Walking in Ibiza
San Jose to San Augustin to San Jose | San Jose to Puig den Serra to Puig Gros to San Jose | San Jose to Benimussa to San Jose | Es Cubells | San Jose-Vila
Route: San Jose to San Augustin to San Jose
This route joins two neighbouring villages, which are very close and related in many ways: San Jose de sa Talia, the capital of the municipality, and San Agusti des Vedra.
In the village centre of San Jose, start from the church and head towards Eivissa. Take the second road to the left, next to a stone house with a gable roof, leaving the village behind you. About 400 m along this tarmac road, you will see a dirt track to the left signposted “Can Manya” (following straight on will connect you with routes 3, 4 and 6).
Here you will enter countryside that is apatchwork of small parts, a carob tree, broom, the odd pine tree, all crowned with tall savines growing next to the stone walls. The terraces become less defined as you carry on up the track and into the wood at the top of the hill. Go down through the wood in a landscape of small hills and valleys that go all the way down to the sea. When you reach another path that crosses your way go left down it (west). At the end of the descent you will find another path. Go left once again.
You will pass among old agricultural terraces, separated by stone walls, now in an advanced stage of reforestation. It is easy to see how this process has resulted in scrubland where carob trees over a century old mix with young pine trees.
400 m along the path, before you reach the road, you will see a narrow dirt track to the right, which goes up through this scrubland bordered by the woods.
As you go up through the former agricultural land, mainly composed of carob trees, you can appreciate the valley’s beautiful landscape. If you pay attention, you will see that all the parts that make up the landscape form a series of small valleys containing unirrigated crops and pine trees in the upper areas, where forestry work used to be carried out. The location of the walls separating the crops and the direction they face are the result of good knowledge of the land, allowing the maximum use of the land with a lower risk of erosion caused by the rain that is often heavy and even torrential on these islands. Despite no longer being productive, this place retains its aesthetic value as a multi-coloured landscape spread across a wooded area, the basic feature of the land that draws together all of the various elements.
You will reach a landscape dominated by many farmhouses, with the typical features of thick, white walls and small windows. One of these houses stands out due to the tower attached to the house. These interior towers next to houses were a refuge in the event of pirate attacks. Go behind this house along a path, which encircles a wide agricultural area.
You will reach another path that you should take to the right (there is a private house to the left). The path appears to end at a sign saying private property, but to the left of this entrance you will see a path that goes down through a terrace. Follow the path between these small terraces where carob trees abound. This species of tree, introduced to the Mediterranean by the Arabs has always been an important source of fodder for cattle, but can also be used to make flour for human consumption, particularly in times of shortages.
Leave this path among the terraces to reach a wider path. Follow this until you come to a crossroads. Take a left until you reach a tarmac road. From here you can enjoy a stunning view of large, cultivated valleys, with trees typical of the island and, right at the end, the village of San Agusti des Vedra at the top of the hill.
Take a left to get to the village. In the church square you can not only enjoy the panoramic view, but also the singular character of this village, which is typical of the interior of the island. Carry on along the path around the church and go down until you reach the road. Your route continues on the other side, along a tarmac road heading west. After walking a short stretch on the tarmac, you will come to a bridge crossing the channel, which ends in a small cove, Port des Torrent. Take the second turning to the left, about 300 m from the road.
This route does not provide a view of a typical rural landscape like the one you have enjoyed up to this point, but in some ways it is also a fragmented area where two very different models of land use coexist. You can see cattle raising, terraces of carob and almond trees beside small gardens and exuberant ornamental plants on the one hand, and small, humble, stone houses among houses with sophisticated architectural designs, on the other.
Continuing down the path, you will come across different branches and forks in the road, but should always take the left hand path until you reach the road. Along the last stretch you will walk next to a seasonal river bed, where there are still some vines among the pine trees and young shrubs.
Finally, when you reach the road, cross to the other side to the old road to San Jose, which will take you along among small houses for around 500 m until you get back to the starting point.
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Route: San Jose to Puig den Serra to Puig Gros to San Jose
The route starts at the church in the village of San Jose. Going in the direction of Eivissa, take the second road to the left, between a stone house and an electrical appliance shop. Follow this tarmac road until you reach the cemetery and, once you have passed it, take the road to the left again, towards the parish of Benimussa. This takes you to a tarmac road leading to Benimussa. It is worth following the road from the very beginning so you can see one of the largest and most rural part of the island. Benimussa fits the pattern typical of the island with a population spread out across agricultural land, where unirrigated trees such as olive, carob and almond trees alternate with cereals and vegetables on the lower parts of the valleys, while the heights are covered by large wooded areas. Watch out for the quadrangular well, Pou de can Benet, on the left of the road. Wells have always been key points in the island’s popular culture. Local people would meet there and gather for festivals. The festival around this well takes place on 25th July.
