Thursday, June 27, 2013

Barranco de las Penitas

In line with our moving plans, there are almost no place left on Fuerteventura where I really wanted to go and didn’t get yet. *

Last week we went for a walk in Barranco de las Penitas — one of the greenest places on the whole island. It’s a sort of continuation of the valley where the old capital of Fuerteventura, Betancuria, sits. The barranco (ravine) runs towards the west coast of the island, joining eventually with El Barranco de la Madre del Agua, to form even bigger Barranco del Ajuy, which flows into the ocean by (you’ve guessed it) Ajuy.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Morro Jable — Gran Valle — Cofete Pass — Villa Winter

A view towards Villa Winter from Degollada de Cofete (Cofete Pass)

Cofete is one of the places on Fuerteventura where I always wanted to go and somehow didn't manage to do so. Even now I can only put a half-tick in that particular box (which is a bit nonsensical, same as the one-palmed clap). But I came close this time.

I have now so many people and organizations from Fuerteventura listed as contacts in Facebook that it brings me all sorts of useful info. On the page on Cabildo (sort of like the island's council) I saw an announcement of the excursion to Cofete organized within a program called "Fuerteventura al Golpito". They arrange excursions more or less every two weeks, provide a guide (or two, as it was in our case), and a free bus which picks people at Puerto del Rosario and Gran Tarajal. You have to phone and put your name on the list, and then they send you a message a couple of days in advance, stating the meeting place and time, plus in this case a change of route.

The original route was estimated to be two hours longer than the one that we eventually did, and I am jolly glad of the change too. It was hard going as it was, we were back in Morro Jable in six hours instead of the estimated four, and we didn't stop for very long anywhere. Even the stop at Villa Winter was rather brief.

The Villa Winter itself was rather disappointing, I must say. I don't know what I expected really, but the place has this aura of mystery about it (hidden rooms! secret passages! a submarine can come up right to the basement! etc.) so I didn't expect goats, rubbish in the inner courtyard and peeling walls. Maybe, if the owners allowed us into the basement, as they sometimes do apparently, I would be more impressed, but they didn't, so I wasn't.

The route was beautiful if somewhat hard. Shame that we didn't have time to come down to the water level, but that would probably have delayed us a lot more, and the bus driver was apparently getting really impatient as he was counting on the shorter time.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

El Barranco de los Enamorados — or so I think at least :)

Face of the barranco. Chess Pieces. Moai of Fuerteventura. Take your pick

I wanted to find this particular ravine, El Barranco de Los Enamorados (or de los Encantados), ever since I saw some amazing pictures of it in Facebook. It proved to be not that easy — my excellent KOMPASS map doesn’t have this name, and all the local maps I saw so far don’t have even the most basic stuff, let alone barrancos. I wanted to join one of the excursions that are organized by local walking groups — that didn’t happen somehow. I asked for the directions and got contradictory answers (it’s close to Lajares — no, actually, to La Oliva — no, it’s very close to the Playa de Esquinzo — it’s to the left — no, to the right — actually, just carry on straight...). I asked to point it out on a map; even that was a bit vague. So. I am inclined to think people talk about somewhat different places, but all of those places share one thing — amazing smooth water patterns on the sandstone.

Choosing the directions that pleased me by their simplicity (“just take the unused branch of Lajares roundabout and carry on straight, you can’t miss it”) I went there with a friend. We followed a huge barranco that starts close to Lajares roundabout; when we came to the place where it separated into three branches we started to walk the middle one. We soon met a small group of people, all looking local, and asked them for directions, just to make sure. The main guy took the words out of my mouth — “El Barranco de los Enamorados? No, you took a wrong turn, we are going that way, follow us and then I show you were to go”. (So much for “it’s straight, you can’t miss it”). We followed them to where they parked their 4x4; he told us that “from here it’s probably one more kilometer that way”. Off we went. Problem is, barrancos tend to branch off. That day we took a “wrong” branch — it was nice and had some interesting sandstone structures which were probably petrified plants — but we haven’t found what we were looking for.

So, we went again. This time we found all the stuff you can see on the pictures. I am still not that sure that we found “the” barranco, but I will give the route we followed, and point out at least one alternative I found. I can tell you without false modesty that my pictures are a lot better than what I saw before, but can’t tell if that is because we found a better place or it’s just because I haven’t seen other pictures that do the place justice.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Montaña de la Arena

We didn’t have much luck with the sun during this excursion. One of a few small pools of light on the landscape

Montaña de la Arena is a small dark mountain between Lajares and Villaverde/La Oliva. I passed it many times when doing a part of trans-Fuerteventura path GR 131. Once we tried to go up it with friends, but turned back when we discovered that the side of the mountain that we choose was one large scree. That was the side which looks at Lajares, northern face more of less.
When I saw the announcement of the excursion to the Montaña de la Arena on Facebook, I joined. I figured that maybe there is a good path up that I failed to spot myself.
Well, I was wrong. Where we went, there is no good path. There are bits when it looks sort of like one; but those are separated by stretches of pure picon, black volcanic gravel. You step up and slide down by the same amount, and you step up again, and you guessed the rest. It’s not an easy climb, and I don’t recommend to go where we went - southern face.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Pico de Zarza

While Europe is getting an unhealthy share of snow and cold, it’s getting hot and summery here on Fuerteventura. So I figured it’s time to do this walk before it becomes impossible, or at least very, very uncomfortable.

