Hiking the Volcano Route should be on every active traveler’s list when visiting La Palma in the Canary Islands. The beautiful landscapes along the trail are unique in Europe and will literally take your breath away (in more than one sense!). Along its 17.5 Km-length, one has the opportunity to go from a densely populated Pine-tree forest to almost deserted black volcanic hills with great views of the island’s main natural landmarks: the volcanoes. The impressive craters, colours and shapes of the terrain will help you power through the 7-hour intense trek. You will need some visual motivation when your knees start trembling on the steep downhills.
Is the Volcano Route for everyone?
In order to complete the Volcano Route, one should be physically fit to endure not only the long walking hours but the abrupt altitude rise. The terrain varies from mild-hard forest soil to soft sand in which your feet sink on the way up and slip badly on the way down. I wouldn’t say you need to be a super experienced hiker but your knees should be in good condition to handle the 2 hour+ downhill at the end of the trail. I do not recommend this route for first-time hikers or people without much stamina as there is no quick and short “way out” from the trek.
Things to consider before the trek:
- The trail starts at El Refugio del Pilar and ends at Los Canarios in the south of the island. All along the path, there are sign posts indicating the way and the distance remaining to reach the end. It is impossible to get lost but bring a map along if you are interested in knowing which volcanoes and mountains you are passing by.
- There is no man-made construction along the way, so you will not have any chances to purchase water or food. Bring plenty of both for the day.
- The Volcano Route is not circular, meaning you end at a different point from where you start. Most people start at El Refugio del Pilar and make their way south to the island to Los Canarios. If this is your case (and you have a car available, which I highly recommend for your trip on the island), you can park the car at El Refugio del Pilar’s car park and take a taxi from Los Canarios back to your car. You can either plan ahead and schedule the taxi pick up for a given time or easily order a taxi once you arrive at Los Canarios. We got our taxi ordered by a very helpful waitress at a coffee shop. Alternatively, you can get a bus to a closer point to El Refugio del Pilar and from there a taxi. Either way, bring money for the ride.
- Although you can complete the trek wearing your regular sport shoes like I did, I highly recommend using a pair of hiking/trekking boots with a good sole. The amount of sand and small stones embedded on your shoes (and also inside) will make you stop along the way more frequently than desired.
- Take appropriate clothing for the trek. Even on a sunny day, I recommend taking a warm wind-proof jacket as it can get windy and cloudy at the summit (about 2000 meter high altitude) and near the San Martin Volcano. A hat will come in handy to prevent headaches.
The Volcano Route Landscapes on Pictures:
If you like being in touch with Nature, enjoy volcanic landscapes and a good outdoors workout, I definitely recommend you hiking the Volcano Route when you visit La Palma. Your legs might ache for a few days after the trek but you’ll feel the discomfort is well worth it.
Safe and Happy Travels!