Current as of: December 5, 2023 - 05:20
4 out of 7 - Moderate / Challenging
La Palma, nicknamed La Isla Bonita (the pretty Isle), is a relatively unheard of volcanic island in the western Canaries. For its small size it features a vast amount of diverse scenery, from dense cloud forest to volcanic landscapes with twisted rock formations and black sand beaches. This walking itinerary is designed to take advantage of the island’s well waymarked paths. These start on the eastern side of La Palma, follow the coast to the north and then finally head south across the great Caldera which dominates the island.
Activity level 4 – Moderate/Challenging
The walks on this trip vary between moderate and challenging and each day involves a fair amount of ascent and descent (for more details please see the daily itinerary). As this is a self-guided tour, there will be no group or tour leader and you can walk at your own pace. We do recommend that you take some time to rest and enjoy the views!
The terrain and type of path will vary but many of them can be rocky and steep, especially on the gorge walks on days 4 and 5. Good quality walking boots and poles are highly recommended for the type of walking you will be doing. All of the paths walked are approved and monitored by the Federación Española de Montañismo and are well sign-posted. The walks on days 2, 4, 5 and 7 are classed as the more challenging walks of the trip. If necessary on days 3, 4, 5 and 6 it is possible to shorten the walks, this will be discussed with you on your arrival briefing.
Although the walking can be steep we don’t anticipate that vertigo sufferers will struggle at any point. However, if this does pose a problem, alternative shorter walks can be organised.
It is likely that you will encounter barking dogs during some of the walks, but walking poles are a useful deterrent.
Whilst the paths are well signed, it is likely that on the first 4 days of walking you will not come across many other walkers (if any), so it feels as though you have the views to yourself.
It is important that you are happy reading maps and following route notes, we make these as accurate as possible and they are regularly checked.
Self-guided walking holidays are a perfect option for families as they offer the freedom for you to take your holiday at your own pace. You can stop as and when you want and need, places and sites that suit your family and that interest you. As a guide we have suggested that 12 years is the minimum age for this trip, but as it is self-guided and you will be leading your own family we will ultimately leave this decision up to you. The daily distances are all published in the trip notes along with a description of each days walking so you have a good idea of what to expect. However, if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact one of our experts. The principle idea is that these holidays can be as flexible as you like, with logistical support but no group or leader to dictate the daily activities.
As this is a self-guided holiday there is no group and no leader. Your luggage is transferred and route directions and maps are provided. The route directions contain an emergency assistance telephone number (operating between 08:30 and 22:00hrs). In emergency, the local representative is normally able to dispatch a taxi or pick you up themselves. They may wish to charge for this service.
Adult min age: 12
Arrive into La Palma and take an airport transfer to your hotel in the capital. Have a wander around the pretty town, which is famous for its iconic balconies and its lively cafe and restaurant scene, before stopping for dinner somewhere.
Overnight Hotel El Galeon or similar
After a short 15 min transfer to Puntallana, today’s walk follows the GR130 long-distance coastal path that runs across La Palma, through dramatic barrancos (ravines) with stunning coastal views. You will walk through citrus groves, avocado and mango orchards, small vineyards and banana plantations, arriving in the pretty village of San Andrés, one of the first colonial towns on the island. Take some time to explore the cobbled streets and houses in the historic quarter, visit one of the oldest churches on the island, enjoy a side visit to a local rum factory or take a dip in the seawater pools at Charco Azul. Then walk for another 15 minutes up the coast until you reach your apartment where you spend the night.
Overnight Apartmentos Miriam or similar
After breakfast, begin to walk uphill to Los Sauces, a small town with a vibrant atmosphere on the north east coast. Enjoy negotiating the dramatic ‘Barranco de Herradura’, and then ascend just over 500m through several small villages to reach Barlovento (meaning ‘fresh breeze’) a village which enjoys breathtakingly beautiful sea views.
Overnight Hotel La Palma Romantica or similar
From Barlovento, follow a path through the ‘Dragon Trees Forest’, across undulating coastline with spectacular views towards the cliffs. Navigate a series of barrancos to reach Los Gallegos, and then descend to sea level, crossing the dramatic Barranco de Franceses before ascending to the pretty village of Franceses; At the end of the walk, take the public bus (fare included) back to Barlovento.
Overnight Hotel La Palma Romantica or similar
After a short transfer this morning you use ancient paths to discover the far north of La Palma, one of the most unspoiled parts of the island. Walk across the Barranco de Los Hombres, a spectacular steep-sided gorge, to reach the tiny hamlet of El Tablado. Then a steep ascent to yet another tiny hamlet, Roque del Faro, before taking a public bus (fare included) back to your hotel in Barlovento.
