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)

Tasty Easter Treats

Easter treats with Mallorca HikingEaster is another excellent excuse to cook up some delicious traditional culinary Mallorquin favourites. Here are some great recipes for you to try for three of the most popular Easter treats: Empanadas, Rubiols and Crespells.

Empanadas (a personal favourite!) can be made with many different ingredients – the most popular being just meat or meat with peas.

These pies are typical dishes for both the Christmas and Easter holidays here in Mallorca. Grandmothers throughout the island prepare them before the holidays start, usually baking enough for several days’ consumption! You’ll find them in bakeries all over the island during the run up to Easter in normal, large and miniature versions – but they are so much more enjoyable when you make them yourself. Here’s your chance to try a chicken variation (but you can also make this with lamb, beef or fish):

Ingredients for 20 medium pies (go on have a party!)

For the pastry:

1 kg flour easter empanadas mallorca hiking
120 grams of butter or lard
2 cups of olive oil
1 cup of water

For the filling:

8 chicken drumsticks
500 g of peas
1 bunch of spring onions, chopped and cleaned
4 teaspoons paprika
4 teaspoons black pepper
Salt to taste
Olive oil

Preparation and Baking:

Put chicken pieces from the drumsticks in a bowl, add salt, 2 teaspoons paprika, 2 teaspoons black pepper and a little olive oil over and then mix it all together. Put the peas in another bowl, add green onions, 2 teaspoons paprika, 2 teaspoons black pepper and a drizzle of oil and then mix.

For the dough:  Put the flour in a bowl, make a hole and pour in the butter or lard, oil and water. Knead the mixture until the dough is manageable. Preheat the oven (if electric to 170 º C) and grease a baking tray.

Now sprinkle a little flour  on a table or kitchen counter (so the dough doesn’t stick) take a handful of dough the size of an egg and kneading it, form a round shape and then place your thumb in the centre; start to create a basket shape pulling up the sides.  Fill the “basket” with a slice or two of chicken add peas etc and pour over a little oil. Take a little more dough the size of a walnut this time and roll it out. Again make a circular shape and place it on top of the “basket” with the filling in it. Gather the edges of the dough with your fingers and seal the top of the pie, making a zigzag with the tip of a knife or fingers. Place it in the tray, and repeat the process until you have finished the dough and the filling. Bake the pies for one hour or less.

Now for those of you with a sweet tooth: Crespells and Robiols

Ingredients:easter crespells with Mallorca Hiking
50 g icing sugar
80 g butter
75 g orange juice
1 / 2 lemon rind
2 egg yolks
300-350 g pastry flour (*)

Preparation: Mix together all ingredients with a whisk, reserving about 100-150g of flour to add at the end by hand (* depending on how many people you are cooking for). This will create your dough.

Robiols with Mallorca HikingSpread the dough with a rolling pin. For the crespells, cut out your shapes using cookie cutters in different shapes. For robiols, use a small round dish or container to cut out a circle of dough. You can fill your robiols with jam, cottage cheese, pumpkin, chocolate … taking care to put the filling in the center of the circle, fold the dough in half and seal it using a small fork.

Place in a preheated oven at 180 º for 15 about minutes until they are a pale brown. Sprinkle with icing sugar when cool.

Buen provecho – enjoy!!

Easter in Mallorca

Happy Easter Mallorca HikingEaster is a busy time in Mallorca and officially marks the beginning of the holiday and tourist season. This year Easter (Semana Santa) is running late with Palm Sunday falling on the 17th of April, which is when the festivities start. There will then be a full week of religious processions, fiestas, markets, entertainment and events for locals and tourists alike. The celebrations culminate on the 24th, Easter Sunday, with jubilant processions and celebrations.

The week starts with Palm Sunday celebrations throughout Mallorca. Thousands of people visit their local semana santa easter mallorca hikingchurches and take part in processions carrying beautifully woven palm leafs. These are then blessed in church and symbolize the welcoming of Jesus into Jerusalem. In Palma huge statues of Christ and the Virgin Mary are carried through the streets of the Old Town and city centre, followed by the local cofradias or fraternities. There are about 50 fraternities on the island, each of which wear different coloured tunics. The privacy of each individual’s penance and prayer is preserved by a pointed capuchin hood, which covers their face.

Processions are held every day from Monday to Friday during Easter week, the biggest being the Crist de la Sang (on Maundy Thursday) and Sant Enterrament (on Good Friday), which are usually celebrated in all Mallorcan villages.

For those of you who are amazed by the incredible costumes that adorn the hundreds of procession goers there is an exhibition of the robes and symbols used by the local brotherhoods in the church of Sant Antoniet.

