Tag Archives: Hills

Cami de Cavalls day 7 – Ets Alocs less demanding than we thought

Sunday 19 September 2021 – today had been built up as being The Big One, the Tough Day; short, only 8.63km, (or just over 5 miles in Brexit currency) with steep climbs (28%) and descents (32%), so we were a bit apprehensive about whether we’d be Found Out and have to be airlifted off in some dire emergency situation.

We also had a couple of “gently uphill” kilometres to do at the end to get to where the Cami360 folk could pick us up and whiz us to our next overnight accommodation.  Plus, it had rained very heavily during the night and didn’t immediately show signs of stopping…

There was a certain amount of dickering about the schedule, not least because of the triathlon planned for the day (which you remember from yesterday’s thrilling instalment). In fact, as we were about to leave, cyclists were whizzing past on the main road near our hotel

and our pick up was slightly delayed because of road closures in support of the event.

The practical upshot of all that bdickering was that we could only be picked up at the far end of our walk at 3pm.  So we would have a generous amount of time, 5½ hours, to complete the total 11-odd kilometres. The morning’s forecast was for cloudy and cool weather, which, frankly, suited us fine.

By the way, if you want just to see a summary of the following guff, you can watch it on Relive.

We had a robust breakfast; the accommodation might have been basic, but there was muesli for me and plain yogurt for Jane and toast and Marmite an’ everyfink. The same lass (Maria, we think) who picked us up from Binimel-là took us back there along the same horribly bumpy track

with the big difference this time being an almost total lack of cars.  When we left yesterday, on a sunny Saturday afternoon, the track above was packed with cars parked along it.  Today? Not so much so.

It had stopped raining as we retraced our steps to the end of yesterday’s stage and the start of today’s

and it was, indeed, cool – and windy! We stumbled across the sandy (and, it has to be said, smelly, possibly from rotting seaweed) beach to the official start post for The Big Day.

We passed some evidence that there might have been human habitation

(though why you’d want to live somewhere with no mobile signal is beyond me), past some great rocky scenery

and came to the first steepish bit.

The view from the top was nice enough

and the path abruptly led to a complete change of scene

followed equally quickly by another.

Before too long, we came to an uphill stretch that was a lot more industrial strength

with some interesting rock formations along it.

We did actually scramble up this bit, but honesty compels me to admit that we might have missed the approved path somewhere around here, as we had to adjust our course to get back to the posts that marked the track. So that was exciting. And once we got back onto the True Path, still quite steep.

(You’ll notice that a lot of the photos today are in portrait orientation – that’s tall, rather than wide. I prefer landscape, which is the other way round, but rather a lot of the scenes needed height in the picture, as you’ll see if when you read on.)

The view from the top? Not too bad.

Once up, the path led past some interesting greenish-tinged rocks

before starting another uphill stretch.

Of course, once you get up a steep bit, what happens? You have to go down the other side. Experienced walkers (including this Walker) know that going down is often actually harder work than going up – maybe less puff needed, but more strain on bits of the anatomy such as ankle, quads and knees.


The goal of the path is a gate you can just about make out, far below us, at the far end of this cove.  Looking back, one can see it’s quite a steep descent.

If you look carefully at the top horizon, you can just about see a marker post telling you where the descent started.

At the gate, there is an indication of progress along the stage.

Referring back to the chart at the beginning of this screed will tell you that the previous toil was simply a warm-up and the hard work is about to begin. You’ll also have noticed, being observant types, the shadow on the sign which tells you that, yes, the sun has come out and is once again shining fit to split any paving stones it can find, accompanied by a lovely cooling (but stiff) breeze.  This meant I had to dig out the hat I’d fervently hoped not to need today. It did a good job of keeping the sun off my head, but only because I spent most of the time clutching on to it because it kept trying to blow off in the strong winds (the hat, not my head…).  Anyway, back to the mainstream of today’s symposium….

So: up we go again

and down a bit

and then up a bit more.  Quite a lot more, actually.

Once at the top, the path passes a mystery object, perhaps from the island’s Talaolitic past?

(either that, or some hikers decided to build a cairn and got a bit carried away).  We tried to find some information about it, but there was no internet, so we just carried on. And, of course, down – the track led alongside the wall in this picture.

and then down some more.

before the very last uphill pull of this part of the track.

which takes you into yet another change of scenery – farmland.

