The sunset at Roque de Los Muchachos on La Palma creates a special atmosphere which is hard to describe. When the sun crosses the horizon the different telescope domes open up and the first stars become visible. The sky turns into dark blue and at the horizon the far clouds turn red, yellow and orange. Below us only clouds. While many people are sitting at home in front of their TV great things happen up here - on La Palma - far off the world 🙂
The northern part of the Roque de Los Muchachos observatory is not reachable by car - at least there are some "Staff only" signs on the road. However, there is a small path which leads up to the Puente Nueva peak. If you park the car at 28°45'46.5"N 17°52'29.1"W right beside the road, walking up there takes only about 15-20 minutes. From there one has a great view on this part of the observatory! Some more details can be found here.
The weather was said to be perfect for one day and so we decided to take a day off and drive to Oberstdorf. We wanted to go the Heilbronner Weg which is one of the most beautiful paths in the Alps because you have a great view around.
We planned to go from the Fellhornbahn to Einödsbach, from there to the Waltenberger Haus and up to the Heilbronner Weg and then down to the Rappensee Hut. We wanted to stay at the Rappensee Hut and go down to the valley the next morning. When we started in the morning it was really really cold, but the sky was blue and when the sun came it was nice and warm. But when we arrived at the Waltenberger Haus we saw that the complete way up was covered with snow and ice! We talked to the owner of the hut and he said he would not recommend us to continue. So we decided to stay at the Waltenberger Haus and just enjoy the view and the atmosphere of being in the mountains again. The sky was clear this night and there was no moon so we had a great view and could even see the milky way!
In May 2013 we spent another 9 days on the island of La Palma. Because there are only a few direct flies to La Palma we decided to fly to Gran Canaria first and then take the local airline Binter Canarias to continue to La Palma. With that we were a lot more flexible in choosing the travel dates.
This time we stayed at Casa Rosabel which is a very nice finca close to the town Tijarafe. With the finca we also booked two telescopes which are located in the garden nearby. From the terrace we could enjoy beautiful sunsets every evening. And we also had our own gecko inside the bedroom to fetch insects 😀 In the beginning it was a bit frightening to see it move around the walls and it makes funny noises but in the end you get used to it. They live all on the island and are an endemic species which only exisits on La Palma and Tenerife.
This time we did the following:
- Hiking from Arecida to Hoya Grande: We started walking in the clouds near Tijarafe and actually I could not imagine that above these clouds the sky should be blue. But when we reached about 1200m height suddenly we were able to see blue sky above us! We passed the Torre del Time and continued upwards. The clouds only stayed below 1200m. The clouds also filled the Caldera de Taburiente and we enjoyed sitting above the clouds and watch them move 🙂
- Walking around the volcanos San Antonio and Teneguia: There is a car park in front of the volcano San Antonio. We drove there by car and then walked along the crater of the volcano. It gives you a great view around and inside the volcano! San Antonio was last active in 1677. From there we continue to the volcano Tenguia. The walk is quite spectacular, like being in a different world. Teneguia was last active in 1971, so not so long ago!
- Cycling from Miardaor El Time via the "Traviesa" to the Pista del Cabildo: This is a really nice path for cycling. We started close to the Mirador El Time and cycled up to the small village of El Pinar. In the beginning it is very steep but once you have reached about 1300m it continues on a nice path through a forrest with a beautiful view to the sea.
- Cycling to the top of the island: After having cycled up to the top of Gran Canaria the year before we also wanted to give it a try on La Palma. But this island seems to be even steeper than Gran Canaria. We started at about 10 in the morning and cycled through Tijarafe in the direction of Puntagordia and then continued on the LP-111 to Briestas. From there it went down for a couple of kilometres and then very steep upwards! Cycling Road LP-4 is really exhausting! This was the day where we had to return the bikes and therefore we had to stop at one point to be able to return the bikes in time. We cycled up to the telescopes, they are at about 2150m. So still 300m left - we definitely have to come again to La Palma to finish this! Nevertheless the descent was endless and worth all the way up and we enjoyed the view to the ocean!