La Seu Pascua Mallorca HikingThe events during the week include concerts in various churches, the most prestigious of which is held in the stunning La Seu Cathedral in Palma on Easter Tuesday, in aid of the Baleares Homes project. Mozart’s Requiem directed by Salvador Broton and supported by the Choir of the University of the Baleares will be performing. Tickets are in big demand so book early if you want to go along.

The Maundy Thursday procession attracts huge crowds to Palma for and starts the build up to Good Friday and then the more jubilant culmination of celebrations on Easter Sunday with the Procession of Reunion.

The most spectacular Good Friday event is “The Lowering” or Davallament which is held at dusk on the Calvari Steps in Pollensa. The figure of Christ is carried down the 365 Calvari Steps (if you climb the 365 steps you are seeking forgiveness – one step for each day of the year). Another impressive event on Good Friday is the enactment of the crucifixion on the stairs to Palma’s cathedral at around midday.Pascua Mallorca Hiking

Holy Week finishes on Easter Sunday, with the Encontre (the Meeting) procession, which represents the meeting of the newly risen Jesus with his mother, the Virgin Mary. Large platforms with statues of Jesus and the Virgin Mary are carried through the streets of Palma symbolizing Jesus reunited with his mother. Activities during the following week include the traditional Pancaritats and Romeries, which are processions to various rural sanctuaries and hermitages.

Good Friday and Ebellver castle easter mallorca hikingaster Monday are both Bank Holidays in Mallorca and many villages have local fiestas on Easter Monday. The Sunday after Easter is also significant for family outings to the countryside and the many sanctuaries around Mallorca. In Palma you’ll see yet another procession on this so-called Domingo del Angel “Angel Sunday”. This fiesta is centered around Bellver castle and involves a procession of “giants” arriving at the castle from the city centre.  There are blessings followed by a Food Fair, dancing, entertainment and an enjoyable day out for all the family.

The religious celebrations are the main events throughout Mallorca but you will also find many other local events to help mark the end of the winter and the beginning of spring and the tourist season. Local traders and associations make the most of the many spectators and provide different cultural and entertaining shows. Don’t forget this is also an opportunity to enjoy the fabulous outdoors of Mallorca, so why not combine some Easter sightseeing and celebrations with one of our great Hikes

Also check out some of our tasty Easter treats in our last post…. Recipes for some of Mallorca’s favoutite traditional Easter specialities – get the baking trays out and to the ready…

Easter treats with Mallorca Hiking

The History of Mallorca – Part 2

Today is a continuation of our previous post 10 Fabulous (Historic) Facts about Mallorca bringing us from 1600 AD to the present time. So here are some more fabulous facts about how our beautiful island has evolved:

1. The War of Succession – so called because spanish war of succession mallorca hikingthe winner would succeed the heir-less King Carlos II, and rule a united Spain. It was fought among several European powers, against the Spanish loyal to Felipe V, France and Bavaria over a possible unification of the Kingdoms of Spain and France under one Bourbon monarch. Such a unification would have drastically changed the balance of power in Europe.

As it turned out, it resulted in the recognition of Felipe as King of Spain but he was required to renounce any claim to the French throne and to cede much of the Spanish Crown’s possessions thereby breaking up the Spanish Empire in Europe at the time.

Mallorca was the last territory to be acquired by Felipe in 1715, and the following years saw many changes for the island. The new King introduced a new regime, which abolished the autonomy the island had enjoyed. The first among the “Nueva Planta” decrees (another twist in the battle for language supremacy) was the decree that Mallorca would now use Castilian as the official language instead of Catalan. In 1716 the new regime made Mallorca part of the new Baleares region.

Antonio Barcelo with Mallorca Hiking2. Famous sailors and navigators feature in our next stage in history. Due to continued problems with pirates, the King gave permission for established sailors to defend their homelands. One “corsair” noted for his bravery (and for lending his ships to the King!) was Captain Antoni Barcelo. Achieving the rank of Lieutenant General of the Spanish Armada was one of the rewards for his gallantry and support.

Another famous sailor is the missionary Fray Junipero Serra. In the mid 1700’s he sailed to the new Americas and helped establish the missions of California. He can probably be given credit for founding such US cities as San Francisco. Not bad for an island boy brought up in Petra!

3. More wars in the 1900s – this time the Napoleonic version. The comfortable lifestyle and relative peace that had prevailed was harshly broken with the influx of refugees from Catalonia escaping the fighting on the mainland. Although this caused much unrest amongst islanders the new business skills of the Catalan settlers established a new bourgeoisie society and many new trading initiatives. This included shipping routes, train lines and communication channels with the mainland. The other major change was the return of the Catalan language.

