Torrent de Pareis, Mallorca, Spain | Hiking the Torrent de Pareis with a Child

Our experience of hiking through the finest gorge on Mallorca.

As a blogger and travel writer I had to think long and hard about whether I should include this hike through the Torrent de Pareis, perhaps the finest walk on Mallorca, on my blog. After discussing it with Chris, I decided to write about our experiences for the main reason, that I should make people and that includes parents, aware of the dangers of this hike, especially as it features in a number of guides and on some of the maps.  Before you read further be aware that this is not a hike in the normal sense, it borders on scrambling and canyoning in parts and it would be dangerous if undertaken un-prepared. Every year, casualties and accidents happen on this decent, these are usually caused by people who over estimate their own abilities or choose to set out without planning and preparation. The hike is not a walk in the park, it is the most strenuous hike on the island! To consider attempting it you must be a fit and experienced mountain hiker, not scared of heights, be steady on your feet, flexible and able to squeeze through gaps in the rocks, and be able to climb down larger rocks and boulders.

Planning and preparation for the route is essential – NEVER venture onto this hike if it has rained in the last 10 days and only if the weather forecast shows dry conditions, with zero chance of rainfall. Rain not only makes the rocks treachery and slippery, if large amounts of rain fall, the torrent turns into a dangerous, raging mountain stream and will sweep away everything in its path including you. Recommended for a hike are the months of May to October. Having said that, in dry years we have hiked the Torrent de Pareis once in March and the second time in April and we did not encounter any water in the gorge during our hikes. You should never attempt this hike on your own, always go in a group of 2, ideally 3 or more people.

When preparing make sure you have the right provisions and equipment. It is absolutely essential to take a rope with you, ideally around 5m in length. Take a phone for emergencies but keep in mind, there is no mobile reception in the gorge! Take plenty of water, 1.5l per person, more during the hot summer months. Food and snacks are essential, plus a first aid kit and a hiking map and ideally a guide book with detailed descriptions of the route down.

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking torrent de pareis view

Finally, inform someone, that you are going on this hike, this can be a friend or family member or even your hotel reception, and check in with them when you have finished. Leave early in the morning to have enough time to enjoy the beauty of this incredible hike and not be in danger of missing the last bus or boat at Sa Calobra.  My advice is to plan at least 6-7 hours for the hike, plus more if you want to include the detour into the most difficult gorge on the island, Sa Fosca.  The entire way is only about 8km with 680m descent but the difficulty of the terrain will mean that progress is much slower than you expect.

Having read all that and those warnings you maybe surprised to learn that the first time we hiked the Torrent de Pareis, Jerome was just 5 years old and he walked the whole way. Bear in mind not every five year old could do that, he was already an experienced mountain hiker, and he has been on walking holidays every year since he was born. He himself wanted to hike the torrent after he had seen photos of the gorge and heard stories about it from his grandparents and friends on the island. One dry spring after a lot of talking it through with my parents and Chris, we decided that we would attempt the walk with him. A local friend had told us that he had done the walk with his sons a few times and considering how much Jerome had hiked before he should be fine.

That first time, we took a taxi from Soller to the start of the hike and came back by boat. On our second attempt five years later we drove to the start, and used a taxi to collect the car. The main starting point for the hike is just before you reach the Restaurant Escorca from Soller, at km 25.5. There you will find an information board, which details and warns about the difficult parts of the hike. To the left is the entrance to the hiking trail that starts around some sheep fields. Shortly after you will pass through a gate and walk through a field, following a wall. On the morning of our hike the sun was only just reaching the top of the surrounding mountains and the morning air was still fresh with dew on the grass and the sheep in the field looked as sleepy as us. Both Chris and my Dad carried full backpacks with our equipment and food, we had taken a special rope that you normally would use to lift and deliver large sacks of sand, plus some normal climbing rope too. The special rope we used later to lower Jerome down some of the larger rocks and boulders. The climbing rope came in useful at a few points, even for the adults.

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking torrent de pareis start point

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking torrent de pareis rope

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking torrent de pareis puig roig

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking torrent de pareis cave houses

About fifteen minutes into the walk, we had left the woods behind and were on the zigzag path through the fields, where we found a sunny spot to sit down. We had breakfast of freshly baked croissants from our favourite bakery and hot tea and coffee from our flasks. Down below we could see the gorge with its sharp cliffs, still pitch black, the sun had not yet reached this part of the Serra Tramuntana. Keeping an eye on the time we moved on after a brief stop, slowly downhill, through the tall clumps of pampas grass, some of the leaves were taller than Jerome and we had to keep an eye out to not miss him among the green. To the other side of the gorge we could see Puig Roig with the old police halt to stop the smugglers and the cave houses of Escorca, that were built into the mountainside eons ago.

