Basia Zarzycka Minerva memories – La Palma

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A lovely day in La Palma. The capital of the island, Santa Cruz, has lots of well preserved old buildings and cobblestone streets. Along Avenida Maritima you can see old Canarian balconies made from the Canary pine.

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Known as the Isla Bonita (Beautiful Island), La Palma is the greenest island in the Canary Islands. The landscape is full of natural wonders from pristine forests to sheer cliffs and black sand beaches. Designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, La Palma Island has many protected environments, including the Caldera de Taburiente National Park.

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There are a few nice towns, but the main attraction is the countryside. Spectacular volcanic landscapes reaching up above the clouds with dense vegetation in the valleys make for some spectacular hiking.

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Here, the scenery is surreal, with volcanic peaks rising to 2,400 meters and lava that descends to the sea. For those in search of idyllic surroundings, the park has wooded areas with streams and waterfalls. Along the rocky coastline, picturesque little bays are hidden away in between steep hillsides. The Parque Nacional de Timanfaya is another protected nature area. This national park is a rugged landscape in a land of volcanoes at its most dramatic. Fields of solidified lava spread out to the sea with patches converted to dry-farm agriculture where onions, tomatoes, and melons flourish.

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The highest point on the island, El Roque de los Muchachos (2426m — about 8000 feet), is easily accessible by car most of the year and the views from there are spectacular and provide a good introduction to the geography of the island (note that access is restricted at night as this is the site of a major international astronomical observatory — always read the signposts — also note that roads and trails can be closed for a few days in the winter due to snow). There is a very extensive network of marked walking trails over the whole island which are well signposted and walking maps are available from the tourist office in Santa Cruz.

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In the middle of the island there is Caldera de Taburiente, a huge erosion crater which is one of the biggest in the world. Guided hikes to the caldera are available. During winter months hiking on the river bed in the caldera can be really dangerous because rain can cause flash floods.

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Along the northeast coast, you’ll find masses of intricately terraced crops (especially bananas) interlaced with small towns and villages.

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All in all a great visit to sleepy La Palma.

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About Basia Zarzycka

www.basiazarzycka.com