4. Economic Crisis (yes, there were others!) – Bad times return and the equivalent of our current phylloxera plague mallorca history mallorca hikingeconomic crisis for Mallorca. The vibrant wine producing industry was devastated with all the vines destroyed by phylloxera plague. At the same time the colonies of Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines broke away from Spain reducing significantly the local shipbuilding industry. There followed an exodus of islanders to the mainland and America to seek their fortunes elsewhere.

5. Enter the 20th Century and Two Giants in Mallorcan political history:

Born in Palma, Antoni Maura was a politician and spent most of his political life in Madrid as leader of the Conservative party. He was Prime Minister of Spain on five separate occasions during the early 1900’s.

Joan March Ordinas was a “rags to riches” financier who at one time was reputed to be the third richest man in the world. He was a Mallorcan businessman closely associated with the Nationalist side in the Spanish Civil War, and with Franco’s regime after the war. He was notorious for shady dealings and political influence, and in 1926 created the Banca March one of Mallorca’s largest banks.

Spanish Civil War as told by Mallorca Hiking

6. Spanish Civil War – General Francisco Franco succeeded in installing his military regime from a coup he mounted against the elected Republican party in 1936. He was backed by many conservative groups as well as Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy.

When Franco assumed power, the country entered three years of Civil War during which 1 million Spaniards lost their lives. He managed to keep Spain out of the Second World War that raged just after the Spanish Civil war had ended.

Mallorca was seen as a Nationalist stronghold and in 1936 it had a decisive battle against Republican forces. Now known as the Battle of Mallorca, it was won by the outnumbered islanders supported by the Italian air-force. Mallorca then became a base from which to send raids to the Spanish mainland.

General Franco not with Mallorca Hiking

7. The Franco Regime 1939 – 1975.

Franco’s right wing, military regime was hard and alienated Spain from the rest of the world. Franco implemented martial law and local languages such as Catalan, Mallorquin and Basque were forbidden in public places, with Castellano again installed as the official language. When he died in 1975, the monarchy was reinstated and local languages and cultures began to flourish.

8. Tourism arrives in Mallorca – from the 1950’s the island was discovered as a fabulous destination forholidays-in-majorca mallorca hiking holidays, sailing and (originally) fairly exclusive and classy clientele. This has steadily declined with mass construction of hotels in key resorts around the island. All inclusive breaks are the latest point of discussion in the context of the future of the island’s tourist industry.

Thankfully, the building frenzy that has left massive derelict and waste areas on the mainland and the Costas has been controlled to a degree in Mallorca. The latest economic problems have helped curb any further expansion. There is much debate about the need to return to quality tourism – highlighting the other Mallorca e.g. Rural Hotels, the natural environment, history and culture here at Mallorca Hiking we are big supporters of this latest strategy.

9. In 1983 the Balearics became an Autonomous State – the Balearic islands now have their own governing body, and local elections started shortly after the Autonomous Statutes were passed. Today, Palma is the capital of the Balearic Islands and is the seat of government for the political and judicial system for the ‘Autonomous Community of the Balearic Islands’.

10. Mallorca Hiking was founded in 2001 – probably one of the most significant developments in modern times for Mallorca (!!) offering everything required to show the wmallorca-hiking walking holidays mallorcaorld the natural beauty, culture, cuisine and history of this wonderful island. This includes Tailor Made Walking Holidays for those who want to escape with their own personal agenda within the great outdoors of Mallorca; Guided Walking Tours; walking and wine tours, gourmet tours and now a growing local Resident’s Walking Club and all are helping secure Mallorca Hiking’s footprint throughout the Mallorcan countryside – come join our party and help us spread the word about our wonderful island!

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…

Mallorca’s Wines

wines of Mallorca

Today’s post is by Martin Ward from Wine Educators International, our partner in Mallorca Hiking’s walking and wine tours:

So, as we are well into summer and it’s been very hot, dry and sunny… the last few summers have given us record temperatures; spare a thought for Mallorca’s vines as they bake, rather than bask or bathe, in the sun.

We might think that vines, like us, love nothing better than a long hot summer but this is not actually the case as they are fickle, demanding plants.  If you contrast the arid dryness of Mallorca’s Binissalem D.O. with some other, cooler, classic parts of the wine world, for example – Champagne, Germany or New Zealand to mention but a few, we can be perceived as simply too hot.  It’s the same in many places on the peninsula and in Lanzarote, where it regularly exceeds 40ºC.

