Ruta de pedra en sec, GR 221
A surprisingly huge diversity on the Balearic island.
“Mass tourism and Ballermann” were the first thoughts that came into my mind when I was thinking of Mallorca. However, our experiences on this island were quite different: On our 14-day tour through the Tramuntana Mountains we lived very intensely in the nature and met a varied Mallorca.
The GR 221 leads through a surprisingly diverse mountain range. A large area within the western part of the island is very dry. However, in the central part of the mountain range you walk on beautiful trails through fantastic oak forests. The whole mountain is strewn with historical traces. Sailors and different ethnic group such as the Phoenicians, the Romans, the Visigoths and the Christians have settled here throughout history and left very different architectural structures. You can find their traces everywhere: grain silos, defense towers and remains of former castles, storage structures, cisterns and ice chambers, charcoal burning places and brick ovens. In between there are seemingly endless dry stone walls that give the route its name. The mixture of landscape diversity, historical traces and surprising encounters makes a hike through the Tramuntana Mountains varied and always exciting. This trip changed some perspectives on the island, and this is actually the Beauty.
Let’s see where it is:
October, 2014 with Kirsten Steimel
Starting and end point:
Port d’Andratx (west point) to Port de Pollença/Cap de Formentor (north point)
At least 8 – 9 stages, which can be extended with further extra trips up to 14 days and more depending on your time and desire.
Follow the west coast from Port d’Andratx to Sant Elm, then uphill to Cala en Basset (there are very nice bivouac places). Further uphill you pass the ruined Monastery of La Trapa and cross the very dry area at Ses Basses up to the Col de sa Gramola. Follow the MA10 for a few kilometers, then uphill to the Mola de s’Esclop (928 m). The further way to Estellencs offers you the opportunity for an ascent of Puig de Galatzó (1027 m – highest mountain in the western mountain range). The quiet village of Estellencs offers the first accommodation option after 2 – 3 days of hiking.
The trail from Estellencs to Banyalbufar is beautiful. Alternatively there is also a lovely trail via s’Arboçar to Esporles. You can stay there or alternatively hike uphill to the plateau Mola de son Pacs, where you can find excellent opportunities for bivouacking surrounded by dense oak forests.
The next day you reach Valldemossa. In good weather, hike uphill to the north ridge of Cami de s’Arxiduc (925 m) for a spectacular bivouac. Up there you can see the sun go down on the sea horizon and at night you get a fantastic view of Palma.
The GR 221 leads you on the next day to the mountain village of Deià and from there – always with a view on the sea – to Sóller (alternatively Port de Sóller and Refugi de Muleta).
After you left Sóller there are over 2000 steps up to the Coll de l’Ofre, which offers you the opportunity for an ascent of Puig de l’Ofre (1093 m). From there we hiked a small path over Coma-sema up to the Puig d’Alaró (821 m). From there we have reached the main track at the Cuber Reservoir the next day via Solleric und Tossals Verds. Tip: If you plan to bivouac at the Cuber Reservoir you better should stay far above the lake because of the high humidity in the morning.
The route follows an obvious track to the Coll of Coloms and uphill to the highest point of the GR 221, the Coll des Prat (1205 m). This col offers you the opportunity to climb Puig de Massanella. With its 1365 m, it is the highest mountain on the island next to the Puig Major, 1436 m (military zone). A long way downhill ends at the Monastery of Lluc (a very good place to stay) or alternatively at the Refugi Son Amer. From here there is a great extra day trip through the deep gorge of Torrent de Pareis, starting nearby at Escorca.
The last stage takes you over Coll des Pedregaret to Pollença, where the tour officially ends. It is worth to extend the route that day to Port de Pollença.
The GR 221 is technically simple. Water deficiency can be a major problem in the western part of the mountain range. Especially in dry months, because then the few sources are possibly all (!) dry. You have to economize very good with your water supply in the first 2 – 3 days!
Best time of the year:
Spring, autumn and winter. Summer is probably too hot for a complete crossing and not recommended. Winter can bring snow in the higher elevations.
Bivouacking is tolerated everywhere and is perfect on this tour, because there are lovely places along the route. Backcountry camping, however, is prohibited everywhere (the whole island is privately owned). There is still no accommodation in La Trapa and Coma d’en Vidal. In the eastern part you can reach Refugis every day, but they have to be booked and paid in advance and are not always within favorable reach depending on your choosen route.
The 3 alpina25-maps Tramuntana Sud, Central and Nord are highly recommended, because all sources and cisterns are listed on these maps.