The Sa Calobra Canyon

The Sa Calobra Canyon, also known as the Torrent de Pareis Gorge, must be one of the island’s most dramatic landscapes and is one of Mallorca’s two Natural Monuments. Friends of ours wanted to go there for a walk yesterday and were most surprised when we told them that it would be well worth visiting but would, indeed, be a very testing hike or trek, and not to be underestimated. We advised them not to overestimate their skills and rather enter the canyon from the seaside, trying to get up into the gorge as far as they could and to turn back when the going got too tough.

Luckily, our friends heeded our advice and set off with sturdy walking boots, a plentiful supply of water, the mobile phone charged up and a digital camera for the scenic views en route. They went through Inca and admired the drive up past the terraced landscape of the Tramuntana mountains, turned left on top in the direction of Sóller and turned right past the aqueduct in the direction of Sa Calobra. They were most impressed by the 12 km long serpentine route and by the beauty of the Mediterranean Sea when they got down to Sa Calobra. They found the beach, had a swim, walked to the mouth of the canyon and began the hike. The trek was far from an easy Sunday afternoon stroll but, was just this side of too demanding. After about an hour the path was blocked by some boulders of perhaps 3 metres in height and they decided that it was time to head back. I am glad they did. They went back for another refreshing swim in the gorgeous sea before they headed back for Inca where they treated themselves to some excellent fish (Cap Roig [scorpion fish], at 50 € per kg).

When they returned home they stated categorically that they wanted to live here as well. They had seen Mallorca at its best.

The photo (top) was chosen from my archive. It was taken near Escorca, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: July 7th, 2008. The time was 15:58:08. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of flickr.com and Guacamoliest.

Thank you very much.

The Sa Calobra Canyon

Biodiversity and Conservation

The Institut Mediterrani d’Estudis Avançats (IMEDEA, Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Studies) is a research centre, jointly run by the Consell Superior d’Investigacions Científiques (CSIC) and the Universitat de les Illes Balears (UIB). The objective of IMEDEA is to develop high-quality scientific and technical research in the area of Natural Resources, with special emphasis on interdisciplinary research in the Mediterranean area.

One of the many projects of IMEDEA is the Estació d’Investigació Costanera, a Coastal Investigation Centre, based at the Cap Salines lighthouse, near Ses Salines (see photo). The Investigation Centre busies itself with observation and research of the marine environment, especially that of the Reserva Marina del Migjorn de Mallorca, a marine protection area covering the southern part of Mallorca’s coast and stretching from Cap Blanc in the West to Cala Figuera in the East. There are three other Reservas Marinas in Mallorca, the Reserva Marina de la Bahía de Palma, the Reserva Marina del Levante de Mallorca, and the Reserva Marina de las Islas Malgrats. They all come under the supervision of the Coastal Investigation Centre and are all overseen by the Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Studies, together with the Conselleria d’Agricultura, Medi Ambient i Territori of the Govern de les Illes Balears.

For further information you can get inspired by concerns such as Biodiversity and Conservation, Ecology and Marine Resources, Global Change Research, and Marine Technologies, Operational Oceanography and Sustainability, courtesy of the IMEDEA website, if you so wish.

The photo was taken near Ses Salines, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: May 9th, 2012. The time was 16:28:01.

Biodiversity and Conservation

The Goose and the Golden Egg

Last Sunday, April 29th, between 5,000 and 10,000 protesters congregated on the beach of Es Trenc in opposition to a change in the planning law that now would allow the construction of a new hotel complex with 1,200 beds right on the boundaries of the protected Nature Reserve of Es Trenc-Salobrar de Campos. The change had come into law only two weeks earlier, on April 12th, when before that date no such construction would have been allowed anywhere near Mallorca’s coastline. The change of heart was legally made possible by the conservative PP party now having a majority mandate in the Consell de Mallorca, in the Balearic government as well as in the central government in Madrid.

We are reminded a bit of Aesop’s fable of the Goose that laid the golden eggs where we got wise to the fact that greed, foolishness and avarice may well kill off the source of one’s good fortune.

The battle for Es Trenc began in 1978 when a similar citizen protest had sparked off a motion which ultimately, in 1984, lead to the current protection of this virgin dune landscape as an Àrea Natural d’Especial Interès.

In 1977, similar citizens’ action was needed to help declare the island of Sa Dragonera a protected Nature Reserve. There, some investors had proposed to build a massive hotel, a casino and a yacht club. The protesters took the battle to court and succeeded in having the developers’ plans declared illegal. Dragonera island was subsequently bought by the Consell de Mallorca in 1988, and later, in 1994, declared Parque Natural de Dragonera.

Perhaps the matter of Es Trenc will also have to go to court. Whether justice is actually blind in Spain will have to be seen to be believed. Some people doubt it, not least after the recent Baltasar Garzón debacle.

Both photos were borrowed from the Internet, the top one courtesy of diariodemallorca.es, GOB and the photographer, B. Perelló. The photo (bottom) was borrowed courtesy of estelnegre.balearweb.net, showing a historic protest gathering in Palma’s Plaça d’Espanya in 1979.

Muchas gracias, and

moltes gràcies.

The Goose and the Golden Egg

The Reserva Natural s’Albufereta

If you know Mallorca and love the island for its natural beauty you will most likely know the Parc Natural s’Albufera de Mallorca. The wetland of flooded marshes between Can Picafort and Alcúdia is certainly one of my favourite areas for peaceful outings, tranquil ambling and walks and exciting activities such as bird watching or nature studies of plants and wildlife in their natural habitat.

