Before you set out on your journey, it is important to keep in mind some of these important safety tips.
- Nature is stronger than you. Always check the weather before you go! If you think hiking is no big deal, you are wrong, and over confidence will get you in serious trouble. Anything can happen…the weather can change, high winds, fog causing low to zero visibility, rain. If the weather does not look good, do not take the risk. The last thing you want is to be airlifted out by a helicopter.
- Emergency - S.O.S. The emergency number in La Palma is #112.
- Be prepared. There is no such thing as being over prepared. Make sure to bring plenty of water and some food—dried figs, dates, bananas, or homemade granola bars are my “go to” carry along bites. Bring a paper map of the trails, even if you already have it downloaded to your phone. You can find the La Palma Red de Senderos map at any tourist information office. Make sure your phone is fully charged and if you have an extra battery, bring it with you. Do not forget to bring a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen.
- Safety in numbers. It is always best to bring a buddy if you can. Whether you are hiking with a friend or going solo, be sure to tell someone where you are going and when you plan to return. If you really want to be safe, plan a “Drop-Dead” deadline—if you do not hear from me by 5pm that means I am in trouble, please call for help.
- Suitable Gear. The weather in La Palma can change quite a bit. In any given day, there can be a 2–3-degree difference in temperature just between Tazacorte and Los Llanos, which are only 4 km away from each other. For this reason, I always bring extra layers with me to account for weather changes. Good shoes with soles intended for hiking difficult terrain is a must in La Palma…regular tennis sneakers are not suitable for hiking.
- Red de Senderos de La Palma (visit the web page of Red Senderos). I strongly encourage you to visit the Red de Senderos de La Palma website, which is the best resource to checkout the trails before you go. It has everything you need to plan your hike including notifications if a trail has been closed as well as useful information about the elevation changes for each trail. The trail map is not drawn to scale, so what looks like a short, easy trail may be longer than you think, and you may find yourself walking up a wall.
- Know the Signs. If you are new to hiking, learn the signs. If you see a painted “X”, you have not found a lost treasure. Turn around, you are going the wrong way. Be sure to pay attention as some of the trails may not be as clearly marked (typically the greens). Sometimes it is easier to find the path not to take than the correct one so always be on the lookout for the signs.
- Adapt to the Season. Weather plays a big role in your overall hiking experience so adapt to it. For example, the summers can get very hot so we generally prefer to hike the northern end of the island where it generally stays a bit cooler. In the winter, we do the inverse and hike the southern portion of the island where it stays a bit warmer.
- Have fun. Hiking is meant to be fun, so pick the trails that are best suited for your activity level and be ready to take in all the beauty that La Palma has to offer!!!