|Mallorca: The Sierra de Tramuntana Mountain Range
||Thinking of Mallorca usually leads to prejudices: crowded beaches, drunken proletarians, pink sunburns, retired's paradise, the hells of mass tourism. All this is - depending on the season and the area visited - perfectly true. But there's also another, less abused side of this island, waiting to be discovered. It is the north, or better said, the mountain range stretching from the western town of Andraitx to the northernmost cape, Formentor: the Sierra de Tramuntana.
Surely, also this part of the island is part of the tourist industry, at least where it can easily be reached by car or tour busses. In spring and summer, the scenic road C710 and the villages along it (Valldemosa, Deìa, Sóller, La Calobra, Lluc..) are visited by literally hundreds of people each day. But off the peak season, most of all in January and February but also in November, the hotels in the region are closed, almost no tour busses operate and the mountains are as wild and beautiful as they probably where hundred years ago.
How to get there
Travelling in the area
Things you shouldn't miss...
Things you shouldn't do...
- mallorcaweb.com - the best source and web directory
- tramuntana.net (Spanish only & under construction, but already good!)
- Guide to Sóller by the FEHM (German)
- Weather for Palma de Mallorca by wunderground
- Intellicast Forecast Palma de Mallorca
- Yahoo! Weather for Palma de Mallorca
- Regional weather information and forecasts by INM (Spanish only)
Maps of good quality are hard to get outside the island and even in Mallorca, you will have to search a while to get one. To prepare yourself, you should get some of the popular hiking guides for Mallorca's North, which should at least contain small 1:50.000 maps. A good book is published by Dorothea and Paco Ponce, but can only be bought locally (avaiable in Spanish, English, German,..).
I discovered only two places in the north where to get topographic maps of good quality (1:25.000): the tabac shop Estanc de Placa at the Placa Constitucio and the book store in the Calle Luna in Sóller. Especially the Maps "Mapa Topográfico Nacional de Espana" (1:25.000 and 1:50.000) and the "Mapa de Camins de Muntanya" (Map of Hiking Paths, 1:25.000) are of good quality, although the former doesn't show all of the trails and the latter seems to be a little too optimistic concerning the existence of some trails. And none of them will show if a trail is open or not, so try to inform yourself locally before you start. I used the maps in the tour descriptions, so see for yourself. The online maps below can give you only a rough orientation in comparison.
- Area Map from National Geographic
- 3D Map of the Sóller valley by solleronline.com (useless, but nice toy)
- Interactive Map of of Mallorca by mallorca-map.com
- Map Sóller-Lluc area by multimap
- Map of Sóller and downloadable maps by sollernet.com
- Map (1:25.000) (174k) of the tour to L'Ofre
- Map (1:50.000) (45k) of the tour to the Tomir
- Map (1:25.000) (97k) of the tour to the Teix
- Map (1:50.000) (43k) of the tour to the Massanella
How to get there
PMI, the international airport of Palma de Mallorca, is the most important gateway to the island. Almost every airline is serving it all year from all major European airports. If you are coming by car or train, you will have to use the ferries from Valencia, Barcelona or southern France. A ferry ticket (including a car) and an airline ticket should cost fairly much the same, around 250 to 300 euros. Once you arrived in Palma, the northern parts of the island are served by several bus lines (destinations Andraitx, Valldemosa, Sóller, Lluc, Pollenca). Even better is it to use the old railway from Palma's Plaza de Espana to Sóller, which will take you to the north (Bunyola, Sóller) in about an hour for low prizes.
- Trasmediterranea Ferries
- El Tren de Sóller: the old railway
Travelling in the area
The easiest of course is to rent a car, but make sure the rental stations are open during winter time. The safest way is to rent a car right at the airport, but also the most expensive way, too. An alternative are the busses operating along the C710 (Bus Nord Balear), which can take you to almost every important starting point for any tour. The bus lines do not operate very often each day, but are reliable and reasonably prized. Two important bus lines are Sóller-Palma-Sóller via Valldemosa and Deìa and Port Sóller-C'an Picafort via Cuber, Lluc, Cala San Vicente and Pollenca. Bus stops are on the main road or on the central plazas, bus schedules can be obtained from the local tourist information. Maybe the best alternative of course is to walk and to arrange your accomodation in advance (very important if you want to stay in Lluc). If you don't want to rent a car and wish to walk in more remote areas, you can ask taxi drivers to drop you off and to pick you up again at fixed time.
- Public transportation information by the Ajuntamiento de Palma
- Alfa Jet Car Rental in Port Sóller
Camping is very restricted on Mallorca unless you have permission by the land owner. Most of the mountain region is privately owned and the owners of the Fincas are already quite annoyed by hikers crossing their lands. So please respect their property and put up your tent only where you are allowed to do so. Fortunately, the larger villages will offer you at least a simple B&B. In Pollenca and Andraitx it should be easy to find a place to stay. In Lluc you should book in advance, as the monastery's capacities are of course limited and are used by many hikers as well as pilgrims around the year (Tel. (+34971) 51 70 25). Sóller and Port Sóller as well as Deìa offer the whole range of hotels also during winter time. Es Moli and the Residencia in Deìa are five-star hotels with exorbitant prizes and very good service. El Guia (Tel. 63 02 27) and Hotel Nadal (Tel. 63 11 80) in the centre of Sóller are good choices, especially the latter as many hikers usually meet there. An agrotouristic stay on an old Finca is offered in the Finca Ca N'Ai in the valley of Sóller, including one of the best cookings in the area (Tel. 63 24 94). In Port Sóller, at least the Hotel Es Port (Tel. 63 16 50) and the former Hotel Monte Azul should be open around the year. In the latter, you can usually meet a famous mountain guide, Paco Ponce, who is sort of the reference for hiking around Sóller.
