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

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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.

#wanderlustexperiences | Anne and David of horseaddict.net

Travel tips for other mums and dads from real life experiences.

My name is Anne Leueen and my husband’s name is David. Our children are Breanne and Perry.  They are now adults.  We come from Ontario Canada just outside Toronto.

My blog website is: https://horseaddict.net/

My Facebook page connected to Horse Addict is : Horse Addict Leueen

David and I are both retired now but travelled with our children often when they were younger.  We now go to Florida for the winters to escape the cold in Ontario.  I also ride, train and compete with my horse and the winter season in Florida is a busy time for that.  David and I have done some travelling on our own to Europe and also to Vietnam and Cambodia a few years ago, but now I find that with going to England twice a year and  having a competition horse we are travelling less than we did with a younger family.  I am so glad we always took our children with us on all of our travels. There are many stories we still talk about and have wonderful memories to share with our adult children.

Perry now lives in London, England.  He went to university in the UK and never returned, which gives a good excuse for David and I to go there twice a year.

Breanne lives in Ontario and travels quite a lot to western Canada and the US for work.   This year she has also been to London and Paris and will be going to Barcelona and Madrid also for work.

wanderlust experiences anne leiden horse addict guest post first flight
Perry on his first flight to London on British Airways. Cheery little traveller!

How old were your children the first time you flew/went on holiday with them and where did you go?

Perry was a month old for his first flight which was from Toronto to Vancouver BC.  His next flight was Toronto to London when he was about six months old. Breanne was six weeks old for her first flight from Toronto to London.

Perry was 4 and Breanne turned 2 when we were on our Australian trip.  They continued to travel with us to England each year as my family is from there, and I lived there when I was in my 20s, so I have a lot of friends there too.  The trips to Mexico were on school holidays as was the trip to Kenya. We made trips to Italy during the March break school holidays.

What important items do you always take with you on your travels?

When they were too young to read I always took books to read to them, puzzles and crayons and paper.  Also a backpack filled with disposable diapers, two sets of extra clothing for each child, and when they were babies and eating solid food some dehydrated baby food.  For a really long trip, like Los Angeles to Fiji, I wrapped all the little toys in paper and tied it with string so it gave them something to do to get them open and they could only have one at a time.  Breanne always needed to have her stuffed bear with her but Perry did not have a favourite stuffie.

wanderlust experiences anne leiden horse addict guest post australia
Perry and Breanne and I crossing Australia on the Nullabor.

What was your favourite destination and why?

Favourite destination? Hard to say. The trip to New Zealand and Australia, when we rented a camper van and travelled in NZ for seven weeks and in Australia for six months was a wonderful experience that remains top of the list for David and I.  For the kids, they loved trips to Italy, England and also Mexico.

Do you usually travel on your own, with other family members (e.g. grandparents), friends or nanny?

We always travelled on our own. No friends or other family or nanny.

wanderlust experiences anne leiden horse addict guest post equator
At the Equator in Kenya. The man showed them how water funnels down in different directions depending on which side of the equator you are on.

What do you think travelling abroad teaches your children?

Travelling abroad is an invaluable education. C hildren can see how other people live.   They can see people of different races, different levels of poverty or wealth, different customs.  When we arrived in Nairobi the guide asked Perry if he had been to Africa before and he said no.  “Well,” the guide said “The first thing you will notice is that everyone here is black.”  After our first visit to Venice, Perry who was 10, said:  “Next time we come here we should stay for two weeks because there is so much here to see.” This was in large part because we had used a walking tour guide ‘Venicescapes’ and the guide had taken us to a lot of very interesting places not always open to the public and he had made it interesting for the kids as well.  So, there is history lessons and life lessons, lots of things to be gained from travel.

Do you have any tips or hints for other parents that make your travelling easier and more relaxed?

Travelling with a baby; always have something to get them to drink when taking off or landing in a plane to help their ears adjust to the pressure changes. If you are not absolutely fluent in the country you are going to and do not have friends there make sure you have access to English speaking medical help.

How long in advance do you book a holiday?

We would book in advance for only a few weeks to go to England.  About a month to go to Mexico to a resort.  Europe maybe six weeks.  The Australian trip was planned several months ahead as we were gone for seven months.

wanderlust experiences anne leiden horse addict guest post venice
Perry and Breanne are given some instruction into the making of a gondola in Venice by the gondola maker and the guide from Venicescapes.

