It is this incredible presence of Manuel Ehrensperger and his honest handshake that immediately conveys: I am safe here; I will climb Mount Everest and back with this man. Luckily, Manu (as his friends are allowed to call him) only offers hikes on Ibiza, but these range from magnificent views and routes to any mountain climb. Experience Ibiza in a completely different way: that was it, for the former manager wanted when he came to Ibiza the first time. He went side by side with the old fisherman and locals on their enchanted path and felt in love with the amazing nature of the island. Now he has been offering tours with his company IBIZA HIKE STATION for over a year and… he is fully booked for months! He still found a little bit time for IBIZA STYLE to tell us why he swapped the patent leather shoes for hiking boots.
Manuel, you were born in Switzerland under the sign of lion and spent your childhood there. To what extent did your parental home and your homeland shape you?
I am a true Leo which you can tell as I love bringing people together and I am a very social person. I enjoy connecting with people and share the beauty in life. I had a very happy childhood, growing up in a farm in the village Pully in Switzerland surrounded by nature and animals. My mother used to take us for hikes in the mountains and forests. During the summers we used to go swimming in the lakes and in the winters, we went skiing in the mountains. The experiences ignited my passion and love for the outdoors.
Have you always enjoyed being in nature?
Yes, I have. I am grateful to have grown up without technology which encouraged us to spend time in nature and engage in outdoor activities.
You have an unusual career path for a hiking guide. How did it come about that you turned your professional life upside down?
I started my career as an apprentice chef at the renowned l’Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne and rose fairly quickly to Food and Beverage Manager in Senegal and the Mark Hotel in New York. I was then presented with an opportunity to be the Director of the Levis franchise in Switzerland where I transitioned into the fashion industry. I then moved to Levis in Spain where I started my venture in the luxury goods industry. I spent the next decade and a half in various management and director roles in luxury goods companies such as Swarovski, Chopard, Pronovias. Four years ago, I realised that I was not happy living in the rat race and wanted more from life. I went through a divorce and decided to walk the Santiago de Compostela where I spent 21 days and 800 kilometres walking in silence. During that life changing experience, I decided to spend some time in the fresh air of Ibiza to find my next path in life.
How and why did you come up with the idea of this company? And when?
When I came to the island, I was consulting in private equity for a few hours per day which allowed me a lot of free time explore the island.
Friends always recommended the same restaurants, beaches and clubs to go to. However, it was very repetitive and I did not feel fulfilled and stayed in my comfort zone. That lead me to explore the island on my own to see the other side. I bought a trail guide book and started discovering incredible spots and breathtaking views. My friends were always very impressed with the photos I shared of the places I discovered and would ask me about these places. I then realised that not many people know the wild, raw and untouched parts of the Ibiza nature. I started to invite my friends and acquaintances from all walks of life to join me on hikes for two years. During this time, I understand that hikes are not just for active people, it is for everyone whether you’re a DJ, business owner, celebrity, families, old or young it does not matter everyone can enjoy them. It gave me great pleasure to share these beautiful experiences with others.
When did you start your business on Ibiza?
One and half years and a half ago, I had my first client. A hiker from Italy, asked me to do 10 hikes with him for training purposes and discovering the island. I then took my license in Turismo Activo and this last winter I completed the professional course as a mountain guide level 1.
The island offers many beautiful hiking and climbing routes, but why Ibiza?
Every day I go hiking here in Ibiza it feels like the first time as the scenery changes with the weather conditions, seasons and even with the time of the day. It is like a full sensory experience where all of your senses are fully engaged such as looking at all of the different shades of green, feeling the refreshing water on your skin to the scent of the rosemary. I offer over 30 hikes all different from each other as the nature here is so diverse. Every moment is unique.
You seem to be very in balance, has it always been like that?
Yes, I am now. I live in the present moment, completely enjoying every step of my life doing what I. love. It was not always like this due to the stress of living the city life working in high demanding positions where I was not in control of my life.
Ibiza is attracting more and more tourists who don’t come to party but to enjoy the beautiful nature – do you feel this trend in your business? Do you have more requests than before?
Yes definitively, my goal was to offer a different side of the island to tourists rather than the usual club, boat, restaurant, beach life. I wanted to show a different experience in nature during their vacation on this beautiful island. This year I am fully booked every day with requests dating to 2023. I offer to capture their moments in pictures and videos in order for my hikers to be fully present and enjoy their experience, stepping out of their comfort zone and rediscovering themselves.
Do you do all the tours yourself or do you have a team?
This season I have partnered up with Gino Nami, a life coach with a passion for nature, hikes and healthy lifestyle. She complements me bringing real energy and authenticity to our experiences.
Do you also offer meditations in combination with your walks? An are there any rule during a hiking tour?
Yes, is very important, mindfulness walks and meditations are a big part of the concept. There are no rules, just bring your good energy, presence and smile.
What is your favourite route?
I don’t have favourite route. It depends on what the individual hiker or group wants to get out of the experience. Whether you want to go for a refreshing hike and swim in the caves, a physically challenging hike or to lose yourself in a forest, it is about accommodating our client’s needs.
Please name 2 other routes and their highlights
Es Vedra: the powerful rock that is the third most magnetic point in the world.
Ses Balandres: Iconic and authentic hike where you can find hidden gems.
What is so satisfying for you about your activity?
I enjoy the healthy lifestyle, to have the pleasure of meeting incredible people from all around the world and living in a paradise every day.
How do you see the problem of pollution in Ibiza and do you get involved in any way?
Unfortunately, the pollution is a problem everywhere. On this island especially there are many boats, jet skis and cars which add to the pollution problem. It is sad to discover quiet beaches full of plastic from the sea during my hikes. I try to help by cleaning the beaches and trails I go on, it is important to leave the place better than you found it.
What was your most bizarre experience with a client or client request?
For me nothing is bizarre, every request is very important because is meaningful for the client. Anything from assisting in a marriage proposal to a hiker asking for naked pictures in front of Es Vedra. All clients have individual requests and I do my best to accommodate them.
Are there any places in Ibiza that you do NOT know about?
During my four years of hiking every day I have encountered fishermen who have showed me trails that have not been walked for the last thirty years. The locals, Ibicencos have also showed me many secret places and shared stories. I am sure I will keep discovering hidden gems and treasures on the island.
Where do you live on Ibiza and what other hobbies do you have?
I live in the north, the quiet part of the island. I enjoy the silence watching the starts. It is an authentic part of Ibiza which I love. My hobbies include paddle surfing, food experiences and music. In my instagram stories you will notice my love for deep house electronic music with ethnic sounds.
Your own philosophy of life?
To go far in life, you must go light.
Your wish for Future?
To share the beauty of the island with hikers and to extend the concept to other places in the world. I would like to promote the benefits of nature hikes which exercises the part of your brain designed to help you navigate through life. I hope we can draw more people to this concept so they can live a longer and happier life.