- Watch the stars: With the cottage we rented came two telescopes we used during the night - a 10" Newton and a 16" Dobson telescope. That was quite nice, so each of us could use an own telescope 😀 The sky was amazing! There are so many stars. You cannot image this view when you only know the sky in Germany!
So all in all it was another great holiday on the Canary Islands and we will definitely come again!
In March 2013 we visited La Palma for the first time. La Palma - also called La Isla Bonita - is one of the smaller Canary Islands. Before we have only been on Gran Canaria and we were surprised to see how different these two islands are even if they are quite close to each other.
The initial idea to visit La Palma came because we read on the Internet about the telescopes on La Palma and that it is said to be one of the places with the clearest sky. Having our own telescope at home and doing astrophotography with it (here are some pictures) we also wanted to a have a telescope while being on the island.
We stayed at a nice bungalow in Los Llanos de Aridana. The bungalow was on top of a hill and only a few meters away from the entrance to the Caldera de Taburiente national park.
While this was our first time on this island we tried different activities - hiking, cycling, beach, stargazing, driving around by car, ...
La Palma is said to be the steepest island on earth and when you have been there you will know what that means! Driving around by car means driving one turn after another - the only part that goes straight is a tunnel. Not so good for people who suffer from travel sickness. And La Palma is also the island of the bananas! We have never seen so many banana trees before.
The photos below should give some impressions of what we did on the island. The highlights were:
- Puerto de Tazacorte: if you know only yellow sandy beaches then this one is different! the beach is made of lava sand and next to the beach a path leads up 600m to the Mirador El Time a nice viewpoint. Puerto de Tazacorte also has nice coloured houses and many restaurant at the beach. And besides that Puerto de Tazacorte is said to be the place with the most hours of sunshine in Europe - that's a good reason to spend some time there!
- Hiking the Ruta de Los Volcanes: You start in El Pilar and then walk down to the South of the island. During this walk you pass one volcano after the other - the view is just amazing! You can see Tenerife, El Hierro and La Gomera and the ocean! Don't forget to wear hiking boots and take warm clothes as it can be a bit windy up there!
- Cycling from Los Llanos to the South: We started in Los Llanos and took the road up to Jedey. From there we take a hiking path up until we are right below the volcanos. We follow a nice trail up to Los Canarios in the South! The trail consists of volcano sand so cycling is not so easy. Nevertheless it is really worth it! You see so many different aspects of the landscape - huge fields of lava rocks, trees, ocean, islands, volcanos, ... When you reach Los Canarios in the South you can also visit volcano San Antonio and Teneguia - which had the latest eruption in 1971! You can also drive further down up to the light house. We cycled back the road where it takes only about 1.5 hours to go back to Los Llanos.
- Visiting the ORM (Observatory Roque Muchachos): You have to apply for a visit on the website of the ORM - we were lucky and were invited to visit during our time on La Palma. We had a guide which showed us around the GTC (Gran Telescopio Canarias). It was amazing to see such a huge telescope! The diameter of the mirror is 10.4 meters! Our telescope at home has only 8" diameter! If the weather is good you should have a good view from top of the island. Unfortunately there was a storm and clouds when we were on top so we could not enjoy this view.
- Hiking the Caldera de Taburiente: The caldera was once the crater of a huge volcano, now it is a great place for hiking. It reaches its highest point at more than 2400 meters. The crater has a diameter of 8 kilometres and can be surrounded completely via hiking paths.
- Be above the clouds and watch the milky way: La Palma has one of the clearest skies in the world. Until you have not seen it in reality you will not believe how many stars can appear on the sky at night! There are special viewpoints on the whole island with explanation about the starts (http://starsislandlapalma.com/page/senderos).
There are still so many places and hiking paths to explore on the island and six days were definitely not enough! We are flying over again at the beginning of May and let's see what else we will discover 🙂