The GR221, or „La Ruta de Pedra en Sec“ when you want to sound fancy, is a quite popular hiking trail in Mallorca. You cross the complete Serra the Tramuntana from Port d’Andratx (Southwest of Mallorca) to Polenca (North of Mallorca) in about 150km.
I hiked the GR221 between 20. and 25. April 2016 but didn’t want to write a report at first since there are multiple reports online. I really enjoyed this hike and I have a couple of minutes right now, so I decided to share my experiences even though.
As you can see in the map below, the GR221 spans the complete length of the Serra the Tramuntana and leads you from Port D’Andratx to Pollenca, Coast to Coast you can say (almost, because you need to hike to Port de Pollenca to reach the Coast, but hey I needed a fancy heading!).
Flights to Palma are usually cheap (Thank you Ballermann!). It just felt like a minute from leaving Vienna until arriving at Palma. Hop into the bus which takes you to the central bus station. Change busses and exit at Port d’Andratx. Simple as that! There even is a bus which takes you back from Pollenca directly to Palma. Bus service is reliable and cheap here!
I started hiking in Port d’Andratx during 20. April and finished in Pollenca early on 25. April. I spent around 5 full days on the trail and it was beyond my imaginations. Maybe it’s because my imaginations weren’t the highest before I started hiking. „What can you expect from Mallorca?! A lot of old, white tourists on day hikes. Drunk people at the beach….“. I was in Mallorca before. Around 10 years ago. Unfortunatelly I was a stupid young kid back then and didn’t realize that Mallorca has much more to offer.
The first section of the GR221 from Port d’Andratx to Estellencs is not yet finished, so don’t rely on bright and shiny signs! Even though you can just follow the beaten path and/or rock piles, left by fellow hikers. Finding your way can be difficult from time to time. Locating manmade rock piles in a rock pile landscape can be tricky, especially if it is foggy or cloudy which can happen any minute since you are travelling on a coastal range. Thanks to those circumstances, and the still missing Refugios in this area, that was the section where I had the GR221 for myself.
A map helps to give you some overview. I used this 1:35.000 map (affiliate link, you support me when buying via this link), which was good to plan distances, which way to take, etc. but it is topographically not precise enough to solve small scale pathfindig. I don’t want to scare you! It is no big deal to find the way after some try and error, but if you feel more comfortable with a more detailed map or/and a GPS device/smartphone GPS APP, go for it. In my opinion the overview map, paired with a little bit of experience and a GPS smartphone App such as Orux or Locus are enough!
Coming through Estellencs, trail markers start to be common and reliable. What comes with it: more companions on the trail, mostly day hikers. The number of people on the trail gradualy climbs and reaches it maximum in and around (Port de) Soller.
Even though I prefer the solitude, other hikers never were too annoying (this may change with seasons!). Nevertheless I didn’t spend much time in the villages on the trail, because they can be crowded. No shadow without sunlight: the villages along the track offer good opportunities to resupply food or directly eat there. This makes carrying tons of food unnecessary and lightens up your backpack!
What else is important? Water! Before heading out onto the GR221 I read about little water sources along the trail. This may be true for the first section and I carried enough to set up a dry camp. After realizing that the villages mean plenty of available water (fountains, shops, restaurants, inhabitants, etc.) besides from food, I cut down the capacity I carried. Don’t get me wrong: the Serra the Tramuntana is a relatively dry mountain range, so plan ahead possible sources – but I was never close to die of thirst!
Where to stay overnight? There are some Refugios, which offer you a place to sleep along with food and other amenities. In some sections of the GR221, Refugios are still under construction and it is advisable to book in advance if you want to spend a night in one of the existing Refugios. I am no fan of piled, snoring people imprisioned in stinky rooms. I prefer the simplicity of a sleeping pad, the warmth of a quilt and the weather protection of a tarp or pyramide. Since it is a well beaten trail you’ll find plenty of space to sleep under the stars!
All in all I really enjoyed the GR221! Fabulous views of the Serra the Tramuntana and the Mediteranean Sea, nice mountains (rougher than I expected them to be), beautiful landscapes, nice villages, diverse sections and good climatic conditions (be aware: it can be cold, wet and stormy even if you are in Spain! It is a coastal range!).
What are you waiting for? Book a flight and start hiking!