Walking on La Palma
For anyone who loves walking, the beautiful island of La Palma packs the cleanest and greenest punch in the Canaries! From verdant lush forests in the north to dramatic volcanic craters further south, and from mountainous national park to the crashing Atlantic coast, La Palma has natural beauty in abundance - the entire island is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve - yet because of the lack of any mass tourism development, it retains a calm and relaxed atmosphere reminiscent of a bygone era. Unlike its larger neighbouring Archipelago islands, La Palma (706 km2) is not a big beach destination, and the majority of people who visit come to hike - there are over 1000kms of scenic well-signed walking trails linking wild valleys, shimmering woods, vast craters and tiny white villages perched precariously above steep terraces of avocado, almond and mango.
This twin-centre guided walking holiday starts first with 3 nights in the Parador overlooking Santa Cruz and the Atlantic on the eastern part of the island, from here we visit the 'top of the island' and the lush green north east. The next 4 nights are spent on the sun-soaked western coast where you'll explore the region's lush banana plantations, ragged lava fields and rich vineyards - the sweet Malmsey wines from here are even mentioned in works of Shakespeare! You'll venture inland to visit the beautiful Caldera de Taburiente National Park with its thick Canary Pine forests, freshwater streams and impressive Guanche rock formations.
We've hand-picked hotels which we feel reflect and enhance the diverse nature of this trip. On the west, just outside Tazacorte, you'll stay in a secluded C17 mansion where luxurious antiques and ancient artefacts contrast with the Shaker-style decor in the rooms; and, in Santa Cruz, your base is the 4-star Parador de La Palma, boasting extensive landscaped gardens and a swimming pool.
Walks on this holiday are on village streets, country lanes, farm tracks and rural paths. Walking boots are essential. Walking poles are recommended.
February 18, March 24 and April 21st 2016 departures the last 3 nights are at the 2 Star Hotel San Telmo.
Typical day-by-day itinerary
Day 1 - Arrive in Santa Cruz
Arrive at the beautiful Parador de la Palma, just a 10 minute drive from the airport. The Parador is located in the area known as El Zumacal. It is a comfortable building featuring traditional Canary Islands architecture. Before dinner maybe stroll around the vast garden filled with fruit trees and native plants and enjoy spectacular views of the infinite Atlantic Ocean.
Day 2 - El Roque de Los Muchachos 6km/4mi/3hrs
We start the week with a jaw-droppingly scenic road journey (50 mins) to the observatory at El Roque de los Muchachos which, at 2,426m is the highest point on La Palma, and is the ridge framing the northern edge of the Caldera de Taburiente National Park. The altitude, dryness of climate and clear skies give rise to excellent observing conditions so little wonder that some of the world's largest telescopes are kept here - the dozen or so lined along the ridge look like something from another planet! We then continue on foot, gently following well maintained hiking trails up to the summit of El Roque where we are rewarded with the most spectacular 360° views over the whole of La Palma as well as the neighbouring islands of La Gomera, El Hierro and Tenerife.
Day 3 - Cubo de la Galga Forest Walk 9km/6mi/3hr
In the lush north-east of the island are the huge shimmering laurisilva rainforests of Cubo de la Galga - an area of incredibly rich vegetation where walking (often above the misty clouds) in the vast emerald valleys is like being inside a colossal living and breathing green cathedral! We'll follow a shaded mossy path up through wax myrtle, laurel, foxgloves and citronella as far as the stunning Mirador viewpoint - incredible views right across the eastern coast and as far as Tenerife on a clear day. On the way back stop in historic Santa Cruz, time to explore and visit the market where we taste the local refreshing sugar cane juice.