To the right there is a sign to Sa Capellata (the west Benimussa path is to the left with a connection to route 4). Follow this well-signposted path up to the top. Nothing in this part of this route especially stands out, apart from the surrounding countryside and the bay of Portmany, which covers a large part of Benimussa, and above all the mountainous area around Es Amunts.
Once you have reached the top, the road ends next to a small house, with a signpost directing you to the chapel Capelleta d’en Serra along a fairly steep woodland path.
Once you have had a good look at the large part of the municipality of San Jose that can be seen from this point, go back the way you came and when you arrive at the house, follow the path to the left of it. It is unsuitable for vehicles and forks in two right at the start. Take the right-hand path. This leads through an area that runs alongside the woods and a sloped terrace with stones, where there are mainly carob trees.
This agricultural part of the valley and its cultivated slopes are noticeably different from the wooded area that would have run from Sa Serra de cas Mut to Puig Gros and from Sa Capelleta to San Jose. These breaks into the woodland are important, and not just from an agricultural point of view, since the crops grown here are actually not very profitable in general, but also for the countryside, since it ptovides protection against forest fires and also gives the land a logical, ordered layout.
This route runs between terraces along the edge of almost the entire estate until you reach a crossroads. Take the path right until you reach a seasonal river bed (the path to the left connects to route 6). En Bellet spring is in the river bed and there is an entire system of channels and wells that carry the water for use in irrigation.
The spring is currently dry, but the sound of frogs around the river bed and in the well itself is evidence of water nearby. The crops, previously maintained by a network of channels, have been abandoned and the area has been colonised by thick reedbeds. Continuing down this path, you will reach a tarmac road. Near a group of small houses, one of which is called “Casa de los Berrinches” (the house of tantrums), you must follow the southbound route.
Leave the tarmac road at the first path to the right, next to an electricity meter (Ct-Maura N 1473). Carry on straight along the path, using the other seasonal river bed to your left as a reference point. At the end of the river bed, you will find new evidence that the land has been used to grow market garden produce and citrus fruits. A sign of this is the orange trees that still survive today among large pine trees that block the little light that reaches the river bed.
You will reach a point where the path moves away from the seasonal river bed and goes into a more open area, with the odd carob tree and pine tree to the right. A little further along there are two renovated farm houses and several paths. If you take the path furthest to the left, you will find an old track that passes through terraces, where stone walls still stand among carob trees, young pine trees and rockroses that are taking over the area.
Once you have reached another dirt track, take a left to where you can see one of the traditional daily activities in rural parts that has now practically died out: lime production. Not only can you see a perfectly preserved furnace but also, from the remains of lime in the surrounding area, it looks as though it is still being used. The nearby woodland is worth noting. It looks like much of our woodland: very thin, with pruned pine trees and almost non-existent undergrowth. It is sparse due to the gathering of the necessary fuel foe the furnace. This activity, together with tar and coke furnaces, is a good way of managing wooded areas, protecting them from forest fires.
Once you have passed the furnace and a path to the right with a sign pointing to a private house, you will come across another path that goes up to the right through the woods, right up to the top. Alongside this path you will see stretches of former farming land, evidence of a struggle for subsistence and man’s conquest of the land against the spread of the woodland.
At the top, standing over the deep valleys, there is the odd Balearic cottage on either side. Around 50 m before reaching the top, take a woodland path to the right, next to a very large carob tree. This leads back to Sa Capelleta. Simply follow the track to the village.
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San Jose to Benimussa to San Jose
The starting point for this route is the same as route 3 (San Jose-Puig d’en Serra-Puig Gros-San Joe) until you reach the road that goes up to Sa Capelleta. At this tarmacked point, take a different path to the left, signposted Benimussa Oeste, which takes you further in to the parish.
After passing the first group of houses beside the path, where there are visible signs of agricultural activity and cattle raising, carry on into the woods. After about 750 m you will reach the first fork, but leave it for now to take a path to the right 50 m further on. Here you will enter into well-tended farming land rich in carob trees. When you reach a group of typical stone houses, you will have a magnificent view over the valley that is the border between Puig d’en Serra and Puig d’en Raco. This agricultural area has the best possible distribution of different types of crops: the redder, more fertile earth at the centre of the valley is used to grow vegetables, citrus fruits vand fodder that requires a lot of water, such as lucerne. The fact that there are reedbeds among these crops is evidence of water near the surface from the seasonal river bed, Torrente de Benimussa. This makes agriculture more fertile and productive here and allows market garden crops to be grown. A little further on there are unirrigated crops, including typical species: carob, almond, fig and olive trees. Next to these trees, a little higher up, houses stand at the end of the valley. There are woods on the steeper slopes, where lime and charcoal furnaces were used until recently.
