20th of December, 2020
From El Paso we drive through the “tunnel de la Cumbre” to the other side of the island. Just before we enter the capital Santa Cruz de la Palma, we turn left and drive up the hill towards the small, but important 17th-century Santuario de Nuestra Señora de Las Nieves. The 14th-century sculpture of Virgin Mary is the oldest religious statue in the Canary Islands.
After our visit to the church, we drink a coffee on the central square and continue our trip to the mountain top Roque de Los Muchachos. The scenic road goes like a snake higher and higher and slowly the landscape is changing from green fertile land to dense forests and finally to the bare volcanic mountain ridge of the Caldera de Taburiente. The colours of the rock formations are intense and we park the car to get a closer look. It is extremely cold and windy outside and we quickly change our summer coat for a warmer one. Temperatures drop easily with ten degrees on top of the mountain.
Our next stop is at 2396 metres above sea level, on the rim of the Taburiente National Park. From far you can see the Astrophysics Observatory, which hosts the largest optical-infrared telescope in the world. The conditions of the sky above La Palma are exceptional and therefor all kinds of studies take place with different telescopes and instruments.
At 2426 meters the famous Roque de Los Muchachos can be find. Experienced hikers arrive here by foot, via the trails. The view is panoramic and very impressive. There is a trail over the rim to a point where you can see into the crater, but I give the camera to my partner. It is way too high and too steep for me!
Too bad there is nowhere a place to get a coffee or be able to have a sanitary stop. It was a long drive up and it will be a long drive down! Ah well, there are plenty of bushes beside the road….
Our next goal is Parque Cultural La Zarza in Ville de Garafia. This is an archeological park built around important finds of petroglyphes. The Visitor Centre gives insight information about the native population of La Palma. We pay the fee of around 2 euro a person, have a short look around and start our hike into the ravine of la Zarza. According to our travel book it is an impressive path to explore and we fully agree!
It has been a very busy day, full of new impressions, tons of pictures and a great hiking experience in a gorge and we still have to drive all the way back to Valle de Ariadne!