The Reserva Natural s’Albufereta is a smaller but similar wetland but is a bit of a poor relative of the better known and more popular s’Albufera. I somehow prefer s’Albufereta because I can watch the same bird varieties with less Hoi polloi and fewer self-important bird-spotters. The vegetation of s’Albufereta is typical of the wetlands of the Mediterranean shore, with a predominance of reeds, bulrushes and rushes. S’Albufereta holds the Balearic Islands’ most important Tamarisk grove (Tamarix gallica and Tamarix canariensis). The Reserva Natural s’Albufereta provides a nesting ground for species such as the Purple Gallinule, the Marsh Harrier, the Black-winged Stilt, the Yellow Wagtail and the Sedge Warbler. Fan-tailed Warbler, migrant Bluethroat and Green Sandpiper can also be seen here. In Winter, common visitors are Cormorants, Egrets, and various species of ducks and geese.

Although s’Albufereta is a Nature Reserve, most of it is private property, so your visit should be limited to the perimeters of the protected area. Please, do not trespass.

The photo (top) was taken near Alcúdia, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: February 23rd, 2012. The time was 12:40:52. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of birdinginspain.com.

Thank you very much.

The Reserva Natural s’Albufereta

The Parc Natural de Llevant

The land of Aubarca north of Artà was acquired by the Govern de les Illes Balears in 2001 and protected as a Nature Reserve under the name of Parc Natural de la Península de Llevant. The area extends to some 1,400 hectares of land. You may be tempted to consult the official website of the Balearic Government but I fear that you may be misled there. Here is what they have to say (I expect Google Translate must take part of the blame):

This Nature Reserve is constituted for different Mediterranean habitats such as|how the oak wood, wild olive groves and pinewoods, the cliffs, are the sandy beaches, the torrents, that they combine with the created agricultural ecosystems to the length of the time|weather, forming one of the zones of landscape richer and several of Mallorca.

How on earth they can get away with such gibberish I do not know. Luckily, and irrespective of the unfortunate website, the Parc Natural de Llevant is a perfect location for a nice walk in some beautifully unspoilt landscape affording pleasant views across the barren hilly range of the Serra de Llevant with a distant glimpse of the neighbouring island, Menorca. You can do some bird watching there and look out for the Common Raven (Corvus corax) or the Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus). Or you could find some rare plants such as the Ceba Marina (Drimia maritima) (see photo below) or the Saladina (Limonium minutum). If you have not paid a visit yet, you might wish to discover some virgin beach settings there, such as S’Arenalet des Verger (with basic overnight hostel facilities).

The photos were taken near Artà, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: February 18th, 2012. The time was 11:15:12 and 13:04:13, respectively.

The Parc Natural de Llevant

Seaside Pleasures

I am not a friend of the fixation on Christmas decorations in the streets of our pueblos and towns, especially not those in Palma. It all seems overly commercial and materialistic, especially when decorations and Christmas lights are being put up as early as October. The frenzy is false and pretentious, here in Spain. Christmas is not a tradition here other than a religious one; it has never been what it has been made to look over the last decade or two. For a start, there are no Christmas presents or, at least, there were none the way things were going here for centuries. Presents to the loved ones, and in the main, to the little ones, are a thing for Los Reyes Magos (the Three Kings) and that’s not until January.

Christmas in Mallorca is a family affair with family meals, the Cant de la Sibil·la, church visits, Betlems and Neules, but without carols and all the trimmings that the Northern European neighbours and visitors have introduced ever since Democracy has embraced Spain. Somehow the Spanish seem to think that Christmas, done the European way, is part of that democratic system and its accompanying consumerism. Now Christmas trees abound where traditionally the nativity scenes were focal points in Mallorcan houses at this time of year.

The good thing is that one can escape it all if one so wishes. One can appreciate some Nature Reserve or other, can embark on a long-planned hike or walk, do some bird watching, visit the quiet pueblos in Mallorca’s hinterland or simply, go for long strolls along deserted beaches and enjoy the autumnal pleasures of the seaside.

The photo was taken near Can Picafort, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: December 11th, 2011. The time was 17:14:45.

Seaside Pleasures

The Calicant Experience

We went for a pleasant excursion yesterday, the Día de la Constitución or the day of the Spanish constitution. The object of our outing was the Puig d’es Calicant, near Sant Llorenç des Cardassar, a small mountain or rather, a hill with an altitude of 476 metres. Reaching the top of Calicant rewards you with spectacular views across large parts of the island, such as the Badia de Alcúdia to the north, the Peninsula del Llevant with Puig de sa Tudossa and Cap Ferrutx (photo above) to one side and the island of Menorca in the far distance, and the southern part of the Mallorcan Levante with Artà and the East Coast on the view to your back.

On the way up, there is the remarkable Pou de Calicant (see photo bottom), possibly dating back to the Moors, some glorious landscape with sheep and goats and Algarroba trees, and there is also said to be a Talayot which, sadly, we could not find. Perhaps next time.

The photos (top) and (bottom) were taken near Sant Llorenç des Cardassar, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: December 6th, 2011. The time was 14:38:56 and 14:38:56, respectively. The photo (centre) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of capvermell.org.

Moltes gràcies.

The Calicant Experience