when I wasn't looking", as I discovered in a local botanic garden. So now I am trying to go and check out what happens with the plants as often as I can.
I have already been to Bandama - down to the bottom, up to the small peak, round the lip of the caldera - but that all was before the rains, when pretty much everything was dead and baked by the sun. When I saw an "official" photo of the caldera on the tourist information site, I thought "crafty guys, they changed the color from dusty reddish to green". I stand corrected - turns out, they have chosen a winter photo to illustrate the site. The bottom of the caldera is now an unbelievable green provided by the fresh leaves of oxalis pes-caprae (yep another invasive species that looks beautiful, same as lupines in Finland).
I stand corrected on more than one count - when I visited the place in summer, everything looked so dead, I was convinced that nobody farms anything there despite what various websites said. It turns out somebody does, but, logically enough, in winter. There are a few patches where some stuff is cultivated. The only veg I could identify were beans though.
Canarian Lavender is now in bloom, as are a few other things, none of them very showy.
Sweetly-scented Retama raetam is only just starting to open there. I am guessing that it opens earlier at sea level - they've been selling bunches of it on local markets for a while now and I was told that it is traditional bloom to have in your house for the winter holiday season. Mind you, it was a flower-seller who told me that and he obviously have a vested interest in me buying it, so a pinch of salt is in order.
Loved the artwork of bark beetles on fallen eucalyptus trunks.
Another discovery we made was a couple of caves and a barbeque place sort of half-way up one of the slopes. That is, there are hundreds of natural caves in the walls of the caldera - some small, some bigger - but these two were cleared out, with the floor evened, and a couple of stone benches fashioned inside. A patio in front even has a water source - with no water. Not sure what the story is - maybe the barbeque place was usable a while ago and the caves provided sun and rain shelter. There is no pointer to the caves, so whoever they belong to probably doesn't want them advertised, so I wouldn't.
There were quite a few people around the caldera, unlike during my previous visits, and it makes perfect sense - it is a much more beautiful place to be in winter than in summer. The path to the bottom is now in a worse condition - lots of loose stones - but still not too bad. It is definitely worth a winter visit if you are into plants.
Caldera de Bandama at shutterstock
You don't really need a map for this walk, but I logged it in just to know the distance (one way) and altitude change - 1.28 km distance, 220 m altitude change. If you are in a hurry, you can get out of there in half an hour. Even faster if you run, but I don't do that :)