La Palma returns to tourist life with a premiere on the roof of the island

Travel

Rocio Jimenez

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Now that the activity of the volcano has ceased, it is time to return to La Palma, to enjoy its incredible landscapes, its deep forests, its welcoming beaches and its rich gastronomy. In addition, La Isla Bonita can boast of having exquisite starry skies that consolidated it as the first Starlight Reserve in the world and that has earned it recognition as a Starlight destination. In fact, it witnessed, in 2007, the first International Starlight Conference in which it was signed the World Declaration in Defense of the Night Sky and the Right to Observe the Stars, one of the main milestones in this field.

Telescopes on the Roque de los Muchachos
Telescopes on the Roque de los Muchachos – © Abián San Gil – La Palma Tourism
Night image of El Roque de los Muchachos
Night image of El Roque de los Muchachos – © Saúl Santos – La Palma Tourism

Thus, to promote what is one of its main attractions, La Palma has inaugurated its new visitor center at the Roque de Los Muchachos Observatory, a space of reference from the scientific and tourist point of view, for which an investment of around €6 million, which will allow travelers to approach the world of astronomy in a pleasant and attractive way.

situated at 2,400 meters of altitude, in a privileged enclave and very close to some of the most important international astrophysics telescopes, this new structure – which has been covered with basalt to integrate organically into the volcanic environment in which it is located – offers the best conditions to watch the sky.

Roque de los Muchachos Observatory Visitor Center
Roque de los Muchachos Observatory Visitor Center – © Van Marty – Tourism La Palma

Inside, the building houses three exhibition halls. ‘Canary Islands’, which explains the unique conditions offered by the archipelago for astronomical observation, and more specifically, La Palma and Roque de los Muchachos; ‘Exploring the universe’, in which the current state of knowledge about the Universe that humanity possesses is explained, and ‘Back to Earth’ in which the natural setting in which the Observatory is located is shown.

During the first months you can visit for free. The tour is done in groups complying with covid protocols, which will be accompanied at all times by a guide. The winter timetable will be from Monday to Sunday from 10:00 to 16:00, while in summer it will be extended until 16:30.

Climbing up to Roque de los Muchachos is an adventure in itself. The ascent by road has more than 300 curves and allows you to check the different types of vegetation that the island has, such as the laurel forest in the lower part, Canarian pines, tagasaste or undergrowth plants in the middle and lards and different species. of tajines in the highest part. From the viewpoint, located at the top, you can see, if the day is clear, Tenerife, La Gomera and El Hierro, as well as the Caldera de Taburiente.

Image of the Roque de los Muchachos, La Palma
Image of the Roque de los Muchachos, La Palma – © Rocio Jimenez

This astrotourism experience also offers different trails and astronomical viewpoints, such as the Llanos del Jable, La Muralla, the Llano de la Venta and the Montaña de las Toscas, among others, that can be discovered together with specialized guides. In addition, in the different accommodations on the island they have basic instruments for observation, an activity that can be enjoyed by both experts and amateurs.

La Palma, a paradise of contrasts to explore

To reactivate tourism in this destination and encourage visitors from all over the country to discover its magical corners this 2022, the Government has approved tourist vouchers of 300 euros. And it is that La Palma, land of contrasts, offers endless possibilities for a getaway.

Among its natural spaces stands out the lime trees, one of the most important laurel forests of the Canary archipelago declared Biosphere Reserve by Unesco in 2002. Located four kilometers from the town of Los Sauces, this green corner offers different hiking routes, among which two stand out: a simpler and shorter 2.5-kilometre route that runs through the heart of the forest and another that climbs about 1,000 meters to the springs of Marcos and Cordero. The Caldera de Taburiente National Park, a cleft eight kilometers in diameter and up to one and a half deep covered with dense Canarian pine forests, is another of its major tourist attractions. There are different paths to discover this unique environment where the Taburiente stream, the waterfalls, the pine forests and the high peaks offer a unique landscape and biological diversity, as well as privileged viewpoints, such as the one at The Little Summit.

Waterfall in the Forest of Los Tilos
Waterfall in the Forest of Los Tilos – © Rocio Jimenez
Caldera de Taburiente seen from Roque de los Muchachos
Caldera de Taburiente seen from Roque de los Muchachos – © Rocio Jimenez

Without actually being a sun and beach destination, this island has many options that stand out both for the purity of the water, as well as for its virgin landscapes and impressive cliffs. The Zamora, which offers one of the best sunsets, Bajamar, the beach of Nogales and the natural pools of La Fajana, located in Barlovento, and the blue puddle, in San Andrés y Sauces, which, protected from the waves, offers one of the best baths on the island, are some of its essentials. In addition, the strips of the Cumbre Vieja volcano have changed the coast of the Canary Island creating small volcanic beaches that can be enjoyed by both locals and tourists.

Houses on the promenade of Santa Cruz de La Palma
Houses on the seafront of Santa Cruz de La Palma – © Rocio Jimenez

Another of the fundamental visits is the capital of the island, Holy Cross of La Palma, a beautiful city of seafaring tradition declared in its entirety Well of Cultural Interest with the category of historical-artistic complex. Strolling through its streets allows you to appreciate the traditional Canarian architecture with colorful wooden balconies full of flowers. You should not miss its port, of great importance on the route between Europe and the colonies in America during the 16th century, the island museum, with a remarkable collection of art and painting, the Chico and Circo de Marte theaters and the sanctuary of the Virgen de las Nieves. In addition, you can take advantage of the trip to visit some of the cigar factories, which stand out for their cultural and historical interest, and where you can see thematic exhibitions and learn first-hand how they work in their workshops.

Image of work in a cigar factory on La Palma
Image of work in a cigar factory in La Palma – © Rocio Jimenez

All this route is accompanied, at all times, by the gastronomy of La Palma, where a simple and traditional cuisine coexists with a more elaborate and avant-garde cuisine with typical dishes such as fish escaldón, wheat stew, goat meat in sauce or rapaduras and almond cheese.

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