Pico de Zarza is the highest point of Fuerteventura, just over 800 meters high (just now I found a figure of 807, but it seems to me that I saw some other heights somewhere). When the sky is clear you can see all of Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria and Teide on Tenerife from there. The sky wasn’t that clear when we went, so we didn’t see the other islands. Still, the views are spectacular and the walk well worth doing.

Above is the view along the wild Cofete beach (btw, the only remaining point of the island that I really want to visit and haven’t visited yet).

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

From La Pared to Sotavento de Jandia

The urge to climb and then jump off the sharp rock is irresistible to some

Last Saturday we went for a long walk with my former Spanish class. The walk started around La Pared village on the west coast of Fuerteventura, ran along the shore for the goodish while, and then started to traverse the island. It ended up at main road FV-1, at the level of southern end of Playa de Sotavento de Jandia.

I liked the walk a lot, the coastal path is absolutely spectacular, but there are a few somewhat difficult points about it that I’d like to record.

First, logistically it’s not easy to organize on your own. It’s not circular, and if you want to go by car, you will have to go through a palaver of arranging at least one at the end of the walk, then ferrying people between the end and the start. We had it easy, as the center provided the bus that brought us to the start and picked us up at the end. I am not sure if the walk is doable by just public transport, but inclined to think that it isn’t.

Second point — most of the route runs along the sandstone ledge not much above the high water level, and under a tall wall of sandstone. There is no or very little mobile reception; so not a great idea to try the walk on your own even if you managed to somehow arrange the transport. Apart from our large group, we met very few people along the path.

Third point, linked to the previous — sandstone ledge runs out occasionally, or becomes quite steep. Nothing too bad, but — watch out and have somebody else watching out for you.

Apart from that, nothing much I can add. Enjoy the views :)

Monday, March 04, 2013

Gardens, gardens everywhere

Anybody who knows anything at all about me knows that I like flowers. And in Puerto de La Cruz there are at least two big gardens. So I went to both this time :)

One is "Jardín Sitio Litre", which is confusingly marked as "Orchid garden" in the little tourist map, private property attached to a largish house where the current owners live. The current name is the result of somewhat japanese-sounding transformation of the original "el Sitio Little", "Little's Place", after Archibald Little, the first owner of the estate. It's not big, well established, nicely laid out, with some space dedicated, yes, to orchids, a koi carp pond, fountain, small cafe etc.

Another one is the "real" botanical garden, know as Jardín de Aclimatación de la Orotava, Jardín Botánico or El Botánico. It's larger, but still nowhere as large as Cambridge botanical garden for instance, let alone Kew. Acclimatization bit in the name is there because it was used to acclimatize plants brought from different parts of the world.

Well. I liked the second one more. It's bigger, collection is more impressive, the entrance is just 2 euro for Canarian resident (dat's me) against 4.75 for the Orchid Garden. Plus, to be honest, I was lured to the Orchid garden by the name, hoping to see a lot of beautiful, well, orchids. I don't know if it is the season or what, but you will see more orchids in Scotsdales garden center. Maybe the garden holds more variety - I don't remember seeing Lady slipper orchids in Scotsdales, for instance. Maybe. Still, I was somewhat disappointed

Now, I wrote this sorry excuse for a text just to be able to post some flower pictures. So here they are :)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnival Parade 2013

I've heard many times that the carnival in Santa Cruz de Tenerife is something worth watching. "Second biggest in the world", "immediately after one ends, everybody starts preparing for the next one", "amount of feathers and sequins like you won't believe", etc, etc...
Last year we were quite content with much more humble offering of Corralejo and Puerto del Rosario, but this year I figured I should go have a look at Tenerife.
Now, I am not an expert on carnivals. Carnivals that I saw in the UK are basically few days affairs, sometimes just one-day affair, when you have a procession and that's pretty much it. Here it is not the case - various events leading up to the main parade start a few weeks in advance. But I couldn't of course drop everything and go for a few weeks, so I restricted myself to just four days. That allowed me to see the two biggest parades on the island - one in Santa Cruz on the day of arrival, one in Puerto de la Cruz on the day of departure, with the Burial of the Sardine and drag "put your heels on" parade in Puerto fitted in between.

Sunday, February 03, 2013


I was looking in the direction of Tindaya for quite some time, figuring out how to get there without a car. It’s possible, but tricky, as there are just three buses per day that go past the village. You can start from further, at La Oliva, but that involves walking some nine kilometers to the mountain before going up, and that somehow didn’t seem so very attractive.

Apart from that, there was always a nagging question that nobody could quite answer — do you need a permission to ascend Tindaya, it being a protected area, sacred mountain and all that.

So I was really happy when I got a call from my former Spanish teacher saying that there will be a group excursion for Tindya, that we have enough cars and that he sorted out the group permission with ayuntamiento (district council) *.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Montaña de Ecanfraga, take two

On Friday I had another go at Ecanfraga. This time I thought, “ok, I couldn’t go around it before, but I did go half way up. Now, I will try to go up”.

I almost succeeded, but only almost. My map doesn’t show the way up, so I have to choose how to go myself. The caldera of Ecanfraga has the usual horseshoe shape, maybe a little more angular than the others. I choose to go up by the side of the horseshoe that is closer to Villaverde. I came close, but the path disappeared completely about 30 meters from the top (that’s my estimate, and I am not very good at judging distances up). It was still possible to carry on up, the stones are solid and not slippery, but I was alone and chickened out somewhat.