La Palma is a paradise for walkers. Here hiking trails, dyed by the intense green of its lush vegetation and the intense blue of its clear sky, lead you through a fascinating island. The variety is tremendous. You can take an easy stroll among bright gardens or scale the wild peaks of Bejenado and Birigoyo. Or perhaps best of all, take the paths inside the Caldera, or to the springs at Marcos y Corderos to appreciate the miracle of water.

But the real surprise for hikers is how well signposted this network of hiking paths is. They go everywhere, covering the island like a spider's web, as, until only decades ago, they used to be the only means of communication between the different parts of the island. Those goods which were not transported by boat were transported from one part of the island to the other on foot or by mules.

These ancient public rights of way (caminos reales) were once used by the original inhabitants (Benahoaritas) to lead their livestock.

nimage1 But that was in the island's past. Nowadays, La Palma has a modern road network, and the caminos reales are “populated” nowadays only by forest rangers and hikers. The network of hiking paths on the island stretches to almost 1000 km and there are signposts with the name of the hiking trail; information boards; and coloured stripes painted on trees and rocks. Respecting the ERA (European Ramblers Association), these easy-to-understand stripes depend on the type of hiking trail. There are three types of trails.

Long-distance hiking trails (GR or Sendero de Gran Recorrido) need more than just one day to finish. Stripes in red

Short-distance hiking trails (PR or Sendero de Pequeño Recorrido) take up to six hours. Stripes in yellow. Local hiking trails(SL or Sendero Local) are less than 10km long. Stripes in green

As we have previously said, these paths will lead you to every corner of the island: the Volcanoes Route (Ruta de los volcanes) runs around the rim of the Caldera and down the spine of the island (the Cumbre); the Coastal Path (Camino de la Costa) goes around the island; the Path of the Ports (Camino de los Puertos) runs from Santa Cruz de la Palma to Puerto de Tazacorte; and there are many shorter paths besides. You can start almost anywhere and hike almost any distance, without fear of getting lost.

nimage1 To make long hikes easier, the Cabildo de la Palma (the island's government) is building a chain of hostels on the long distance paths. Hikers can sleep in here, rather than having to detour to a hotel in town. There is also a detailed hiking map and a topographical guide, carefully written for hikers and translated in 3 languages, which includes all the hiking trails of the island (long-distance, short-distance and local hiking trails). For each path it has a complete description, and an explanation of the flora, fauna, culture, history, volcanism, traditions, legends or agriculture of the surrounding countryside.

Besides, the Consejería de Medio Ambiente del Cabildo de La Palma (Island government's department in charge of Environment) and Cooperativa Radio Taxi San Miguel de La Palma have put at hikers' disposal the so-called "paradas de taxis verdes para senderistas" (green taxi stands), that is, taxi stands which are located either at the beginning or at the end of hiking tours so that hikers can catch a taxi. You can have a look at them here.

Source: http://www.lapalmaturismo.com



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