On our penultimate day on the island we chose to explore the enormous expanse of the Caldera de Taburiente, which although once was believed to be a huge crater is now known to be a crater-shaped mountain arch. Caldera translates to cauldron in Spanish and I think it fits this description pretty well – a monstrously deep hole with never ending sky high walls that are actually mountain faces.
We arrived at La Cumbrecita for a 9am start and chose to do a smaller 3km loop to ease ourselves in to a long day of hiking. According to our guidebook this route is usually very busy with sightseers but the lightly undulating trail was largely empty and when we arrived at the Lomo de las Chozas mirador we had it all to ourselves, with views out into the Caldera, ours to explore for the day.
We doubled back and took a small, narrow path that zizagged further down, crossed two footbridges and then climbed two sets of steps to take us to Mirador de los Roques, with even better views of the Caldera, although we did have to share these as a bus-full of tourists had descended.
Returning to the car park and enjoying some snacks, we prepared ourselves for the hike up to Pico Bejenado, the solitary peak at the Southern tip of the Caldera at 1845m.
The walk wasn’t detailed in our guidebook but signs and information boards led us up a zigzagging path again that gently climbed through a forest of tall trees and shaded us from the strong sun. The trail changed from soft to rocky and desert-like with a bit of scrambling. We saw a few walkers on route but mainly the path was quiet, opening out once in a while to let us look out towards West coast of the island and the glistening sea.
As we climbed higher the peaks of the Caldera in the north became visible and Nige spotted Roque de los Muchachos in the distance with its’ glowing white observatories at its peak. The sun became stronger and as we walked we became surrounded by spiky cacti and sneaky lizards, basking in the sun and then scurrying between the rocks on sign of even the slightest movement (or camera lense).
After a tough climb we were rewarded at the summit of Pico Bejenado with fantastic panoramic views of the Caldera, nice rocks to perch on to feed bananas to the friendly lizards and glorious warm sunshine. It felt like we were on top of the world.
We retraced our steps all the way back, again much tougher for me on the descent, but well worth it for another action packed day on La Palma. Just one more day to go and we had plans to explore just that little bit more of the island, how could we resist…