Mallorca Day Trips: Hiking at Parque Natural Sa Dragonera

Mallorca is an amazing island with countless day trip opportunities. For those who are interested in seeing a bit more of Mallorca than the typical tourist destinations, and for those who like some physical activity, this day trip to Sa Dragonera might be something for you!

Sa Dragonera is an island located in the South West of Mallorca, and geographically seen it is like an extension of the Sierra de Tramuntana, the mountain complex of Mallorca. Since 1995 it is declared as a Natural Park by the Balearic government.

I recently went on a day trip with my German friend, Stephanie, who lives on the island since a few years. I met her back in 2015 when I stayed at her beautiful AirBnB and ever since we stayed in touch. Now that I’m back, Stephanie invited me to go out and explore some more of the island.

With my friend Stephanie who has an amazing boat excursion website for those of you who understand German.
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Ruta del Sol & a YOLO mistake

The last week of the 10 week program with The Leap was pretty intense. Not only did we do the Ruta del Sol (Itinerary of the Sun) – Guayaquil, Montañita, Puerto Lopez – and party hard every night of the week, we also came to the final moment in which we had to say goodbye to each other. Many tears flooded and emotions were strong. We’ve had a great team and nobody wanted this journey ever to end, I guess. Last but not least, I will reveal some YOLO story in this post… So keep reading and find it out!

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The Ruta del Sol could better have been called Ruta del Alcohol, because to be honest we’ve seen more alcohol than sun that week. I do not really have much more to tell in this blog post then that we ate, slept, drank and partied. We started our itinerary in Quito, after returning from Mindo, and woke up at 3AM to catch a bus early in the morning towards Guayaquil.

With almost 4 million people, Guayaquil is the largest and most populous city in Ecuador. Located on the coast, it is as well the nation’s main port. The Malécon 2000 is the symbolic center of the city, with much green and many shops in the area. We only had a few looks from out of the bus, driving along the city to the bus terminal. So we did not spend much time there, just a quick hop to catch the next bus to Montañita, and had lunch in Mc Donalds!!! What a fancy bus terminal they had there!

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Malecon 2000, Guayaquil (Ecuador)

We arrived around dinner time in Montañita and enjoyed our first night out partying as it should. Montañita is a small coastal town in the south coast of Ecuador. It is translated as ‘little hill’ because it became famous so slowly. It is a place for surfing and used to be a rustic fishermen town. In 1960, some hippies settled in Montañita and now it is a popular destination for surfers from around the world. Moreover, it is considered one of the best beaches in Ecuador, and it has a great nightlife! We enjoyed the sunset and left for our first party night out!

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Sunset in Montañita

Montañita is one of the few beaches in Ecuador where (European) women frequently go topless, according to Wikipedia. However, I am European but I did not do it… 😉 There was one night in which I wanted to go “skinny-dipping”, but eventually that did not happen. Guess we were not drunk enough… 😛

Another Wikipedia fact is that Montañita is the only place in Ecuador where marijuana is smoked freely. Marijuana is illegal in Ecuador, but you can smell and see it in the Streets every single day.

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Montañita – Party Night N°1

It is very common to hear reggea and reggeaton music on street corners, to see banners of peace symbols and hippies who hang around. Gay travellers should also very comfortable here, as walking holding hands is freely accepted.

The Streets of Montañita are filled with international bars, restaurants and cafés. Our favourite street was ‘Cocktail Alley’ where cocktails were freshly blended for $4,00 a cup. A cheap and eficient way to get our nights started!

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Montañita – Party Night N°2

The second day the other Leap group that was travelling through Ecuador in a different sequence, also arrived in this party town and joined our group for the daily celebrations. We had the whole hostel for ourselves, as we were 25 persons in total. The atmosphere was insane! ❤

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Montañita – Party Night N°3

I was happy to have the other (Dutch) group leader around for the next days, as most of the group members spent the daytime sleeping… We usually went out with them to party, but came back at a more descent time (as we were still on duty here!! Remember… Group leading IS an actual JOB). So during daylight we enjoyed food, drinks and terraces (paid by the company) and wandered around town… And at night we joined the groups for dinner and pre-drinking games.

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Montañita – Party Night N°4

The last night we planned a dinner with both groups together in the same restaurant and we bought some huge beertaps for all. Food and drinks were great, as usually here in Montañita, and we went out for a last – and of course even more crazy – night out. I think what happened in Montañita should definetely stay in Montañita, and that Montañita was a YOLO town more then any other place in Ecuador. We all had great fun, crazy memories and an incredible experience!

