Walking the Road to Happiness

 

walking in Mallorca

The road to happiness

Walking the Road to Happiness

The pursuit of happiness is a hot topic and for good reason, as living in our society today is deemed to be more stressful than ever before.

So what can we do about it? Exercise is a fantastic way to help us ‘switch-off’ but I want to show you why walking is particularly beneficial to our happiness and well-being.

Walking – a time to reflect…

As walking is not as strenuous as other forms of exercise, perhaps it is more conducive to reflective thought and relaxation. When hiking with a friend of mine recently, I recall asking him why he loves walking so much and he said, ‘because it’s like a form of meditation; it allows my mind to wander.’ My friend’s response resonated with a recent newspaper article tackling ‘Why are we so tired all the time?’ Professor Stephen Palmer, director of the Centre for Stress Management, says ‘we don’t give ourselves time to reflect – no wonder we’re so tired. We are human doings now not human beings’. Research shows meditation and ‘mindfulness’- learning to live in the moment to quiet the mind – can help us feel more rested. We can apply mindfulness when walking outdoors, spending time ‘in the now’ and noticing the world around us, not only to combat stress but to be fully aware of, and appreciate our natural environment.

Exercising in a natural environment

walking in Mallorca

happy days!

When was the last time you walked in a green, wide-open space? In the woods? Or in the park? The impact that being in a natural environment has on the brain is significant. Mental health charity Mind recently looked at the role the environment plays on the effectiveness of outdoor exercise for mental wellbeing. Using 20 people in two contrasting walks, one inside and the other outdoors in a natural setting, they found:

  • 90% of people reported an increase in self-esteem after an outdoor walk verses 17% indoors.
  • 71% of  people experienced a decrease in the levels of depression after an outdoor walk verses 45% indoors.
  • 71% people stated they felt less tense after an outdoor walk verses 28% indoors.

The combination of walking and being in the outdoors appears to have a very positive effect on mental health: the endorphins released in the brain elevate mood and help prevent depression.

 How else does walking benefit our mental health?

Studies have shown how walking can heighten mental alertness and improve memory. Physiologist Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, a physiologist at a London hospital, says exercise has a dramatic positive effect on the brain. A study of 6000 women in California found that those who walked regularly showed improvements to higher mental processes, suggesting long-term effects of walking on concentration and cognitive abilities could be profound.

So let’s get walking! If it can improve HAPPINESS and well-being, cognitive ability and concentration… What’s stopping you?

Why not contact us at Mallorca Hiking for more information on walking in the warm winter sunshine of Mallorca or join us on our Facebook page. We’d love to help you on your way to good health, wellbeing and happiness!

 

What to pack for a 4 day hike… (With no bag transfers!)

How to pack for a 4 day hiking trip

Victoria

Hi everyone, I’m Victoria and I’m the newest member of the team at Mallorca Hiking.

Having recently returned from a trip to South America, mostly spent hiking around a handful of Patagonia’s National Parks, I like to think I have a few useful tips I can give to help you pack for a 4 day hike. The mountains of Mallorca may not be The Andean Altiplano, but there are a number of essentials any hiker needs when setting off for a few days hard walking.

It’s worth bearing in mind that although Mallorca has over 300 days of sunshine annually, temperatures can vary hugely between day and night-time. In the Autumn, the weather is a blissful 18-25 degrees Celsius during the day but nights can drop to 6 degrees. Winters are mild, with an average temperature of 14 degrees during the day and 4 degrees at night. I’ve therefore included a list of some warmer gear to take with you too.

The key is not to pack too much! A huge heavy backpack will not make for fun hiking- you don’t want to jeopardise your holiday for the sake of three spare pairs of shoes…

Many of the essentials I’d recommend may be obvious, but perhaps there’ll be a few surprises too. I’ve also included ‘specialist’ items, which I’d advise you to consider buying as they helped make my hiking trips that much more enjoyable!