- Rent a Finca with Fincas Mallorca (German only)
- Hotel with Character by reisdemallorca.com (good choice of hotels in the north)
Mallorca's north can mean a lot more than just swimming, sun bathing and relaxing. Of course, you can do this, too, e.g. in the Cala Deìa, Port Sóller, Lluc Alcari or La Calobra. But especially in winter time, the Tramuntana Mountain Range is a paradise for hikers and anyone who just want to be outside.
Hiking in Mallorca is always strongly linked to the island's cultural heritage, as most of the land is privately owned and agriculturally used. The trails are usually very old and were used to connect the remote Fincas among each other and with the bigger villages. As a result, a wide range of hikes is offered, from the half-day trip to an excursion of two or more days. On your way you will discover deserted Fincas, ancient snow houses, charcoal burner's huts, lime kilns and terraces. Nonetheless, the trails are sometimes marked only weakly and in the central parts of the mountain range, it can take a day to reach the next road. When the weather changes and gets foggy, even locals get lost up there. Consequently, it is a good idea to get good maps of the area you will visit as well as the usual gear you'd take for a trip to the mountains. The village of Sóller and the Monastery of Lluc are the most important - and most popular - starting points for the hikes and for some kind of "hill walking" you'd rather expect to find in Scotland. Something like a dozen of peaks exist which have elevations higher than 1.000m, and, believe it or not, they are sometimes even covered by snow during winter time. All of the peaks can be accessed rather easily, expect from the Puig Mayor, the highest mountain on the island which hosts a military radar station on top (1.443m). It doesn't take much to hike in Mallorca, but it can be very rewarding if you wish to escape the masses of the south. The trips I made are all rather short, so they can be performed around the year very well. But try to avoid the summer heat (June till October), as it is very hot and dry in these months and you will hardly find any shade in the mountains - and all the springs will be dried out during summer. The rest of the year should offer usually fine weather, but always expect strong winds, rain showers and thunderstorms during your trip.
- Tour: From Cuber via L'Ofre (1.091m) to Biniaraix
- Tour: From Lluc to the Tomir (1.103m)
- Tour: From the Coll de Sóller to the Teix (1.064m)
- Tour: Onto the second highest peak: the Massanella (1.352m)
Hiking and "hill walking" are just one popular outdoor activity. In the north, any kind of water sport is possible as well and most of all scuba diving (including cave diving) is very attractive. A diving school is in Port Sóller available. Furthermore, rock climbing is getting more and more poular on the island and people told me that the quality of the routes is very high. Not yet discovered, but spectacular anyway, is canyoning in Mallorca. The famous Torrente de Pareis is just one of the many canyons in the Tramuntana and probably the easiest, as it can be accessed by hikers during the dry summer months as well - but Sa Fosca should only be explored by cavers. I found a canyoning guide to the Torrentes of Mallorca (written in Catalan) in the tabac shop in Sóller, but unfortunately I don't speak Catalan :-) Anyway, it just doesn't stop with hiking in Mallorca, it rather starts with it and there is a lot to explore left!
- Guide to the Beaches of Mallorca by esplaya.com
- Mountaineering federations in Spain with address of the FEDERACIÓ BALEAR DE MUNTANYISME
- Description of the Torrente de Pareis
- Caving in Mallorca
- Planet Climbing: Mallorca
- mnet rock: climbing in Mallorca
- Mtn Features: Sport climbing in Mallorca
- rocaroja.com - a commercial operator for climbing in Mallorca
- Photo: the Torrente de Pareis
...things you shouldn't miss!
Visit the villages of Lluc Alcari and Deìa west of Sóller and the Biniaraix and Fornalutx in the east. The latter is reknown to be one of the most beautiful villages in Spain. Get some of the local sausages, cheese, olives and wines and take them with you on your tours. Try the restaurants Sa Teulera (meats, especially Lechona...) in Sóller and C'as Mariner and Las Olas (fish, seafood, traditonal cooking: Paella Negra, Snails, grilles squid, lamb shoulder..) in Port Sóller. Have a Cortado in one of the bars around the Plaza in Sóller and visit the Market Hall. Take the Tranvia from Sóller to the Port. And take your fins and your mask and explore the beautiful underwater world of the rocky northern coast...
...things you shouldn't do!
Simply don't behave like the people you wanted to get away from in the first place :-) ....Mallorca is not Disney World, so please respect the churches and private houses. Try to calm down and relax when things don't work as perfect as you wish them to be or expect them from your home country. And, very important on your hikes, respect the landowner's property. Remember that most of Mallorca is privately owned and the land owners needn't allow you pass their land. If you see a sign that reads: "Prohibido el paso", "Camino Particular" or "Propriedad privada": stay away from this land. And avoid areas which are marked "Coto privado de Caza" or marked with a black and white signs: this land is used for hunting, so better stay on the trail. Finally, take your waste with you as usual, close every portal again you pass and leave the Fincas alone. The mountain areas have become very popular in the past years and locals as well as tourists are annoying the land owners very much in some parts of the island. Many have already put up big fences and gates to their property and trails are interrupted consequently (Finca S'Arrom in the Serra de Alfabía for example). Others have moved the trails away from there houses to be less disturbed (Finca L'Ofre). The situation is escalating more and more so please help to calm things down and respect the privacy and the property of the land owners. If you want to follow the discussion on the Natural Park Sierra de Tramuntana, and speak Catalan and Spanish, visit the respective forum of mallorcaweb.