The route then takes you down into the valley, where there is a profusion of carob and olive trees over a hundred years old, which dominate the area with their majestic presence. Climb the slope slowly for 700 m. You will be surrounded by terraces where there does not appear to have been any recent farming. Carob and fig trees mix with pines and savines and a whole range of other species trying to find a niche to spread. Although these areas no longer produce the crops they used to, they are an important area of transition between purely agricultural areas and the woods, while creating greater diversity.
When you reach the crossroads where there is an electricity meter, take a right along a path that is more residential than agricultural with plots of land that appear to be unused. When you go up and over the top of this small hill, you will enter a fully active agricultural area, where small flocks of sheep graze under the shade of the carob trees. As you go down, the surrounding countryside is rich with almond, olive and fig trees. Next to a small channel connected with Torrente de Benimussa, market garden produce is still grown.
At the end of the route, with woods to the right and an open, highly characteristic valley to the left, you will reach a tarmac road again. Take a right down this and then another right immediately afterwards. Although it is a tarmac road, there is little traffic, so you can enjoy a panoramic view of the valley in this beautiful part of Benimussa from a higher point, while on your way back to where you started.
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The parish of Es Cubells still has a clearly rural identity. Farming and land maintainace are common activities there.
This route starts in the village of Es Cubells, next to the church. Follow the tarmac road to the convent. This area’s most outstanding aspect is not the agriculture or any other ethnological trait, but the profound beauty of the cliffs and the sweeping view of Formentera.
About 600 m after you pass the convent (a two storey building with green windows), take the path to the right, with the sea behind you. This will take you through a typical wood for about 250 m, exclusively populated by pine and savine trees, together with undergrowth made up of a wide variety of shrubs and aromatic species such as rosemary, thyme and mastic trees among others. Follow this track to another that leads off to the left. It seems to end at a cluster of houses with wonderful gardens, but you can follow it along past the signpost that marks the end of the road. This is where you leave the most built-up section of the route and take a path that crosses a seasonal river bed, Torrente de Ses Boques, at its highest point, leading to Cap Roig. Here you can appreciate how the woodland is more or less thick depending on how exposed it is to sunlight. Note how at the start of the route, on a very stoney, mainly south-facing substratum, the wood is very thin, with small pine trees with thin branches. There is also little undergrowth, made up of a number of aromatic shrubs typical of Mediterranean woodland. However, when the route passes close to the seasonal river bed, with more shaded, damper conditions, the woodland gets denser, with thick pine trees and undergrowth covering almost all of the ground and even climbing up tree trunks: wild madder and sarsaparilla for example.
When you leave the area around the seasonal river bed, you will come to a much clearer area that used to be agricultural land. You can still find some almond trees here. The path forks: to the left it leads to the Can Vinya estate, where extensive farming typical of the island is carried out. Small plots of land are used, that shape the uneven land, splitting it up into terraces marked out by stone walls. Mainly orchards are grown nowadays, using adapted to large periods of drought, such as carob and almond trees. Next to the crops there is a paisa (cottage). It is an austere building made of stone and lime mortar, which faces south in order to benefit from the sun in the winter and avoid long periods of sunshine in the main part of the house during the arduous summer months. There is a threshing floor next to the house. As well as being a place for handling produce, it also plays the important role of collecting rain water for the wells. Unusually, in this particular case there are two wells connected to the same threshing floor.
Go back to where the path forked and take the route to the right. This way you can go up along the boundary between the cultivated part of the estate and the woods. This route allows you to appreciate the important influence that these small farms have on the landscape, while giving you an exceptional view of the cliffs along the coast of Es Cubells.
The path carries along into the woods until it reaches another larger track that crosses it. Take this track to the right, follow it to the next crossroads, and turn right again. The hill you are now on, Puig de Llentrisca, is now covered with large luxury homes, but used to be very different as the scene of intense forestry activity. Even today, in the depths of the woods, one can find clearings containing the remains of charcoal and lime furnaces. The path opens out towards En Curt plain, which is now sparsely populated, with diminishing agricultural activity. Here you can see the typical pattern of Ibizan rural areas: small farms (that get smaller the steeper the gradient) separated by dry-stone walls with houses at the edges.
The path continues through this incomparable setting to the tarmac road to Cala d’Hort. Turning right here will take you back to the starting point. Although it is a tarmac road there is little traffic, so you can enjoy the countryside as you go along.