Do you plan all the activities and sight seeing in advance?

We planned the walking tours in Italy in advance, but we did not plan the Australia trip other than booking the campervan.  I did have maps and made decisions about where to go but basically, we just drove the whole way around the continent and en route we found people who would suggest things to us and we would follow that.  For example, I had a friend in Sydney who was the manager of a 3-million-acre sheep station in central Australia.  She suggested we stop in to see him as we were going across the country.  We drove across the Nullabor and then up a dirt road alongside the dingo fence to stay at the station.

Are you still one of those people that uses a travel agencies for all your holiday bookings or do you plan everything on your own?

We did use a travel agent to make our flight bookings and then I did the hotels etc. myself.

wanderlust experiences anne leiden horse addict guest post flying doctors
At the sheep station in central Australia the Flying Doctor had to be called for a sheep shearer who was ill. Perry and Breanne were invited to have a look inside the plane.

Thank you Anne for sharing your experiences, the trip for seven months sounds like it was very adventurous and it must have been a fantastic opportunity for the family.  I am sure travel was much harder to book and arrange before the internet was ubiquitous.

I hope you, my readers, enjoyed our short interview and if you have travel experiences and tips you would also like to share please let me know at wanderlustplusone@gmail.com.

Soller, Mallorca, Spain | A Walk past the Orange Groves of Soller to the Pretty Village of Fornalutx

Wandering through the little villages of the Soller valley.

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The walk from Soller to Fornalutx is more like a longer stroll than an actual hike but it is a great way to experience the valley and villages along its path, the stunning scenery and the majestic Tramuntana Mountains.

We usually start our walk (it is something of an annual ritual to limber up for harder hikes) at the Placa de sa Constitucio in Soller. Jerome would always love to stop immediately for an ice cream at C’an Pau at the entrance of Calle de sa Lluna, which is by far the best place to have an ice cream anywhere that we know. We always also tell him he has to wait until we get back on the way home after some exercise, you would think after so many times he would have got the hint by now! We stroll along Calle Lluna, the shopping high street of Soller. The street is still lined with little shops, the perfect place to shop if you forgot to pack your swimsuit, need a dress for dinner or want to get some authentic Mallorcan souvenirs like espadrilles, woven baskets or olive oil and local orange marmalade. The local butcher, bakery and fruit and vegetable shops have also survived unlike in some other places on the island.

Even if you are just in Soller for a short visit you should take a stroll along Lluna, but bear in mind that most shops will be closed during siesta, from about 13:00 to around 16:30. Keep an eye out for the moon (luna) on one of the houses (tip it is on no. 50) and the old yellow post box at one of the Tabacos. This year we ignored most of the shops, my mum and I had already made plans to come and have a look on the following Saturday, when the town has a weekly market on the square and adjoining streets.

travel with kids children soller malloca spain hiking fornalutx calle lluna

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking fornalutx post box

Once the shops ended we were mostly on our own, most tourists do not venture past this point. The street is still as narrow past the shops, in fact most roads in the centre of Soller are barely wide enough for two cars to pass. The beautiful stone houses with their signature green wooden shutters line both sides of the street out of town. Most of these houses are over 100 years old, and if you are lucky you might be able to get a peek into the inside. What most people do not realise is that the houses of Soller are built around gardens and each has its share of the plot or they contain little courtyards and roof terraces.

If you want to get an insight into one the houses in Soller you should visit C’an Prunera which you will pass on your way to Fornalutx if you follow this walk. Inside it is a stunning modernist villa, dating back to 1911 and houses a collection of art works by local artists including Miro and Picasso who both spent some time in Soller. The tiles and décor have been restored to their full splendour and I can recommend taking time to visit there.

travel with kids children soller malloca spain hiking fornalutx can prunera

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking fornalutx calle lluna

Continuing our stroll, the constant row of town houses stops after a while and we found our selves on the outskirts of Soller. The sign indicating the village start is hidden amongst a large cactus next to one of the streams filled with water that comes rushing down the mountains after any rains. Still heading straight on we now passed gardens filled with seas of flowers, jasmine, bougainvillea and many other colourful blossoms.

