Key information: La Palma
- The Great Volcanic Ridge of this young volcanic island contains two of the world's great walks, which are united as one of our Top 100 walks: the Ruta de la Cresteria around the rim of the Caldeira de Taburiente, an astonishing collapsed volcano which has produced a vast horseshoe of cliffs, and The Route of the Volcanoes, a trail winding among the remarkable line of craters that forms the island's southern central spine.
- The weather here is changeable. Come prepared.
- Walkopedia rating88
- Natural interest19
- Human interest3
- Negative points0
- Total rating88
- Length: Variable
- Maximum Altitude: 2,426m
- Level of Difficulty: Strenuous
Amazing La Palma: a youthful tear-shaped mountain-island, with a superb spine of craters and rocky outcrops and a stupendous horseshoe of cliffs around the Caldera de Taburiente, where a cataclysmic collapse of an enormous volcano has produced a stunning horseshoe of cliffs, thousands of metres above sea level - and above the caldera bottom.
A series of smaller volcanoes lines the island's southern spine, erupting through verdant forest to create shattered or peculiarly rounded volcanic beauty, with the sea an ever-present backdrop, thousands of feet below.
Due to their being part of the same volcanic ridge, the central spine of mountainous La Palma, we have grouped our Caldeira de Tuburiente and Route of Volcanoes walks together for the purpose of our Top 100.
This green place is said to be one of the world's most mountainous islands, the tip of a huge volcanic mass rising from the junction of tectonic plates deep under the ocean floor. La Palma contains fine examples of the Canary Islands' unique vegetation, the remains of the old Mediterranean flora before that area got drier. Pines and shrubs abound, but there is little grass.
Ruta de la Cresteria: This famous trail follows the sharp ridge, with precipitous drops into the gigantic caldera inside, and steep slopes right down to the sea without, around the astonishing horseshoe of cliffs of the Caldeira de Taburiente. Read our detailed page, here.
Route of the Volcanoes: One crater to the next; over broken, rocky terrain. Weird formations, an array of blazing colours, sinisterly beautiful craters, stunted pines and other specialised vegetation: all with a backdrop of the sea, nearly 2,000m below. Read our detailed page, here.
The weather here can be difficult. The prevailing winds bring cloud and rain from the north-east: the cloud can wrap itself around the summit, killing any chance of seeing the astounding views.
Other fabulous walks
La Palma offers a huge selection of other great walks, easily worth a week.
- Los Tilos: this UNESCO biosphere reserve in the north-east envelops the archipelago's most extraordinary barranco - Barranco del Agua, a deep, sheer-sided ravine cloaked with fine, lush rainforest, a fabulous example of the Canary Islands' unique vegetation. There are numerous good walks in this area, but the jewel is the outstanding circuit above the Barranco del Agua known as the Camino de la Reserva de la Biosfera, a long, tough climb to high springs and sensational viewpoints above the head of the ravine and round back the other side. The walk follows irrigation channels (similar to Madiera's levadas) fed by the springs, winding giddily above some horrid drops and through some narrow, wet and low tunnels. Absolutely thrilling, but not for the faint-hearted.
- Volcan de San Antonio and the Southern Cape
- Poris de Candelaria: This is a steep path (down and back) through pine forest, which then winds down cliffs to a remarkable cove in the dry west which was reputedly once a pirates' hide-away.
- Tijarafe to Tinizana: This route crosses the more cultivated, drier western plain of La Palma, along old trails (cobbled in parts), which alternate between gardens, groves, and deep, wild ravines.
Other accounts: share your experiences
Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.
Books and Maps
Books on this walk
Walking on La Palma Cicerone: essential
La Palma and El Hierro Sunflower Guides
Walk! La Palma Charles Davis
Canary Islands Lonely Planet
La Palma: Tour and Trail Maps David Brawn
Stanfords: www.stanfords.co.uk. A good online specialist source of worldwide maps and guides.
Best times to walk/weather
Best times to walk
Most of the year is excellent for walking subject to island weather variations. The entirety of May to September is warm and usually has little rain, although July and August can be too hot for comfort. November to March is wetter and can be stormy usually relatively briefly. The high trails can be closed through Winter due to snow, but usually only for a few days.
The weather at any particular time depends on the wind direction. It is good most of the time, but the north-east can often be wet and the high ground can be in (or above) a blanket of cloud.
See www.transporteslapalma.com/transportes/index for information on getting around the island: or, hire a car.
Getting to the island is another matter. Tenerife offers direct flights and passenger ferry services to La Palma; otherwise getting there could mean flights from any one of Madrid, Barcelona, Paris or Milan.
No permits are needed to do this walk, although you are not allowed near the El Roque de los Muchachos observatories (2,4026m!) at night.
See Walk Summary above.
Possible problems, health, other warnings
- Variable / unreliable weather: rain and wind are possible at any time of year. Some of the steep rock can get very slippery when wet. Come prepared.
- Heat and strong sun. Carry enough water and protect yourself.
- Heights: can be dangerous; not for those who have difficulties with heights.
- This is remote country: you will likely have to carry food and water, and help may be hard to get if things go wrong.
- Falling rocks, in the caldera, can be dangerous. Stay aware.
- 112 is the local emergency number.
See also the websites in our useful links page for more detailed, and up-to-date, information.
Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and problems can arise on any walk. Many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks and possible problems. This website cannot, and does not purport to, identify all actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to a walk or a country. Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to Important information for further important information.
Make sure you have appropriate insurance.
Guided or independent?
Most people do these walks independently, but come prepared.
It is possible to form or join organised/supported expeditions. Travelling here with a knowledgeable guide can have real advantages. Expedition organisers include:
- Explore! - www.explore.co.uk - reputable and experienced organisers.
- Inntravel www.inntravel.com
- Natour Trekking www.natour-trekking.com
- Oasis La Palma www.oasislapalma.com
- Headwater www.headwater.com do an interesting looking selection of some of the best walks on La Palma during their 7-night guided walking holiday.
The guidebooks have a selection of possible accommodation: there is the standard range available in both Santa Cruz and Los Llanos, the two major cities.
Free camping available at Centro de Naturaleza La Rosa at Puntagorda: otherwise campsites require permits (not always available on site). Refugio El Pilar is found right at the start of the Route of the Volcanoes.
Hostelbookers usually has a good selection of cheaper-end accommodation.
Other information and tips
Useful websites and information
There are many websites with relevant information. Here are some that we think are useful or have been recommended to us.
- http://wikitravel.org/en/La_Palma As usual, a good starting place.
- Try www.flickr.com for pictures of this walk.
Other things to do in the area
Spain has a huge variety of great walks. There is likely to be a good walk within range wherever you may be. In the Canary Islands alone:
Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.
Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.
COMMUNITY COMMENTS AND PHOTOS
Posted on: 24/07/2015
A member says:
share your experiences
Add your experiences, suggestions and photos. We would be delighted to receive your writing and ideas (which will be attributed appropriately where published).
Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.
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