However, it was pretty hard to wake up all 23 group members to leave to the next ‘Ruta del Sol’ destination the day after. With some pretty sweet hangovers and a big lack of descent sleep, we left by public bus to Puerto Lopez. This is a a small fishing village set in an arched bay on the Pacific coast in the Ecuadorian Manabí Province.

On the streets near the beach you can find restaurants and beach bars with hammocks, while the other streets have some travel agencies where you can book a tour for whalewatching or fishing. Amberjack, dolphins, wahoos, marlins and tunas are many of the different species that you can see just off the coast. Of course, we only did the laid back activities and didn’t go whalewatching due to our time limit.

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Puerto Lopez – City views

After a night bus back to Quito, our final day had come. I held a global evaluation session with the group and they filled in a survey. It was an emotional moment, and the results of the questionnaire were amazing. I got to read amazing comments and Yanapuma was very happy with this final results. They gave me 94% for my internship! Some examples of comments:

“Julie was like a friend but also led us really well, always making me feel safe. Did not distance herself from us but joined in with everything we did while still being responsible”

“Julie was brilliant throughout, very laid back but was strict and purposeful in the situations where it was needed. Even though she was our leader, it still felt like she was one of us in the group and that´s definitely a good thing”

“Julie has been an excellent leader. I have absolutely no complaints. She was extremely approachable, and dealt brilliantly when she had to take people to the hospital, for example. Being so close to us in age was imperative”

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Survey Result – Thank you, Leapers!!! 

After a very last goodbye dinner, goodbye speech and goodbye breakfast, it was time to say GOODBYE – which was really hard. Of course there were many tears, more then I expected, but after all… It were tears of gratitude. This had been one of the most life changing experiences for each and everyone of us. For me, this had been the biggest carreer jump so far, and even though I had not find myself yet in this whole wide world, I came so much closer to myself, to what I feel as where I am born for. I felt truly blessed for this opportunity, for having such a great group and seeing such a beautiful country. There were no words to describe the feeling!

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“La despedida” – Goodbye Picture Leap Group B

The YOLO Mistake….

I kept it a secret for quite a long time, but now it’s time to tell it…. Where do I start…

I ended up buying a T-shirt saying “YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE, Montañita – Ecuador”. The whole group laughed at my for that, but that was not the YOLO mistake I was planning to reveal. YOLO, in our case was You Only Leap Once. But that’s a mistake: I’m going to Leap twice!!! Yep, you hear it well, I am off this summer to be a Group Leader again. The Leap offered me a job in Cambodia, a country of which I did not even know the capital city before now. But I looked at the program, saw it was great, booked my tickets and gone am I again the end of June. I am super excited for this new experience and I feel this is a perfect kind of synchronity in my life, as I was feeling my life needed a change. Thanks for the opportunities to The Leap, one of the greatest companies I know, just because they believe in young people who are motivated to gain experience and discover new horizons in life! #feelingblessed!

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Hello Cambodia July 2014 ‘Summer Program’ 

THE BIG TRIP – Day 1: Altea

TRAVELOGUE – Blogpost 2: Day 1 (28/3/13) – Altea

At 8.30 it was time! With purse and luggage Kim and I went on the bus … Just for positioning: Who is Kim? Kim is my best friend! I met her in September 2011, when I started my Bachelor in Tourism and Leisure Management in Belgium. Since then we have been inseparable friends and we share joys and sorrows with each other. Now that I’m studying in Spain, we have contact almost every day through social media, and how could it be otherwise than that she would come visit me.

Om 8u30 was het zover! Met pak en zak trokken Kim en ik de bus op… Even ter situering: wie is Kim? Kim is mijn allerbeste vriendin! Ik leerde haar in september 2011 kennen, toen ik begon aan mijn Bachelor in Toerisme en Recreatie Management in België. Sinds toen zijn we onafscheidelijke vriendinnen en delen we lief en leed met mekaar. Nu ik in Spanje studeer, houden we zo goed als elke dag contact via sociale media, en hoe kon het ook anders dan dat zij mij zou komen bezoeken.

