A hiking holiday is that delightful combination, where you get away, go somewhere with better weather and you get fit and healthy in the process. As well as spending your time in stunning landscapes and discovering the country in a whole different light.
Hiking is not exactly the first thing that springs to mind when you think of Mallorca.
To most people, the island isn’t much more than beaches and sunshine and as such, they visit during the hottest summer months and then go home.
But there is a wonderful mountainous side to this island, mostly unspoiled and Unesco protected, with a rich and diverse flora and fauna, and some truly spectacular walks to discover.
Mallorca has 2 mountain ranges, the Serra de Tramuntana on the western coast and the Serra de Llevant in the east, both ideal for hiking, and as they become well managed, with routes mapped out and guides on hand, hiking holidays have begun to seem quite an attractive alternative holiday to the standard beach holiday.
This is the largest mountain range on the island (1000km2) and the one with the highest peaks. The tallest is Puig Mayor at 1,445m but as it’s a military base you cannot access the top. The second highest, Massanella comes pretty close at 1,364m and you can climb from various directions following the GGR221.
But they are not the only ones - there are many peaks around the 1000m range and hundreds of old paths, some of which were used for contraband, others by shepherds and others still as trade routes across the more inaccessible parts of the range.
The Serra de Llevant in the east of the island has smaller hills along the coast, and as the terrain is less dramatic, attracts less visitors. It is perfectly normal to walk miles along the mountains and beaches in this area and never see a soul. Surprising for Mallorca.
This is the route that crosses the Tramunatana from point to point. It starts in the SW in Port D'Andratx and continues up along the coast, past the more picturesque villages of Valldemossa and Deia, to the hiking hub of Soller and on towards the Lluc Monastery. The hills cross Pollensa and the port of Pollensa to ripple towards the sea on the northernmost point of the island, the Cape of Formentor. Some stretches of the GR221 are yet to be cleared and sign posted, but you can hike most of it fairly easily.
Unless you want to risk severe dehydration, the summer is best avoided. You can do small hikes of course, and sometimes it is cooler up in the hills and quite pleasant under the canopy of pine trees, but for the most part, the peak season, is not only busy, not in the mountains but in the hilltop villages it is, and busloads of tourists isn`t really what you want when you are taking a coffee break on route.
Before summer in spring and in the late summer and autumn it is perfect for walking.
In Mallorca, temperatures can vary quite dramatically between the coast and the mountains, and by autumn, they begin to drop at night too. Balmy days between 18º and 24º degrees Celsius in October can turn into cold nights up to 6º lower.
Packing the right gear for hiking...
Bearing in mind the temperature fluctuations and time of year; what you pack can make all the difference to your trip.
There are essentials, which I wouldn’t skimp on.
A good backpack
Preferrably with a camel pack for water
There is no water running in the hills of Mallorca. Water is a scarce resource on the island anyway, and finding a running stream is highly unlikely, so make sure you always carry enough water on you.
You may not be planning to do much walking in the dark, but it is wise to pack one anyway, just in case. They don't weigh much and can also be useful for finding the toilet in a dark refuge at night.
One snack I have found works very well is fuet and quelitas. Now you may not have ever heard of these and find them a peculiar snack to take hiking, but you may be surprised. Fuet is a long thin, fairly hard cured sausage which you cut in fine slithers, and quelitas are a local Inca biscuit, salted slightly but otherwise fairly bland. The combination of these two, which pack and store very easily, are always a winner. Add some dried apricots to the mix, or dried figs, and you are covered.
Energy bars of various types and packs of dried fruits and nuts are sold in Pollensa at the health food shop near the taxi rank.
If you are doing a long hike, don't worry too much about taking snacks for the entire trip. There are places to stock up at the refuges and monasteries, as well as the small villages on the way.
Sun cream is probably the most vital of all, even in autumn, when it can get pretty hot at midday. Other essential toiletries are loo roll, plasters, blister plasters, insect repellent, ibuprofen, toothbrush and toothpaste, Chap Stick or lip balm, deodorant and, feminine hygiene products.
You may also want to pack ear plugs, particularly if you think you might in a refuge where you sleep in dormitories. You never know how noisy your fellow hikers may be!
The light in Mallorca is bright all year round
Lightweight sports t shirts
For walking, preferably the fast drying ones
A long sleeved fleece, for layering
It can get chilly at the top of the mountain, and Mallorca autumn weather is changeable
Long trousers or leggings
It can be useful when temperatures drop, but also comforting once you stop at your accommodation, have a shower and want to wear something warm.
In late autumn I end up wearing, or dreaming I had packed a pair of gloves.
I usually have several of these on me at a time. One for your neck, one for your head and possibly others wrapped round my wrists for added warmth.
Mallorca has its own brand of high quality, durable walking boots: Bestar, based in Mancor del Vall. As an added bonus, they will change the soles for you once they break down free of cost.
Wear them in a little before you set off, as new hiking boots will give you blisters.
For the shower at the hotel, monastery or refuge.