FORMENTERA ON FOOT
JESSE GARRICK JOINS TOBY CLARKE, FOUNDER OF WALKING IBIZA, ON A 10KM HIKE IN ES PUJOLS
The snapshot Toby remembers... // Toby recuerda... “When we were kids, we would sometimes sail to Formentera, where our parents would drop bottles of cava to the seabed to keep cool. When they had finished one they’d ask us to swim down and collect another!” // “Cuando éramos niños, a veces navegábamos a Formentera, donde nuestros padres enterraban botellas de cava en el agua del mar para mantenerlas frías. ¡Cuando se acababan una nos pedían que nos zambulléramos a coger otra!”
Formentera is the smallest of the inhabited Balearic islands. It has actually been inhabited for such a long time that, remarkably, human activity on Formentera may predate human activity on Ibiza. Toby tells me that the oldest indicator of human life on the island may not be, as previously thought, the ancient burial site at Ca Na Costa; instead, the remains of a sheep found a decade ago dating to 4800BC may soon shed light on human settlement as far back as the Stone Age. A group of 50, including myself, signed up for this annual trip to Formentera. The group was unusually large, one of the other walkers told me, but on such a beautiful day in early May, and with the chance to explore the island with someone as knowledgeable as Toby, it was easy to see why. We set off from the jetty at the south end of Figueretes beach. The journey to La Savina took less than 60 minutes, and for the first 20 the boat chugged along the coast of Playa d’en Bossa. We got a great view of the chiringuitos and hotels on this stage of the journey, as well as the planes coming in and out of the airport. As we passed the Torre de Ses Portes, Es Vedra also came into view and for at least 30 minutes we all gazed out of the starboard side of the boat at the incredible rock, glistening in the sun. When we arrived in La Savina, the most striking thing about Formentera was its flatness. The undulating hills of Ibiza are one of its most well-known and obvious characteristics. Formentera, meanwhile, is mostly flat. It’s also very low: much of the island is below sea level, meaning that if you look back on a clear day, you will get excellent views of Playa D’en Bossa and Ibiza Town, as well as Es Vedra. From La Savina we headed straight for the ancient, pink Es Pujols salt flats. “Flamingos” Toby tells us, “are pink because they eat shrimp that feed off the pink salt.” This was the first of many pieces
of wisdom that Toby dispensed throughout the day, which is the great thing about a guided tour. We stopped now and again to discover plants and wildlife that otherwise may have gone unnoticed. We were shown the poor man’s saffron, the curry plant, as well as wild thyme, wild asparagus, wild garlic and sea lavender. We were given a short history of the area: salt was more expensive than gold at one time and so was fundamental to the lives of the islanders. It created a level of wealth that they had never seen before, but as soon as the wealth came so came centuries of piracy, which, for periods of time, left the island completely deserted. We moved away from the salt flats and to the ancient burial site at Ca Na Costa, then to Platja des Canyers, where we had a swim and enjoyed a delicious lunch, courtesy of The Rabbit Hole in San Rafael. Take some goggles if you come here this summer because you can find all manner of treasure on the seabed, such as old shells, anchors and seaweed-covered fishing chains - not to mention an abundance of marine life. We walked roughly 7km before lunch and 3km after, meaning the walk back around the Es Pujols salt flats was very easy going, not least because it was so flat. After a day that flew by but actually lasted 7 hours, we enjoyed a cold drink in La Savina while we waited for our ride home. A perfect day! It’s easy to say that Formentera is beautiful, but so much of its beauty derives from its tranquility that you have to experience it to fully appreciate it. Photos cannot convey how quiet the island is, how mellow the waves that push gently against the white beaches are, and how ancient the place feels. That can only be witnessed first hand, and considering a ticket to Formentera can cost less than €20, its easy to see why so many people will come here this summer and, for that matter, why you should too.
176 THE USHUAÏA MAGAZINE
165_CHECK OUT_AMAYA.indd 176