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.

Euphorbia handiensis, Fuerteventura endemic and symbol

The route of the excursion is below, we started at the port of Morro Jable, went past the cemetery and started walking the Gran Valle, where the guide stopped to show us Euphorbia handiensis, cactus-like milkwort endemic to Fuerteventura and specifically to Jandia. The plants are not spectacular in themselves and only interesting because of their rarity, but I want to point out that they look a lot better than their own cartoony representation that was chosen as a symbol of ecoturism on Fuerteventura.

Walking along the Gran Valle

The walk along Gran Valle is flat and very obvious; there are path markers along the way, as that part of the route coincided with the trans-Fuerteventura footpath GR 131.

Halfway tree

This dead tree was I think about three kilometres from the start of the walk, sort of half-way along the Gran Valle. I had to wait quite a bit before the last member of our group had their picture taken in the vicinity of the tree, if not actually on it.

Gran Valle from Cofete Pass

The path starts to climb eventually, and the views become more impressive.

Oh dear, are we supposed to walk that?

But the steepness of the path on the side of the Gran Valle is nothing in comparison with the steepness on the other side of Cofete Pass. Views towards Cofete are spectacular though; and the path to Villa Winter very obvious (but not signposted, as far as I remember).

Our guide is walking first

I think about here our guide realized that the time allowed for the excursion wouldn't be enough and sped up considerably.

Cofete. Little nothing of a village. There is a bar though, visible at full res

He gave the group a choice to go have a beer in Cofete village or go to the Villa Winter. Majority vote went to Villa Winter, which seems a shame in retrospect, but well, at least now I know what it is.

The tallest peak is called Fraile (Monk)

The slopes of some of the mountains looking towards Cofete and Barlovento beaches are near-vertical at their tallest point.

Path to Villa Winter is clearly visible


Cofete village

The huge expanses of Cofete and Barlovento looked completely and utterly empty. It's a real shame we didn't have time to go down to the water level, but well — this way I still have something unfinished on Fuerteventura.

There were thirty-something of us, and we were well spread over the landscape, to put it mildly, on the way back up to the pass.

The inverted version of my drawing looks a lot better than original

I started to draw a sketch of the shot from the water level that I wanted to do (and didn't) this time using an online drawing tool called Harmony and saw that they now allow colors — something that either wasn't there before or I didn't notice it. So I scribbled away happily for a while. Later in photoshop I discovered that inverted version looks better and decided to leave it this way. I guess (I hope) you can see at least the idea of the shot I haven't made yet in that sketch.

View Morro Jable — Villa winter in a larger map

Pictures of Cofete on Shutterstock — here.


Andy said...

We used to have a place in Santa Barbara, just up the hill, west of Morro Jable. Therefore we came numerous times to Fuerteventura. Knew some people there too. There are a lot of interesting even so infamous stories about Winter, Cofete, and Nazi Germany. There's something like a man made structure jutting out from the beach into the water, like so many other natural rock structures just below the castle. Legend has it that that's where the submarines came in for layover. The basement in the villa has rooms with bunk beds which would have been typical for the very same reason. Winter just happened to end up having it because the Nazi government used him as a straw man for buying Jandia for the German war efforts.
I remember when my mom, friends from Holland and I met with some people that had the say and lodged n apartments which were part of Casa Atlantica. When our Dutch friend mentioned the word liberation, one of them became defensive and said "liberation from what?" Further up the road there is a hotel of which I do not remember the name anymore. It's about 15 minutes maybe towards Tarralejo. The hotel sits up on a steep hill. The beach on the bottom is very wide and flat. Supposedly it was used as an air strip for Nazis to get out of Germany via Fuerteventura and on to South America.

Andy said...

Not sure if the authors are different or all the entries are done by the same. There is also this one mountain, I remember, where the bus drivers take you because when you look at it from a more aerial vista, it reminds you of a woman's breast with the top layer of rock forming, well, a nipple. Not far from there is the one steep valley where there is a dam to catch whatever rain fall for the tomato crops. And man, talking about tomatoes. They brought the best prices at European markets when they came from Fuerteventura. There was a distinction between them and the regular Canaria tomatoes.

Tamara Kulikova said...

The nipple mountain is visible either from the road to Ajuy, or from the Valley of Betancuria. It is close to Las Penitas dam. Last time I was there, the reservoir was completely dry though, craacked dry mud surface and everything.

If you mean the entries in this blog, they are all done by me :)