San Martin: A treacherous hike with breathtaking views.

Updated: Nov 1, 2021

For our second hike, we decided to climb our way up to the top of the San Martin volcano.

With it's length of 15-20km, never-ending climbs and moonlike landscape this is one of my (Sander) favorite hikes at La Palma. In the 5 times I've been to the island, I've done this hike 6 times, definitely a recommendation when visiting La Palma. In the charming village called 'Fuencaliente', lies the start of the climb towards the volcano. Starting with a steep stairway, you immediatly leave the inhabited world and enter the woods.

Almost all the forests in La Palma consist of the local Canary Pine trees. All the dead pine needles that have fallen to the ground form a beautiful carpet between the trees.

Throughout the whole hike, the path you have to follow is very well indicated so getting lost is very hard here. The first 6-7km you walk up and down (mostly up) through te forests, where you see all kind of differently shaped trees. As I was walking along, I always get fascinated by these trees. As you can see on our pictures, all the threes are 50% 'burned' by which I mean that the bark is very black. These are actually the scars of past forest fires for which te Canary Pine tree is designed to survive. Their bark consists of tons of layers allowing the trees to protect themselves against the fires.

Our favorite tree of the whole island

After the first 7km we were standing at the start of the 'real' climb to the top of the San Martin. Every time we forget how hard, steep and especially how long this climb is. It is so steep that at times we needed to proceed on all fours (hands and feet). Immediatly starting with one of the steepest parts, the climb goes on for a couple of kilometers. Along the way we were leaving the forest and starting to see the moonlike landscape. As we were starting to see less and less trees, we saw more and more volcanoes (little did we know that one of them would erupt 3 days later).

After a lot of miscalculations about the duration of the climb (most calculations made by me...), we finally saw that the top was near.

In the 6 times I've done this hike, this was the first time that the San Martin wasn't covered in clouds, which automatically resulted in breathtaking views, making me fall even more in love with this place. Siouxsie was very relieved she made it to the top, as she already died 2-3 times along the way :-). At the top of the volcano, we took our brake and ate our lunch.

After our break we walked a little further around the crater, trying not to fall of as the wind was very strong up there. What we then found was, in my opinion, by far the best view over the southern part of the island I've ever seen (see picture below). We could see the San Antonio volcano in Fuencaliente, and we almost could see all the way to 'El Faro' and the saltmines which is the most southern point of the island.

We then turned around to start our way back to Fuencaliente. For the way back there's the choice to take te same way as the way you came, but we always take another way back so that in the end we made a loop.

Breathtaking view of the southern part of La Palma

The first part of the descend is also very steep, it's like we were skiing on the lava. It's only when we got back in the forests that it started to slow down. One of the first thing we saw when back in the forests was a ancient dried out riverbed. Further, we took some extra breaks (as it was necessary), we tested our drone for the first couple of times and just enjoyed our time. In the end of the hike we encounterd some wild dogs. But before Siouxsie got the chance to get close to them, they were already away.

After Siouxsie said goodbye to her companion and dear friend Mufasa (aka her stick). We made our way back to the very steep stairway where our adventure of the day began.

Thank you for reading about this amazing hike and I hope to have inspired some of you to take a trip to La Isla Bonita and experience this wonderful adventure yourself.



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