Well, as you may have seen this weekend – the weather was beautiful! It was almost like we felt the first warmth of spring… minus the chilly breeze and later rain shower, but hey, we’ll take what we can get! During the winter in Malta, it can feel colder indoors than it does outside, so what better reason to get out of the house!? It’s also very helpful that there are countless hiking trail around the Maltese islands; you’re never far from a breathe of fresh air, nature’s greenery and undisturbed sea views. It’s also convenient that Malta is quite small, especially the sister island: Gozo. I’ve been to Gozo multiple times now to camp, climb, visit local wineries, kayak the coasts and visit the sights; however, I have never done a coastal trek before! It goes to show that even though these islands are tiny and you may get island fever, there are still endless things to do on the Maltese islands.
So on this fine Saturday day, a group of us make the trek (30 minute scooter ride) to the ferry, and within 25 minutes stepped foot onto Gozo and immediately felt like we were on holiday… what a great Saturday feeling right? Before we arrived, we looked up Visit Gozo’s “The Gozo Coastal Walk” guide and chose Section #1: Mgarr to Xlendi. Visit Gozo lists this section for having: 1) Spectacular sea views 2) Stops to Fort Chambray and coastal watchtowers 3) Picturesque sea inlets and a walk through 4) Ta’Cenc area…. and may I add 5) the most beautiful lunch stop area: Mgarr Xini! This coastal walk was approximately 12 kilometers, with an estimated 5-6 hour duration… but we completed the trail within 4.5 hours. There are a few optional variations to the trail… so the hike duration depends on the paths you choose and how good of a navigator you have in the group!
I really don’t want to give to much away about the trail, because I think everyone should experience Gozo in this particular way.. and well, pictures are worth a 1000 words right? I’ll let them do most of the talking!
With every corner and turn came a new beautiful view, but this one was very unique. There are a few beaches in Malta with this look, and I find them very impressive… especially when there is an old fortification perched at the top. We stumbled onto this beach within the first 20 minutes of our hike, and this is when we first detoured from the trail guide as we wanted to explore the coastline more than the Fort. We definitely could have ventured up to the Fort, so now we know for next time!
Again, these cliffs were seriously beautiful and so green! For those who don’t live in Malta or Gozo, the islands can become very arid in the summer months… leaving the landscape brittle and less colourful. However, in the winter months the islands are vividly green from the rainy season, making Malta and Gozo look completely different! With the combination of the greenery and the sheer cliffs into the blue waters, it’s hard not to use up all your camera memory.
At the half way point, we arrived into the area of Mgarr Xini, marked by the tower at the entrance to the inlet. We ventured around the tower for a bit, taking in the view and vitamin D before settling into the inlet for a snack stop. This was where we camped and climbed last year, and there is always a small van selling tea, coffee and icecream… the bare necessities if you will. We grabbed some chairs, perched ourselves and watched some dark clouds roll by before continuing our hike.
The rest of our hike was along the steep cliffs of the south shore. This section had a more defined trail, which allowed us to pick up the pace a bit more. Some of the sections reminded me of the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland, but Maltese style. And may I say that we only crossed paths with a few other hikers during our entire excursion. Hard to believe Malta is the 9th most densely populated countries in the world when you can easily experience this landscape by yourself.
The views were never boring. Up one hill, down the other and “wow!” all over again. The contrast between some of the coasts were very beautiful, such as the photo below of the entrance to Xlendi bay. The rocks were sloping and smoothly carved on one side, but jagged and straight on the far coast.
We finished the trail in approximately 4.5 hours, and we were chasing the sun for the last 20 minutes as we approached Xlendi. We enjoyed some tea, soup and dessert in a cozy restaurant to warm up before taking the bus back to Mgarr. We all felt extremely proud of ourselves, but once the sense of accomplishment settled in we found ourselves very exhausted on the ferry ride back to Malta. This was only the first of five sections along the Gozo Coastal Walk and we plan to complete the entire trail before October 2019. The plan is to come for an over night stay and camp, so we can have more time to explore the island… and hopefully swim in the warm waters.
Have you been to Gozo before? I’ve had plenty of visitors in the past two years and I would love to take them on a walk like this to see the natural beauty of Gozo. If you do plan to do this hike, make sure to download the Visit’s Gozo Coastal Trail PDF.. to help guide you along the way! I’ll include the trail images below for reference!
As always, thanks for listening!