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking torrent de pareis rocks

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking torrent de pareis rocks

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking torrent de pareis cliffs

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking torrent de pareis stream bed

The stony path, winds itself downhill following dry stream towards the main riverbed that cut the gorge. When we had reached the streambed we got our first glimpse into the torrent. Still shady inside, the sun was not high enough to reach into the gorge. Reaching the riverbed we walked left along the Torrent de Lluc until we got to the junction at the Torrent des Gorg Blau, this is where the real Torrent de Pareis starts. It is also possible to take the longer route in via the riverbed of the Torrent de Lluc but that takes far longer and misses the impressive views on the descent.

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking torrent de pareis sunshine

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking torrent de pareis stream bed

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking torrent de pareis stream bed

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking torrent de pareis shade

Entering the deep gorge, it is there that the real beauty of the torrent becomes visible. 300 metre tall cliffs to either side, towered above us, with just a narrow opening where we could see the cloudless, blue sky high above. Until there, the hike had been a fairly normal hike, the gravel and stones in the river bed meant that we could not walk as fast and had to watch our steps, but there had been no difficult sections yet. We all gazed at the immense beauty and Jerome was very excited that he was able to join us on the walk.

At the junction of the canyons and if you have enough time for the little detour to Sa Fosca (plan in another 1h) walk up along the torrent des Gorg Blau to your left, until you get to some slippery rocks, which will make your passage more difficult. Past these rocks you will find Sa Fosca, the most difficult gorge on the island, some parts never see the light of day and at the narrowest it is only one step across the top. We did not venture to Sa Fosca on our first hike with Jerome, however, the second time we made the detour and we all agreed it was definitely worth the extra effort and time. Brave souls do descend this canyon from the top but it is one only for the canyoning experts.

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking torrent de pareis

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking torrent de pareis gorge blau

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking torrent de pareis sa fosca

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking torrent de pareis moss

After leaving the junction of the two torrents and heading into the entrance to the Torrent de Pareis we had to walk to the right side of the streambed. If you keep an eye out, you might be able to see a cave up in the cliffs. Some 15 minutes later you will encounter the first difficult part of the hike. A massive stone blocks the canyon base and must be negotiated. Carefully find yourself a way around two pools, they might be filled with murky water and then down the “steps” or ledges, which someone has carved into right side of the boulder. It is there that we first used our rope, we slowly lowered Jerome down the side of the boulder, when he was five years old. Last time he found his own footing and we did not need the help of the rope, we just gave him some advice on where to put his feet.

The hike goes on winding along the riverbed, make sure to stay on the right path, this might be indicated by where people have trodden before or by coloured markers and stone cairns. The next difficult places are some narrow sections where you will have to lower yourself with the help of the ropes that have been fixed to the rocks, we found having some extra rope here useful. A little while later a pool follows, which needs to be passed on the right. Jerome was always eager to be the first one for the next challenge ahead, however, usually it would be my Dad or I, who would test the waters and give Jerome some help from down below in case he needed it. My Mum would go next and Chris would follow last to make sure everyone was OK.

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking torrent de pareis obstacle

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking torrent de pareis plants

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking torrent de pareis boulder

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking torrent de pareis hold on

At some points we could see where the water level would be when the gorge is filled with water, in parts green moss had grown on the smooth rocks along the riverbed. It is a sobering thought to realise that after a storm that water will rush through the canyon as much as 6 metres or more deep. About half way into the hike we found a flat rock where we could all sit down and enjoyed our packed lunch, being sure to keep some food and water for later.

At some point we had to leave the riverbed on the left side and shortly afterwards we passed another cave. There were still a few more tricky passages to come though. We had to squeeze ourselves through a narrow gap and then our last ordeal, which used to be even more difficult, until someone made an opening into the rocks.  The last difficult point is called in Spanish “fat men get thin” and involves descending 2 to 3 metres down a small hole in a massive rock. I think the name says it all.

Having mastered all the treacherous sections, it is possible to enjoy the last spectacular stretch of the gorge before it ends. On the last section it is usual to find some curious ill equipped tourists coming towards you on the flat stretch from Sa Calobra, they probably read the warning sign at the entrance to the gorge and want to find out what it is like for themselves. Few get further than the last big obstacle thankfully.

