Tour in the south of Mallorca
The south of Mallorca is mainly known for its long extended beach sections and only offers few additional sightseeings, as for example a botanical garden close to Ses Salines, that is called Botanicactus due to its countless sorts of cactus. Due to the low rainfall in this region, the vegetation is relatively barren which nearly predestines the park to be a little highlight with a feeling of desert.
We actually started our southern tour at the most southern point of Mallorca: the Cap de Salines, had a sunbath at the Botanicactus by Ses Salines, relaxed in the esplanade of the harbour of Colonia de Sant Jordi and continued from there to the beach of Es Trenc, passing by the salines. All stations can be easily accessed by car and comfortably explored in one day. Because of the continuous change of having some walks, eating, loiter around and swimming, a good balance is provided.
In general, we were not exceptionally impressed of our tour through the south of Mallorca, but we were very surprised how our impressions strongly differed from that what we expected as a result of many recommendations of travel guides. For example, we really disadvise everybody to visit the much vaunted natural beach Es Trenc! Without forestalling too much, I would like to say in this concern: the crowds, the rip-off in the parking place, the garbage dumps in the dunes, the inmense hype at the kiosks and more suchlike make that the good mood of being on holiday is spoiled.
Cap de Salines: most southern point of Mallorca
Cap de Salines is the most southern point of Mallorca; We love all kinds of light houses and look-outs and for us it was clear that we definitely would do a side trip to this place; Even if in Mallorca most of the light houses are enclosed, it would not deter the confirmed fans of such sightseeings from wanting to enjoy this special kind of "end of the world spirit". Unfortunately, one cannot expect too much from Cap de Salines.
Anyhow, on the road between Santanyi and Ses Salines one has to turn into south direction and follow the signpostings to the light house. From here, there are 10 very monotonous kilometres to drive on a road that is fringed on both sides and then, one is standing very stunned in front of the barricaded area of the light house.
So we used, as also the others did, the narrow wayside of the road as a parking place in order to walk through the narrow aperture of the fence to the coastline. From here, we carefully climbed through a cliffy and rocky ground so that we could closely see the light house from the other side. Even by having a magnificent view to the little offshore island Cabrera, the atmosphere of the south cape of Mallorca did not really knock us off our feet. If we had to estimate if the long trip was worth to see this place, we could not confirm it with certainty. Sure, it is always worth to look for distinctive coastal areas in an island. And this was just the thing we missed a little in this landscape.
Not a bit of distinctive landscapes but a wide extended cliffy sand area on which one can endlessly walk alogside the coast in north west direction to Colonia de Sant Jordi. For fit people who love the loneliness, this march is surely a great pleasure. No car is not even near so that in the beaches that one passes on the way, one is actually safe from the crowds of Mallorca. In the travel guide there are three beaches mentioned that are located within this distance: the beach Platja des Caragol, the beach Platja de Ses Roquettes and the beach Platja es Carbo; As we wanted to continue our tour of exploration, we went again into the car in order to drive to the next sightseeing on the way in direction to Ses Salines: the Botanicatus.
Botanicactus - the biggest botanical garden of Europe
After this monotonous vegetation at the Cap de Salines and the way back through the bleakly access road to there, we were really looking forward to a bright flora in Botanicactus. Shortly after the exit in direction to Ses Salines but still before the city limit we turned to the right to a bigger parking place that, to our surprise, was nearly empty.
We paid 6,90 euros at the entrance, what we considered at that time - it was our first excursion day of our holiday - as a lot of money. But after we experienced in the following days the kind of extortion that is handled elsewhere, after the event, we consider this amount of money as absolutely reasonable for the nature conservancy, and we can also say that the park is definetely recommendable.
According to the advertising folder, Botanicactus is the biggest botanical garden of Europe. One has to get familiar with the area of 50.000 m². At the entrance, we got a map on which the ways were described through the area that is similar to a jungle. Not only the abundance of cacti (more than 12.000)was impressive, but also the vegetation similar to the tropical vegetation of palms and bamboo.
Unfortunately, we forgot our bottles of water in the car, so that the paths through this landscape that was similar to a desert was an absolute dry spell, as specially there, the paths were partly going up the hills and there was no shade. We really can recommend the complex - but only with enough supply of beverages! Either you can bring them by yourself or buy them at the cash before entering.
But not only the water is important, but also comfortable footwear. Indeed, the paths are very well arranged, but due to the reason the garden is so big and full of variety, one feels like moving further and does probably not notice how long the distances really are. We were compassionately looking at some girls who were walking around with high heels and rubbing their feet with their faces contorted with pain.
Specially beautiful and worth to mention again is the flora of Mallorca that is here also represented: olive- , almond- and pomegranate-trees, little orange-, eucalyptus-, and carob-trees, pines and cypresses.