There was even a farm building; deserted, but recently-used, to judge by the fresh straw outside it.

Very soon after this, we got to the end of the stage. Phew!

(Notice that the sign says “Ets Alocs”, which for some linguistic reason far beyond my ken is different from the official name for the place, Es Alocs.  But it suited my purpose to use in the title.)

As it happens, neither of us felt that the stage was as difficult as it had been made out to be.  Yes, it was tough and steep in places (definitely not suitable for anyone with vertigo!), but it wasn’t exhausting and didn’t feel too much harder work than yesterday.

Any feelings of satisfaction about a good job well jobbed, though, were abruptly snuffed out by the knowledge that we still have over 2km to walk to get to where we could be picked up, following a forest track

along which we walked to the finish.


It may have been “gently uphill”, but it was not a rewarding surface to toil up in the unrelenting sun and it adds an interesting twist to the end of the day’s walking as recorded by my Garmin device.

So we ended up a little higher than one of the high points of the walk! Not only that, but we had over an hour to wait for our pick up. There was no mobile signal to contact them, but in any case it had been made fairly clear that the schedule couldn’t be altered.  So we found a shady spot to rest and eat a couple of apples while we waited.  Eventually, some 10 minutes early, Philip from the Cami360 team came along and so we were able to get to our overnight accommodation, the Aparthotel Loar, where rather pleasantly we didn’t have to explain about Ms Hayward; they were ready for us, even having our bags stored for us in a locker, and so we were able to get to a shower and some moments relaxation with minimum fuss.

Since we had an apartment room, with cooker and fridge, we were looking forward to going out to have a Nice Lunch somewhere and to buy some milk and other provisions in a supermarket. Wrapped as we were in the happy haze of Being On Holiday, we had, though, forgotten that it was Sunday.  All the restaurants shut at 4pm until 7.30 earliest, and the supermarket was closed until tomorrow. Thus we had to make do with a beer/juice (delete as appropriate) in the bar and retreated to our room to hope that the bread, butter and ham that we’d bought back in Arenal, so many, many days ago (OK, only three) was still fit for human consumption having been bumped around in a suitcase all that time. So, ham and Marmite sandwiches it was, but at least we could get some milk from the bar for a Nice Cup Of Tea, which was very welcome.

The bar was quite noisy, and the source of the din was a couple of tables of old geezers, playing cards

and dominoes – something I haven’t seen for ages!


Our room is perfectly nice, with a decent amount of room and a tiny balcony which gives out on to a decent view.

We’re about to go down to the bar for beer and crisps, because we know how to have a good time, but I thought I’d leave you with the stats of the day.

  • 8.26 miles walked
  • 486 metres climbed
  • Cumulative distance is therefore just over 48 miles in 5 days
  • My Garmin tells me that this stage consumed 1320 calories, which is  couple of hundred more than yesterday’s 8.35 miles. So, yes it was tougher, but yes not that much tougher.

Tomorrow’s walk sees us take on two stages, 7 and 8.  The total distance is about 15km, which means we’ll be walking 17 by the time we have to trek down to the start.  On paper it should be a little easier than today, but there’s rain in the forecast as it stands at the moment. We’ll find out as the day unfolds, and I’ll report back in these pages, where I hope you’ll join me once again.

Surprise-o Valparaiso

30th March 2018

The next major segment of our wanderings around the left-hand side of South America will be a trip to Ecuador and (of course) the Galapagos Islands, which will challenge the abilities of my brain to accept and retain an even greater density of information than was on offer in two days on Easter Island. A return to Santiago with a day of conventional tourism (wandering round taking photos of stuff) seemed a fairly restful way of bridging between the two. First of all, we had to get off Easter Island. Malena got us to the airport nearly three hours before the departure, which on the surface of it seems a bit excessive, given that the airport, small as it is, only has to deal with a maximum of two flights a day. As it turned out, it was no bad thing, as it gave us the chance to claim a reasonable place in, you guessed it, a queue.

