Walking the GR130 route La Palma, Canary Islands
The long-distance walking route of the La Palma GR 130 - a 7 or 8 day trek in total. Read about it on our blogspot or click on the individual links to each section.
The La Palma GR 130 is a magnificent route which goes right around La Palma and is approximately 150 km in length.
It takes eight to ten days to complete in its entirety. To walk the whole of the GR130 is the supreme challenge - The Palmathon!
|The majority of the route is the historic Camino Real or Royal Way which was used by muleteers and people travelling on foot or horseback between the villages and towns of the island.|
As you would expect on such a beautiful island, spectacular scenery comes as standard. However, the constant changes - from cliff top paths to rocky ravines, pine forests trails to hidden hamlets, cobbled paths and tracks through banana plantations - will give you an amazing experience which you will remember forever. Walking on La Palma really is a special experience.
You can start and end the circuit wherever you choose, walk in a clockwise or anti-clockwise direction - there are no right or wrongs. How you split up the route is probably the hotest debate around here! This really depends on your walking ability but you will also need to bear in mind your accommodation as La Palma is not filled with hotels, hostels and bed and breakfast accommodation on every corner, especially if you are staying for just one night. Generally, you will need to pre-book and we are always very happy to help with bookings for the best/easiest/most economical places to stay around the island.
If you don't want to walk the entire route right around La Palma, we recommend the north and north west (Barlovento to Los Llanos) as being the most scenic.
Splitting up the Route
There are two main constants to bear in mind - changes of elevation (which is usually significant!) and accommodation/transport. Be aware though that, just because a section finishes in a town or village, this does not mean there is a hotel, B & B, hostel or other accommodation there.
1. To avoid carrying a full rucksack each day, reduce the number of different places you stay for the night by returning/going ahead to the accommodation by bus or other transport. If you are looking for accommodation while walking on La Palma - contact us!
2. Most definitely break between Barlovento and Santo Domingo, Franceses being almost exactly the half-way point.
3. If you have time and are looking for easier walking, break Santo Domingo to Los Llanos into three.
So let's get planning - and there are a few blogs along the way if you want to read about our GR 130 walks ...
1. GR130 - Santa Cruz de la Palma > Puntallana (9.7 km) + 620 – 215m
General: Starting at the Town Hall of the beautiful and historic capital of La Palma you will set off up Calle O'Daly with its historic mansions, cross El Puente and carry on along the cobbled streets until you reach the Barco de la Virgen (an actual size replica of the Santa Maria boat as sailed by Columbus). Now the GR130 heads out of town via a small industrial area and then housing suburb. After briefly touching the main road, the route takes the form of a path behind a selection of houses before hitting the road again where the walk is a surprisingly quick 1.7km on a protected path alongside the LP1. The next part is probably the hardest of the whole GR130 route – a 300m scramble upwards (see 'difficult bits'). At least at the top there is a great view! (To avoid this, consider walking along the road a further 1.5km). The route is now easier going on side roads and small paths, crossing the LP1 a couple of times and then ascending to arrive at the little church of Santa Lucia. Now the walking is easy and before long the country path brings you into Puntallana opposite the school.
This is probably the least attractive section of the GR 130. If you are not sure you want to walk the whole route, then you may want to skip this.
Starting the walk at Town Hall
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Climbing above the road
As this section is quite short and the next has a lot of uphill walking, an alternative is to carry on walking. The route takes you away from the main road after Puntallana, so you would need to arrange a taxi or ascend to the road again at La Galga or the Ermito de San Juan which is just 5 minutes from the route. If taking this last option, turn left off the GR130 at a point where there is a small concrete building with the number '8' on the door. Once on the main road, there is a bus stop right by the Ermito (church), buses run every hour weekdays. Or - if you have back up transport - arrange to meet on one of the backroads that you cross (ask for more details).
Accommodation: La Fuente, Santa Cruz de la Palma
2. GR 130 - Puntallana > San Andres > Los Sauces > Las Cabazedas > Barlovento (21.4 km) +1151 -1110 m
General: Arriving in Puntallana opposite the school, the GR130 follows the village road past the chemist (farmacia) - closed 2 - 4.30pm weekdays, Saturday afternoons and all day Sundays - past Bar Hayley and turns right down by the side of the church. Quite quickly, country paths are reached and the walk is quick and easy. Initially, the path crosses the Playa Nogales road several times and then crosses banana plantation roads. The route then traverses the quite long barranco before La Galga and continues above the coast to the pretty village of San Andres. A steep uphill section along banana plantation roads and then back roads take you to the small busy town of Los Sauces. After a pleasant stroll through Los Sauces, a large barranco is traversed which leads to a long and steep ascent up the back roads of Las Cabezadas. After this, the walking is easier with more shade along the leafy trails which eventually lead into the mid-part of Barlovento. The route itself does not go into the 'centre' of the town - on arriving in Barlovento, continue straight ahead for the Spar supermarket, chemist, bars, etc.