The orange groves were also in fill bloom and the fragrant, sweet scent surrounded us. The orange blossoms are quite small in size and they look incredible next to the deep green leaves and ripe oranges. There are many orange groves in Soller, together with the olives grown on the higher slopes, they used to be the main income for the locals who would export the ripe fruits, over the sea to France from the port, as the valley was shut of to the rest of the island by the high mountains. To some ears the local dialect has many French links and sounds as a result. Mixed into the orange trees are some lemon trees as well, these flower all year long and always have new fruits among the braches.

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking fornalutx sign

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking fornalutx lemon grove

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking fornalutx orange blossom

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking fornalutx flowers

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking fornalutx bougainvillea

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking fornalutx flowers

At the start of Cami de Biniaraix we crossed a bridge over the mostly dry mountain stream instead of heading further straight on along Carrer d’Ozones and continued along the road past some houses and more orchards.

The road starts to incline slightly and once we entered the little village of Biniaraix, here, instead of walking along the road we turned left up some steps and through the little, cobbled alley towards the village centre. Jerome used the water fountain at the corner to refresh himself while we strolled on, past pretty flowerpots outside the houses and the two cafes at the tiny plaza. Further up the road we made right at the old public washhouse to the entry of the Barranc de Biniaraix, the start of one of the major hiking routes into the Tramuntana Mountains. There we stopped a little way up the track and sat down on the wall to have a snack from our backpack and a cool drink. The view over the valley towards Soller and up to the mountains from this spot is incredible.

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking fornalutx biniaraix church

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking fornalutx public wash house

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking fornalutx orange valley

Jerome seemed keen to move on quickly and we returned to the main road, but instead of walking back into Biniaraix we headed right just beyond the washhouse towards Fornalutx joining the road from the village centre that bares left after leaving the plaza. Strolling on again we passed many orange groves before we ending up at the road that connects Soller and Fornalutx. Unfortunately this is one of the less nice parts of the walk as the only way is to follow the road for a while and we had to step aside to let cars pass quite frequently. Shortly, we crossed another bridge, this time there was water running down the riverbed and lots of slimy green algea had formed under the sun’s rays. At an orange grove with a little chicken hut within we took the footpath up the hill into the village of Fornalutx.

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking fornalutx orange grove

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking fornalutx mountain stream

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking fornalutx chicken

If you do follow the walk keep an eye out for the intricately painted roof tiles, there are few houses that feature them on this stretch. The last part winds through tight alleys, too narrow for cars to drive along, until it eventually ends up at the town’s Placa Espanya.

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking fornalutx roof tiles

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking fornalutx stairs

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking fornalutx alley

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking fornalutx courtyard

We chose a table underneath a parasol in the Café Sa Placa at the far end, below the village church and next to a mini market. There we enjoyed a cup of café con leche, fresh orange juice and a slice of almond cake. If your hunger needs something more substantial and savoury try the Pa Amb Oli. Many people say Fornalutx is the prettiest village in Spain, and while it certainly has its charm with views and is worth a wander through the alleys, for us Lluc Alcari further long the coast hold’s this precious title.

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking fornalutx church

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking fornalutx cafe sa placa

For the way back to Soller we choose a different route out of the village on our now traditional walk, it runs along the hillside via the tiny village of Binibassi. Leaving the village towards the west, along Cami de Binibassi, we pass the local football pitch and playground. The road turns into a narrow hiking path once it has passed the pretty cemetery on the left. I always have a peek into the cemetery. I find the Mallorcan graves rather fascinating with the glazed, porcelain flowers and the photos of the deceased on the stones. On that day Jerome had run on ahead, looking for the small cave under a wall that we always pass on this walk. When he was younger he used to imagine that Totoro lived in it and we would keep an eye out for the Cat-bus… The path winds itself through olive and orange groves, it crosses a little stream, which was bursting with water when we were there in February, but had dried out since then.

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking fornalutx cemetery

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking fornalutx cemetery

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking fornalutx wooden gate

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking fornalutx hiking path

Further on someone had put out two clay Easter bunnies to mark the upcoming Easter weekend. We walked through a wooden gate, which we encounter on many of our walks in the area and always normally close them as they keep the mountain sheep in the pastures. Following the track we slowly descended into Binibassi with views over the valley. Once we have reached the few houses that make up this tiny village Jerome always lets some leaves or small twigs float down the stream that surfaces at this point and runs besides the path before it disappears again into the cistern at the houses. In Binibassi we turn right and follow the path until it meets a tarmac road that leads into the outskirts of Soller.