Conclusion about Botanicactus: Surely, one already has visited some botanical gardens at some islands of the south. Those who are interested in the nature and specially in exotic plants is definitely in the right place. Due to the reason that cacti only bloom any few years, here one can discover all kinds of shapes and colours. The complex was generaly very well-kept and also the toilets and the kiosks seemed to be inviting.
Colonia de Sant Jordi: a little romantic locality at the harbour
The next destination in our plan was Colonia de Sant Jordi. As we were still very dried up form our running about in Botanicactus, we wanted nothing more than driving straight to the natural beach Es Trenc, for which the little locality Colonia de Sant Jordi is so praised in many travel guides. The drive to the center was also not very promising. Indeed, the main street leads one straight to the Place de Constitucion, but it does not offer any touristical features and appears to be boring. So we took the road in direction to the harbour and were actually stunned. Here, we encountered upon a complete different vision.
After we parked our car in one of the free parking places right at the harbour, we jumped at one of the many little shady coffee bars to relax. The canny and friendly atmosphere was soon passed over to us. There, we had a wonderful view to the traffic-reduced esplanade of the harbour that radiated a charm of its own with the international restaurants, little beach shops and the little houses decorated with flowers.
Also, the little harbour beach of Colonia de Sant Jordi really surprised us and it would have been very seductive to spread our towels here, but we absolutely wanted to visit the beach of Es Trenc. Later, we would realy learn to appreciate what this little harbour beach offered, compared to Es Trenc: despite of the free parking place just around the corner, the really nice and quiet restaurants at the esplanade of the harbour and the possibility to buy some swimming things, the beach of Colonia de Sant went strong specially by its cleanliness and maintenance. And: there was enough space! The safety and amusement offered was first class: life guards, rental of sunloungers, rental of boats and the possibility to take a tour by glass bottom boats.
Instead, we indeed we praised this little locality with its nice beach esplanade to the skies, but we persisted on our decision to have a sunbath and relax in the dream beach of Es Trenc. If we only knew what was upon us!
Salines de Llevant: Salt production in Mallorca
If one wants to drive from Colonia de Sant Jordi to the beach of Es Trenc, on the way, one automatically passes the big white hills of Salines de Llevant. At the right side of the road, the widely extended salines are visible in that in this very day, salt is still produced.
This method of salt production, in which the sea salt is conducted through different pool stations and evaporates through the solar radiation has been used in many islands in order to produce salt. Only few salt plants as the one of Mallorca are actually industrialized, as they are normally not cost-effective.
Those who have never seen such a salt plant before will be very impressed by the sight of the huge white hills. It is possible to make an intermediate stop in order to buy some salt. But an extra drive to this place just for sightseeing is not worth the effort, as the complex is not accessible; there are more beautiful salines, as for example in the Canarian Islands which can be properly viewed. Here, one can only look over the fence into a wide area and, if one is lucky, see some species of birds with their nests.
Es Trenc - nightmare at expensive commercialization
In every travel guide about Mallorca it is written: Es Trenc is one of the most beautiful man-made beaches of Mallorca. Indeed, it is not anymore an insider tip but still worth to visit. Well - the disappointment was very nasty and we only can warn those who really think on having a bath there.
The access road to the beach which is much too narrow is already the first obstacle and the chance to be trained in the serenity needed for what in general will follow. We partly really had to stop the car in order not to bump into the cars coming in the opposite direction. The next incident was the little queue at the cashier. Yes, money is deeply cashed up here. We paid full 6 euros parking fee in order to catch a parking place in the afternoon at the other end of the slightly plashy parking place..
The march to the beach through the dunes took only a few minutes but the stream of people and the garbage that seemed to lie between the dunes for quite a time was not really appealing to us. The first impression of the beach was a big sign with the fees for the rental of deck chairs and parasols. This was a thing we were used to from the other beaches, but here, there was milelong no chance to lie somewhere on the towel.
You can first walk for a long time alongside the narrow beach and pass closely the people squeezed in the beach, each deck chair close to the other; Not to be overlooked that at the same time, people will continuously come from the opposite direction. But what was really daunting to us was the beach-fashion show held in front of a bigger restaurant-kiosk with noisy disco bluster. For a short time, we really had doubts if we were really right here or perhaps in Ballermann.
Once we found, after a march of some kilometres, an adequate spot for us on which we finally could lay our towels, we still were squeezed between the others. He who is a fan of nudism will be pleased. There were many nudists among the people. But there is to pay attention without fail if you go to the water. The even beaches entice to run enthusiasticly into the water. But there are many wholes and rocky stones which can chafe your skin.
Once you have enough from bathing, you should in any case take into account the long way back. Again, passing the deck chairs, you have to go back with the crowd on the narrow paths through the dunes to the parking place. Disappointment and annoyance were clearly visible in the people's face. Afterwards we read that in the year 2006, Es Trenc did not get a blue flag. We are not surprised.
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Copyright: Patrick Wagner, www.tourist-guide.biz