Why do they say that El Hierro is a paradise for extreme sports fanatics who love an adrenaline rush?
There are a number of reasons why the Canary Islands offers an irresistible proposition for extreme sports lovers: firstly, the landscape contains great views. There are cliffs, forests and volcanoes in the archipelago; secondly, the climate is great. The Canary Islands has sun throughout the year and an average annual temperature of 24 degrees. Thirdly, the islands offer brilliant facilities. There are hotels to meet every taste and more than adequate options to rent sports equipment. All the islands are well-suited for extreme sports, but in the next few paragraphs our attention will be drawn to El Hierro.
The trade winds in El Hierro are firm and constant enough to guarantee steady flights. The stunning volcanic landscape of the most westerly island of the Canarian archipelago offers an unforgettable experience. A great take off spot is the summit of Dos Hermanas (La Frontera) which allows for a flight of several hours over the El Golfo valley and its amazing natural amphitheatre. The lift off point has various exit heights (1200, 1000, 800 and 600 metres) which means that multiple skill levels can be catered for. The conditions are so perfect on El Hierro that each year a paragliding rally is held on the island.
Open water swimming
Mar de las Calmas is the best spot for open water swimming. It is a stretch of tranquil waters which is sandwiched between the Orchilla Lighthouse and the tip of La Restinga, a small fishing village and popular diving location. The conditions are so perfect in this part of El Hierro for open water batheing that each year there is an 18-kilometre-long swimming event.
Trail running is synonymous with El Hierro. Each year the island holds the Meridiano marathon. Anyone going on a running tour of the island should include the area of Sabinosa in their itinerary. This protected zone with a luscious green landscape full of juniper trees and laurel contains a peak with a spectacular view of the ocean and volcanoes. One of the famous El Hierro trails is called the “Frontera Route” which goes along the northwest coast through laurel and juniper forests to the Malpaso peak which is the highest viewpoint on the island at 1,500 metres. Another popular trail is called the “Jinama route” which is a long technical ascent up to the Jinama viewpoint. This path includes an encounter with the Garoé sacred tree, and the run is completed with a hillside descent followed by a route along a cliff top with views of the valley and ocean. In the north of El Hierro, there is also the Tamaduste route which starts at the La Peña viewpoint and leads to the coastal town of El Tamaduste. In La Restinga there is a technical path which rises from a quiet fishing village up to a volcano with spectacular views of the sea and pine forests. The Isora route on the eastern coast, meanwhile, gives runners a craggy path to follow with refreshing views of the sea.
The circular mountain biking route which sets off from Valverde, the capital of El Hierro in the north east of the island, spreads out along roads and rough trail for 78 kilometres. In the El Julan park there is landscape marked by steeps ravines, while in the El Golfo valley there is a descent to the sea. A demanding return loop is made in La Dehesa de Sabinosa where from the Bascos viewpoint, with tired legs and surrounded by junipers bent into strange shapes by the wind, cyclists can stop for a moment and contemplate the magical Frontera Valley. On the way back to Valverde there are snatches of the Orchilla Lighthouse in the distance which is an important monument in the history of map-making.
Hoya del Morcillo is a lush pine forest near the small town of El Pinar in the centre of El Hierro. It is a meeting point for orienteers who appreciate the lush surrounding vegetation with moderate ascents and descents, micro reliefs, and an intricate landscape. Careful and continuous map reading is required to make it through the Hoya del Morcillo forest, and this is perfect for orienteers eager to test out their skills of navigation.