Accommodation: Finca Franceses which is 25 mins by bus from Barlovento.
View over Playa Nogales
Pretty village of San Andres
3. GR130 - Barlovento > Gallegos > Franceses - 12km (+ 1800 –2000 m
General: Following the route out of Barlovento in the fascinating back street lined with old houses, cross the main road at the T-junction and continue along this road for a very short stretch after which you will see a sign to leave the road. Here you easily descend on a concrete path into a flurry of magnificent drago trees in the hamlet of La Tosca. Fairly easy walking follows with three smallish barrancos and then one larger, spectacular one as you approach Gallegos. Coming to the top of this barranco there is a small surprise when you realise that you have not yet arrived in Gallegos but at La Crucita, a tiny mountain-top hamlet. However, there is a rich reward as you dive down into little more than a dell which is populated with an array of caves. On reaching Gallegos, a lively village with houses packed closely together along each side of the narrow road, you turn down towards the sea. The route now takes you into the next deep barranco with its Mexican style cactus and then, following the cliff tops to reveal spectacular views. Climbing back up the side of the barranco, you arrive at the first sign of civilisation again and the path leads you up into the area known as Los Castros, the most easterly part of Franceses. After a short piece of road walking, the village centre is reached with its narrow street. Apart from the church, school and old people's home there are no facilities available until the bar opens at around 6pm. A small dell is traversed before popping up on the road leading down to La Fajana, after which the GR130 goes up to Las Tierras. Finca Franceses is 50m from the walking route at this point.
Accommodation: Finca Franceses
4. GR130 - Franceses > El Tablado > Don Pedro > Santo Domingo - (28.3km) +1800 m -2000 m
General: The untamed north! It starts with a descent from 500m alternating between walking along a quiet road and a zig zag track. Almost at sea level (the GR130 route does not go all the way to the old port village of La Fajana), the route takes a left turn off the road and goes along an almost level, long track then up the other side of the barranco to the sleepy village of El Tablado with its beautiful old houses. Walking down a cobbled path towards the sea, the route goes into the Barranco Fagundo which is described in the Rother Walking guide as being one of the best on La Palma - a pretty good recommendation! After a long climb to Don Pedro, the route quickly crosses the one street, usually deserted except for the occasional herd of goats, and then carries on along paths surrounded by mountain greenery. After crossing the road at the wind turbines, the route continues through dramatic countryside with a scattering of houses in this remote location One last small barranco is crossed before reaching Santo Domingo.
Accommodation: Finca Franceses
Drago tree, El Tablado
Goats in Don Pedro
Windmill, Santo Domingo
5. Santo Domingo > Las Tricias > Puntagorda – 15.1 km
General: On leaving Santo Domingo past the little 'laundry' with it's water trough for washing clothes, there is quite a long section of walking along a quiet and interesting road with old houses nestling in the countryside. Once the route leaves the road, the path traverses undulating countryside, sometimes quite steeply and eventually leads to the base of Las Tricias. Walking uphill towards Las Tricias, the route veers off to the right along a small cobbled path lined with houses. The path then leads off into a lovely pine tree filled barranco and surfaces at the side of the LP1. Crossing the road, a red dust forestry path leads along an easy and flattish track past the eco- Camp Site La Rosa. Crossing the road again, the route wends its way through the upper quiet lanes of Puntagorda.
Accommodation: Mar y Monte, Puntagorda
6. Puntagorda > El Roque > Tinizara > Tijarafe - 11.2 km
General: On leaving Puntagorda, the route criss-crosses the road behind houses on a pleasant path. The route quickly takes you to El Roque where you walk along a little street and then arrives at the start of the first barranco. At last you are away from any traffic noise, surrounded by pine trees and beautiful views. After quite a long walk along the bottom of the barranco clambering over the stones, the path wends its way slowly up the other side. A pleasant picnic and bbq area with tables and bench seating, El Lance, lies just by the route, approx. 4.5 km out of Puntagorda. Continuing back on pretty paths, the route crosses the road once more where there is the bar La Garome and then takes the back lanes and paths on to Tijarafe.
