I have to admit my hands are getting a little bit sweaty as I lean over the rocky ledge and stare into the gully below. ‘Do you want to go next?’ someone behind me asks, referring to the abseiling manoeuvre that every single one of us walkers has to complete to reach the finishing line of Stage 2 of the ‘Around The Island in 10 Walks’ adventure.
Simon, one of the guides accompanying us on today’s trek, kindly offers to relieve me of my backpack to make the descend easier for me. The meditative ‘word of the day’ chosen by Walking Ibiza founder Toby for this route is ‘trust’, and right now I have to put mine into the sturdy branch of a Sabina tree that provides the anchoring point for our rope. I wipe the sweat off my palms and grab onto the cord, putting my faith as much into the goodwill of the island as the directions from my fellow walkers, who have already navigated the slippery rock face and are guiding me from the safety of the ground below…
Earlier in the day, our group set off from the finishing point of Stage 1 of the weekly series of walks that will, over the course of 10 Saturdays, add up to a giant 260km trek that circumnavigates the entire island of Ibiza. Stage 2 kicks off on the pebbled shores of Cap d’es Falco and measures a challenging but manageable 22km that will see us cross the finishing line in front of the picturesque church in Es Cubells.
There are some familiar faces from last Saturday, as well as some new walkers joining the 8-hour hike led by Toby, who, 10 years ago, tackled this route completely on his own – except for the company of his loyal four-legged pal Cosmo, Walking Ibiza’s unofficial mascot. It’s another beautiful October’s day and we enjoy the warmth of the golden morning light as we walk through the marshlands of the iconic Salinas salt flats. The local flamingos haven’t quite woken up yet, but we watch them from afar as we head towards the striking red coast of the Sa Caleta area.
En route, I get chatting to Saskia, who recently moved to Ibiza after having visited the island for the past six years. After joining her first Walking Ibiza trek in the summer, she is now keen to explore her new island home on as many of the ‘Around The Island’ routes as possible. She says, “I first came on a walk with Walking Ibiza because I wanted to do something completely different to what I usually do on the island and I really liked the connection that I made with the people in the group. It felt grounded and it was nice to share our love for nature and walking. We immediately had a common ground between us.
“Because I like to walk, it’s also good for my mind. It’s a different way of exploring the island than driving around in a car, or just lying on the beach. These walks in particular are challenging because the island is very hilly, but when it gets tough I focus on Toby’s ‘word of the day’. It’s like a red string that runs throughout the entire trek.”
Before we reach Sa Caleta, we come across a dark and – somewhat creepy – tunnel system that was built under General Franco’s regime to protect the airport of Ibiza. Trying to find our way in the near-complete darkness is the first thrill of the day, but we emerge laughing. After a gentle stroll across the crumbling red cliff tops of Sa Caleta, past quaint fishing huts and through shady pine forests, it’s time for our first climb: Cap Jondal.
It’s not as tough as the infamous ‘5MFs’ we crossed during Stage 1, but it still gets the heart pumping – not least because of the breathtaking views on the famous Jondal beach far, far below. When we finally descend onto the iconic white pebbles and rocks, a stop at Yemanja – sister venue to the renowned Blue Marlin Ibiza seaside restaurant – is more than welcome. We enjoy a cold drink and soak up the sun.
Following along the coastline, Toby expertly guides us through one of Ibiza’s most exclusive areas, Es Torrent, and the multi-million villas of Vista Alegre, before turning slightly inland for a bit of ‘campo’ walking. It’s a refreshing breather after the steep hills we have left behind us. It’s also a great time to get to know my fellow walkers a little better, like Sara and Matt, who have moved to Ibiza from Madrid immediately after the first lockdown in the Spanish capital finished.
Matt tells me, deadpan, “I don’t really like walking, I prefer cycling. But Sara made me come along and now I’ve discovered that walking around Ibiza – with Walking Ibiza – is actually super cool. I like the fact that you get to learn little snippets about the island’s history, but it’s not too much so it doesn’t get boring. The groups are a nice varied bunch, too, and they are the kind of people I was hoping to meet here. The walks with Toby actually reminded me of why I wanted to move to Ibiza in the first place. Toby’s alright, too, every now and again…”
We are fast approaching the spectacular – and only slightly nerve-wracking – finale of the day. Toby guides us into a secret gully that, quite frankly, none of us would have been able to find or gain access to without him. It has an otherworldly feel to it, and you’d be forgiven to think that you’d stumbled into Jurassic Park. At the end of the ravine awaits the rope descend some of us (read: I) have been slightly preoccupied with all day. But, despite our nerves, each and every one of us manages to climb down without losing too much composure.
Our bravery is rewarded with access to a secret beach and many of the walkers can’t resist a dip in the turquoise waters. It’s one of those ‘pinch yourself’ moments to be swimming in the sea in late October, and we tackle the final climb of the day with renewed energy. With the promise of a cold beer awaiting us in Es Cubells, we make our way up a fishermen’s path towards the finishing line of Stage 2.
It’s been another great day, and our little group feels bonded like we have known each other for much longer than the actual hours we have spent walking together. Before we head home for a well-deserved rest, we toast another successful island adventure and promise to see each other again on one or another of the next stages…
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