I gave Txus a thorough briefing in my ever-improving Spanish. I explained to him the very basics of diving, what to do, what not to do and what to expect to see.  All of this was done whilst enjoying the breathtaking views of the rugged coastline and crystal clear waters of Mallorca.

When we’d finished the briefing we slipped into our wetsuits and jackets, grabbed our fins, mask and snorkel and made our way to the water’s edge. I did my final checks on Txus and myself and in we went. The first thing we do before and at the end of any dive is to inflate our BCD (buoyancy control device) – a very simple and very important procedure.

The smile on Txus´ face spread from ear to ear and we hadn’t even gone underwater yet. As an experienced instructor I know that when someone is smiling like that at the beginning of their first dive, that the dive itself will be one of the most memorable experiences of their lives.

As we exchanged signals that we were “OK to Go Down” we released the air from our jackets and Txus´ underwater adventure had begun. We were blessed with amazing visibility, and were welcomed to the underwater world by a curious yet cautious Mediterranean Rainbow Wrasse. Txus was mesmerized.

Let the fun begin…

Thalossoma pavo-ornate wrasse

Thalossoma pavo-ornate wrasse

We were immersed in an underwater landscape of white sandy patches surrounded by lush Posedonia fields, small rocky outcrops and small underwater caves. We glided through channels of sand that were lined with Posedonia  – picturesque and calm… then all of a sudden from beneath the sand BOOM… our first ray, nervous of our presence, swam off into the distance at speed. Common Sting Rays bury themselves under a light layer of sand making them difficult to see, so when you unknowingly approach them, their lightning fast movement, flapping their wings, shaking off the sand and darting off into the distance, can take you by surprise.

As we dropped down to around 9 meters we approached another large sandy area, and this is where things were going to get very, very busy with Rays. Every meter we swam, there was another ray in front of us…Txus was over the moon, his mask letting in water through the creases in his super huge smile… (top tip: happy smiling divers must clear water from their mask regularly!)

We approached a few of the rays without disturbing them, so we could get up close and personal with these amazing creatures… within 30 cm I’d say – eye to eye with a common sting ray in Mallorca… just amazing.

scuba diving in Mallorca

Coris Julis Doncella-Rainbow wrasse

The next thing I saw was a very special moment – an Ornate Wrasse had befriended my student Txus, and whilst Txus was standing upright with his right hand held out in front of him, this very curious little fish was swimming from the palm of his open hand up to his mask and then back to his palm…. This continued for 2 to 3 minutes. In my experience fish from the Wrasse family are naturally inquisitive and this little guy was no different. Txus displayed the same level of curiosity… a true connection was made between fish and man.

We dived for almost 1 hour, returning to our entry point and greeting each other on the surface with huge smiles and a big man hug…what a dive! A memorable experience for new diver Txus and another memorable experience for this salty old diver.”   By Brad Robertson of  www.OndineEscape.com

Tempted?  Why not ask us to design a tailor-made holiday for you?  We will include all the activities you like doing most – fabulous guided walks, diving or snorkeling with Brad, boating, to name but a few. Please call or email us for tips, ideas and further information.