Within the five and a half hours the regular hiking visitor to the island of La Graciosa has between arrival of the first and departure of the last ferry of the day there are three things he can do: loop the northern half of the island, loop the southern half and climb the island's highpoint Agujjas Grandes. If you rush you can combine the latter two but you won't have much time to take in the views. The southern loop starts at Caleta del Sebo, heads towards Montaña Amarilla at the southern tip of La Graciosa, then heads along the north coast before returning through the "saddle between Montaña del Mojon and Agujas Grandes.
The tour is an easy hike except for the section between Playa de la Cocina and the summit of Montaña Amarilla. Here you scramble up loose tuff and lava slopes which is not exactly difficult but very strenuous. Consider that you are on a desert island 80km off the coast of Africa (with the Sahara on the eastern end of the strait and you get the idea what awaits you. Heat and aridity definitely is a problem and it pays to supply yourself with sufficient amounts of water at Caleta del Sebo's one and only grocery store.
See the main page for the itinerary info. In brief:
- Fly to Lanzarote
- Take LZ1 to Orzola in the north
- Take the ferry to Caleta del Sebo on La Graciosa. The route starts at the harbour
- Start altitude: 0m
- Summit altitude: 174m
- Prevailing exposure: West during the ascent
- Type: Hike
- Protection: None
After leaving the ferry turn left and follow the sandy dirt road which leaves Caleta del Sebo in south-westerly direction. While you're still in the village you get a glimpse of the very relaxed life people lead in this place. The road turns into a dirt track as soon as it leaves the village. It generally follows the coast but turns passes some smaller bays further inwards. After some 500 - 1000m you reach the La Graciosa campground. It is not much more than a couple of dunes between which pitching a tent is allowed. There are no sanitary facilities so all campers will ahve to return to Caleta del Sebo for any kind of body hygiene.
From the campground the track heads down to the coastline. It reaches the far flung Bahia del Salado, which needs to be crossed across a stretch of very loose sand. The bay is home to a salltwater lagoon which only gets filled at very high tides and can dry up in times of hot weather. After reaching the far, southern side of Bahia del Salado the track splits in two. The left hand track ends after several hundred metres while the right one leads through a landscape of dunes where high bushes obstruct the views and make orientation tricky.
The next stage takes you to the small beach Playa Francesca at the closer end of which the track vanishes among rocks. Hike across the rocks to the far end, where a narrow trail heads steeply up and across the sand dune which separates Playa Francesca from Playa de laa Cocina. Once upon the dune you will behold the fabulous view of the red and ochre south face of Montaña Amarilla with its tuff caves and formations. A path leads down to the beach, a second leads across the slopes directly to a cave in the south face of the volcano, while a third leads up to a col to the right of the mountain.
This latter path after crossing the col and heading onwards for another 200m leads to a trail intersection. The left hand trail heads up Montaña Amarilla in extremely steep switchback and soon takes you to the upper part of the crater rim. The highest point is in the south-west of the crater, a second summit can be found in its north. It pays to hike to that second summit because of the fabulous views of the La Graciosa north coast, the Archipelago Chinijo and the brightly red and yellow Punta del Pobre, La Graciosa's southern cape.
For the return journey descend the mountain the way you climbed it. At the trail intersection turn northward, heading directly for the eastern tip of Isla de Montaña Clara. There is no trail to speak of - sometimes cairns appear to lead the way, then again a path appears out of nowhere to disappear again after several steps. Head across the dunes towards the north coast and if you stay on track you'll reach a beach at which a dirt road ends. Take this road which will lead you back to Caleta del Sebo across the saddle which separates Montaña del Mojon from Agujas Grandes, La Graciosa's highpoint.