Thank goodness we are a small island and we have some counterbalancing breezes to cool things down a little!  So, our temperamental vines like summer ‘warmth’, a little rain (at the right times and not torrential), cool winters, just a pocito of frost, breeze (but not high winds)…. you start to get the picture.

Having said this, it’s amazing that we have quite dramatic differences in the microclimates of our vineyard areas.  We have the two official D.O. regions of Binissalem & Pla I Llevant but also vineyards that do not fall into either of the demarcated, geographic areas, like the lovely Son Puig near Puigpunyent (where of course we offer a very special Walking & Wine Excursion – Puigpunyent).wine growing in Mallorca

This means that the harvest for the charming Isabel, her father Raimundo and family at Son Puig can sometimes be several weeks later than that of say, Bodegues Ribas in Consell where Araceli and her family often pick as early as the end of August or beginning of September (and here at Ribas, we can even arrange for you to spend a day helping with the harvest – hard work but a very enjoyable day and a fantastic experience!)

Mallorca’s grapes may sometimes reflect those of the peninsula in terms of style with Tempranillo; quite often they are international in flavour with Merlot, Syrah (Sira), plus Cabernet & Chardonnay BUT we also have the wonderful, indigenous varieties that make the island special.  Why not try some of the wines that showcase these – Mantonegro, Callet plus Fogoneu and Gargollasa for the reds and Premsal for the whites….. My favourite white for this time of the year is Son Puig Planco, which is Chardonnay + Premsal and it just happens to have won a Silver Medal in the prestigious Concours Mundial Bruxelles!

Better still, come and join us on one of our itineraries in the vineyards, taste the wines with us, and maybe even meet the winemaker…

We look forward to seeing you soon!

 

 

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.

Mallorca’s Dry Stone Route, the GR221 – a sampler

Mallorca's Dry Stone Route, the GR221

The GR221

In October we’re offering a 3-day sampler of Mallorca’s Dry Stone Route, the GR221. Many of you are already familiar with this hike and have seen our previous blog posts, but those of you who haven’t, do take a look at the following links, which describe the island’s first long-distance walking trail.

Mallorca’s Dry Stone Route

Dry Stone Route – GR221 – Part 1 and GR221 – Part 2

We’ll set off from Valdemossa with a small group of fun walkers on the 19th October, and we’ll cover 3 sections of this fabulous long-distance hike over 3 days. We won’t be walking the sections in the usual order, but then again we always like to do things a little differently! We’ve designed this trip to give you a “flavour” of the route – we’ll take it fairly easy, but there’ll be plenty of challenges along the way!

If you’re interested in joining us for some or all of this trip, please take a look at our detailed itinerary. For those of you who can only  join us for 1 day because of work commitments, that’s great. It is perfectly possible to come along just for 1 day, as there is a bus route that connects our stops. We would recommend you join us for the Wednesday 19th October to get the most out of your one day!

If you can’t join us on this occasion, remember we can always organise a trip especially for you on the dates that you choose – see Tailor Made Holidays.

We hope to see you soon, and in the meantime why not keep in touch and become a fan on Facebook and/or follow us on Twitter

Happy hiking from the Mallorca Hiking team!

 

Mushroom picking in Mallorca

Collecting mushrooms

Collecting mushrooms

One of the many things that we love about Mallorca is the island’s dedication to its traditions of foraging for local wild produce, such as mushrooms, asparagus and the like. When we’re out walking in the mountains at this time of year, we meet any number of Mallorcan families enthusiastically searching for setas, all equipped with their traditional wicker baskets to collect their mouth-watering harvest.

The Mallorcan mushroom season is usually late October to November, depending on the weather. The rains usually arrive in late August, but if like this year they’re late, the season tends to be a bit later.

 

Mushrooms or Setas in Mallorca

Mushroom varieties in Mallorca

Mushrooms are quite varied in Spain, with some very big varieties growing in the forest areas. Our weather is good for mushrooms – hot summers, high humidity and autumn rains all contribute to conditions that allow them to thrive.  Ceps, or porcini (in Spanish rovellos) are quite common, as are Chanterelles. Niscalos or lactarius deliciosus are also prolific, and are used in many of the local dishes. But here in Mallorca the real pick of the crop is the Esclata-sangs (Lactarius Sanguifluus – Bleeding Milk Cap) a large flat fleshy mushroom, which bursts with flavour when cooked…!

This island is not shy about promoting its local produce, and every year on the last weekend of November, the tiny Mallorcan village of Mancor del Vall comes alive with the Fira de l’esclata-sang i de la Muntanya. This delightful little place lies in the foothills of the Tramuntana mountains and this autumn fair is one of its annual highlights.

