The gorge Torrent de Pareis is one of the most impressive natural landmarks of Mallorca. This Grand Canyon of Mallorca was formed by the powerful force of the intermittent stream that flows into the sea not far from the small port of Port de Sa Calobra. Hiking through the Torrent de Pareis doesn’t necessarily require exceptional athletic abilities. If you only explore the mouth of the gorge, it can be easily done with children. In this article, you will find tips on what to consider during your exploration.
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The steep cliffs of the Torrent de Pareis gorge reach heights of up to 200 meters. At certain points, the walls come so close together that you only need to extend your arms to touch the rocks on both sides. In the past, traversing this ravine was the only way, alongside a sea voyage, to travel from the town of Sa Calobra to other parts of the island. Both options were not necessarily without danger. Even today, only a few people live here year-round.
However, during the peak season, several thousand visitors come here daily, including those who hike through the Torrent de Pareis from the inland. Traveling by sea or along the most impressive road in Mallorca are two additional options. We will share with you what is worth exploring and what a hike through the Torrent de Pareis with children could look like.
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- The Famous Sa Calobra Road: Journey to Torrent de Pareis
- Torrent de Pareis: Hiking with Children
- The beach Platja de Torrent de Pareis
- The underestimated dangers of Torrent de Pareis
- The Port of Sa Calobra
- The Origin of the Torrent de Pareis
- Boot Tours to the Torrent de Pareis
- Detour: Relaxing at Cala Tuent Beach
- Frequently Asked Questions about Torrent de Pareis and Sa Calobra
- In Brief
- Read more
The Famous Sa Calobra Road: Journey to Torrent de Pareis
The Ma-2141 road to Sa Calobra is undoubtedly the most renowned road in Mallorca and one of the most impressive in Europe. It serves as a prime example of minimal intervention in nature when constructing a road. It can also be a stress test for some drivers, as navigating the 12.5 kilometers of winding serpentine curves requires a liking for such challenges.
On the road to Sa Calobra and the Torrent de Pareis, you will encounter the famous “tie knot.” Both the road and this spectacular curve, where the road loops around itself, were designed by Mallorcan engineer Antonio Parietti and opened in 1932. Throughout the entire route, you will not only enjoy breathtaking views, but also ascend or descend 800 meters through 12 serpentine curves and numerous bends.
Parietti aimed to avoid steep turns and instead follow the natural terrain, which led to the creation of the now-famous tie knot. This is the only point on the entire descent where support pillars were employed.
What’s the story behind this tie knot? At the Coll dels Reis viewpoint, the mountain road performs a 270-degree turn to compensate for the difference in elevation. The Nus de sa Corbata first crosses over a bridge and then passes underneath it, creating a truly remarkable sight.
Even more impressive is the fact that no machinery was used during the construction of this road. This is another reason why the mountain road is considered a masterpiece of road engineering. However, for people like me, the drive can be quite challenging, especially during the peak season when you have to navigate around numerous buses on the edge of the road.
Trivia: Antonio Parietti was also responsible for the construction of the roads to Cap de Formentor and Puig de Randa.
In late 2022, a section of the road to Sa Calobra collapsed. The road was initially closed for a long period and then reopened only for smaller vehicles. However, there are currently no restrictions. Buses and cars can once again descend into the gorge without any limitations.
In general, it is advisable to drive to Sa Calobra before 10 am, when the road is less crowded. For the return journey, it’s best to wait until after 3 pm. This way, you can swim with the flow and avoid encountering too much oncoming traffic or engaging in challenging maneuvering.
You don’t need any special driving skills to navigate the road to Sa Calobra. However, having some driving experience and steady nerves are definitely helpful. I find it quite challenging to dodge tourist buses. However, the cyclists pose a much greater danger, as they can often surpass the speed of cars downhill and overtake them. Especially when driving uphill on the return journey, you should always anticipate encountering cyclists who may cut through the curves.
And a note for parents and children with motion sickness: If you know you’re prone to travel sickness, it’s a good idea to take preventive measures. This will ensure you’re in good shape for the hike in the Torrent de Pareis.