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking fornalutx easter bunnies

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking fornalutx binibassi

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking fornalutx binibassi

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking fornalutx view over soller

Along the country road and opposite a small farm with sheep on its pasture, Jerome spotted the cat we had met during our last visit 2 months before. The cat immediately walked up to Jerome and let him stroke it, It had bright blue eyes and looked well cared for. Jerome has a passion for cats and whenever we encounter one he would love to take them home. I call him the cat whisperer as all cats seem to be drawn to him. Eventually I managed to tear him away from the cute animal and we strolled the last few hundred meters before entering the town of Soller again. There our path follows the signs into town and returns to Placa de Constitucio where Jerome traditionally finally gets his ice cream at C’an Pau. We usually sit on the wall of the little square, savouring our gelato, and watch the local children play around the fountain.

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking fornalutx cat

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking fornalutx cat

travel with kids children soller mallorca spain hiking fornalutx sheep

Although this walk is perfectly possible without a map and the paths are well sign posted throughout with arrows and signs, I would still advise you to get a walking map and guide with detailed routes and information to all the hiking in and around the Soller valley. It will save confusion at the junctions and make it easier to spot turnings. We use Walking Paradise Soller, which has the most detailed maps available, but there is a selection of similar ones in several languages.

This route is easily walkable with even younger children, it takes between 2-3 hours to walk the round tour of about 7km in total without breaks depending on your pace and ability. There are plenty of opportunities for stops at cafes, but it is always advisable to carry some water and snacks too. The hike does not require proper hiking boots, a pair of stout trainers would suffice.

#wanderlustexperiences | ourfamilypassport

Travel tips for other mums and dads from real life experiences.

We are an average family living in a crazy busy world, trying to juggle work, school, and family responsibilities. As a multi-generational family, we are always growing and changing.  We have found that traveling all together with our family of 8 from the Grandparents on down to the little Grandbaby, provides a “time-out” where we can reconnect with the ones we love the most without daily interruptions or distractions.  We have been to 6 continents and over 40 countries together! Our family adventures are tremendously educational and most of all, fun! It is our goal to encourage other families to take a “time out” together and go explore our amazing world!!!

wanderlustexperiences travel with kids children ourfamilypassport

wanderlustexperiences travel with kids children ourfamilypassport cruise

Phil – Dad/Grandpa

Shani – Mom/Grandma

Kam – Oldest (27)/Momma to Becks

Stefen – Son-in-law/Married to Kam/Dad to Becks

Beckham – Grandbaby/Baby to Kam & Stef (3)

Tan – 2nd Oldest (24)

Sav – 3rd Oldest (20)

Easton – Baby (16)

Utah, United States

Website: www.ourfamilypassport.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ourfamilypassport

wanderlustexperiences travel with kids children ourfamilypassport poolside

How old were your children the first time you went on holiday with them and where did you go?

When my parents were poor young parents they would take local trips down to Southern Utah and visit the National Parks down there like Arches, Zions etc. We would try to go to places that we could drive to, and that could fit in the budget. Disneyland was a favorite of course :).

We have now been to over 40 different countries and 6 different continents. Almost always traveling together! My how have times changed!

What important items do you always take with you on your travels?

  • A first aid kit! (We have had to use this baby more times than we can count)
  • Our detailed itinerary and copies of our passports. (Once my little brother almost wasn’t let out of the country of Zambia because my mom had forgotten a copy of my dad’s passport)
  • A clean change of clothes in our carry-on luggage (Taking collectively 50-70+ flights a year, luggage is bound to get lost :))

wanderlustexperiences travel with kids children ourfamilypassport cycling

Have you ever forgotten something important at home?

Haha, yes! My other brother (Tan) one time forgot his entire bag when we left on a trip when he was in high school. My parents kept telling him to make sure he had brought his bag up to get loaded into the car before we left for the airport and he still ended up forgetting. They made him spend his own money to buy some new clothes when we made it to our destination.

What was your favourite destination and why?

Oh goodness! I don’t think we can answer this question. It honestly changes. We could pick our top 3 maybe! We love South Africa, China, Rome, Venice, Peru — oh boy the list could go on and on. It would probably be easier to say the places that we didn’t love :). (There are only just a few!)

wanderlustexperiences travel with kids children ourfamilypassport italy

wanderlustexperiences travel with kids children ourfamilypassport

Where would your child/children love to travel to if they could choose?

