Walking the Cuba de la Galga, Puntallana, La Palma

With so many walking routes on La Palma - over 1,000km of marked trails by the way - I guess we're always going to be spoiled for choice. So why choose a walk that we have already done twice before? The answer is simple : with the use of Endomono, we were after some facts and figures for our new La Palma Highlights Tour. Oh and yes, to break free!!!
So, mission Cubo de la Galga ...
Over the years, the Cuba de la Galga walk has become increasingly popular. With an information hut and large car park at the start of the walk, it's easy to judge its popularity just by the number of cars! But happily it's one of those walks that's never crowded or gives you sense of being part of a walking tour with a whole load of other people.
And the nice thing is that it can be tackled in a variety of ways, either as a circular, partly circular or linear walk. The last time we walked it, we chose the partly circular option and with the use of a car for the first kilometre but this time we were more interested in walking a completely circular route right from the start.  
The photo above shows how lovely it is and with the information sheet with numbered points of interest which is obtainable from the warden, (weekdays only up until 14.00hrs, linear route only) it was nice to take our time, take photos and just enjoy it!
The height of the flora covered ravine walls are impressive -
you can just see David stood bottom left of photo
At beginning of the walk, you soon get the sense of being in some sort of pre-historic forest. Located in the high-sided ravine of La Galga, this is apparently one of the best examples of laurels in the whole of the Canaries. With huge ferns and the ancient laurisilva, it's also home to many birds in particular the wood pigeon which you can hear calling softly in the background. 
Mahogany tree
Along the way  there is a magnificent 25m high mahogany tree. I think most of us have only heard of mahogany in the context of furniture, a very valuable, rich-red wood.  This used to be called the Canary Islands Ebony.

One of my favourite parts is quite near the start where you walk under the aqueduct. Yes, this is really where water was chaneled across, going from one side of the barranco (ravine) to the other. 
In fact, if you clamber up this little slope, you will actually be able to see the channel, although it is not in current use so doesn't have water flowing through it. 
As the gorge has been channeled out by water and natural erosion over time, it is still very much in the making. For example, this huge stone will surely fall one day although it looks pretty well wedged in for the moment. (I'm sure I'm not the only one who thinks it's a great idea to stand underneath it and get a photo taken).
Later on the walk, you get to go through this archway (small aqueuct) and into the magic garden of La Galga. 

So now we've arrived at La Fajana. You might notice on your travels around La Palma that there are quite a few places called La Fajana which is because it's a descriptive name, meaning 'flat place.' A flat place on La Palma, the most mountainous island in the world for its size, it particularly noteworthy!

And here's the point on the walk where you will have to make a decision - to go left or right.
Both ways will eventually take you up to the Somada Alta with its fantastic view of Los Sauces and Puntallana, but the routes are quite different. 
From this very pleasant walk uphill through the forest, the road is reached and, if you wish, the Somada Alta via a steepish climb upwards through the forest. 
We headed on up to the Somada Alta for old times sake, stopped for our lunch and to take some photos of course. 
Returning to the car was via a shorter route and certainly different as it gave us a chance to look at some of the rural houses, las casas rurales, of La Palma. And a great sea view along the way!
Would we walk it again? Certainly would. And more than that, it has gained a place in a La Palma Highlights Walking Tour.


Treking on the GR131 El Baston - final section!

Who would have thought it - we finally finished walking the GR131 La Palma El Baston route in its entirety!  Or trekking the GR131 should I say? It's certainly not your average walk at over 70km along mountainous terrain all the way from sea level in the south up to 2426m in the mid-north of the island and back down to sea level in the west.
Roque de Muchachos at 2426m asl on a non-walking day!
 Yes, it's been a pretty elusive goal and if it wasn't already, we've certainly made it so. But with the tiny bit between Pico de La Cruz and Mirador Los Andenes completed, we can finally tick the GR131 off our list.
The GR131 is the red line going up the middle and hooks round to the mid-west. 
So here's a summary of the long distance trekking route, GR131 El Baston.
The route can be walked in either direction by starting at the extreme south below Los Canarios or at the Puerto de Tazacorte in the west. But whichever way you look at it, the sections tend to be divided:
1. El Faro (lighthouse) of Los Canarios/Fuencaliente to the Zona Recreativa de El Pilar
2. El Pilar to Roque de Muchachos
3. Roque de Muchachos to Puerto de Tazacorte
The Volcano Route
The middle section is 28km (see more on distances below) so it's a bit long for a day's hike and a bit short for two.
The logistics are not completely easy as along the whole route, there is nowhere to buy food or drink and no accommodation apart from the un-manned Refugio de Los Roques (which is between El Pilar and Roque de Muchachos). However, there is drinking water at El Pilar campsite along with toilets and showers, plus BBQ facilities. There is rain water at Refugio de los Roques (but you must use sterilizing tables). Normally there is water at the Roque de Muchachos but the tap can be frozen in winter.
El Pilar - ready for any weather and an overnight stop at the Refugio Los Roques
For those who like the facts and figures, here they are:
23.63km  - Los Canarios to Refugio El Pilar (the Volcano Route)
28.1km  - Refugio El Pilar to Roque de Muchachos
17.9km  - Roque de Muchachos to Puerto de Tazacorte
Reventon Pass - this is your get-out clause down to either el Paso or Santa Cruz
And some sub-distances within the above:
7.2km    - Faro de Fuencaliente to Los Canarios
18.4km  - Refugio El Pilar to Pico de la Nieve
7 km      - Refugio El Pilar to Reventon Pass
9.7km     - Pico de la Nieve to Roque de Muchachos
4.9km     - Pico de la Cruz to Roque de Muchachos
10.7km   - Roque de Muchachos to Torre del Time
3.5 km    - Mirador el Time to Puerto de Tazacorte
(I can't claim that the distances are 100% accurate as the data is taken from the walking signs)
Dawn at Refugio Punta de los Roques
(I've just got to go back there!)
On accommodation, El Pilar campsite is manned by wardens during the day. Theoretically you need a permit to stay there and this is where you apply.  If you don't have a permit the wardens certainly need your details.
You don't need a permit for the Refugio de los Roques and it is never locked. It has a great system  of entry with an inner and outer heavy metal door. This means that the wind can't blow the door open so it is not full of leaves and dust and forest animals can't enter either. But you will need a sleeping bag and preferably a ground pad/yoga mat. See our previous post
January 2015 near Pico de la Cruz - it can be cold even when sunny!
Pico de la Cruz (not the most beautiful landmark ...)
Don't be fooled into thinking there are many 'flat' sections - there aren't! But of course the views are spectacular. You can find more information on distances and ascents/descents at the La Palma walking website: 
Information board at Mirador Los Andenes
Which section has been my favourite I hear you ask. Without having to think about that hardly at all, I would say from the Reventon Pass to Pico de la Cruz, the reason being is that it is the most inaccessible and least walked. It gives the sensation that you are walking in some place far, far away from civilization, somewhere really special. Well, you are.
The highlight, or one of them at least, is reaching the Refugio de los Roques. I might be over-exaggerating but it's the Trip Advisor camping equivalent  of a Parador (elite Spanish accommodation) in that you can only get there if you've walked the walk. And we did.
Sleeping platforms at Refugio de los Roques
It's been a hard day's night
For accommodation at the Puerto de Tazacorte where the GR131 begins/ends, take a look at our main website, Holiday La Palma