Pico Ovejas seen during the aapproach along Cumbre Nueva
is the second highest summit of the Cumbre Nueva Range
, itself the second highest range of the island of La Palma
among the Islas Canarias
. Like its counterparts, Caldera de Taburiente
and Cumbre Vieja
it is of volcanic origin, the remainder of a giant rift volcano, which piled up too quickly so that it became unstable and collapsed into the sea about 560.000 years ago. Today, Cumbre Nueva
connects the two other mountain ranges with each other, starting in the south at Rifugio del Pilar
at about 1400m and culminating in Pico Corralejo
at 2045m. The range is slightly curved, still following the rifts of the extinct volcano.
There are only few mountains on Cumbre Vieje, most of which are cocated in the low southern part, which stretches between Rifugio del Pilar
and Reventon Pass
. Above the pass - one of the most important traffic routes on the island before the advent of the automobile - there are only two named summits, one of which is Pico Ovejas
. At 1854m its summit is still beneath the timber line but the canopy of Canarian pines is loose enough to afford views of the ranges and islands close by. Three islands - Tenerife
, La Gomera
and El Hierro
can be seen hovering above and around the volcanic cones of Cumbre Vieja in the south. During the right time of the day you can even observe the trade wind clouds cascading over the lower part of Cumbre Vieja
The route to Pico Ovejas follows the ridge of Cumbre Nueva all the way, two thirds of which run across dirt roads which support the radar and radio installations in the lower part of the range. The road heads on for a while even after Reventon Pass
but soon turns into a broad hiking trail. Many hikers start the hike to Pico Ovejas
at Ermita Virgen del Pino
on the west side of the pass and use the old Camino Real which crosses Reventon
, thus eliminating the rather boring hike on the dirt road. For any destination on Cumbre Nueva
be sure to bring rain skins; at most times of the day the ridge is swept by fierce winds pushing wet trade wind clouds across the crest.
The island view
Tenerife, La Gomera and El Hierro above Cumbre Vieja
La Palma, like all the other Canarian Islands can easily be reached from almost all major European airports. The airport is rather small and compared to Tenerife or Gran Canaria air traffic is rather low. There are almost no regular flights but all year round you'll be able to book charter flights.
To reach Ermita Virgen del Pino
head out northward From the airport on LP-1, which you leave at a roundabout, heading in the direction of Los Llanos along LP-2. You cross the Cumbre Nueva through the long Cumbre tunnel and head down into the Aridane Valley. A few hundred metres after the intersection, in which the two tunnels (westward and eastward directions) meet, there is the visitor's center of the Caldera de Taburiente National Park. Turn right onto LP-202 direction Cumbrecita. After about 1km turn to the right (east). There are already signs for the Ermita which is at the end of the road.
To reach Rifugio del Pilar
follow the instructions above until you leave the Cumbre Tunnel. Immediately afterwards (the two lane road combines into a single lane) turn onto LP-203 southward. Follow the road up to its (almost) highest point where you'll recognize the rifugio by the number of cars parked to the side of the road.
The Aridane Valley from Reventon Pass
The summit of Pico Ovejas is located directly on the park boundary of Parque Nacional de la Caldera de Taburiente. Within park limits straying off the trails is not allowed (and actually can be quite dangerous). Also camping is not allowed. But:
to the side of Punta de los Roques there is a little hut (not maintained), the Refugio de la Punta de los Roques, which you can use for overnight accommodation. Trekkers, who do the double of Ruta de los Volcanes and Ruta de la Cresteria often use the refugio overnight.
Accommodation on La Palma is no problem. Every European travel office will be able to book hotels, rooms and apartments for you. I won't include any links here because all of them definitely are commercial. Another option is to rent a finca (rural house) from the owners directly. You'll have to google for these but sometimes prices are low enough for the scheme to be worthwhile.
The cloud cascade developing above Cumbre Nueva
Usually all year round the Canarias have the same weather with little alterations: north-eastern trade winds which deposit fog and dew on the north-eastern slopes of the islands. The western and southern parts usually are very dry and there you'll get some hours of sunshine each day. Especially on the higher islands like La Palma you usually don't have to worry about weather too much. The mountaintops will stick out of the clouds.
There are no reliable weather forecasts for the mountain regions of La Palma. Often a cloudless day turns into a foggy one within half an hour. Especially the Cumbre Vieja Range is prone to these fogs and here orientation among the lava and scree fields gets very difficult. This is the main reason why you should never leave the trails there.
Forecasts for the coastal regions, however are available. You have to subtract 1°C for every 100m of altitude so that Roque de los Muchachos will still be near freezing when the coasts have already fine and sunny beach weather. The following table gives a little overview about the average weather data of the capital of Santa Cruz:
|Avg. day temp.[°C / °F]||21 / 70||21 / 70||22 / 72||22 / 72||22 / 72||24 / 75||25 / 77||26 / 79||26 / 79||26 / 79||24 / 75||22 / 72|
|Avg. night temp.[°C / °F]||15 / 59||14 / 57||15 / 59||16 / 61||17 / 63||18 / 64||19 / 66||21 / 70||21 / 70||19 / 66||18 / 64||16 / 61|
|Water temp.[°C / °F]||19 / 66||18 / 64||19 / 66||19 / 66||19 / 66||20 / 68||22 / 72||23 / 73||22 / 72||22 / 72||21 / 70||20 / 68|
|Sunny Hours / Day||5||6||6||7||8||9||10||9||8||6||5||5|
Maps & BooksMaps
I have used a fantastic map by Freytag & Berndt which shows all of the many hiking and biking trails of the island. With its scale of 1:30000 it is still large enough to be useful for car tours as well. Moreover here you will find all the new designations and acronyms (which were changed some few years back).
- La Palma
Edition Freytag & Berndt
The guidebook I used is every bit as good as the map with excellent tour descriptions. It is available in English as well but I am not sure about the quality of the translation.
- La Palma
A. and W. Wolfsperger