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking torrent de pareis narrow passage

DSC_3956

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking torrent de pareis boulders

The gorge finally opens out, the large rocks turn into a field of gravel and there is a small lake that is normally filled with murky, green water to the right. The impressive view of the sea between the rocks and the beach at Sa Calobra will come into view, giving a spectacular end to the hike through the Torrent de Pareis.

We always have to accustom ourselves at this point, to the many tourists around, after barely meeting anybody for the whole day. Most tourists visit Sa Calobra to experience the hairpin road that descends from the mountain pass, to see the secluded beach, relax and go for a swim. A large number of them are not even aware of the beauty that is hidden behind the sheer rocks and cliffs further behind their backs.

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking torrent de pareis warning

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking torrent de pareis sa calobra

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain torrent de pareis sa calobra

I always have mixed feelings after ending this hike, for one I am relieved we made it, unharmed and safely down the gorge, on the other hand I wish I could have savoured the beauty of it for longer. Straight after finishing the hike we always say never again but I know, possibly not next year, or the year after but for sure we will attack the hike again, the next time we have a dry spring.

With our legs weary and our feet sore we walked the last stretch through the man made tunnel to the port of Sa Calobra. On the last occasion we still had some time spare before Jerome and I would take the boat back to Soller. My parents and Chris called a taxi that would take them back up the road to the car at Escorca, but as the taxi would not take five, so it gave Jerome an excuse to enjoy the boat again. There is a bus service that goes from Sa Calobra past the restaurant but it only runs at certain times of the year and it was only scheduled to start a few weeks later. I wonder at the patience of the drivers of both buses and taxis that ply the twisty road down and up to Sa Calobra.

While waiting for our transport we went down to one of the cafes overlooking the little, stony beach in the port to have our well-deserved coffee and ice cream. There were surprisingly few tourists around, despite the Easter holidays and many of the cafes and restaurants were still closed up. Once the boat arrived we left my parents and Chris behind, they were still waiting for the taxi, while Jerome and I boarded the boat back to Soller. We both enjoyed the calm ride, past Cala Tuent and the beautiful coastline back to Port de Soller..

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking torrent de pareis restaurant

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking torrent de pareis port

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking torrent de pareis beach

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking torrent de pareis sa calibre beach

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking torrent de pareis happy child

There are some hikers that say it is easier to hike up the gorge than down. We have twice hiked it downhill and I can say that the view and option of a hot coffee and an ice cream is more appealing to us than climbing for 7-8 hours straight up the hill.

I will finish this post not on the joy of the adventure but with a final warning. This is not a hike for everyone, the route is tough and needs planning and preparation. There are also experienced guides that will take you through the gorge, I can recommend Tramuntana tours in Soller. It helps to have someone with you, that knows the in and outs of the Torrent de Pareis. Remember if you are having any doubts about whether you are fit and experienced enough for this hike, it might be better to say no I am not, and do not set out – better safe than sorry later. No one wants to be rescued by the mountain rescue or even worse not make it out. Having written all that, I will finish by saying that after both our hikes Jerome had a big grin on his face and we were rather proud that he achieved such an incredible adventure.

Soller, Mallorca, Spain | The “Sa Costera” Hike along the Remote and Picturesque Coastline from Mirador de Sea Barques to Cala Tuent

A strenuous coastal hike to a remote beach.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

The Sa Costera walk from Mirador de Ses Barques to Cala Tuent is one of the finest hikes on Mallorca. The walking first leads through the many terraced olive groves, into a remote valley behind the mountains and then runs parallel to the stunning azure Mediterranean Sea. The end is at one of the most beautiful coves on the island and the way back allows for a boat trip, which adds to the experience. Having said this, bear in mind it is certainly quite a strenuous hike and needs preparation. Jerome first walked this hike from the age of 4 without being carried, but it does take around 6-7 hours in total with a younger one, maybe an hour or so less with just adults or older children. Before setting out in the morning double check with Barcos Azules whether the boat from Cala Tuent at 16:55 (March 15:45) back to Port Soller will actually be departing. Double check the departure times as they change depending on the season. In case of high winds or rough seas the boats will most likely be canceled and I would advise against embarking on the hike, as you will have trouble getting back from Cala Tuent. A taxi would mean a long wait and be expensive, around 90€, or another long hike back are the only options. You also need to plan how you will deal with linear walk as if you leave the car at the viewpoint the boat returns you to Port Soller, meaning either a hike up, the bus or a taxi.