7. Tijarafe > La Punta > Los Llanos 14.6 km
General: On leaving Tijarafe, you almost immediately traverse a generally easy and pretty barranco. After ascending and crossing a small plaza, the route disappears below the road again and then crosses over into a small park. The route follows a pattern of crossing the road and taking you along little paths with hidden houses until you come to La Punta where the route crosses the road and you follow a high path. Almost at the end of this path, it crosses the GR131 route and you start the long descent down into the barranco of Las Angustias. Crossing the famous barranco via a small metal footbridge, the route now ascends on a long climb up a well made path to the largest town on the island, Los Llanos.
8. Los Llanos > San Nicholas > Jedey > Los Canarios - (25.2km) + 850 -470 m
General: The route leaves Los Llanos along the road to Puerto Naos before heading off into the quiet side streets. It then goes along a lane/track to San Nicolas with easy walking on what was once the main road but is now a tranquil backwater with clusterings of houses. After San Nicolas, after around 2 hours of walking, the route continues along country lanes and paths to Jedey where you follow the road for a very short time before leaving it to follow a track which leads to open countryside. Now the route traverses a volcanic landscape with interesting lava flows. Heading up fairly steeply into the pine forests, it then crosses the main road (after a further two hours of walking) and then follows the forest trail upward to above the small town of Los Canarios. The GR 130 does not go into the town itself - a detour of 1km downhill along the GR 131 is required.
Looking back towards Los Llanos
Upward along a pine forest trail
High above Los Canarios
9. Los Canarios > Mazo > San Pedro > Santa Cruz - (27.5 km) +430m -1235m
One of the very many crosses
Easy walking, well-marked route
Beautiful stones on the path
Please do visit our Holiday La Palma shop for maps and guidebooks and a whole lot more.
Finca Franceses (holiday cottage and bed and breakfast accommodation) is located at less than 100 metres from the GR130 walking route and is ideal for both those who are looking for a relaxing holiday in beautiful countryside and also for those on a walking holiday on La Palma.
General notes on walking the GR 130
Most of the route lies well away from the main road, often deep in the countryside passing through tiny villages or by a scattering of house, particularly in the north. As such, you will not find an abundance of pensions, hostels and bed and breakfast accommodation along the route itself or even restaurants and bars. Additionally, you should expect all shops to be closed from around 1 or 2pm until 4 or 5pm. Some bars also close for lunch!
Of course, you might not want a complete walking holiday and may choose to walk just one or more sections of the GR 130 rather than the whole route. After all, even the pilgrims who walked the Route of Santiago did not have to walk all of it to receive the Compestela, the certificate of completion! (They did need to walk 100km though ..)
If you are considering walking just a part of the GR 130, then the route across the north is one of the most beautiful sections, almost unchanged from years gone by when it was the only connection between the villages. In those days, mules were used to transport goods and goats were herded along the paths. Sorry, not many mules to see these days but you should see some goats along the way.
However, for the purist and those that are ready to take on the challenge that the GR 130 represents, you will have a very special experience and many stories to tell. If you are looking for rural houses near to the GR130 walking route, then check out La Casita, Casa Lourdes and Casa Maria.
The La Palma GR 131 El Bastón is a three to four day long distance walking route and starts at Tazacorte in the west, goes up and around the ridge of the Caldera and finally along the volcano route and down to Fuencaliente and the Los Canarios lighthouse in the south. Or in reverse of course! This is also the route for the Transvulcania Ultramarathon. As it does not pass any inhabited areas at all, you will need to carry enough food for three days with you plus camping equipment. Water is available at the Refugio El Pilar, Refugio Los Roques (needs water purification tablets) and the Roque de Muchachos (the tap may be frozen in winter). As you can see, in winter in particular, this is not a route to be taken on lightly.
If you need more information on trekking the GR131, drop us a line, and we'll be pleased to offer a few tips and the odd trick when it comes to getting food and water to your way points on the route.
For a really great video on walking the GR131 Volcano Route, check out this great video by Randy and Brenda.
If you have any queries about your walking holiday or accommodation, or we can help in any way, please do not hesitate to contact us.
We wish you a wonderful holiday on La Palma and hope to see you at Finca Franceses!