Kit List:

  • what to pack for a 4 day walking trip

    Platypus / Camel Bak hydration system

    Backpack- For a 4 day hike, a 35-55 litre backpack is ideal. It’s not necessary to have a backpack any bigger than 55l, as all bedding and towels are provided at your chosen accommodation, even if you’re staying in one of the island’s refuges. I’d recommend choosing a backpack with a padded hip belt to ensure the majority of the weight is carried on the hips.

  • Fully-charged camera- It’s better to bring a fully charged camera, as a recharger just adds extra weight to your pack.
  • Spending money- For dinner each night as well as picnics and other irresistible local delicacies along the way…
  • Platypus Hoser/CamelBak hydration pack 1.5-2 litres*- My No. 1 item. It’s hands free, reusable, easy to pack, and most importantly it helps to keep you constantly hydrated- a major consideration when hiking in Mallorca. See our previous blog post on the importance of hydration.
  • Walking poles*. They help when climbing uphill but most importantly, they help take the weight off your joints when going downhill. Walking poles are available to hire for 5 Euros per day from Mallorca Hiking.
  • Head torch*- Just in case you get caught out in the dark; or to go to the loo at night if you’re staying in a refuge…

In the winter, if you’re walking at high altitude, you may be surprised to hear that a woolly hat and some light gloves are also really welcome.

Snacks:

what to pack for a 4 day walk in Mallorca

Trail Mix Bar

My favourites are:

  • Trail Mix- nuts and dried fruit. Trailmix is great to eat for slow-burning energy and it’s light to carry. My favourite mix includes almonds, raisins and dried cranberries. For a 4 day trip, I recommend bringing a freezer bag-sized pack.
  • Muesli bars. Also high energy and nutritious (and unlike chocolate they won’t melt!). Bring 2-3 muesli bars per day.

But the good news is that if you’re doing Mallorca’s long distance hike, the GR221, there are quite a few opportunities to stock up along the way, so you don’t have to carry supplies for the duration of the trek.

Toiletries and Basic First Aid:

Sun cream, 1 loo roll, plasters, blister plasters, insect repellent, ibruprofen, Imodium, toothbrush and toothbrush holder (for the head of the brush) miniature toothpaste, chapstick (including spf 15 is best), deodorant, feminine hygiene products.

I would also recommend packing ear plugs if you’re a light sleeper, and particularly if you’re staying in a refuge where you sleep in dormitories. You never know how noisy your fellow hikers may be!

Clothing:

  • 3-4 lightweight t-shirts*- (one can be used as nightwear).  Polyester/elastane-mix t-shirts are ideal as they are light-weight and quick drying. They can be bought at any good outdoor shop (see shop reference list below)
  • 1 pair of comfortable walking trousers* or sports leggings. Zip off trousers are great as when it warms up you can zip off the lower leg to convert into shorts.
  • 1 pair of shorts*- preferably lightweight, quick-dry walking shorts. Do not bring denim – it’s heavy to carry and takes ages to dry!
  • 1 pair of lightweight trousers/long johns/leggings – for nightwear

    what to pack for a 4 day walking trip in Mallorca

    Ready for the GR221!

  • 3 pairs quality walking socks*- Merino wool or merino/polyester-mix walking socks are ideal as you don’t have to wear two pairs which saves on space, and they keep your feet dry and cool.
  • 3 underpants
  • (Women) 1 sports bra – much comfier to wear when walking.
  • 1 pair of quality walking boots*, preferably worn-in prior to the holiday as new boots are more likely to cause blisters
  • Cap*
  • Sunglasses*
  • Rainproof/windproof jacket (and possibly also over-trousers depending on the time of year)*- Preferably Goretex. It’s always advisable to bring a waterproof, as even if it’s unlikely to rain it’s useful as an extra windproof layer.
  • Lightweight fleece* for layering
  • Flipflops/indoor shoes- For evening use, bring flipflops or a lightweight pair of shoes, e.g. canvas plimsolls. It’s heaven to shed your walking boots for a few hours in the evening!