We talk about this regularly and have a list of dream destinations! Right now Egypt and Israel are at the top of the list!

Do you usually travel on your own, with other family members (e.g. grandparents), friends or nanny?

Usually we travel with our family of 8. However, sometimes we do go with other family members like great grandparents and aunts and uncles. When we were little my parents would sometimes bring along our “family helper” to help out!

What do you think travelling abroad teaches your children?

Everything! As an adult now, I can honestly say that my career path was shaped by the travels my parents took me on as a child and teenager. My three year old – the grandbaby of the group – makes connections all of the time. He has learned about different religions, and races all from traveling. His current favorite thing to learn about is wildlife. He says his favorite animal was an “ottopus” (octopus) that we saw snorkeling in Bora Bora over a year ago. I think the most important thing that travel teaches is just how similar people are around the world. Almost everyone wants to be happy and have a successful family – no matter nationality or beliefs.

wanderlustexperiences travel with kids children ourfamilypassport shark

wanderlustexperiences travel with kids children ourfamilypassport

Do you have any tips or hints for other parents that make your travelling easier and more relaxed?

Plan in some SPACE from each other! Be okay if kids need to go chill out in their room for a little bit. If someone really doesn’t want to participate in an activity – don’t make them or be upset. Frustrations are bound to occur. Roll with them and be okay to let someone have some alone time.

How long in advance do you book a holiday?

Usually at least 6-9 months. Sometimes over a year in advance.

wanderlustexperiences travel with kids children ourfamilypassport stonehenge

What makes your holiday perfect?

I don’t know if we have ever had a “perfect” holiday. Something always goes against the plan. I can’t tell you how many times someone has thrown up or we have gotten lost haha. I think what makes trips close to perfect is knowing there will always be a couple of “busts” in the trip and realizing it won’t be perfect! Oh and planning helps!!

Do you plan all the activities and sightseeing in advance?

Yes, almost all of them. We even make sure to plan in our down and free time. With a group of 8, if we don’t have something planned – we end up having to navigate 8 opinions when trying to figure out what we are going to do.  We have found there is a fine line between over planning and under planning. And we always try to find a happy medium between the two.

wanderlustexperiences travel with kids children ourfamilypassport arctic

Are you still one of those people that uses a travel agencies for all your holiday bookings or do you plan everything on your own?

Usually we book everything on our own. However, occasionally we will go through a family travel agency.

What is your favourite activity as a family when you are away?

Overall – everyone loves wildlife and adventure activities! The girls in the family are really drawn toward art and history while the boys are all about the golf. Activities that I know everyone will enjoy involve animal encounters or adventure.

wanderlustexperiences travel with kids children ourfamilypassport jumping high

Thanks to everyone at ourfamilypassport for sharing their insight, experiences and some awesome family photos.

 

Lantau Island, Hong Kong | A Cable Car Ride and Tian Tan, the Big Buddha

Our visit to the famous Buddha statue on Lantau Island.

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Our flight back was late in the evening and after having checked out of our Airbnb apartment during our first stay in Hong Kong we had the problem of working out what do with our luggage (one of the few downsides of renting through Airbnb). Chris had the idea that if we took the metro back to the airport we could store the luggage there at the left luggage facility and then take the option of going back one stop to Tung Chun Station to explore Lantau island. Once there we bought tickets for the Ngong Ping cable car that would take us across the bay up into the mountains of Lantau Island. The main attraction at the top is the Big Tian Tan Buddha statue, which is part of the Po Lin Monastery.

travel with kids children hong kong lantau big buddha cable car station

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travel with kids children hong kong lantau big buddha cable car bay

travel with kids children hong kong lantau big buddha cable car airport

There were only a few other people in front of us on the queue before we boarded one of the capsules of the cable cars, although I am sure it can get busy at times. We had a capsule completely to ourselves and we whizzed up into the air. At first we could see the airport, planes were constantly taking off and landing on the runways built on reclaimed land, over the Chinese Sea. The cable car then made a left turn and we were up across the water of the bay and slowly approached the steep hillside of the Island. Underneath we could see some hiking tracks and a few houses and shacks but no people. Then we were over the lush green forest, climbing higher and higher. After another hill had passed, we could suddenly see the statue of the Buddha through the thin mist. It looked like it was floating above the surrounding countryside – what a beautiful sight! The Buddha statue increased in size the closer we got to our final stop, Ngong Ping Village.

