Traveling the 185 kilometers of the Camí de Cavalls (on foot, by bicycle or even on horseback) is an unbeatable way to get to know Menorca in depth; especially in autumn and spring, when temperatures are milder. This path completely encircles the island, also covering all its possible landscapes: beaches, forests, cultivation areas and even urban stretches.
The origin of the Camí de Cavalls (horse trail) dates back to the 14th century. At least, from this time we already have evidence of some sections that allowed the defence of the island. In the 15th and 16th centuries, with the construction of defence towers against pirates, the existence of a perimeter road was necessary. Its name comes from the XVIII century, because during the British domination of the island the soldiers watched the coast on horseback along the path. They also granted him the consideration of Camino Real (Royal Path). With the passage of time, unfortunately, the road fell into disuse and its route cut by more than 100 private estates.
At the end of the last decade of the last century, the protest marches and the popular pressure made the promulgation of a “Camí de Cavalls” Law and the expropriation of the farms to mark their current route possible. In 2002 it was declared of cultural interest, and in 2010 its conditioning was completed, being included in the European “Rutas Grand Tour” under the name GR-223. In spite of being a ring road, it takes as Km 0 Sa Cularsega, in the Port of Mahón. The Camí de Cavalls is divided into 20 official stages of between 5 and 13 kilometers, perfectly marked and following the opposite direction to the clock. Most of them are of easy or medium difficulty, and take between 2 and 4 hours to be completed.
Among the main attractions of the Camí de Cavalls we can find the Natural Park of S’Albufera des Grau; the marvellous virgin beaches of the spectacular surroundings of the lighthouse of Faváritx or Es Mercadal and the turquoise waters and white sands of Cala en Turqueta, Cala Macarella, Cala Mitjana or Cala Galdana; wilder area and spectacular coastline between Cala Pregonda Menorc and Cala en Calderer; the variety of colours of the Menorcan north coast that unfold between Els Alocs and Pla de Mar; the stony plain of the west coast in the stretch between Punta Nati and Pont d’en Gil; Alcafar tower and lighthouse Island Air, near Punta Prima… A wide variety of landscapes of Menorca, its flora, its fauna, its architecture and its history are to be enjoyed along the way.
Since its integral conditioning in 2010, the entire trail can be completed by foot. In addition, there are many sections that can be made by bicycle, but others are not very practical for bikers. To clear this and other doubts about the characteristics of the route, it is highly recommended to consult some of the various guides – one of them, the official one of the Consell Insular de Menorca – published on the Camí de Cavalls, both on paper and in e-book format. Detailed maps of each of the stages in PDF format also be found on the Internet. In addition, there is a travel agency specifically dedicated to the road, Camí de Cavalls 360º, which facilitates all types of options and services to travel with guarantees.
Please keep in mind that camping is not allowed in the Camí de Cavalls, there’s also no hostels and there are some stretches in which there are no close by places to spend the night. Among the main recommendations to make the Camí de Cavalls on ideal conditions, we can highlight to take enough food and water, sun protection and a hat in summer – although it is not advisable to walk the path with excessive heat – and goggles and snorkel. A good part of the way is quite stony, so it is essential to use appropriate and comfortable footwear. It is also recommended to carry out the stages from east to west, to always have the sun on your back and not be dazzled.
As you can read in the prologue to the Guide of the Camí de Cavalls of the Balearic Government, this “is not, only, a simple path which goes around the island, but a collective heritage that it is part of our identity”. Go ahead and discover it, in a whole or just a part of it, to imbue your spirit and feel like a true Menorcan.