On the day we chose for the hike we had seen online that the sea was going to be too rough that day but we still planned on walking the first half of the hike to towards Tuent despite this.   Our plan was to then turn around halfway along the coast and return to our start, missing the last stretch to the cove. After breakfast we drove to Mirador de Ses Barques, where we parked our car, more energetic hikers can even consider walking up (or perhaps cheating with the bus), hiking up extends the way by several hours, but avoids the logistics to retrieve the car later. We had enjoyed a lovely lunch at the restaurant a few days before on a different hike. That morning we got a beautiful view of Port de Soller from the viewpoint next to the restaurant. Even from there we could see the waves came crashing into the port and knew that no boat was going to go out that day to Sa Calobra and Cala Tuent along the coast.

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking cala tuent port soller

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking cala tuent track

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking cala tuent sheep lamb

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking cala tuent olive grove

At first the hike takes the same path we took on our walk a few days earlier day around Soller. Jerome was quite interested by a group of sheep with new little lambs in one of the fields we passed. The sun was already high above the olive groves, the strong wind still made us feel rather cold. In between the trees were lots of Asphodel flowers, many more than in other years, probably due to the heavy rains in the winter months.

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking cala tuent olive tree

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking cala tuent road

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking cala tuent mountains

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking cala tuent well

The dirt track runs through a high plain with a farm and some arable land, the earth still churned up and of an unusual, red-brown colour. We walked through a gate and suddenly could see the mountain range that we will need to cross in order to be able to get along the coast. We would have to climb up to the saddle, which is the hardest, most strenuous part of the hike, rising perhaps 300m in elevation. First we would need to take the path down into the bowl in the mountains, this leads into a remote valley behind the islands highest peak and is only accessible by dirt tracks. To the right we took the stony path, which is signposted with by small arrows on wooden poles and headed downhill. Water trickled across the path from a well in the hillside at one point. This made the path slippery, especially on the smooth, rocky steps. It helped that we wore our proper hiking shoes instead of normal trainers, which would be inappropriate for this walk.

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking cala tuent olive tree trunk

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking cala tuent flower field

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking cala tuent steps

The path down into the valley alternates between stretches of dirt track and hiking trail paths that cut the corners from some of the big turns in the dirt road.   The zigzag path descends all the way until it reaches the finca of Baltix D’Avall, parts of the building are over 1200 years old. This old olive mill was turned into one of the Agrotourism hotels a few years ago and serves orange and other drinks juice on the terrace. It must be a great place to stay for a few nights if you want to get away from it all, to be in a place of absolute serenity miles from anywhere. We always make this one of our stops for a juice, before attacking the hard hike up through the light forest to the col at the back of the valley, the most strenuous part of the hike.

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking cala tuent finca baltix d'avall

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking cala tuent baltix d'avall old mill

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking cala tuent baltix d'avall entrance

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking cala tuent baltix d'avall chapel

Leaving the estate we took a quick look into the pretty, little chapel that belongs to the Finca. I have always admired the stunning ceiling, painted a dark blue hue with tiny stars. The way up crosses the mountain stream, empty on our walk, and shortly after the end of the orange grove it turns right onto the terraced hillside. We slowly ascended, at some point we had to take our jackets off as the wind did not seem to reach that side of the mountain and the afternoon sun was beating down on us from the cloudless sky. On this stretch of the climb in the past we always had to slow down and adapt to the speed of Jerome’s walking pace, these days he runs ahead from us and we have to stop and wait for his grandma every now and then instead.

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking cala tuent baltix d'avall orange grove

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking cala tuent grassy path

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking cala tuent baltix d'avall path

After about half an hour of hiking up the path it joins a forest track again. This part can feel a bit annoying, as it is the last haul up to the col and it is on a dusty, winding road. It is hard to imagine that anyone would actually be able to drive up the steep bends even with the most powerful four wheel drive. After seven more bends we could see the saddle up ahead, and once we reached it, we got our first glimpse of the azure blue sea between the treetops. From there the path is downhill, through a forest of Mediterranean oaks, until it eventually levels out at about a 150 meters above sea level and contours along high above the sea on the back side of the mountain range.  The path is sandwiched between the sea below to the left and the highest parts of the Traumuntana Mountains. At this point the nearest real road is several kilometres away so the remote wild feeling is atmospheric and adds to the adventure.

Shortly after we had left the forest and started contouring along the side of the mountain, Jerome spotted the rock, where we usually have our lunch break. The rock sits right next to the hiking path and is the perfect spot to have a break and enjoy the views of the coastline, the sea and horizon with the mountains rising behind. The sea on the day of our walk was rather rough and we could see the waves crashing in below and the water was very murky, not like the crystal, clear turquoise a few days before on our walk to Deia. The views are beautiful no matter what the weather and we thoroughly enjoyed our packed lunch of local bread, boiled eggs (left over from Easter), cheese and vegetables, high above the sea.