DSC_0017On Monday, March 25th Kim arrived in Valencia with a Ryanair flight of 2 hours, and a very nice week was waiting for us! She slept three nights in my apartment in Gandia, together we visited the city of Valencia, and between my lessons we also spent a few hours on the beach: Playa de Gandia. Just a few small photos of them here:

Op maandag 25 maart arriveerde ze in Valencia met een Ryanair-vluchtje van 2 uur, en stond er ons een heel leuk weekje voor de boeg! Ze sliep 3 nachten in mijn appartement in Gandia, we bezochten samen de stad Valencia, en tussen mijn lessen door spendeerden we ook enkele uurtjes aan het strand: Playa de Gandia. Daarvan hier even enkele fotootjes:

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Anyway, now Altea … We arrived around 10:45 am by ALSA bus, a good bus company here in Spain which I highly recommend to anyone who wants to travel affordable through the country. We first searched for the Tourist Info office to get ourselves a city map and to rent a bike. And we had to drop our luggage somewhere for the next few hours, so we didn’t have to carry it all around … By the time we managed to do all of that, it was already 12 noon. Yeah, “Tranquila, estamos en España”, right?

Enfin, maar nu Altea… We arriveerden omstreeks 10u45 ter plaatse met de ALSA-bus, een goede busmaatschappij hier in Spanje die ik ten zeerste aanraadt voor iedereen die betaalbaar wil reizen. We zochten eerst het Toeristisch Info-kantoor op om een stadsplannetje en een fiets te bemachtigen. Én we moesten onze bagage ergens zien te droppen voor de komende uren, zodat we er niet mee hoefden te sleuren… Tegen dat alles gelukt was, was het alweer klokslag 12 uur ’s middags. Tsjah, “Tranquila, estamos en España”, zeker?

BIG TRIP (1) 039But oh, how wonderful that we had that bike! This allowed us to explore every corner of the resort area at our own pace. We drove along the coast and through the hills that led us to the top of the beautiful village.

Maar oh, wat heerlijk dat we die fiets hadden! Daarmee konden we op eigen tempo alle uithoeken van het badplaatsje verkennen. We reden langs de kustlijn en door de heuvels die ons tot de top van het prachtige dorpje leidden.

BIG TRIP (1) 119We had lunch at an Italian restaurant with ocean views and live music by a Peruvian street orchestra. I ordered a pasta with chicken and curry sauce … It tasted delicious! So it could not be better …

We hadden lunch in een Italiaans restaurantje met zicht op zee, live muziek door een Peruaans straat-orkestje. Ik bestelde een pasta met kip en curry-saus… Die smaakte heerlijk! Dus het kon gewoon niet beter zijn…

BIG TRIP (1) 137We then cycled again a little farther, and then stopped again for a snack and a drink … The good life, so it goes always with me and Kim! 😉

We fietsten vervolgens weer een eindje verder, en stopte vervolgens opnieuw voor een hapje en een drankje… Het Bourgondische leven, zo gaat dat altijd met mij en Kim! 😉

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We ate an ice cream and cycled back on. Burned the calories, so you could say.

We aten een ijsje en fietsten weer verder. De calorieën verbranden, zeg maar.

BIG TRIP (1) 101Maybe some more ‘theoretical information’ about Altea here:

Misschien even wat meer ‘theoretische informatie’ geven over Altea:

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Altea is a municipality and town in Spain, located on the Mediterranean coast in the province of Alicante about 50 kilometers north-east of the city of Alicante and about 100 kilometers south of the city of Valencia. Altea has an area of ​​34.43 km ² and is built on a hill. Altea counted about 22,648 inhabitants in early 2007.

Altea is een gemeente en stadje in Spanje, gelegen aan de Middellandse Zee in de provincie Alicante op zo’n 50 kilometer ten noord-oosten van de stad Alicante en zo’n 100 kilometer ten zuiden van de stad Valencia. Altea heeft een oppervlakte van 34,43 km² en is gebouwd op een heuvel. Altea telde begin 2007 zo’n 22.648 inwoners.

BIG TRIP (1) 127An important source of income for Altea is tourism, which has grown since the 50s due to the Mediterranean climate, beaches and the charm of the town.

Een belangrijke bron van inkomsten voor Altea is het toerisme, dat sinds de jaren ‘50 is gegroeid als gevolg van het mediterrane klimaat, stranden en het karakteristieke stadscentrum.

