Port d'Andratx: the town the rich and famous prefer, as our Majorca guidebook describes it – but on a sunny December day, none of them is to be seen. Near the docks of Port d'Andratx the GR 221 starts, a 132 km long hiking trail leading through the dry stone landscape of the Tramuntana mountain range in the north of Majorca. The Tramuntana has been named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2011, for its network of devices regulating the water supply in an environment with scarce resources. The landscape here is formed by artificially constructed terraces, water channels and dry stone walls to contain cattle.
In spite of those famed supply devices, water is still scarce in the mountains: When we delight in finding a tap in the abandoned monastery of Sa Trapa, it quickly runs dry as it's disconnected from the tank. Luckily, a worker checking on the site helps us out with his water canister.
At the “Café Estellencs” we order two Caffè Latte. Here too we are the only tourists and do feel a bit out of place between the locals in our colourful outdoor clothing with too many pockets. But actually nobody takes notice – most of them are mesmerized by a Domino game taking place at the next table.
The trail winds up and down along the coast almost always with a fantastic view, but with mixed weather, and the nights get rather cold. At the isolated Monastery of Lluc we stay at the only official campsite on the trail (actually it's the only one on the whole island). Although it had been raining for hours and the tent site has turned into a muddy mess, the Majorcans are having a hilarious time barbecuing and drinking. The family in the tent next to us (very audibly) plays Bingo until late in the night – at which point only the father, who is operating a special bingo machine, wants to continue.
On the last day we walk from Lluc to Pollenca where we celebrate the hike with a beer and a football-match in the telly at the local pub and the next morning we have to climb through the window of our accommodation because the owner had forgotten that he had guests.
Should you visit the Tramuntana mountain range?
The GR 221 is a rather demanding multi-day hike, but very scenic and impressive, and it's well-suited for off-season hiking. Even if you are not interested in multi-day hikes, the Tramuntana offers possibilities for several day hikes along the GR 221 routes as well. The landscape is diverse and Mediterranean and the views along the way onto the sea are spectacular.
Practicalities and how to get there
Even in winter most towns and villages along the way are connected by public bus. We carried a tent and camped wild most nights, spent one night at the campground in Lluc and two nights in mountain huts along the way (reservation required). Many of the restaurants were closed at this time of the year, but as we did bring a camping stove and cooked our own food we were fine. Shops to stock up provisions could be found in the villages. Because we had fixed flight dates we walked the whole trail in 6 ½ days, which felt a bit rushed (especially as it got dark early).