Overnight Hotel La Palma Romantica or similar
Today you take a transfer (1 hour) to walk an exciting section of the GR131 route from the highest point of the island, Roque de los Muchachos, along the rim of the crater Caldera de Taburiente, to the Pico de la Nieve. The route has breathtaking views across the island and the high mountain paths twist and turn across the rocky landscape. In the distance it is possible to see the peak of Mount Teide on Tenerife, emerging from the horizon, 3750m above sea level. After a soft descent, your transfer takes you to the capital of Santa Cruz.
Take an unforgettable walk today along the ‘Ruta de Los Volcanes’. Here you navigate a series of volcanoes in the south of the island, with some of them having erupted only a few years ago. This is the longest walk of the trip, and although it involves a substantial descent it is a very popular and well-marked path, following the GR131 from beginning to end.
Overnight Hotel El Galeon or similar
If you have time before your flight, take a small walk around Santa Cruz. This fascinating town attracted Flemish merchants who built imposing town palaces, which today accommodate museums and boutiques. A walk along the Calle Real, visiting the Plaza de España, Town Hall or the food market will be a perfect end to your La Palma experience before your flight home.
Ascents, descents and distances
All ascents, descents and distances listed above have been measured by our local partners or tour leaders, in many cases with satellite-based mapping software. Please note, different GPS measuring devices can give differing results, particularly on winding paths or in mountainous terrain. Measurements stated throughout these trips notes are given to help you understand the types of terrain and distances you will encounter. Timings stated will vary depending on the pace of your group.
7 nights accommodation in small hotels and apartments, all en suite. Hotel La Palma Romantica in Barlovento offers a pool (indoor and outdoor) and a Jacuzzi.
Please note that the accommodation is always subject to availability and named hotels may change.
Single supplement from £ 300
All breakfasts included.
In Santa Cruz and Barlovento, breakfasts are buffets in the hotels and usually include a selection of breads, cereals, pastries, cold meats and cheese, fresh fruit and yogurt. In San Andres breakfast is provided in a local cafe and is usually bread, eggs and fruit.
A packed lunch can be requested from the hotels in Santa Cruz and Barlovento (please request this the night before) or there are some nearby supermarkets where you are able to pick up food for your journey. Supermarkets are generally closed on Sundays so please be prepared for this.
Dinners can be booked in advance as a Half Board (HB) supplement or there are other dining options nearby. Dinners, when the HB supplement is paid in advance, are usually 3 courses and are taken from a set menu at a local restaurant or at your hotel and offer a variety of local specialities and international cuisine. There is a lot of fresh fish available.
Drinks are not included with dinner, but a soft drink should cost €1-2, a beer €2-4, a glass of wine €2-3 and a bottle of wine from €8 upwards.
Vegetarians: Please be aware that meat and fish are staple foods in Spain. Most vegetarians do not experience any problems, however please be prepared to be flexible.
Your luggage is transported from hotel to hotel for you. Some of your transfers are in taxis and some are on the public bus (fares included) – details will be provided to you at the welcome briefing.
La Palma enjoys a relatively balanced climate year round due to the trade winds that affect all of the Canary Islands. These winds from the north east carry moisture and can mean that two different sides of the island can be experiencing completely different weather patterns simultaneously. The winds provide a lovely natural cooling system which is perfect for hiking. However you should be prepared for rain at any time, La Palma is a lush, green island and the weather systems can be quite unpredictable. We offer this trip year round, but please be aware that there can be significant increases in temperature in July and August and this may lead to cancellation of some walking days if the weather is too hot. The best time to trek is from October to May, when the island is a little cooler.
Travelling land only: 8 days starting in Santa Cruz and ending in Santa Cruz
Your trip normally starts at Santa Cruz airport (airport code SPC) on La Palma, on the afternoon of Day 1.
Joining instructions including route notes, hotel list, map and local emergency numbers will be sent to you as part of our Final Joining Instructions. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.
Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers will be sent to you as part of our Final Joining Instructions. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.
Location start: Santa Cruz
Location end: Santa Cruz
The Flight Inclusive price is based on a London departure, but we are happy to tailor this to your local or regional airport. Please ask about flights from local or regional airports.
If booking regional flights other than with Exodus, you must allow a minimum connecting time (in addition to the international check-in time) of 1 hour at Gatwick, and 1.5 hours at Heathrow; this is longer than the official minimum, but baggage handling is known to be subject to delays.