Day 4 - Ruta de los Volcanes 9km/6mi/4hr
We drive south today stopping at the Mazo farmers market before following the volcanoes. The Ruta de los Volcanes is a long-distance hiking trail that runs down the steep central spine of La Palma, linking the famous Caldera de Taburiente crater in the north with the lighthouses and lava flows further south. Our section begins in the pretty village of Los Canarios (35 mins drive) with dramatic views over the ranks of tangled vines that flourish in the region's rich black soil. There's time to taste Shakespeare's renowned Malvasia wine in the village bodega before heading off through lava fields and vineyards bordered by rocks depicting original Aboriginal carvings. Our final descent takes us past sheet-white salt pans and on to the candy-striped lighthouse at Fuencaliente where we enjoy a chilled drink on the panoramic terrace watching the waves of the ocean crashing below. We then head to the charming Hacienda de Abajo, your hotel for the next 4 nights.
Day 5 - Free day in Tazacorte
Spend the day as active or as relaxing as you want, your hotel here is a former sugar estate, with lovely pool and spa, set in acres of tropical banana plantations. From here, it's just a short stroll to the sunny village of Tazacorte (reputed to have the best climate anywhere in Europe!). You can visit the local Banana Museum, which shows the history of this fruit in the Canaries. Or enjoy a walk through the Banana Plantations, for those wanting a longer walk head down to the beachside town of El Puerto de Tazacorte, with its many bars and restaurants and lovely strip of golden sand.
Day 6 - The Valley of the Dragon Trees 7.5km/4.5mi/3hrs
A circular walk today takes us down from the sleepy village of Las Tricias (35 mins drive) and through one of the most beautiful hiking areas on the island. It's a totally idyllic and peaceful landscape of lush green fields, fragrant orange and almond orchards, and mythical 1000-year-old dragon trees. Red-billed choughs, kestrels and buzzards sweep overhead as we pass Buracas and its indigenous Benahoritas cave dwellings. A final ascent takes us back to Las Tricias - enjoy the breathtaking views from the village windmill (one of the few remaining on the island) out across the north-west coast where richly coloured rocks contrast beautifully with the deep blue Atlantic Sea. On the way back to the hotel you stop at a local winery to taste the local wines made from some of the oldest grapes in Europe.
Day 7 - Caldera de Taburiente 11km/7mi/5hrs
Our final walk explores the heart of the National Park containing the enormous expanse of the 1500m-deep Caldera de Taburiente, one of the largest craters in the world, rivalling the Grand Canyon with its 28km perimeter and 10km width. After an informative stop at the Visitor Centre, we head up through thick Canary Pine forest, following a stunning hiking trail past volcanic tubes, rock paintings and gullies until the summit of Picos Brecitos. There are fabulous views of the huge volcanic crater, the surrounding towering peaks (up to 2500m) and soaring rock walls with remote villages clinging vertiginously to the western flank above steep, stepped terraces. Then back to the hotel and perhaps a final aperitivo on one of the sea facing bar terraces in Tazacorte.
Day 8 - Leave La Palma
Where you stay
During your holiday you stay at the following hotels. If you'd like to extend your time at any of these or, if you'd like to enhance your stay with an upgraded room, just let us know at the time of booking. You can call our sales team on 1-800-567-6286 to discuss accommodation options.
Parador de la Palma, Santa Cruz de la Palma (4 Star)
The Parador de La Palma is a beautiful hotel set on the hillside high above the capital Santa Cruz. It is built to resemble the old style architecture of a grand Canarian mansion, with internal patios full of flowering plants, lots of outdoor spaces and 44,000 square metres of landscaped gardens that stretch down the hillside - ideal for a stroll before or after dinner.
Bedrooms are spacious and well-equipped, each with a private balcony with ocean view. Dinners are taken in the attractive dining room, and the vegetables at dinner are frequently from the hotel’s own organic vegetable garden. A luxurious lounge and library is ideal for relaxing with a drink and a book, while the entire hotel is decorated with art by local artists.
Further details on the hotel website, and independent reviews on Trip Advisor.
Hacienda de Abajo, Tazacorte (4 Acorns)
Within the banana plantations just a 5 minute walk from the pretty village of Tazacorte, you will find a tranquil oasis. The manor house of a former sugar estate now holds a suite and premium rooms. The newly built part has been done tastefully and fits in with the manor house to create an atmospheric luxury hotel.
