The island of Mallorca is home to the Serra de Tramuntana – a 90 kilometre long chain of mountains along the north west coast of the island. The rugged mountain range is dotted with peaks with the highest point, Puig Major, standing 1,447 metres above sea level. Within the mountain range is an extensive network of footpaths – some that date back to 902 – 1229 when the Moors ruled the land.
The GR221, also called the drystone route, stretches 135 kilometres from Port d’Andratx in the south west to Pollenca in the north west. You can book a refuge along the route or stay in a B&B or hotel in one of the many small towns the GR 221 passes through. Allow eight days to do the full route if you stay on the GR221. Unfortunately the section between Esporles and Valldemossa is closed because of a land dispute and a reroute is required through the Es Rafal estate between Estellencs and Banyalbufar.
We recently spent a week hiking the GR221 in Mallorca. We didn’t follow the full GR221 but some of its best sections. Our first day on the GR221 took us from Es Capdella to Estellencs, a distance of just 14 kilometres with a cumulative elevation gain of 670 metres.
To get to our starting point in Es Capdella we took a 20 minute taxi ride from Palma. Before we started the hike we picked up supplies for a picnic lunch in what appeared to be the town’s only grocery store. Take advantage of all the fresh oranges you can buy. They grow all over the island and are juicy and delicious. Local cheese is excellent and you can almost always find fresh baguettes.
The first 90 minutes of hiking is easy. It’s primarily on a country road with only a small incline. Our first noteworthy stop was Finca Galatzo, one of the largest estates on the Balearic Islands. Apparently there are references to the property dating back to 1283. You can tour the estate if you’re so inclined. We did not but took advantage of picnic tables set up in a courtyard. The gardens and the views from the property are wonderful.
Once the hills loom large in front of you the climbing begins. It took us about 45 minutes to make our way up to the top – often through thick grass with the trail somewhat obscured. The views in all directions along this stretch are superb.
At the top there is excellent signage. Note the fact it’s time not distance that is given. I found the times matched our pace almost to the minute.
After our lunch break it was almost all downhill to Estellencs. Much of it was on an asphalt road with ball bearing size pebbles so I found it slow going. The year before I’d rolled my ankle really badly in Turkey at the start of a week-long hike. I wasn’t interested in a repeat performance.
However, on the descent to Estellencs we both enjoyed gorgeous views of the Mediterranean. We couldn’t have asked for a nicer day. The trail into Estellencs delivers you right beside a hotel with an outside patio. It’s a great place to get a cold drink.
Estellencs isn’t big. The village of 300 people is filled with cobbled streets and terraced vineyards. Our B&B – Sa Plana – which I recommend is owned by a couple that make their own wine. If you stay arrange to have their lamb dinner and do try a glass or two of their Malvasia blanca – a delicious white wine with strong apricot overtones.
When to hike in Mallorca
Mallorca is a fantastic hiking (and biking) destination in February, when the almond trees are blooming and in March before it gets too hot. October and November would also be great times to hike. Many of the B&B’s in the smaller villages close in winter so accommodation is more difficult to arrange and the weather is rainier. Over our eight day visit we had a half day of heavy rain – and we’d finished the day’s hike.
Did you know Mallorca boasted a long distance hiking trail?