travel with kids children hong kong lantau big buddha cable car view

travel with kids children hong kong lantau big buddha cable car hills

travel with kids children hong kong lantau big buddha cable car statue

travel with kids children hong kong lantau big buddha cable car

On exiting the cable car station we found the village to be more like a purpose built shopping and dining destination, than an authentic place where people would live. The “fake” shops and restaurants were of no interest to us and we quickly walked past them, heading towards the Buddha statue. On the roadside were lots of dogs lazying in the afternoon sun, Jerome was a bit wary of them at first as he is mostly terrified of dogs, but they did not seem to interested in any of the people walking by. The path to the Big Buddha was flanked on both sides by statues of the Twelve Divine Generals.   Each of the Twelve Divine Generals that guard the main statue symbolize a different animal from the Chinese Zodiac, each is also armed with a particular weapon, and represents two distinct hours of the day. Jerome was seeking his favourite, the Dragon.

travel with kids children hong kong lantau big buddha cable car gong village

travel with kids children hong kong lantau big buddha cable car gong village dogs

travel with kids children hong kong lantau big buddha cable car gong village shops

travel with kids children hong kong lantau big buddha cable car postcards

travel with kids children hong kong lantau big buddha incense sticks

At the bottom of the staircase leading up to the Tian Tan Buddha statue, we were aware for the first time, just how massive the statue really is. We started to ascend the 268 steps and the closer we got the more it grew in size, in fact it is the largest outside Buddha statue in the world. At the top of the pedestal we stopped to take in the 34m high bronze figure on a lotus throne, it faces north to protect all Chinese people, before taking in the surrounding view. We could see the higher peaks of the Lantau mountains surrounding us, and the Po Ling Monastery below, home to the most important Buddhist sanctum in Hong Kong. In the other direction we could just about make out the sea in the haze and the outlying islands.

travel with kids children hong kong lantau big buddha statue

travel with kids children hong kong lantau big buddha cable the statue up close

Next to the staircase where we had ascended were Six Statues of Bodhisattvas, three on each side, then inside the pedestal of the statue we found a small museum filled with paintings and details of the Buddha’s scriptures and articles about his life and teachings.  Once we had circled the statue we descended the stairs again and instead of heading straight back to Ngong Ping Village we walked along a road signposted towards the Wisdom Path.

travel with kids children hong kong lantau big buddha cable car station shivas

travel with kids children hong kong lantau big buddha cable car station lantau peak

The road wandered around the grounds of the monastery. We passed some abandoned houses and closed restaurants that looked like they might never open again. Nature had already taken over parts of the buildings and it seemed like not many people ventured into the woods. We enjoyed our little venture away from the tourists and Jerome was happy to run along the empty paths.

travel with kids children hong kong lantau big buddha red panda

travel with kids children hong kong lantau big buddha happy smile

travel with kids children hong kong lantau big buddha abandoned house

travel with kids children hong kong lantau big buddha abandoned house

travel with kids children hong kong lantau big buddha restaurant

travel with kids children hong kong lantau big buddha restaurant shop

travel with kids children hong kong lantau big buddha bird cage

After a short walk we stumbled onto the Wisdom Path, an installation of a series of wooden posts, arranged in a figure of 8, which are engraved with sutras, Buddhist prayers. The posts were on a little hill, from which we had a closer view of the mountain in front and we could see the hiking paths going up and a long the mountainside. Sadly we did not have enough time to venture any further along either of these hiking paths but we made a mental note that we would plan a proper hike on one of them when we might return to Hong Kong

travel with kids children hong kong lantau big buddha path of wisdom

travel with kids children hong kong lantau big buddha path of wisdom

travel with kids children hong kong lantau big buddha statue

After our stroll and exploration of the Wisdom Path we walked back to Ngong Ping Village and boarded the cable car back to Tung Chung station heading for the airport, having enjoyed our last day exploring in Hong Kong.

 

The Peak, Hong Kong | A Ride on the Peak Tram, a Stroll to Victoria Peak and the Incredible Night View of Hong Kong

An afternoon exploring The Peak in Hong Kong.

