“We can all be HEROES…”
My heart is beating at 100mph while I’m desperately clinging onto the side of a cliff. I’m supposed to slide across the mud-covered rockface before lowering myself back onto solid ground, but as I look down onto the stormy sea 20 meters below me, my mind goes blank. “This is NOT the time to have a panic attack,” I scold myself.
Walking Ibiza founder Toby Clarke has positioned himself like a human safety net between me and the abyss. “Just keep moving! I promise you it’s safe. Your foot won’t slip!” After five years of walking with Toby, I decide I can trust his expert knowledge – but it takes all of my faith to make the next move across the thick layer of mud I am currently clawing my fingers into. Fuelled by adrenaline and – yes, fear – in less than 30 seconds I have scrambled across the treacherous chute. Welcome to Stage 8 of Walking Ibiza’s Around The Island In 10 Walks challenge!
You’d think that after two months of dedicating our Saturdays to exploring the island, it might get a bit repetitive – but in reality it’s far from! Every route holds its own charm and thrills, and, as I should have learned by now, surprises await around every corner. After starting out in the glorious October sunshine eight weeks ago, the weather is getting increasingly temperamental as we are edging towards the middle of December. Rain, hail and dizzying ascends – Stage 8 truly had it all! How fitting, then, that this week’s word of the day is ‘hero’!
We set off at 8am on a crisp, cold and drizzly morning from the forest that surrounds the Cave of Tanit, also known as the Cova d’es Cuieram or Es Culleram. With a solid 26km to tackle, we don’t have time to go inside and leave an offering to the island’s Goddess of dance, fertility and creation – but those interested to visit can look out for one of Walking Ibiza’s regular trips to the cave on the events calendar.
Our day starts with a slow descent on quiet forest trails down towards sea level, and with fog hanging between the trees it’s a rather magical experience. After around an hour we reach the red, rocky shores of the Eastern side of the island, lapped by thundering, foaming waves. We skip and hop around puddles, mud and broken up rock formations that remind me of sceneries depicting the warrior planet Mars and its striking crimson surface.
A thick blanket of clouds hangs in the sky and I can hear the guides discuss the probability of rain (high) as we pass the pretty little cove of Aguas Dulces before heading into the forest again en route to Cala de Sant Vicent. There is much speculation about whether we can make it to the safety of a coffee shop before the heavens open, and, spurred on by the prospect of caffeine and warmth, we start sprinting down the winding mountain road as the first drops begin to fall. With minutes to spare, we settle into the cozy dining room of The Boat House before the rain kicks off properly!
Feeling rather smug after warming up over coffees and teas, we eventually leave our shelter and push on towards Aguas Blancas. The steep climb out of Cala de Sant Vicent keeps us warm before we dip into the forest again to make our way down to the beach. The terrain is a little tricky, with lots of slick rock poking through the soil, so concentration is required to avoid slipping! Just as the pale turquoise sea comes into view, the heaven’s open again. But wait… is that… snow?! On Ibiza? No. It’s HAIL.
As soon as our feet touch the golden sands of Aguas Blancas, adventure time begins in earnest. With a mixture of hail and rain falling down on us, we try to rush past the boulders blocking our path while also evading the waves. I take off my shoes completely, wading through the surf with bare feet- in December! From here, we have to climb through a tunnel that has been formed between two or three giant boulders. All the while, the rain and hail keep lashing down on us. I feel like Indiana Jones – yet the real challenge is yet to come!
With a relatively narrow stretch of sand overlooked by ragged cliffs, Aguas Blancas (which translates to ‘white waters’, named so after its forceful waves) only offers us two options to continue on our journey today: we can either circumnavigate the rock formations by wading through the sea, which comes up roughly to my waist, or climb across the top of the cliffs. Neither one seems particularly appealing, to be honest, but every single member of our group chooses the drier route.
As I wait at the bottom of the cliff for my turn, even with around 20 metres between us I can see my walking buddies’ faces turn pale as they reach the critical point of the climb. If you are not a regular mountaineer, it is a bit of a daunting trail – not exactly made easier by the muddy and crumbly ground. The longer I wait and watch, the more nervous I get and, when I finally begin my ascent, adrenaline is pumping through my veins. With no knight in shining armour appearing at the last minute to offer me a lift, I realise that I’m going to have to be my own heroine today.
What looked relatively harmless from the ground seems like a matter of life or death from high up. I’m burrowing my hands into the cold mud, but I can’t find a stone or crevice on which to safely put my foot to continue the manoeuvre. Toby calmly assures me that the wet soil won’t turn into an avalanche beneath my step, but my mind is playing tricks on me. But as trying to turn back seems even scarier, I decide to put my trust – and life – in Toby’s hands and do as he says. And guess what! I lived to tell the tale…
Arriving on the sands of Es Figueral a little bit shaken, a little bit stirred, our bravery is rewarded when the local beach restaurant Es Alocs opens its doors especially for our group. Intrigued by the tale of our adventure the owners welcome us with open arms, even putting on a crackling fire so we can warm up and dry our shoes – instantly elevating themselves to hero status in our eyes! Steaming mugs of hot cocoa with a dash of rum and a few cheeky ‘chupitos’ of Hierbas later, our spirits have been well and truly restored.
Following our hair-raising adventure, the final part of Stage 8 seems like a walk in the park. The sun finally comes out, bathing Ibiza’s magical sceneries in a golden glow. We take in the beauty of Pou des Lleo and marvel at the picturesque Cala Mastella, home to the famous El Bigotes restaurant. In the last rays of sunshine we reach today’s finishing point on the tranquil shores of Cala Llenya with the realisation that, in the words of the legendary David Bowie, we can all be heroes – even if it is just for one day…
If you want to join the final 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