Right foot, left foot, turn around, left hand, right hand, bend forward and spiral down. If you know your movements, it’s not that difficult but every obstacle needs a different choreography. Sometimes the way down the Torrent de Pareis seems to ask for dancing rather than climbing. It is for sure one of the most challenging and technical hikes on Mallorca. And it is a lot of fun.
Although you cannot miss the direction it makes a great difference which route within the torrent you follow, which boulders you cross. Usually, when I go hiking in the Tramuntana I take a map or use an app and find the trail myself. But when I did the Torrent de Pareis for the first time I decided to join a mountain guide. Vicenç Pérez Amengual has been hiking the Torrent ever since he was six years old. He literally knows every single rock, its position and how best to climb over it. And he loves to tell stories about the area, popular with smugglers and pirates alike until the early 20th century.
We begin the tour at Escorca about 620 meters above sea level. The descent leads along narrow turns until soon you discover the steep walls of both the Torrent de Lluc and the Torrent de Gorg Blau lying ahead. The two canyons merge into one at S’Entreforc, the fork, which is the actual entrance to the Torrent de Pareis. And before you even realize the changes you are deep down in the ravine. Steep walls to both sides going up to 150 meters. At the nearest parts the opening is only a few meters. You feel tiny amidst the giant rocks hollowed by primeval masses of water.
We pass open caves with stalactites that look like cathedrals. The walls reflecting the echo of rare animals like the ferrerets, an endemic species of small frogs. Again and again big rocks are blocking the stream bed and we have to jump, slide or climb up and down. Often using our hands, sometimes a rope. Twisting and turning to pass a bottle neck. And always keeping the balance.
Further down the canyon leads through waist-high diss-grass before the walls eventually recede. Now it is rather pebbles than rocks and soon we get to Sa Calobra, the picturesque small beach enclosed by massive cliffs. Even though we started early in the morning and had the Torrent almost for ourselves Sa Calobra is already busy with visitors. The scenic street down to the bay is popular with cyclists but often crowded with cars and busses. My favorite return trip is via boat to Port de Sóller, a nice treat at the end of the hike.
The Torrent de Pareis can be really rough when it carries rain water from the surrounding Tramuntana mountains. Even worse when they drain water from the reservoirs Cúber and Gorg Blau which feed into Torrent de Pareis. So unless you love to hike in a neoprene suit the best time to explore Mallorca’s Grand Canyon is in early summer. When the sun is high and all the pools and puddles are completely dry.