NB: Sometimes, if you know you’ll be staying somewhere that you can wash out a few things overnight, you can actually get away with packing a bit less – always good news ;-)

Where’s best to buy the gear?

All the items above marked * can be bought at UK outdoor clothing shops, for example:

In Mallorca, the main place to buy good walking kit is Decathlon and of course Bestard makes some awesome hiking boots! Also good for outdoor kit is Es Refugi in C/ Sindicat, 21, 07002 Palma de Mallorca, Phone:+34 971 71 67 31. Sorry there’s no link but their site doesn’t seem to be working at the moment.

If you’ve got any questions, please don’t hesitate to send them my way. Either leave a comment here or contact us by email. Also do take a look at our previous blog posts with tips and advice about kit.
Happy hiking!

A Summer day trip down the Torrent de Pareis

torrent de pareis

Our group

It was a hot dry day in mid-June when a small group of us set off early from Escorca to tackle the infamous Torrent de Pareis hike. There was a sense of excitement among the group as we had all wanted to do this hike many times before, only to be told “the conditions weren’t right”, or “there was too much water in the gorge”, “there had been heavy rains recently” ….. so this was our first time.

The temperature was perfect as we set off, the skies were crystal clear blue, and the views towards Puig Roig were stunning. Our guide Nina showed us the location of the concealed gap in the craggy rocks where the gorge carved by the torrent ran through the Tramuntana mountains. This is where we were headed. We admired the views.

The start of the hike is a gentle descent through masses of carritx grass, which is very typical of Mallorca’s alpine regions. We chatted animatedly as we zigzagged down to the dry riverbed and a point at which the paths of 3 different torrents met. Here we took a short rest and then continued, following the bed of the torrent de pareis. At first it was easy enough – we followed narrow paths along the edge of the riverbed; we scrambled over a few boulders and strolled along the pebble surface of the riverbed. But slowly and steadily the boulders got bigger; the scrambling got more strenuous; and there was no longer an inclination to cruise along chatting. This needed concentration; your wits about you. And at times even our guide had to stop and think and try and remember – which tiny gap between these massive boulders was going to offer us a way through. This was a real challenge.

torrent de pareis, Mallorca

Boulders, boulders everywhere…

As the sun rose in the sky, the temperature rose too, and so did the challenges we faced. We met a group of fun and noisy young Spanish guys – they were loving it; leaping among the boulders like mountain goats and sliding down the well worn surfaces. There are a few sections where you need to reverse down a crack in the rocks with the help of ropes – almost light abseiling. I think we all used every muscle in our body and not just the ones you’d expect to use for a “normal” hike! I for one, could feel every muscle for days after the hike.

By now we were deep inside the gorge, and it felt like another world. Slightly surreal. What a stunning landscape. At times the gorge is so narrow, that you can only see a slither of blue sky between the imposing rock faces on either side. It gradually becomes clear why this could be a very dangerous place to be when there is a lot of water flowing in the torrent ….

torrent de pareis, Mallorca

A chink of sky

And after about 5 hours of walking and mainly clambering, the gorge begins to open up and let some more daylight in.  We continue our walk and finally we’re greeted by a very normal Sunday scene in Mallorca – lots of happy laughing people relaxing with picnics on a beautiful pebble beach. This is Sa Calobra, our destination, and the scene is a very strange contrast to our day so far. Ed and Sean had run out of water way back, so they made a beeline for the bars along the coast. The rest of us couldn’t wait to get into our bikinis and dive into the cool, crystal clear water ahead. This was the best swim of the summer, by far!

This is an epic hike and well worth doing if you enjoy a bit of adventure – do take a look at the video we took on the day, as it’ll give you a more visual description of what’s involved! This is not the sort of hike to do on your own for the first time, so if you would like to hire a guide please contact us.

