When you think of the Canary Islands, perhaps this is the first thing that comes to mind:
But what made my trip really interesting was the forays into the mountains in the interior.
On the very day we arrived, we drove up to the mountains to find the Cruz de Tejeda – the highest pass on the island which you can drive through, and which is marked by a ‘large’ stone cross.
It was somewhat underwhelming, to be honest. Is the monument tall? For sure. But the cross itself isn’t huge, so be warned.
Thankfully, it was not a wasted trip as the route up was scenic, though at times alarming. Imagine going up a steep, narrow and winding road with just a few feet of air between you and the cliff! (We made a wrong turn somewhere and took some bumpy back roads.)
Lesson learnt: if you use Google Maps, take the shortest route time-wise, not distance-wise. You’ll be directed through the main roads, which can be identified by the prefix “GC-“. You can also tell by the fact that they’re wide, well-signposted, and have a sturdy railing between you and the edge of the cliff!
This is the entrance to the Parador de Cruz de Tejeda, a four-star hotel a few steps from the Cruz de Tejeda. It seemed quiet (and to be honest we didn’t realise it was a hotel), so we popped inside for a bit and were treated to this amazing view:
Sometimes, from the mountains, you can hardly tell where the sky and the sea meet.
Santa Lucía de Tirajana
We made a quick stop in this picturesque village on the way to Roque Nublo.
And some of the strangest cacti I’ve seen yet:
Journey to the centre of the
We made sure to drive on the main roads this time!
So high up that the clouds are right there:
You can see the roads winding through the mountains – just a reminder of how puny we are in the grand scheme of things. And yet, our destructive power over the earth and our fellow inhabitants is completely disproportional.
If we could work together to preserve the incredible beauty of nature instead of plundering its resources, think how much better the world would be for generations to come!
Roque Nublo (Cloud Rock)
This bizarrely-shaped rock (at 1,803m) is one of Gran Canaria’s landmarks and the hike there is very popular. It’s advisable to do it in the early morning before it gets too crowded. We reached before noon on a Sunday and had a bit of trouble finding parking.
Roque Nublo is the big rock on the right. To the left of it are two distinctive rocks: Rana (frog), which is obscured by the cloud, and El Fraile (the friar).
The view at the start of the trail:
We were told that it was a 20-minute hike from the carpark but it felt much longer (although I didn’t actually time myself)! The hike is fairly steep at parts and we weren’t in the best of shape, but the views were amazing. The ascent is about 300m.
You can clamber around the rocks to a certain extent, depending on how confident and sure-footed you are. I got quite far around the rock but stopped when I came to a part that looked risky. A fall from those heights was the last thing I wanted!
Unfortunately, a cloud soon enveloped the rock and it got extremely misty and even started raining, which reduced visibility to a minimum but also led to some interesting pictures.
I got peckish and snacked on chips while up on the rock, which attracted some pigeons who hung around for a bit. They weren’t aggressive, though, and wandered away after they realised they weren’t getting fed.
Pico de las Nieves (snow peak), also known as Pozo de las Nieves (snow well)
This is the highest mountain on Gran Canaria at 1,949m above sea level. The actual peak is a military zone but below it there is a lookout point where you can see all the way to the coast on a really clear day. Obviously though that wasn’t the case for us!
As you can guess from the pictures, it was a cold and rainy day. There was a skinny dog hanging around the parked cars evidently hoping for scraps. Watching her go from car to car shivering made my heart ache.
Then a guy came along and started fussing over her like a long-lost friend while asking the nearby kiosk owner if she belonged to him (apparently not). He went on at some length but I only caught a part about how she was soaked from the rain and was going to die from the cold.
Eventually, he carried her to his car and the last I saw of her was her face looking out from the back window as we drove away. I don’t know what happened to her, but I hope with all my heart that she is now happily adopted into a loving home!
A little way below the lookout point you can see this snow well (Pozo de las Nieves). It used to be filled with compressed snow during winter, for use in the summer. An early version of the humble refrigerator!
This mountain village in the northwestern part of Gran Canaria is the highest settlement at 1,251m. It’s famous for its cave church (and in fact, many residents still live in caves). However, we only spent about 3 minutes here as I suddenly realised that we were going to be terribly late for our next appointment – a horseback riding excursion!
We headed towards the town of El Salobre as quickly as we could, but there’s only so fast you can go on winding mountain roads. In the end, we missed the 2-hour group excursion but went on a private ride for about an hour before nightfall. The terrain is sandy but the rocks had been washed away by the recent heavy rains, so it was difficult for the horses at times. We managed to gallop for a bit though!
A 1-hour excursion cost EUR36 per person; a 2-hour one costs EUR49 each.
The ranch is about a 10-minute drive from Maspalomas. Driving back from the mountains at night offers this amazing view:
When travelling, I always try to squeeze in at least one horseback riding excursion no matter where I go. What’s your weak spot?
If you would like to be updated whenever I publish a new post, please follow my blog (there’s a button on the right)! I can also be found on Twitter (@michwanderlust) and Instagram (@michhwanderlust) 🙂