About 1.5 km further on, next to a bend in the road, you will find a road to the right signposted as leading to Es Cap Roig. This immediately forks into two. Take the left fork to the schools in the village of Es Cubells, through an area where unirrigated crops mix with Mediterranean woods, a sign of humankind’s struggle to conquer areas that are not best suited for people. Alongside the carob trees, broom, asparagus and shrubs, a wide variety of species fight for room in this diverse vegetation. Once you have passed the schools you will reach the road. To the right this leads straight to the village of Es Cubells.
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This route starts exactly the same as the San Jose-Puig d’en Serra-Puig Gros-San Jose route. So follow the same way, first climbing Puig de Sa Capelleta, then going down the path next to the house. When you reach the path that crosses your way, instead of taking it towards the seasonal river bed, turn left between the terraces of carob trees and the small wood. Taking a right will connect you to en route 3. When you reach a path next to a threshing floor, take it to the right until you reach a channel with a small market garden and orchard and, to the left of the path, the well from which these crops are irrigated. When you reach some farmyards, go up alongside them, then go right and right again. When you reach a very small house you will come to a path, which is tarmacked from here on. Leaving the tarmac section to your right, follow the part of the track that has not been tarmacked, i.e. the dirt track to the left.
Follow this path, which gradually goes up through a highly characteristic valley, with houses dotted here and there, normally some distance from the open, cultivatable areas, and with a wood at the end. Just as you reach the top, on the northern edge of the slope, you will enter into a typical wood, which is much thicker, shaded and damper than on the southern slope.
As you go down a steep slope you will see the area of Benimussa, its crops and houses, the very heart of the municipality and the island. Go right when you reach a tarmac road. Then go up towards Coll des Rossellon, next to a strip of dry-stone wall and unirrigated trees. Once you have passed this, the path downwards begins alongside a traditional house with a cubic structure, a flat roof and whitewashed walls. Just past the house to the right, you will come to a path that goes up towards Sa Serra de sa Murta. If you take this path up you will enter a thick, shady wood. The humidity of this wood and the direction it faces allows many species to live there, which due to the islands dry climate are limited to these small shady areas, seasonal river beds and a few north-facing slopes. This is the case for sarsaparilla, wild madder and strawberry trees.
At the top, you can see how the struggle against forest fires has changed over time. The importance of clearing woodland, previously carries out by collecting firewood for the lime and coke furnaces as well as for cooking, is now carried out by forestry teams that clean the edges of the paths and firebreaks, as part of a general fire prevention plan carried out on all the islands.
The path forks at the top. The right-hand path takes you to a fire fighting water tank and the left-handed fork to the southern slope, which zigzags down the hill, with no option of leaving the path. Here you can enjoy the beauty of the landscape of Ple de San Jordi and Ses Salines. If it is a clear day, you can even see the island of Formentera. Along the path you will find evidence of all the different land use possibilities on the island today: terraces formally surrounded by trees adapted to dry weather, such as carob, olive and almond trees; terraces formerly surrounded and now mostly invaded by the woods; estates, some abandoned, others occupied, some thickly and some more sparsely wooded. All of these aspects make the slope a complex patchwork with an abundance of species and an incredibly rich landscape. When you reach a path next to a house with a traditional architectural design and three large amphoras next to the drive, take the southbound path to your left. Follow this until you reach a steep concrete-paved slope, a much more open area, with sparse unirrigated crops, where the plots are a little neglected from a farming point of view. These areas, which used to have clearly marked-out areas, with terraces of worked earth and well tended trees, next to aromatic plants at the edges of the woods, have joined together somewhat since they were abandoned, turning it all in to a tapestry of mixed species competing for space. As a result, even though they are not actively farmed, these areas make very suitable habitats for certain animal species, such as partridges, rabbits and birds of prey. Also, as far as fighting forest fires is concerned, they allow fires to be approached from different fronts to prevent them spreading over a continuous expanse of woodland. Above all, they create a model of land distribution of land that is highly characteristic of the island.
The path continues, firstly crossing a seasonal river bed, and then enters a small area of active farming land. To the left of the path, market garden produce and vines grow in red and fertile earth. To the right, there is a small peak with stone borders marking out plots of carob and almond trees.
After you pass a samall channel, you will reach another path that crosses the one you are on. Go left down this and, just as you pass the house beside the path, go left again. This takes you into a very well tended cultivated area, with large carob trees and market garden produce. After you pass a small well, the path forks and you must take the path to the right. Go up through the woods and the terraces of carob trees. As you go along, note how the wood is encroaching to completely cover the area. When you reach the top you will be able to see Vila valley. Your descent will take you alongside the new cemetery and if you carry straight on you will reach the town.
Walking in Ibiza