Finding a parking space in Sa Calobra can be another challenge. There are only paid parking options available. During the peak season, you may have to wait for a parking spot. Alternatively, you can reach the former fishing village by bus or by taking an excursion boat from Port de Sóller, which allows for approximately three hours at the Torrent de Pareis. However, keep in mind that you’ll be among a crowd of people with the same plans as you.
Torrent de Pareis: Hiking with Children
The full hike through the Torrent de Pareis is one of the most challenging treks in Mallorca. Even we haven’t completed it yet, as we would like to do it with our children once they reach the recommended age of 12. In the meantime, we satisfy ourselves with smaller excursions into the gorge from the sea. These trips are still exciting and demanding, but always tailored to the level of the little ones.
Hiking through the entire Torrent de Pareis
Tip: The hike through the gorge should be accompanied by an experienced mountain guide. Guided hikes through the Torrent de Pareis can be booked here.
To hike through the entire Torrent de Pareis, it is generally estimated to take about five to six hours. The hike is usually done from the top, starting from the inland and heading towards the sea. It is considered one of the most challenging tours on the island and should never be undertaken without preparation or alone.
I would even go so far as to say that it is essential to bring an experienced mountain guide. Too often, I read in the news that the mountain rescue had to be called because hikers overestimated themselves. Crossing the entire Torrent de Pareis with children is not recommended. Organized excursions typically have a minimum age requirement of 12 years. Additionally, all hikers should be in good physical shape and have hiking experience.
Furthermore, there is no mobile phone reception in the gorge, and GPS signals are very unreliable. Once you start the descent, it cannot be interrupted or shortened.
Hiking through Torrent de Pareis with children
It is not necessary to hike through the entire gorge to get a sense of its size. For families and other hikers who may not feel up to the entire descent, we recommend walking a bit into the gorge from the sea.
Even the first stretch, after you leave the beach behind, is beautiful. The riverbed may already be very dry, with only a few puddles remaining. But it’s also pissible that you have to cross the shallow riverbed at some points. It’s best to have water shoes or go barefoot if your children are comfortable with it.
To hike into Torrent de Pareis with children, start at the parking lot in Port de Sa Calobra and walk towards the sea. You will pass by the harbor, a small beach, and several restaurants. The path up to the rock passage is paved and suitable for strollers. However, a stroller will become cumbersome beyond that point.
A series of pedestrian tunnels lead into the gorge through a massive rock. This in itself is already an adventure for many children. The tunnels are illuminated, although many of the ground-level lamps often do not work due to moisture. However, flashlights are not necessarily required.
After the tunnels, you will find the Platja de Torrent de Pareis beach ahead of you. For hiking, keep to the right. The gorge is still very wide at this point. Occasionally, you will pass by smaller and larger pools where you can spot fish or frogs. The path is flat, and larger boulders can be easily circumvented. The hike ends when it is no longer possible to proceed without climbing.
Next to the massive rock blocking the path, there is also a warning sign at this point, indicating the challenging section ahead. Fit individuals and children who enjoy climbing can venture a little further into the gorge from here. After a while, the difficulty level eases, and you continue walking on the water-smoothed stones in the riverbed.
However, it does become increasingly steeper, narrower, and more challenging. Experienced mountain guides state that crossing the gorge from the sea upwards is not feasible without climbing equipment. Therefore, we return along the same path.
The length of this option is manageable and can be considered more of a leisurely walk for experienced hikers. However, due to the spectacular backdrop of untouched nature, it is justified to describe it as a hike suitable for younger children. Moreover, on the shorter route, there are plenty of interesting things to discover, and you can easily spend a long time exploring. Sometimes, even goats make an appearance.
The beach Platja de Torrent de Pareis
The image of this beach is one of the most shared on social media. Consequently, it gets quite crowded on this small and narrow beach. Beach goers often end up stepping on each other’s towels. Numerous sailboats and boats anchor here from the sea.