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According to most people that have visited Hong Kong, a visit to The Peak is a must, even if you have only have a few hours in town. Especially on a fine day, the spectacular views from the top, are among the finest in the world. However, the main attraction for us was the possibility to ride the Peak Tram to the Peak tower. Jerome as something of a transport addict had been very keen on the ride when I had shown him photos of the funicular car on one of the websites. Unfortunately we were not the only people with that thought in mind and had to join a long queue for the tram on the sunny afternoon. The time seemed to pass rather slowly, we could see a lot of the children, especially the younger ones getting fed up with the wait, so be warned.

travel with kids children hong kong the peak garden

travel with kids children hong kong the peak park

Obviously all was forgotten once we finally reached the queue and were allowed to board the tram car. We were perched into the carriage and luckily got a space next to the windows, albeit to the wrong side (try to get a spot on the right for the best views), without any chance of good views going up the hill. The tram slowly ascended to the top and despite the crush everybody seemed excited when we exited at the other end.

The tram conveniently dropped its passengers into the heart of an anvil shaped tower, where most visitors dispersed into the shops and restaurants, or some headed straight for the next queue for the viewing platform on level 5. Some families went to visit the small outpost of Madame Tussauds on level P1. We ignored either of these tourist sites and walked outside into the much cooler air of the plateau. In fact many people come here in the summer to escape the heat and humidity of Hong Kong’s streets.

travel with kids children hong kong the peak tram

Outside the Peak Tower we walked the short distance to the Lion’s Pavillion to take in the view of the skyline. The view has quite an impact with the sea of concrete sky scarpers below, built so closely together that they all seem to merge into one. The water of the bay dazzled in the afternoon sun and we could just about make out the mountains behind Kowloon.

travel with kids children hong kong the peak view

The crowds of people started to annoy us and we walked past the shopping centre and the Peak Tower towards Victoria Peak. As soon as we had left the tourist crowded area we found ourselves on Mount Austin Road. We saw some children on a playground, guarded by their nannies and lazily strolled up the steep hill. There were surprisingly many apartment building and residential houses along the ridge. When I read up on it, the Peak had been a popular place to live, ever since the Brits arrived. Those who could and still are, able to afford to live here, come to escape the heat and humidity – all at a price of course, the prices here are among the most expensive of all Hong Kong. While I was curious to look at the houses and architecture of these luxury condos, the boys walked ahead. Eventually I caught up and we arrived at the Victoria Peak Garden.

travel with kids children hong kong the peak victoria peak

travel with kids children hong kong the peak victoria peak walk

The focus point of the garden was a modern, Chinese style pavilion. At the far side of the pavilion, we were blown away by the sight of the bright rays of the setting evening sun on the sea below. The Chinese sea was glowing like molten lava, with the outlying islands sticking out like random rocks. The three towers of Lamma Island were very distinctive and Jerome immediately recognised them from having walked across the island a few days before. There were loads of ships and ferries going back and forth between the islands and the continent. Originally we had intended to walk the last few meters up to the top of Victoria Peak but the road was closed off and there did not appear to be another way of getting through. Instead we walked back down the way we had come from, we could have also taken the Harlech Fitness Trail back to the Peak station but were worried it might get too dark and we might get lost somewhere on the way down.

travel with kids children hong kong the peak victoria pavilion

travel with kids children hong kong the peak garden

travel with kids children hong kong the peak victoria peak sunset

travel with kids children hong kong the peak victoria peak

The way down was completed much quicker of course than the ascent, Jerome running down the slope, fast. We just got back to the viewpoint to devour the lights coming on in the thousands of windows of Hong Kong and Kowloon. We could see the adverts shine from the ICC tower and some of the other high-rise buildings. We all agreed that the view by night was even more impressive than during the day which meant it had proven right to come in the afternoon rather the morning, even if that meant queuing for longer at the Peak Tram. The same applied for the return journey, as the sun had set and the lights gone on, everybody seemed keen to get out of the cool air and into the tram to make their way back into Central for dinner. Others went into the Peak Galleria for some retail occupation or dinner at one of the many restaurants.

travel with kids children hong kong the peak view

travel with kids children hong kong the peak garden skyline view

travel with kids children hong kong the peak view

travel with kids children hong kong the peak night view

travel with kids children hong kong the peak by night

We could not be bothered to queue again for an hour and strolled the Old Peak Road back down into town, we probably took less time than the queue! The first part was a quiet, peaceful stroll, the street winding down the hill, under the canopy of thick, mature trees. No one else was around until we reached Tregunter Path, where we were back in the valley of sky scarpers again. A hearty and warming soup at Tsim Chai Kee on Wellington Street was just what we needed for dinner, before taking the double decker tram back to the hotel.