Esclata-sangs in Mallorca

Esclata-sangs in Mallorca

This wonderful fair aims to show and preserve traditional mountain activities and island traditions, but the main attraction is their prized mushrooms, which are showcased over the weekend in a variety of dishes offered by local bars and restaurants. You can snack on mushrooms on toast, freshly made at one of the many stalls, or visit one of the cafes or restaurants to try one of the many specially prepared dishes featuring these delicious mushrooms.

If you’d like to find out a bit more about the varieties of mushrooms you can find here (particularly the edible variety!), there is an excellent online catalogue published by the University of the Balearic Islands in conjunction with the Balearic Natural History Museum.

And then, why not “go local” and join Mallorca Hiking for a guided mushroom foraging walk. Our expert guides will take you to the best areas, talk you through the various species and keep you safe by making sure you don’t pick the wrong ones!  If you’d like to book a walk just for you and your family and friends, we’ll organise a tailor-made day out just for you… you can then go home and cook a delicious meal with what you’ve picked!

Do contact us for more information – we’ll be happy to help…

 

Magical Mallorca

Natural Attractions that you must visit.

Mallorca is the island that appeals to everybody. The gem of the Mediterranean effortlessly plays host to Spanish royalty over the summer, as well as welcoming families of all demographics from Europe every year. Families have been coming and going for over 50 years, and they will keep on returning. During 50 years of booming tourism the natural beauty of the Island has often been overlooked, as the Island rapidly became a modern summer holiday resort. However, this natural beauty and the sense of adventure that Mallorca offers is slowly becoming more of a focus for holidays in Mallorca.

The local government in Mallorca are largely responsible for kick starting the renaissance of “natural Mallorca”. In recent years it has invested substantial sums in the development of hiking trails, giving holidaymakers better access to previously unseen views of Mallorca. The aim is for Mallorca to become a destination that delivers on active holidays and an all-year-round holiday experience.

The worldwide recession has forced many holiday makers to reconsider their holiday plans. They have less money available for holiday excursions and there is a need to cut down their holiday costs. This is where Mallorca has the advantage – the Island can showcase its natural wonders with an audience that wants to engage. Although Majorca holidays are becoming cheaper there is still a need for activities that are good value or free. For example, here are three attractions that demonstrate Majorca’s natural beauty but do not break the bank.

3- Tren De Soller – The Train with a View

Sóller train

the train arriving in Sóller

The Tren De Soller is one of the greatest and most unique ways to see natural Mallorca. In 1913 Mallorca’s first electric train was introduced in the quaint village of Soller, allowing local produce to be taken from the Port of Sóller to Sóller and then to Palma. With years of history, and a laid back hour long journey this train trip is a fantastic way to see north western Mallorca. The journey meanders through the natural landscape offering passengers fantastic views and a real taste of beautiful Mallorca. It is highly recommended that you stop off in Soller and then continue to the Port de Soller (via an old tram) for traditional Mallorcan Tapas and wine.

2- Cap de Formentor – Mallorca’s Best View  

Cap de Formentor, Mallorca, Majorca

Cap de Formentor

Mallorca’s Formentor peninsula is extraordinarily beautiful. The Cap de Formentor is the northernmost point of the magnificent Tramuntana mountain range in the north of Mallorca – its highest point is 384 metres above the sea and is referred to as the ‘meeting point of the winds’ by Majorcans. Looking out from this point, visitors are treated to breathtaking views of the Mediterranean sea and the beautiful Mallorcan coastline. If you follow the street below you come to the Faro Formentor which is a picturesque lighthouse, surrounded by protected rare plants and wildlife. Beware of the rocky terrain and high winds, but do take the opportunity to show off your photography skills!

Alcudia old town

Alcudia

1- Alcudia Old Town – All of Mallorca’s Natural Charm

Alcudia’s old town is a myriad of Mallorca’s charm, offering visitors a real experience of authentic Balearic lifestyle, historic buildings, small restaurants and the market place. If you are able to visit on a Tuesday or Sunday you’ll see the local market in full force… browse the stalls and barter with the local stall holders to get that true experience of this small market town. Holidays to Alcudia offer the opportunity to meander through the lanes of the old town, with a number of restaurants offering fresh local foods. Other attractions in Alcudia include the old Bull Ring and walled Roman ruins, both delivering a fascinating taste of historic Mallorca.

For further ideas and other low-cost things to do on your holiday in Mallorca, please contact us at Mallorca Hiking – we’ll be happy to help!