A Multi-day Trek in the Serra Tramuntana

sign_gr221.jpgI love the idea of long-range hiking routes. Typically arranged to support multi-day itineraries, these kinds of routes let you go out and lose yourself on the trail (Note: not the same as getting lost). My latest look into the world of long-range hiking routes had me checking out Spain’s “GR” or Gran Recorrido routes. There are 13 GR routes in Spain and two of them, GR221 and GR222 are located on the island of Mallorca.

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The GR221 is also called ‘Ruta de pedra en sec’ (Dry Stone Route) and it strings its way through the dramatic Serra de Tramuntana mountain range that pretty well covers the Northern coast of the island. The Tramuntanas are a UNESCO World Heritage Site for their significance as a cultural landscape. Dry stone masonry, much of it centuries old, is everywhere along the route: terrace walls on steep slopes, houses and barns, walls separating fields, and even much of the surface of the pathway are built using a distinctive style of dry stone masonry that form-fits the stones without mortar or cement between them. The entire GR221 route is about 173 kilometers but chunks of it are still under development. A bit less than half of the route is considered completed at the moment and there are six hiker’s refuges currently open along the route.

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scene5.jpgThe lesser known GR222 is a 100 kilometer route from Arta to where it intersects the GR221 near the monastery at LLuc. The concept for the GR 222 is to link up the mountains of Llevant in the eastern part of the island with the central Serra de Tramuntana. I understand that the last section as you approach the monastery is historically a pilgrimage route. About 40% of this route is currently completed as well.

For my trek I decided to do the last part of the GR222 up to Lluc and then continue West on the GR221 to Deia. I decided to do this over five days using four of the hiker refuges for overnight stays. My longest day was an eight hour 20-miler and my shortest a three hour climb. The completed parts of the GR’s are pretty well marked with good wayfinding — the exception for me was that there wasn’t much route marking to help you get from one side of the small city of Soler to the other. There is some pretty major up and down and some pretty rough trail surfaces in areas, but nothing technical. refugi_son_amer.jpgThe refuges (called “refugis” locally) are nicely outfitted, so you don’t need to carry much if you don’t want to — I carried just a rain jacket and warmth layer, change of clothes, basic hygiene stuff, water, a snack, flip-flops, and my camera in an oversized daypack. The refuges are basically communal bunk houses, but with bedding, hot showers, meals, a rudimentary bar, an espresso machine, and wifi all available. All of them I stayed at were in modernized historic buildings situated in beautiful spots. Advance reservations are highly advisable although I observed some folks succeeding in getting a bed or a meal as walk-ins. They are reasonably priced $12-13 per night … dinner $8.50 … breakfast $5 … carry-away lunch $5 or so. A beer was about $2.20. Bunk rooms are co-ed and the ones I stayed in ranged from 6 to 30 bunks in a room.

scene9l.jpgThe route took me into high mountains and over high passes, close to the coastline with great views of the Mediterranean, and through pretty and interesting towns and villages.  I was told that most people do this hike in the opposite direction — from West to East rather than the other way around.  No one had a clear-cut explanation for why, but I heard a few theories.  In the end, it doesn’t seem to me that it would matter much other than going against the current meant that I met new people every night instead of catching up with many of the same people each night at the refuges.

Following are a sampling of images from the five days.  Captions, when provided, precede the related images:

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A variety of animal life both feral and domesticated is encountered along the route …

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Refugi Son Amer occupies a former monastery building near the monastery of Lluc.  Built on a hill top, it offers great views in every direction.  All of the refugis offer bunkrooms and shared bathrooms.  Blankets and pillows are provided and you must either rent sheets and towel or bring your own bivvy or sleeping bag and towel.  Reservations are needed if you want to be sure to have a bed.  Likewise, make a reservation if you want to be sure that food is available for you.  Family-style dinner, breakfast, and/or a carry-away lunch may be purchased.  You can purchase beer, coffee, and soft drinks. All transactions at the refugis required use of cash.  Lockdown and lights out was at 10 pm which suited me fine.

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A bunkroom at Son Amer …

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The beautiful setting descending to Tossals Verds Refugi …

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Tosals Verds Refugi …

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Walk-in fireplace in the common room at Tossals Verds …refugi_tossals_verds_fireplace.jpg

Refugi Muleta …

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Lighthouse adjacent to Muleta …scene-lighthouse.jpg

Refugi Can Boi near Deia …Refugi_Can_Boi_far.jpg

Dining room at Can Boi …

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Setting of Can Boi …

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The route often would afford dramatic views of the Mediterranean coastline …

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These sections of the GR222 and GR221 are well marked except for the route through Soller ….

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Can you find the hikers in this picture?

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They don’t call this the “Dry Stone Route” for nothing.  The dry stone technique uses fitted stones without cement or mortar between them.  Walls, terraces, structures, and major portions of the walking surface are dry stone construction.drystonewall.jpg

Remains of primitive structures are found throughout the route.  I’ve read that these can be hundreds of years old.  They were used as structures for compacting snow to make ice and as shelters for charcoal gathering activities …drystonestructure.jpgdrystonestructure2.jpgdrystonestructure3.jpgdrystonetraail.jpg

Deia is one of the several picturesque villages that can be visited along the route.  I’ll do a separate post on a hike through the villages and towns of the Soller area (coming soon).  Deia is a very vertical place …

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Can Boi houses an ancient olive oil press – pretty cool to check out …

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6 thoughts on “A Multi-day Trek in the Serra Tramuntana”

  1. Hi Kevin, well done! Just to ask – if walking in February (next week), will these refuge house be open? Some say that booking 5 days in advance is necessary. What do you suggest?

    Thanks,

    Martin

    1. Thanks, Martin. I recommend phoning ASAP to check to be sure about availability. It could help to have a Spanish-speaker on your end of the call if you have one. The booking and information page is at http://goo.gl/DBG9Oe — I show phone # as 971-173700 — good luck & great travels! I hope you will consider telling a bit about your experience in a future comment once you get back home.

  2. Kevin,
    Thanks for sending your trip report. I will be glad to post it on hut2hut.info. May group some of the photos together as a clickable gallery, but otherwise will post as is and provide a link to your site. Please send my your email address.
    Thanks, Sam

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