And if you’d like to know more about walking in Mallorca, please visit our website and our Facebook page for information and advice, as well as tips, photos…

How walking benefits our health…

Well here it is – it’s the start of a new walking season here in Mallorca! Now that September’s upon us, the heat is beginning to die down, the summer holidays are coming to a close and once again there’s a feeling that Mallorca’s calm and order has been restored. The temperatures are still blissful however and the skies ever-blue. What better than a hiking holiday in one of the many peaceful, pristine and varied landscapes this beautiful island has to offer?

Often under-rated as a form of exercise, walking and hiking have had increased press coverage in recent years. Why? For good reason. Walking offers an array of health benefits, some of which you may never have considered before…

• Full body Exercise: Did you know that a single step uses up to 200 muscles? And that walking improves both flexibility and posture? For example, our walks involve walking across different terrain, varying inclines and obstacles, so it’s not surprising that a week or even a day’s hike along our trails will help improve your fitness levels. 

• …And it’s gentle on the joints: Unlike so many other forms of exercise, walking puts significantly less stress on joints, including hips, knees, ankles and spine; something we should all take into account in helping to keep our bodies healthy! According to Dr Craig Williams, a sports science lecturer at the University of Exeter, Because (walking) is low-impact, it does not have the same potential for injury as jogging. Yet it can offer all the benefits.

• Weight Loss: Did you know that walking at 4mph for 30 minutes burns up to 150 calories? And it’s been shown that longer, sustained walking not only burns calories – it burns body fat and raises your metabolism, so you burn calories faster even when you rest. In addition, walking helps control your appetite. A recent study on the effect of brisk walking on our appetites (by The School of Sports and Exercise studies at The University of Loughborough) came to the conclusion that ‘brisk walking does not elicit compensatory responses in appetite or energy intake, which lends support for a role of brisk walking in weight management.

• And? What else? With increased levels of walking, the outward changes to our bodies may soon begin to appear (I can fit into my jeans again! Yay!) But what are the benefits on the inside of our body? ‘Walking briskly can lower the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes’ say  researchers. ‘A brisk long walk is as good as running for cutting the risk of heart disease’. It appears that total energy intake, rather than the intensity of the exercise is key. Hooray! So what else can walking do for us? Walking helps to reduce the risk of some forms of cancers including colorectal, prostate and breast cancers. It even promotes intestinal regularity. Gulp. So there we go – walking promotes healthy bodies inside and out.

• Health, happiness and well-being. Walking is a great time to reflect. For some, it’s a form of meditation. Though it may sound clichéd, walking really has been proven to be good for a healthy state of mind; it can literally elevate your mood and help prevent depression, heighten mental alertness and improve memory. Walking outdoors in a natural environment relaxes and relieves tension. It’s the ultimate stress-buster.

• Feel full of energy. A full day of hiking is bound to be somewhat tiring, but our bodies are hardy things and within a couple of days your energy levels will rise. Walking fights fatigue!

• And so to bed… Walking helps promote restful sleep. It’s true. Especially after a day (or week!) hiking, scrambling, ascending and descending some of the glorious walks we have to offer. Not to mention the fresh air. According to Professor Jim Horne, who runs the Sleep Research Centre at Loughborough University, ‘Brain exercise’ leading to deeper sleep comes not so much from crosswords or suduku but from spending a few hours walking in a changing, interesting environment, looking around and absorbing what is going on.

And there we have it: The health benefits of walking in a nut shell. In my following posts I’ll be delving deeper into these health benefits, exploring the issues above in greater detail to understand why walking is such a fantastic routine to start and get stuck into. In the meantime, check out some ideas to kick-start or continue your love of walking at Mallorca Hiking.

Be sure to join our Facebook community and don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have. We’d be delighted to hear from you :-)

So much for our lovely GR221!

 

GR221, Mallorca, Majorca

GR221 route thoroughly blocked

This post is for everyone planning to hike the GR221, Mallorca’s Dry Stone Route, in the near future. I just wanted to give you a quick update on some recent issues, which have arisen with the GR221 routing. I’m afraid the GR221 has been, and continues to be, beset with problems regarding rights of way over private land, and now there’s a new one to watch out for.