This wasn’t the check-in queue, though; it was the queue to get into the check-in queue as your bags went through the X-ray scanner. Then we could join the check-in queue. Then we could go and sit outside whilst waiting for the chance to board. Serendipity gave us the chance to chat to a(nother) nice Australian couple with whom we’d actually exchanged a few words en route to Easter Island. They were on the last segment of a two-month trip and really looking forward to getting home; it made me wonder what my threshold will be. But we got some useful tips about Galapagos and Machu Picchu, because of course they’d already been there and done that.

The flight back to Santiago gave Jane the opportunity to watch “Thor – Ragnarok” for the third time on this holiday alone, which shows true dedication to watching whatever it is that Chris Hemsworth has to offer. Nope, still don’t get it. I watched “Kingsman and the Golden Circle”, because I like classy entertainment, me.

Anyhoo…the break in Santiago was scheduled to include a tour of Valparaiso (a major port) and Viña del Mar (its neighbouring holiday resort), which meant we had another chance to meet our charming guide with the unusual portfolio career, Ronald. (Apparently, we were his last tour of the season, and he’s going to spend the winter concentrating on finishing and rehearsing a musical he’s writing).

Valparaiso is some 65 miles from Santiago, and lies on the other side of the coastal mountains. So the journey there takes you westwards through a 4km tunnel into the first of a couple of fertile valleys, and then another into the second. The first valley is where a large amount of fruit and vegetables are grown; the second is lined with vineyards, growing mainly chardonnay and sauvignon blanc grapes. As we went along, Ronald explained that Valparaiso was Chile’s capital city in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, capitalising on its significantly important location as a Pacific coast port. However, starting in the 19th century,the important and influential families left the city and the Panama canal damaged its standing as a major international transport route. Its standing has been damaged even further by a recent development which saw another (neighbouring?) Chilean port, San Antonio, win the cruise liner business after Valparaiso’s port workers staged a strike. It has strong French, German and English communities (the local football team is called Valparaiso Wanderers, and Viña del Mar’s is called Everton) and this is reflected in the architecture and the naming of places.

After something over an hour we got to Valparaiso, which was completely different from the completely erroneous picture I had allowed to build in my mind of a relatively dull industrial port. For a start, it is enormously hilly,

The hillside neighbourhoods of Valparaiso

with separate neighbourhoods on separate hills, and it makes San Francisco seem merely slightly lumpy by comparison;

The colourful streets of Valparaiso

it is ramshackle and graffiti-covered;

The colourful streets of Valparaiso

the wiring has a distinctly South American character;

The colourful streets of Valparaiso

and parts of it are reportedly very dangerous.

On the other hand, it has considerable charm: lots of the buildings are very colourful;

The colourful streets of Valparaiso

The colourful streets of Valparaiso

(above – the Hotel Brighton) many of them are unusual, like the Palacio Baburizza, built by a Croat and gifted to the city in his will;

Palacio Baburizza

street art of all sorts abounds;

The colourful streets of Valparaiso

with innovative use of resources such as drinks bottles

The colourful streets of Valparaiso

and bathroom furniture;

The colourful streets of Valparaiso

and the various hillside neighbourhoods are served by funicular railways (some working, some in disrepair).


Yes, it is an industrial port, but on a sunny Good Friday, with the holiday crowds out

The colourful streets of Valparaiso

and the entertainers plying their trade

Valparaiso shows that it is unique, vibrant and appealing. (The puppet master shown above had his Pavarotti wander over to the money tin after the last aria, peer in and shake his head in disappointment; a lovely touch.)

Ronald made the visit even more individual by performing some of his pieces in a local café called Columbina for us, on an appallingly out-of-tune piano, which is why I’m not providing the video.

So by the time we’d seen that and got to Viña del Mar, there was really only time for a nice lunch at a decent, busy, buzzy restaurant called Los Pomairinos, where we were served by Ian McShane, or possibly Robbie Coltrane

(actually much more genial than he looks in this photo), and then it was time to go back to base, as we decided that there wasn’t much to Viña del Mar beyond beaches, proms, apartment blocks, sunshine and general seasidery. We had an engaging detour to say hello to Ronald’s sister, which you don’t get on your average private guided tour, and then we were back at our hotel, to prepare for a 5am start to our journey to Ecuador. We will report in on that in due course, but will likely be off-grid for a week whilst filling memory cards with photos and videos of all the Galapagos Islands have to offer.