However, it is neither comfortable to lie here nor pleasant to swim. The beach consists of coarse pebbles and washed-up rubble. There are no facilities whatsoever, yet everyone gathers at this narrow inlet. The beach steeply drops into the sea after this point. So, especially with children, it is far from enjoyable to enter the water here.
In addition, the northern coast is rugged, and the currents here should not be underestimated. If you just want to cool off quickly, you can do so. However, for swimming, I would recommend heading to the beach at Cala Tuent instead. Because, like many other widely known tourist spots, the main focus here is on posing. You can find better places to swim elsewhere.
The underestimated dangers of Torrent de Pareis
Of course, anyone who feels capable can hike the Torrent de Pareis alone. There are plenty of experienced climbers, and being a mountain guide is simply a job that needs customers. But the fact remains that the mountain rescue team has to be called regularly because hikers have overestimated themselves and underestimated the route. They didn’t bring enough water and suddenly become dehydrated in the Mallorcan climate. The tour takes longer than expected, and it suddenly gets dark. Or they were unaware of current weather warnings and find themselves exposed to a storm.
All of these incidents are not exceptions but rather routine, and especially during the season, it is mainly people from outside, tourists, who are responsible. I often receive messages from people introducing themselves as experienced in the Alps. I have only hiked in the Alps a few times, and those routes were not comparable to Mallorca.
In my opinion, the most important quality is to realistically assess yourself and your children. We tend to overestimate ourselves faster than we think. And weather warnings in Mallorca should always be taken seriously.
Another important point: After rainfall, you should not venture into Torrent de Pareis. Perhaps in the mouth area if it is accessible, but never beyond the aforementioned warning sign. The stones become quite slippery, and large parts of the gorge are impassable due to the water.
The Port of Sa Calobra
The port of Sa Calobra is tiny considering its fame. The village itself, consisting of just a few houses, is located uphill from the harbor. In the bay, you can find old boathouses, all framed by towering cliffs.
Prior to the construction of the serpentine road, Sa Calobra was practically isolated from the rest of the island. Anyone who needed to run errands outside the village had to navigate through the gorge or travel by sea, both of which were not without their risks.
Pirates were also known to frequent the area. It is said that Sa Calobra served as a hideout for smugglers and buccaneers. The infamous pirate Barbarossa is said to have kidnapped a farmer named Calobra from here. Until the mid-20th century, smugglers used the caves in the area to hide their goods. Fortunately, nowadays, tourists bring in more money than illegal activities.
Restaurants in Sa Calobra and Torrent de Pareis
As a general rule of thumb for restaurants in Sa Calobra: The better the view, the worse the food. Don’t expect culinary masterpieces. Some restaurants do offer local cuisine, but most of them operate on a self-service basis, and the dishes are not freshly prepared.
It is also not inexpensive. Tourist rip-offs are often mentioned. However, no one is forced to eat there. Many day-trippers, especially those arriving by excursion boats, avail themselves of the services, keeping them in business.
I would recommend bringing your own picnic. This way, you can retreat to quieter spots and avoid the frustration with the restaurants in Sa Calobra. I would also suggest not eating near the harbor, but rather in the remote parts of the Torrent de Pareis. However, there are no food options available there, so be sure to pack a picnic!
The Beach of Sa Calobra
At Sa Calobra, you’ll find a small beach area. Located right next to the harbor and amidst the restaurants, it tends to get crowded during the summer. Additionally, swimming can be somewhat risky at times. When strong winds blow from the west, the waves can wash you up against the rocks. The beach is not supervised by lifeguards.
Like the beach at Torrent de Pareis, for me, it would be fine to cool off in the water briefly. But actually, it’s too crowded. We prefer the beach at Cala Tuent, which is located a bit further away. I’ll provide more details about it below.
The Origin of the Torrent de Pareis
Mallorca doesn’t have rivers, only what are known as torrents. These are mountain streams that carry water to the sea only after heavy rainfall. The Torrent de Pareis is one of these torrents, likely the most impressive one on the entire island.