Don’t expect there to be any helpful published information along the way!

But please note the implications for your trip are:

  1. Estellencs to Banyalbufar: This section has been problematic for years and it is currently un-passable, so it means taking a bus for this relatively short section of your hike. This is a fairly longstanding dispute, which is taking years to resolve with the landowner.
  2. Esporles to Valldemossa: This is a very recent development and the landowner of part of this section has now erected signs, fences, and (ironically) a very solid dry stone wall to prevent hikers passing over his land, thereby cutting off the route to Valldemossa.

The really maddening thing is that the Consell de Mallorca has issued no warnings and provided no information regarding the sudden closure of the Esporles to Valldemossa section. These paths are ancient rights of way and have been used for hundreds of years as a link between the two towns and yet they think a virtually imperceptible notice on their website is enough to inform us that suddenly, this section is “in project” or under construction, again.

Many hikers come to the island solely to complete the GR221 – a fabulous long distance trek – and just this morning, in the space of about an hour we met 7 hikers heading off for Valldemossa from Esporles. None of them had any idea that there was an issue with the route. All GR221 way-marking is still happily in place, lulling unsuspecting walkers into a false sense of well-being – little do they know that only meters ahead they will be faced with a massive wall blocking their route!

So what are your options?

GR221, Mallorca, Majorca

GR221 signage all still in place!

  • To persevere notwithstanding these obstacles? But beware, the landowner has also destroyed many of the way-markers that considerate hikers have taken the trouble to construct over many years, so path-finding is even more tough-going than before. Also beware an angry landowner who prevents you from passing over his land – you may have to back down and return to Esporles.
  • Alternatively, if you prefer the easy option, make your way to Valldemossa from Esporles by taxi and continue your hike from there.

Thankfully, from Valldemossa on the GR221 route is a clear run with no further problems.

So, what’s the story, you ask? What’s going on? That’s what we asked the Consell de Mallorca, whose (unhelpful!) explanation was that the section was (now) “not open”! Ah that’s just great, thanks for the heads up, really useful (yeah right). Well I’m sorry to say that that’s all we know for the time being, but we’ll be keeping our ears and eyes peeled for some local gossip and we’ll keep you posted!
If you’d like to be kept informed about developments on Mallorca’s GR221 then please sign up to our Facebook Page and keep your eye out for further posts on this Blog. Please also refer to the Consell de Mallorca for the “official” situation!
And finally, if all this sounds far too complicated to tackle alone, why not contact us about our guided walking tours and take a look at some of our favourite walks – there are plenty to choose from!
We hope to see you very soon!

Looking forward to the almond blossom…

Almond blossom in Mallorca, Majorca

Almond blossom in Mallorca

Here at Mallorca Hiking we can’t believe it’s already December and all the Christmas festivities have already started! That usually means there’s not so much time available to get out and enjoy some walking :-(

But we’re looking on the bright side and plan to make up for a busy December with lots of good walks in the new year. We’re already looking forward to the almond blossom season, which in Mallorca is usually from the end of January to about mid-February – our short video will give you a general idea.

If that has tempted you and you’re looking for a sunny spot to enjoy a walking holiday, take a look at our Blossom Fever holiday itinerary, which we recommend for this time of year. We can organise a tailor-made holiday for you and your group, which includes any part of our suggested itinerary, additional activities, hotel and restaurant recommendations… Just contact us for a chat and more information.

And if you’re just interested in a day’s walking, you’ll see that we’ve scheduled our 2 favourite blossom walks throughout January and February:

-  Rural wanderings – Es Capdella and the Galatzo Estate

-  4 Picturesque rural villages

Why not take a look at our Calendar to see which dates suit you, and then contact us to reserve your place.

We look forward to seeing you!

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!

 

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…

 

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!

 

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.