I woke up feeling lazy. It had been raining during the night, and heavy clouds were rolling in from the sea, so I sat at home enjoying my town house in the morning. I wrote my blog, and also found time to go to the market, where I bought some parrot fish (something you never see in London) for my dinner.
In the afternoon I was feeling a bit more energetic, so I headed out to the Parque Nacional de la Taburiente, which is located inside the caldera of the huge Cumbre Vieja volcano. The road there went through a long tunnel. On the Santa Cruz side, the weather was still cloudy – on the other side of the mountain, there was bright sunshine, and you could see the waves of cloud spilling over the mountain top and then evaporating in the drier air of the centre of the island.
I intended to do a short walk somewhere near the main entrance to the park, but on arrival I was told that I needed a permit to enter by car, and had to go back to the visitors’ centre a few km down the road. At the visitors’ centre they said they had sold out of permits for the day (surely they could have said that at the park entrance…..?). I looked at my map and decided to try another entrance at the west of the park. I drove through a couple of sleepy small towns and then along a narrow mountain road that initially led steeply up before descending into a dry river valley, where I found a car park. I noticed a sign indicating a path to the Cascada de los Colores, 5.4km away, and remembered that I’d seen this waterfall mentioned on websites, which said it was one of the highlights of La Palma, and showing pretty pictures of an imposing waterfall falling over bright red and orange rocks.
I also remembered people posting that you shouldn’t follow the path but should scramble up the riverbed instead. So off I set, thinking that 5km should take about an hour’s walking. Initially the riverbed was totally dry, but after a short while there was a small stream that I needed to jump across occasionally. The gorge was quite deep, so the stream must have been much bigger in the rainy season.
There were quite a few other walkers, all coming back (it was already 3pm). I checked with one group that I was on the right path and continued onwards. After an hour’s walking I checked again – “Yes, just carry on along the river” “How much further?” “About an hour”. An hour! But this was only supposed to be 5-6km! I was a little discouraged and thought about turning back because it was already quite late, but instead pressed on and after another 40 minutes, found a sign saying “Cascada de los Colores – 500m”. In anticipation I hurried around the next bend in the river…….to be very disappointed.
The waterfall was indeed pretty, and coloured red and orange, but it was only about 3m high. The pictures on the internet made it look big, but in real life it was dwarfed by the impressive scenery all around it. Feeling rather short-changed, I headed back. It was already 5pm and I was in a hurry to get home. I decided to follow the path along the side of the gorge this time, which was a good decision. It was much easier walking on the hard rock of the path than the soft shingle of the riverbed, and the views were much better. I enjoyed the walk back much more and admired the shadows of the mountains falling across the gorge in the late afternoon sun.
I got back to my car in only an hour and drove home. At dinner, my parrot fish had an interesting and rather strong meaty taste – good to try once, but not something to buy again. I also tried another bottle of very good local wine.
I reflected that today had not been the highlight of the holiday so far, but a nice walk all the same, giving a different perspective of la Palma. Then it was time to pack up my bags (not so easy since my stuff had spread out through all the many rooms of my huge town house) in preparation for the flight to my next destination, the small island of La Gomera. In anticipation of an early start the next day, I set my alarm and settled down in bed.