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).


This is how the path looks like once you went around a small hill at the very beginning. Impossible to get lost, just walk along the range. There are path markers and distance info. The whole path is about 8 km long, but it's a linear walk, so prepare to walk 16.

In the beginning of the path there was a sign saying "Pico de Zarza, 3 hours 20 mins". I am still not sure what that meant - it is too long for one-way, too short for two-way time. We were the three fit women, walking not that fast but without long stops, except on the top. It took us two hours to go up and one hour and a half to get down.


View along Barranco de Vinamar towards Playa del Matorral in Morro Jable. You can see the lighthouse to the right. The path is very visible on the left. The light green plants are euphorbias (tabaibas), the ones that look like small trees. The dark green clusters at the bottom of the picture are also euphorbias, but these look like cacti. I think those are Euphorbia handiensis, endemic to Jandia peninsula on Fuerteventura.


One more photo of the long sweep of Cofete. You can see how steep the "other" side of the mountain range is. There is an expression in Russian, coming I think from one of the humorists of former Soviet Union: "скорую помощь не тревожь" - "don't bother the ambulance". It's one of those setups, so watch your steps and don't take the pictures on the go.


I tentatively classify those flowers as Asteriscus sericeus, the Fuerteventura endemics. There was an area fenced around he peak itself - I assume to protect the flora from the ever-present goats. Walkers can go in through the gate, which you are politely asked to close behind you.


View straight down, where Cofete is about to become Playa de Barlovento de Jandia. There were a few ravens around, and they were amusing themselves doing near-vertical flights up and down, following the slope. There was no purpose to the flights apart from pure fun, there were not trying to catch anything. Adrenaline junkies, to a bird, they are. Or whatever passes for adrenalin in birds.


View towards Playa de Barlovento.

Now, I am not  a very nervous walker (I always know that I can go back whenever I stop feeling comfortable), but I am a nervous slope driver and parker, if you see what I mean. So I had a good sniff around googlemaps before starting, to figure out where I can park comfortably. I found ample parking on what googlemaps have as "Calle de Sancho Pansa"; and I was really happy to find a photo of path marker on the street view.


View Morro Jable - Pico de Zarza in a larger map

Zarza pics on shutterstock

4 comments:

Andy said...

This is interesting what you said about the steepness of the other side down to cofete. In America they would say that you can't walk alone unless you are with an experienced guide. It's all about liability. Europe may be socialist, we're getting there ourselves, :-( but when it comes to those kind of things we still have more "personal" freedoms. Hate when you go to a little lake and they have it cordoned off beyond a certain point with life guards whistling their whistles at you and reprimanding you for even trying to swim past the rope.

Andy said...

This is interesting what you said about the steepness of the other side down to cofete. In America they would say that you can't walk alone unless you are with an experienced guide. It's all about liability. Europe may be socialist, we're getting there ourselves, :-( but when it comes to those kind of things we still have more "personal" freedoms. Hate when you go to a little lake and they have it cordoned off beyond a certain point with life guards whistling their whistles at you and reprimanding you for even trying to swim past the rope.

Tamara Kulikova said...

I didn't know you can't walk without a guide in America. Is that some sort of "official" view, i.e. is walking alone forbidden and possibly penalize or is it that "if you do, you do it your own peril, we don't have any responsibility"?

Andy said...

Oh, you can walk by yourself. I am just saying if it is a National Park like the Grand Canyon, certain areas they do not want to to walk down into the canyon alone without a guide. Same with wherever they have public beaches at a lake. not the ocean. I think what it really has to do Americans became so sue happy for money that there is too many liabilities by the National Parks. However, you can trail walk alone in many parks even where there are grizzlies. But they do have regulations that certain areas you are not allowed to bring your dogs along and all that. It all depends where you are.