The swimming pool forms the centre of its lovely grounds and gardens and there is also a free sauna and steam room. The rooms have been decorated to a high standard using beautiful antique furniture creating a feeling of elegance and all have balcony or terrace.
Further details on the hotel website, and independent reviews on Trip Advisor.
Please call our sales team on 1-800-567-6286 or email email@example.com to arrange flights and connecting transfers to your hotel.
Everyone who goes on a Headwater holiday will be emailed a link to our post-holiday questionnaire where they can give us an honest assessment of all aspects of their holiday - everything from how quickly we answer the phone to how clean the hotels were - plus, of course, an overall rating and comments about their holiday.
Any feedback collected is posted straight to our website - totally unedited. So, for the real tales, twists and turns of our holidays, look no further than the reviews from our previous travellers.
Reviewed by Mrs Mendoza on 29/02/2016
This was the second Headwater holiday I have been on which was guided by Javier. He is a fantastic guide and so knowledgeable. As well as walking he showed us lots of flora and fauna and lots of other interesting things. All the walks were very interesting and the views were great It was good that we stayed at two hotels, both very interesting.
Reviewed by Mrs Gatward on 29/02/2016
The hotels, our guide Javier and the fellow-travellers were all excellent - unfortunately the weather wasn't as good as I'd hoped but nothing can be done about that. I think Javier realised when he had to re-arrange our final walk (due to snow) that the alternative was a bit difficult for me - but I got there! I have to say everyone else thought it was wonderful!
Reviewed by Mr Pattison on 28/02/2016
Another great guided walking holiday, despite unseasonable weather, Very varied and interesting walks, good hotels, and good food and wine. Javier dealt very well with the challenges presented by an unwell fellow traveller, and the changes forced on us by the weather. He judged our capabilities well in arranging a substitute walk which we felt was the best of the holiday.
Reviewed by Mr Ridley on 02/02/2016
Another excellent holiday with Headwater
Reviewed by Mrs Morris on 31/01/2016
Superb leader - sociable, knowledgeable, charming, considerate. Excellent hotels, especially the Hacienda, where the staff were charming and the quality of the accommodation and surroundings excellent.
Reviewed by Mis Nair on 09/12/2015
A good holiday in a beautiful island, with good weather and a helpful and obliging guide. NB ; Picnic lunches during the walks were a little excessive . It might be better for each person /couple to choose what they want for lunch before purchasing it to avoid leftovers / carrying excess loads.
Reviewed by Mr Rayner on 06/12/2015
An excellent holiday with an exceptional guide (Javier) who was passionate about the geology, geography, and natural history of the island of La Palma. The walks were well chosen and we saw different aspects of the island. He was adaptable - when the temperature dropped to 5C with a wind speed of 34kph he decided to forego the high altitude ridge walk for one further down the mountain. He took us to an interesting selection of restaurants so that we could experience local cuisine. And he was a good and careful driver and had a fine sense of humour.
Reviewed by Mr Shore on 06/12/2015
Hacienda de Abajo is a fabulous hotel - best staff ever, wonderful food, beautiful accommodation and stunning tropical gardens. Hotel San Telmo is charming, tucked away in the side streets and perfectly located for walking in Santa Cruz. Our guide - Javier - was an outstanding source of knowledge on the history, geology, flora and fauna of the islands. I recommend this holiday.
Departure dates & prices
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Minimum group sizes
A minimum of 6 people (in total) are required for each departure.
Guided walking, twin centre. Managed by Headwater appointed agent.
Selected Thursdays from 27 Oct '16 to 19 Apr '18, for 8 days (7 nights).
All buffet breakfasts, 5 lunches and all evening meals included.
Enquire about this holiday
Simply complete the form below and a member of our sales team will contact you (when it's most convenient for you) to provide availability information, travel options and additional information.