An airport transfer is included for those booking flight inclusive packages. For those booking land only transfers can be added at a supplement.
As well as casual clothes for travel and days off, we recommend that you bring the following:
Day sack with 30-40 litres capacity
A good quality waterproof/windproof jacket and waterproof trousers
Walking boots with good ankle support and a strong sole
A warm fleece or lightweight down jacket
Sun hat, sun cream and sun glasses
Hat and gloves
Walking poles are highly recommended
Mobile phone (please check your sim card works overseas)
Towel for the pools at Charco Azul
Passports: check if you need to renew
You may need to renew your British passport earlier if you’re travelling from 1 January 2021.
On the day you travel, you’ll need your passport to both:
Certain European nationalities may be able to travel within Europe on their national identity card. Check carefully with the relevant authorities if you intend to do this.
Travellers from the UK, US and EU normally do not need a visa to enter Spain. Please note, visa requirements often change and it is your responsibility to obtain any required visas for this trip. Therefore, we recommend that you check with the nearest embassy or consulate of your chosen destination(s), including any countries you may be transiting or transferring through.
Some local governments provide guidance on what visas their citizens need. To help, we’ve gathered a selection of useful links below.
• Australia: www.smartraveller.gov.au/destinations/europe/spain
• Canada: www.travel.gc.ca/destinations/spain
• United Kingdom: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/spain/entry-requirements
• USA: www.travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Spain.html
There are no required vaccinations. However, you may want to consider vaccinations for tetanus and rabies. Please confirm with your doctor or travel clinic.
If you’re a UK citizen, please note that your UK-issued European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC) are still valid and offer the same cover as the Global Health Insurance Cards (GHIC) in the EU. This gives you medical care at a reduced cost, and in some cases for free, in many European countries, but should not be considered a substitute for adequate insurance. Once your EHIC has expired, replace it with a GHIC.
Spain's time zone: Europe/Madrid (UTC +01:00)
Spain's electricity: Plug type F (two round pins) – 230V, 50Hz
Spain's currency: Euros (EUR)
ATMs are available in Santa Cruz, Los Sauces and Barlovento. Credit cards are generally accepted in supermarkets, at the hotel in Barlovento and throughout Santa Cruz, but you will need cash for more rural areas.
For the meals not included we recommend that you allow €8-15 for lunch if taken in a café or restaurant and €25-40 for dinners. The hotel can arrange a packed lunch for you (approx. €6) if you request it the night before, or you can pick up picnic supplies from a supermarket.
Stargazing (€25 per person) is a very popular activity on La Palma and this can be booked for you in advance. Please speak to a member of Exodus staff beforehand or talk to the local representative about this in your welcome briefing.
At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.
Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here…
Your safe participation
When booking this trip, you should be confident in your ability to participate in all activities described in these Trip Notes. If you have any doubt about your suitability, please call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary.
Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely take part in an activity, or their impact on other people’s enjoyment, we authorise them to take necessary action which, in some circumstances, may involve asking someone to miss that activity.
By booking this trip you agree to our Booking Conditions which clearly state that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these rare instances we will ensure anyone sitting out is safely provided for and offered alternative options where possible. Refunds will not be provided for activities missed and customers may be liable for additional costs incurred.
When you’re ready to book, go to our website for online bookings, book over the phone or you can complete a booking form (available online or on request by calling us). We accept all major credit and debit cards, or you can pay be cheque.
You will receive your booking confirmation letter and invoice, which includes extra information and guidance about your travel arrangements.
Full joining instructions, including local emergency numbers and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately two to three weeks prior to departure. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier, please contact our office or your travel agent.
Trip Note validity
These Trip Notes are valid from the “Current as” date on page one. They will occasionally be updated after booking and before departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary, customers will be written to separately. They will also receive a link to the most up-to-date Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions before travelling.
The information in these Trip Notes is given in good faith. Where differences exist between the Trip Notes and our current brochure or website, the Trip Notes supersede the brochure and website. All holidays can be subject to unexpected changes; to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, it may not be possible to follow the itinerary as planned. This may be for a variety of reasons – climatic, political, physical or other. In these circumstances we will make the best-possible alternative arrangements that maintain the integrity of the original itinerary.
Exodus is fully licensed and bonded as a tour operator. We hold Air Traffic Organisers Licence (ATOL) number 2582, issued and bonded with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are also bonded to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and we are members of the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) and ABTA – The Travel Association. This means you can book your Exodus holiday with confidence, as all money paid to us for your trip is fully protected.