“WHY are we doing this?”

‘Why? Why am I doing this?’ I asked myself as I tried to squeeze a last bit of energy out of my tired legs while careful navigating rocks and roots on a steep uphill climb through the forest. Nearing the final part of a solid 10-hour day, I felt a mix of emotions bubbling up as I pondered Walking Ibiza founder Toby Clarke’s ‘Word of the Day’ for Stage 5 of the Around The Island series of Saturday hikes. ‘Why?’

Faster than anticipated, we had reached the halfway point of this incredible 10-week challenge. And although I seemed to have breezed through the previous stages fuelled by excitement, adrenaline and wonder, on Saturday number five I experienced my first ‘wobble’. Stitching together several of Walking Ibiza’s most popular routes, a particularly beautiful – but equally challenging – trek from Cala Salada to Sant Mateu put both our physical and mental stamina to the test.

Bright and early, we set off from the popular Salada beach in the West of Ibiza and headed straight towards the first climb of the day: Cap Nunó. Sticking out like a giant ramp, the mountain is an iconic sight on the island’s coastline and would see us work our way up a sweat-inducing 253metres. That’s sure to wake you up at 9am on a Saturday morning!

Thanks to the mild November temperatures, we reached the top dripping in sweat. The vast views, however, more than made up for our efforts. Despite the overcast sky and carpets of fog hanging in the air, we could see as far as Cala Comte and Cala Bassa, which we had passed the previous week on Stage 4. With an epic 27km + to tackle, there wasn’t too much time to hang around and take in the views, though, and we soon began our descent. In the distance, we could see the majestic mountain range awaiting us later in the day, shrouded in mist.

After carefully navigating the slippery path down the side of the cliff, when we eventually reached a flatter stretch of forest, Toby sent us off one by one to follow the woodland trail by ourselves for a few minutes to enjoy the luxury of silence, and drop into our own thoughts. ‘This is exactly why I am doing this,’ I pondered, soaking up the peaceful surroundings and inhaling the fresh forest air.

Adventure and surprise wait around every corner on the Around The Island hikes and soon we reached another stop with the ‘wow factor’: Bill’s Paradise, a secret cove with spectacularly clear waters and dramatic rock formations. Despite the tempting azure colours, only one of our fellow walkers braved the sea while most of enjoyed a little breather and some snacks – much needed fuel for the next part!

‘Toby, how do we get up there?’ I asked, somewhat concerned at the rugged cliffside that reached into the sky in front of me. Sara, one of our regular fellow adventurers, had told me just moments before that she had attempted this particular climb with her friends – and that they had turned around because they couldn’t find a way forward. ‘There is a path, I promise you, ‘ Toby laughed.

Moments later, I found myself clambering up a red, crumbly ledge of rock and earth, asking myself again: ‘Why?’ ‘To push yourself out of your comfort zone,’ a much braver part of me than my conscious self replied from somewhere inside my head…

Feeling rather proud of ourselves for managing this daredevil ascent, we marched on towards the Gates of Heaven, a famous rock formation and sunset hotspot close to the picturesque village of Santa Agnes. It seemed that the further we ventured north, the more otherworldly the scenery became. Steeped in fog, the cliffs appeared higher, the boulders larger, the drops sheerer and the forests more mysterious… like something out of Jurassic Park!

On and on we went, and with several steep climbs under our belt, I could feel my strength levels fading with every further uphill ascent. Worrying, given that we had barely reached the halfway mark! A much welcome snack stop atop one of the majestic peaks we had spotted earlier refreshed mind, body and soul as we soaked up the vast views. Cap Nunó, our first challenge of the day, now looked tiny in the distance!

With a good three or four hours of walking (and climbing) to go still, we followed Toby along a forest trail towards Santa Agnes. It was here that I started to feel overcome by a slight sense of despair. Despite the lunch break, my feet were starting to feel sore and my legs were struggling to catapult my body uphill. ‘How do the people who do this route in 12 consecutive days manage?!’ I couldn’t help but wonder. I leant as far forward as I could and literally let gravity pull me up the final part of the hill.

‘I’ve hit a bit of a low point, too,’ confessed Sara, as we tried to catch our breath at the top. What we have all learned by now is that on long hikes like this one, you have to listen to your body and mind… and it’s perfectly acceptable to withdraw into yourself and walk in silence for a while. On the other hand, thanks to a strong sense of camaraderie amongst the group, you will always find a sympathetic ear or a word of encouragement amongst your walking buddies.

Looking out over the swatches of Ibiza’s famous red soil, the almond tree orchards and little white buildings of Santa Agnes made for a heart-wrenchingly beautiful sight in the foggy distance. ‘These views are simply priceless,’ marvelled Ricardo, who has joined us for all five stages so far. ‘I have already won so much more than I have spent on these walks.’ Another ‘why’, right there!

With the sun beginning to set, we had to press on to reach this week’s finishing point in Sant Mateu. ‘Today you have climbed a total of 1,161 metres,’ Toby proudly informed us – which would go some way towards explaining my achy feet and tired legs! Thankfully, the final stretch was mercifully straight. Making our way through the autumnal vineyards of Sant Mateu, the church emitting a warm glow in the distance, it was a beautiful end to an epic day.

Exploring this wild and wonderful island, immersing ourselves into the great outdoors, a touch of adrenaline and a sprinkling of adventure… Stage 5 truly combined all the best parts of the Walking Ibiza experience. And that is exactly WHY we are all doing this!

If you want to join the next part of our ‘Around The Island in 10 Walks’ adventure, you better hurry because spaces are going fast! Are you up to the challenge? Book your spot here!

Written by Olivia Ebeling