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The coast south of Calpe, has a micro climate making the winters considerably warmer then north of Calpe. This makes Altea and the whole area very attractive to people who want to spend the winter abroad, from countries including the Netherlands, England, Scandinavia and Germany.

De kust ten zuiden van Calpe zou een microklimaat hebben waardoor de winters duidelijk warmer (zouden) zijn dan ten Noorden van Calpe. Dat maakt Altea en de hele omgeving zeer aantrekkelijk voor overwinteraars uit onder andere Nederland, Engeland, Scandinavië en Duitsland.

BIG TRIP (1) 131The city was founded by the Iberians and Romans. In 1244 Altea was reconquered by Jaime I of Aragon. One of the tourist attractions is the church “Virgen del Consuelo”, also called “Nuestra Senora del Consuelo”, which is easily recognizable by the picturesque blue domes. It is built on top of the hill.

De stad is gesticht door de Iberianen en Romeinen. In 1244 is Altea heroverd door Jaime I van Aragón. Een van de toeristische trekpleisters is de kerk “Virgen del Consuelo” of ook wel genoemd “Nuestra Senora del Consuelo” , welke eenvoudig te herkennen is aan de pittoreske blauwe koepels. Deze is gebouwd boven aan de heuvel.

Bron: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altea_(stad)

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Altea is actually a museum itself and it is definitely the most artistic town on the Costa Blanca. It is a place where many (inter)national painters, sculptors, poets, singers and writers have their “Taller” (workshop), and inspiration.

Altea is eigenlijk een museum op zichzelf en het meest artistieke stadje aan de Costa Blanca. Een plaats waar veel (inter)nationale schilders, beeldhouwers, dichters, zangers en schrijvers hun “Taller” (werkplaats) hebben en inspiratie opdoen.

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Artistic ambition and the kind of people that feel attracted by this atmosphere, can be encountered in the narrow whitewashed streets and around the large church with the -with Valencian ceramic tiled- roof the Nuestra Senora del Consuelo, which belongs with its ‘Tower of Galera’ to the Cultural Heritage of Spain.

Kunstzinnigheid en het soort mensen wat zich daardoor aangetrokken voelt, vindt je in de nauwe, witte straatjes en rondom de grote kerk met het -met Valenciaans keramiek betegelde- dak de Nuestra Senora del Consuelo, die o.a. met de Toren van Galera tot het Culturele Erfgoed van Spanje behoort.

Bron: http://costablanca.voorjou.com/altea/

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The reason I wanted to take Kim to Altea is because many Spaniards recommended me the place because of its charm. I was pleasantly surprised and have a very good impression of this resort. I would truely recommend anyone to spend a holiday here …

De reden waarom ik Kim mee naar Altea wilde nemen, is omdat vele Spanjaarden het plekje aanraden omwille van haar charme. Ik was dan ook blij verrast en heb een zeer goede impressie van deze badplaats. Ik zou iedereen dan ook aanraden om hier een vakantie te spenderen…

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But unfortunately our budget did not allow us also to stay here, so at night we continued our trip towards Benidorm. You can read more about it in the next blog post. I will keep you informed, so keep checking this page! 😉

Maar helaas liet ons budget ons niet toe om hier ook te overnachten, en dus trokken wij tegen het vallen van de avond verder richting Benidorm. Hierover leest u meer in de eerstvolgende blogpost. Ik houd u op de hoogte, dus blijf deze pagina checken! 😉

Travelogue structureReisverhaal structuur:

  • Blogpost 1: Introduction
  • Blogpost 2: Day 1 (28/3/13) – Altea ==> you are now reading this blogpost!
  • Blogpost 3: Day 1 (28/3/13) – Benidorm
  • Blogpost 4: Day 2 (29/3/13) – Alicante
  • Blogpost 5: Day 3 (30/3/13) – Granada
  • Blogpost 6: Day 4 (31/3/13) – Malaga
  • Blogpost 7: Day 4 (31/3/13) – Ronda
  • Blogpost 8: Day 5 (01/4/13) – Gibraltar
  • Blogpost 9: Day 6 (02/4/13) – Albufeira
  • Blogpost 10: Day 7 (03/4/13) – Lisbon
  • Blogpost 11: Day 8 (04/4/13) – Sintra & Lissabon
  • Blogpost 12: Day 9 (05/4/13) – Fatima & Porto
  • Blogpost 13: Day 10 (06/4/13) – Porto & Braga