Normally we would walk along the coastal path all the way to the Tuent cove and while we did not do so on that day, turning back after about another kilometer of enjoying the views, I will still explain here the route to Tuent that we have walked many times. It is a shame we had to turn back but the rough sea meant that the boat back would not go so there was not the time to go the whole way and walk back that day.

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking cala tuent coast

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking cala tuent rocks

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking cala tuent rough sea

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking cala tuent coastline

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking cala tuent waves

On calmer days the part of the walk from the picnic rock to the pretty cove at Tuent is our favourite part, with its changing views of the coastline and the sea. During spring, when we are usually hiking there, many of the alpine flowers are in bloom and the sweet smelling yellow broom bushes that look like yellow polka dots on the otherwise rocky hillside are also flowering. The other ever-present plant is the grass that sometimes reaches a height of 1.5m. Jerome always likes to pick one of the long flower stems and chases after us with it. To one side is the sea, on the other the rocky mountainsides. The path is easy to find and moves roughly at the same level sometimes higher, sometimes lower heading towards a rocky outcrop in the distance.

About half way along the coast, you will find a narrow trail to your left, heading down towards the sea. This is a little detour to an ancient spring and well, if you look out for it you might notice the basin where the water collects just above the sea. We have never attempted this little detour, which takes around an extra 1.5 to 2 hours for the trek down to the shore and back up, so unfortunately cannot give you any advice if it would be worth the extra time and exercise descending 100m nearly to the sea and climbing back up.

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking cala tuent calm sea

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking cala tuent boat

Before reaching the other end of the coastal path, there is a slight ascent to reach the top of the rocky headland that sticks out into the sea before the bay of Cala Tuent cuts into the island. After the headland the path leads through a pine forest and the trail leads down into the bay. At some point you will get views of the pebbled beach and the stunning water through the trees. If time allows it is worth making a stop at the Restaurant Es Vegeret for a drink, snack or ice cream. If you do, find yourself a table on the back of the terrace and enjoy a café con leche and a slice of their yummy almond cake. Jerome always has an ice cream before we go down to the beach. The beach is a good spot to wait for the boat to come in, you will not be able to miss the queues of other hikers on the small jetty, before the boat is due to arrive usually around 16:55 (March 15:45).

The pebbled beach at Tuent might not be the most comfortable place on the island for a lazy day but the stones are smaller than Deia so make it a good spot for a picnic.  The lack of sand means the water here is always clear and unless the sea is too rough it is a great spot for a safe swim and makes brilliant snorkeling, if you bring some goggles.  Jerome likes building stone towers or houses, so it is can also make a change from a day trip to a sandy beach even for smaller children. Even during high summer season the bay is never crowded. The long drive over the mountain road (which is a stunning, sometimes hair raising, hair pin drive) keeps most tourists away from this magical place.

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking cala tuent beach

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking cala tuent flower field

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking cala tuent beach

The ride back to Soller on the boat is always Jerome’s favourite part of the day. He likes to sit outside on the deck, next to the rails or go to the captain’s cabin to watch him steer the boat. Once the boat has left the bay of Cala Tuent behind it will make a left turn and for the first part of the ride you will be able to see the coastline you have walked along a few hours ago. Before long the towering rocky cliffs take over until you finally notice the houses of Port de Soller. The boat will veer left again into the bay, with the lighthouses at either side of the bay’s entrance and the hotels along the back of the beach. At this time of day depending on the tide many of the fisher boats maybe return into port with their catch and you might be lucky to be accompanied by the screeching of seagulls.

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking cala tuent bay

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain cala tuent boat ride

If you left your car up at the viewpoint you have the chance to get a taxi to collect it, but we often take the little tram back to Soller and then retrieve our car with a hike up to the viewpoint on the following day.

As I have mentioned on my other posts this is a real hike and not for a casual walk. It needs logistics and planning especially as the route is linear, requiring transport and the boat is just once a day back. Allow extra time if you are not sure of your own pace, there is nothing worse than missing the boat back. We allow 5 hours walking with also time for breaks now that Jerome is older, but younger children or less fit adults will need more.

Always plan ahead and have the right equipment in your backpack: money for the fares, a good map, guide, spare clothes, first aid kit, lunch, extra food and plenty of liquids before setting out. Take taxi phone numbers and a mobile just in case, although the reception is patchy behind the mountains. Stout hiking footwear is essential as this walk is rocky underfoot, has around 500m of climbs and approaches 10km in length. Having said all that the remoteness, the views and the beauty make it one of the best walks on the island when well planned.