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      our holidays > Walking Holidays > Spain & its Islands > Canary Islands > El Hierro – the Last Outpost

El Hierro – the Last Outpost

Journey to the 'Ends of the Earth'
Starting point:

Hotel Villa El Mocanal in Mocanal, for two nights.

Day 1
Linear walk from Valverde to Mocanal: 12.5km, 4hrs; ascent 610m / descent 695m (after short transfer)

We suggest a linear walk for your first day, which begins after a short transfer to the charming capital, Valverde. You have time to explore this small town before setting off along a section of the Camino de la Virgen – a pilgrimage route that runs the full length of the island. The route takes you to a viewpoint and you also pass the famous sacred tree, the Garoé, which was worshipped by the pre-colonial Bimbache people due its propensity to provide water on an island where fresh water is scarce. Moisture from the clouds condenses on its leaves and the droplets collect in pits around its trunk. The original tree was destroyed by a hurricane in 1610 but another was planted here in 1949 as a tribute to the original. From here, you descend back to Mocanal, enjoying views across the sea towards La Gomera and Tenerife, and with the option of extending your walk to the shanty coastal settlement of Pozo de Las Calcosas.

Please note:

If your travel arrangements mean you have to spend your first night on Tenerife, you will travel to El Hierro first thing in the morning. You will be collected from the airport by taxi, and then dropped off at the start of this walk while your luggage is taken on ahead to the hotel.

Day 2
Mocanal to Frontera via the Mirador de Jinama: 17km, 6hrs; ascent 845m / descent 1085m

Setting off from the door of the hotel, you walk through the village to reach the start of the route that will take you along a flower-rich path, traversing the valley above the road. Crossing through tiny hamlets, you reach the superb Mirador de la Peña from where you gaze down upon the El Golfo basin. Ascending the valley, your route takes you across the plains of the Meseta de Nisdafe where fields lined by dry stone walls are grazed by sheep and cattle. Reaching the Mirador de Jinama viewpoint, your descent into Frontera takes you down an ancient path which has been used to move livestock from high pastures to low (and vice versa) for centuries. Arriving alongside the iconic bell tower of Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria, set atop Montaña Joapira, you descend to reach the Apartamentos Los Verodes where you stay two nights.

Day 3
Circular walk to Las Puntas: 15km, 4hrs; ascent / descent 370m
Shorter option to Charco de Azul: 9.5km, 3hrs; ascent / descent 220m

Your options today allow you to explore the fertile El Golfo valley, famed for its pineapple production, giant lizards and ancient village. Our recommended walk takes you along quiet roads to the coast at Las Puntas. Here you can dive into the natural seawater pools before a relaxing lunch in one of the seafood restaurants near the former ‘smallest hotel in the world’. On the way there or back, stop off to visit the fascinating eco-museum of Guinea, a small village comprising houses illustrating the development of post-Bimbache culture over the centuries; and a small reptile house dedicated to breeding the island's endangered giant lizard (it can grow up to 75cm long) for re-introduction into the wild.
Alternatively, follow a linear route out along the course of an old water pipe before descending an ancient path through terraces to reach the coast where a series of stone steps take you to the Charco Azul. Named for the remarkable colour of its water, a small decking area allows you to soak up the sun or dry off after a dip before returning along the same route.

Day 4
Frontera to Sabinosa: 17km, 6hrs; ascent 920m / descent 1145m

Your onward route from Frontera begins with a walk into town to reach the start of the Camino San Salvador which will take you high above the valley into forested and mossy terrain. As your route levels out, you traverse the valley with views to the coast below before a final ascent brings you to the lovely picnic area of Hoya del Pino. Descending through lichen-covered laurisilva forest, you emerge onto a wide track which traverses the remainder of the El Golfo basin before beginning the descent into the pretty village of Sabinosa and down its volcanic cone face to reach the Balneario Pozo de La Salud. Situated alongside a natural well, famed for its health giving properties, right on the coast, this will be your base for two nights.

Day 5
Circular walk to the juniper forest of La Dehesa: 16km, 6.5hrs; ascent 930m / descent 1200m (after bus to start)
Linear walk across the Punta de la Dehesa: 9km, 2.5hrs; ascent / descent 150m

We recommend a superb walk which begins with a short bus ride from the hotel to the village of Sabinosa. From here you ascend the face of the El Golfo escarpment along the Camino La Dehesa, frequently ascending into mists and clouds, to then traverse a narrow path lined by dry stone walls to reach the lovely Ermita de la Virgen de Los Reyes and some ancient cave dwellings. Continuing through the area known as La Dehesa, characterised by the wind-sculpted wild juniper trees which thrive in this area and which are an iconic emblem of the island, you are rewarded with impressive views onto the El Golfo Bay. A short ascent brings you to the edge of a ridge where you return to Sabinosa by retracing your steps down the Camino La Dehesa. From Sabinosa you return to the hotel by a steep path which descends a volcanic cone.
Alternatively, enjoy a short stroll through the Punta de la Dehesa 'badlands' – an area of volcanic lava on the island's north-west corner.
Or you may choose to simply relax around the hotel and take advantage of its spa facilities.

Day 6
Fuente de La Llanía to Timijiraque with transfer at start and end: 13km, 3.5hrs; ascent 90m / descent 1410m

Your final day begins with a scenic 90-minute taxi transfer during which you may like to stop to take photos or simply enjoy the landscape. Your drive begins along the road hewn from volcanic rock which winds its way up the north-west cliff face to cross climate zones into the drier south. Continuing around the south-westerly tip of the island, you travel above the Morcilla lighthouse which stands alongside the monument to the former zero meridien, considered the end of the world until Columbus sailed west. Volcanic badlands give way to pine forests as you travel southwards, passing above the cliffs that sit high above the southern coast of Restinga.
Having now seen most of the island, you are dropped off on the spine from where you set off on foot through an atmospheric forest to the Bailando de Brujas (Witches Dancing) picnic zone and then make a short ascent to the rim of the Fireba volcano at the volcanic axis of the island. From there you join the Camino de la Virgen and follow it across the spine of the island where the scenery morphs from volcanic to bucolic meadows with fine views across your south east coast destination and to the profiles of La Gomera, La Palma and Tenerife on the horizon. Passing through a hamlet, you then descend a dramatic rocky path to reach the coast at Timijiraque where a taxi will collect you to take you the final short drive to Las Playas and the Parador de El Hierro, set at the foot of the cliffs.

DELVE DEEPER

There is so much to discover on this small, yet hugely intriguing, island that we thoroughly recommend adding two extra nights at your final hotel, the Parador, to enjoy some well-earned 'R&R' by the pool and black-sand beach and to further explore the hidden delights of the island. Our prices include a privately guided excursion that takes you into the incredible volcanic 'badlands' and unique lava formations at La Restinga on the southern tip of El Hierro. You will be escorted by amiable local experts, Paolo and Enrica, two very enthusiastic, knowledgeable and experienced guides, who will teach you about the history of the landscape, and its flora and fauna. An unforgettable and not-to-be-missed finale to your holiday!

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