October can be a tough one (in the northern hemisphere at least!) The days are getting shorter, the rain and cold a little more persistent, getting out of bed in the dark is a struggle. In short, the winter is on its way, and while that definitely brings some loveliness with it, most of us are thinking about when we are going to get another little dose of sunshine. Winter sun is chased by millions of people, so where do you go if you want warmth and peace? How about the very edge of Europe, or to be more precise El Hierro: Edge of Europe.
Where: El Hierro is one of the Canary Isles, technically still Europe, even though they are clearly situated off the coast of Morocco. While most of the other islands are rife with tourism and especially those looking for some winter sun, El Hierro is tucked away at the end of the cluster of islands, accessible only by ferry or short internal flight from Tenerife, so you are most definitely going to be away from it all. Our trip on the island lets you get out and explore this UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, relishing in the wide variety of tranquil beauty that abounds on the island.
Distance: Altogether the walking on this trip covers 74km of trails. Many are loop walks, so if you are feeling like sitting on the terrace, soaking up the sun with a little cocktail and a book, I wouldn’t blame you!
Grade: This tour is graded easy to moderate, and the longest day is 15 km; the most significant ascent is 600m and descent is 1050m. On a couple of the days, the walks are closer to the ‘moderate’ grading due to elevation gain/loss but are manageable for experienced hikers or those who are in good shape. We provide GPX tracks for this trip, so the navigation is a breeze, you can just relax, get walking and occasionally check in your pocket if you are feeling a little lost.
The landscapes on El Hierro are so dramatically varied that it is a pleasure to get out there and walk through them and indeed walking is sometimes the only way to experience this rich variety. You will trek through rich green meadows, every green that you could possibly imagine, dense tropical laurel forests all bursting with lush, vibrant life. Then, contrasting this you have more volcanic landscapes, sparse, dark lava flows or stretches of rich red clay where fauna has to fight to survive. You will witness some cypress trees, doubled over by the wind, but still surviving and also come across Garoé, a sacred tree that is said to once have been able to collect enough water in its leaves to supply the whole population.
The towns and accommodations are another major highlight. Your first couple of nights will be spent in a Parador, one of Spain’s luxury hotels. The hotel sits at the foot of a volcano and its balconies practically touch the sea. Many people say it is the best located Parador in all of Spain, but this is a pretty bold claim as these hotels are generally unbelievable.
You will also spend a couple of nights in Sabinosa, a delightful little village perched on the side of the volcano. It is the most isolated village on the island, a former home for the islands shepherds and affords nothing but perfect peace and dramatic views. The village produces a ‘highly intoxicating’ wine which the locals are very fond of. It would be rude not to give it a try:)
Nature has carved out a series of natural saltwater pools at La Maceta, which you will walk to on your fourth day. Take a dip after your walk as the waves crash against the natural rock barriers that protect you. Swimming in these pools is a unique experience, with the wild Atlantic so close to you, staring out to see and knowing that the next land you would come across would be Greenland.
You can explore El Hierro anytime from September to June, with the summer months being too warm for comfortable walking in the exposed areas on the island, but winter is ideal and makes for some of the best walking.
You can fly into Tenerife North and get a connecting flight out to El Hierro, landing on its tiny, dramatic (but safe) runway. Alternatively, you can take a ferry from the south of Tenerife which takes around 2 and a half hours.
This is an opportunity to do some real exploration on your winter sun trip. If you have any questions about the route, don’t hesitate to contact one of our Destination Specialists, who will be more than happy to help.