Cheung Chau, Hong Kong | Wandering across the Rustic Island of Cheung Chau continued

Exploring another of the outlying islands of Hong Kong. Part 2

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This is the continuation of my last post:

I had read about the nice little Japanese Tea House in one of the guidebooks and thought it would be the ideal spot for us to stop for a bite to eat. The menu offered a small selection of hand rolls and doriyaki pancakes, filled with red bean paste. We were in a savoury mood and ordered a selection of the delicious hand rolls and some tea. The mamasan was very friendly when she discovered that we had been a few times to her home country she had a long chat with us about Japanese places. We also had to take the obligatory group photo with her, which unfortunately did not turn out well enough for me to send to her or to feature on the post.

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong japanese teahouse

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong dog

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong balcony architecture

The next part of our hike first went along the back of the beach and then up onto the second hill. We first passed some houses before reaching another pavilion. There was a crowd of people gathered underneath the cherry blossoms. It almost felt like we were back in Japan and not in China with the people gazing admiringly at the rose coloured blossoms.

The Cheung Chau family walk guided us past a church with a large building complex, obviously a place to for dedicated Christians to come for bible seminars, in fact there are many religious retreats on this part of the island. Further along we saw a lot of abandoned houses, most of them looked like they once must have been family homes. I went into one of them, it was completely empty, no furniture left but graffiti on the walls and dirt gathering in the corners.

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong ferry blossom viewing

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong abandoned house gate

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong abandoned house

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong abandoned house

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong abandoned house

Eventually the path left the urbanised area, with just the sea and nature surrounding us. At some point the path turned into the Mini Great Wall Trail, which is a paved walkway with granite railings that is supposed to mirror the Great Wall of China. There are a few rock formations with names like “Eagle Rock” and “Rock of Ringing Bell” to either side of the path. Some of the rocks certainly had interesting shapes but we would have needed a lot of imagination to gather where the names might have come from and perhaps more to imagine we were on a real great wall. Maybe children still have a more fantastic mind to imagine the shapes, however Jerome seemed to be not able to make them out.

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong hiking trail

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong

At Kwung Fam temple we walked down a few steps and ended up at one of the nicer beaches on Cheung Chau. Sadly the weather was much colder than on our trip to Lamma Island and therefore we did not feel like staying on the beach. There was another lifeguard tower, which I added to my collection of photographs before walking on.

Ahead at the end of the beach we could see a little café/bar overlooking the beach and a heliport. We sat down on the terrace and ordered some drinks. After a while, enjoying our drinks and taking in the view we could see a helicopter heading towards us. Jerome got excited but we told him that surely it would not be landing in front on the landing platform. We were proven wrong though, the noise of the rotating blades got louder and the helicopter slowly descended onto the landing spot right before us. We were wondering why it would be landing there on a day like today, especially with no one around, but soon enough we could hear the sirens of a police car and shortly after an ambulance followed. Some men left the ambulance car and opened its back door, they then carried an older gentlemen, on a stretcher, to the helicopter. As soon as the man was loaded in the helicopter it disappeared back into the air and out of sight, probably on to the closest hospital. The contrasting silence was notable. We afterwards realised just how many other people had gathered to watch the spectacle, most likely a highlight for some of the locals.

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong beach

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong beach lifeguard tower

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong fishing

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong beach

Our walk that day ended with a stroll back into town and to the harbour, completing a figure of eight around the two hills. The timing could not have been any better, the ferry had just arrived and shortly after we were able to board. We took seats outside, to the back of the ferry and watched the colours of the clouds change from a greyish sky to a pink glow beneath where the sun was about to go down, as we cruised back to Hong Kong Island.

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong shops

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong ferry

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong sunset

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong selfie

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong ferry ride

The hike along the family trail on Cheung Chau is definitely an option for families with children of any age, it can be lengthened or shortened depending on the age and ability of the little ones. It makes a contrast to the main city and is worth the time to explore a part of Hong Kong that is a little off the normal well beaten tourist tracks.