In my home association (HB), I use public transport for 95% of my activations. I was planning a short trip to Mallorca EA6 and wanted to see if I could likewise get by without getting a rental car. I ended up identifying four possibilities for summits, one of which I did activate in my two full days on the island.
The first strategic decision was to select where to stay. I chose Port D’Alcudia, which is in the northeast corner of the island, close to a number of summits. True, it’s a 45 minute ride from the airport to Alcudia, but transport to/from the hotel was included in my package.
There is a summit within walking distance of my hotel – EA6/MA-066, Puig de San Marti. In his book “Walk! Mallorca”, Charles Davis says, “Puig de Sant Marti is the singular, slightly dull looking hillside behind Playa Alcudia. Don’t be deceived though. It’s a stiff climb with some modest pathfinding problems, and the outlook on Acudia, the Sa Pobla plain and the Tramuntana is splendid. If you’re staying in Alcudia, it’s a must.”
I had only a short stay, time enough for only one or possibly two activations. My first choice was EA6/MA-057 Serra de la Punta for two reasons. First, it was accessible by public transport, and second it would be a SOTA complete for me. To get there, I first took the bus (L352) from the bus stop almost directly across from my hotel to the end of the line at Port de Pollenca. There is a well traveled foot path from Port de Pollenca to Cala St. Vicenc – what Charles Davis calls “one of Mallorca’s classic strolls.” At the highest point of the pass between the two towns there is a stone building, and at that point I headed west into the bush to make my approach to MA-057.
Like Davis says earlier, it might look straightforward, but this was one of the most strenguous hikes I’ve ever taken. There is heavy vegetation (grass and shrubs) hiding a field of uneven stones. You have to be careful of every single step because this territory is a twisted ankle waiting to happen. It’s very slow going. After almost a kilometer, I could finally start the scramble up a rocky hillside. Here I packed up my hiking poles because I was using my hands all the time. (Note of advice: bring good protective hiking gloves!) Only when I was almost at the top did I start to see small cairns, but at that point the final approach to the summit was pretty obvious. The trip down was similarly exhausting. I almost never feel my legs the day after an activation, but in this case the next morning my upper thighs were reminding me in no uncertain terms that they had a very good workout! In any event, I was rewarded with remarkable views in splendid spring weather (sunny, in the 70s with a slight breeze).
As for other possible summits with public transportation I am aware of: from Port de Pollenca you can also tackle EA6/MA-046 Talaia Vella. Phil G4OBK notes that this is considerably more difficult than MS-057, and he also suggests that it might be possible to do both in one day. For reasons just explained, I leave that exercise to those who are better men than me.
There was one other opportunity for a public transport summit: EA6/MA-044 Talaia d’Albercutx. The L353 bus runs from Port d’Alcudia to Formentor, and you get off at the next-to-last stop at Mirador d’es Colomer. From there, you hike up the side road to the summit (most people either drive up to near the activation zone). Note that there is only sporadic bus service, and it runs only in the summer season. There are two bus runs to Formentor in the morning, and two return trips from Formentor to Port de Pollenca and then Port d’Alcudia in the late afternoon. So you have to time things properly if you don’t want to get stranded. Further, one of the info booklets in my hotel said that if a bus is packed with no more room, the driver will simply go by a stop without picking up any passengers.
In all, I identified four possible “public transport” summits in the northeast corner of Mallorca. There could well be more, but I leave discovering them to another activator.
BTW, with all the recent news about large electronic devices and batteries at airport security, I was a bit nervous. I ended up taking my MTR-5B, a very small CW rig that I have enclosed in clear plastic so a security agent could see that there is nothing except chips and coils and connectors. I brought small LiFePO4 batteries packed in a “battery safe” bag. This meant I was limited to 3W output, but the hungry chasers were able to dig me out. I had absolutely no problem going through security, and I suspect I could have brought my favorite rig – my KX2 – and not had any problems. But, as I said, I got the activation and the SOTA complete.