Mallorca is predominantly composed of limestone, which can be eroded by water to create fascinating and dramatic karst formations. The Torrent de Pareis is a prime example of this erosion. During the summer, the mountain stream can be completely dried up. However, heavy rainfall in the mountains, located 15 kilometers away, triggers a torrent that rushes down over 600 meters in altitude to the sea, carving impressive gorges and caves into the rock over many years.
The gorge culminates in a dramatic opening towards the sea. Between two towering cliffs, you will find a stony beach scattered with rounded pebbles, carried and shaped by the force of the river. Essentially, it is not a beach but the gravelly mouth of the torrent.
Boot Tours to the Torrent de Pareis
Detour: Relaxing at Cala Tuent Beach
If you have taken the serpentine road to Sa Calobra, just before reaching the village, you will see a left turn signposted for Cala Tuent. Among the locals, this small cove is considered the true highlight of the region.
Although the beach here is also rocky, it is more secluded and peaceful, located directly at the foot of Puig Major, the highest peak on the island. The beach is approximately 200 meters long and very clear and clean. Unlike the beaches at Sa Calobra, the waves at Cala Tuent are usually negligible. It is much safer for swimming here.
Frequently Asked Questions about Torrent de Pareis and Sa Calobra
I will conclude this post with some frequently asked questions from readers, hoping that it will help you better plan your visit to the gorge and the fishing village.
- My child suffers from motion sickness. Is it worth visiting anyway? If you use remedies to alleviate the sickness, then yes. However, there are few opportunities to stop in the curves. If it would cause too much stress for the child, it’s better not to go.
- I am an insecure driver. So am I. And the word I use is cautious. Start early to avoid the worst traffic, and don’t let yourself be stressed. In the worst case, there may be a scratch on the car. And all Spanish cars are scratched anyway. It’s not a big deal here.
- We don’t really want to hike. Is it still worth visiting? There isn’t much else to do in Sa Calobra and at the Torrent de Pareis. In my opinion, the beaches are not suitable for a full day of swimming.
- What should we do if there are no parking spaces? Wait. The parking tickets cost three euros per hour, and most visitors don’t stay for a very long time. Besides, you can check the parking availability for Sa Calobra and Cala Tuent through this app in real time.
- When is it less crowded? Before the first and last excursion boats and buses. So before 10 am and after 4:30 pm. However, the village will be very quiet during those times. The restaurants close early.
- Do we need hiking shoes for the gorge? If you are only walking a short distance into it, then no. But having extra shoes or ones that can cross puddles and streams is a good idea.
- Is the gorge a good place for sunsets? We included it in the list of the most beautiful sunsets in Mallorca. The strong contrasts between the colorful sky and the black gorge are impressive. But be sure to bring a flashlight. Once the sun is gone, it gets pitch dark in the gorge.
Bus Tour: The regular bus service to Sa Calobra has been discontinued. Excursion buses are now the only option.
Boat Tour: The boat tour from Port de Sóller takes one hour and can be reserved here.
Hiking: For a complete traverse of the gorge, it is always recommended to hire an experienced mountain guide. If hiking alone, be sure to bring sufficient water and avoid hiking after heavy rainfall or during active weather warnings.
Equipment: Wear sturdy hiking shoes. Waterproof shoes are recommended. Bring water, snacks, and swimwear.
By Car: The mountain road is not for the faint-hearted, especially when encountering tour buses.
Parking: Parking is available at a fee. It is charged per minute, approximately 5 cents per minute. Payment can be made in cash at the ticket booth or by card. You can find the parking lot in Sa Calobra. An electric vehicle charging station is located on the opposite side of the road.
Dining: Sa Calobra offers numerous restaurants, mainly overpriced self-service establishments.
Swimming: Platja de Torrent de Pareis and Platja de Sa Calobra are nice but crowded and small. Suitable for a quick dip to cool off. Water shoes are helpful. There are no showers or toilets. For longer swimming breaks, we recommend Cala Tuent.
Accommodation: There are no hotels or vacation rentals in Sa Calobra, but there is a simple hiking lodge that can accommodate up to 12 people. The lodge can only be booked in its entirety. Further information can be found here.
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