Monday, March 09, 2015

Artenara - Cruz de Tejeda walk

Artenara is one of the not-so-easily accessible villages on Gran Canaria. It is overlooking the Caldera de Tejeda, and is on a slightly higher level than Tejeda. There are even fewer buses, the one I caught was from Teror and I believe it is the only route - bus number 220.

We'd been through Artenara once before but it was literally that - going through with just a small pause at one of the miradores (I swear the village has more viewpoints per capita than anyplace else I've been before). My plan was to get there, to walk about the village, maybe have a lunch and head back.

The village is small, neat and pretty, mostly white, with a few restaurants and typical two-towered church. What makes it different is an absolutely astonishing backdrop of the Caldera, and the Atlantic, and Teide on Tenerife. Not even Tejeda can boast that much view. You probably can see La Gomera as well, but you'd need a clearer day for that. As it was, only Teide was peeking over the sea of clouds.

There is one nice place to visit inside the village which is the cave museum. It is a free museum (although they ask for donations of course) where they show you how exactly the locals used the abundance of natural caves to simplify the building - they basically took the room-sized ones, cleared up a bit, leveled and that, put some simple furniture inside - and voila, a house is ready for moving in. Aborigines did the same, except with less furniture. Apparently, these houses stay cool in summer and not so cold in winter - probably due to the low thermal conductivity of the rock.

There were pointers to a hermitage of some saint, but I didn't go there as I got distracted by a pointer to my favourite spot on the island, Cruz de Tejeda, with a distance of just 7.6 km indicated. But of course I had to go there. I know the bus schedule by heart now, and I knew I had just over two hours to get there. I figured it was enough time, and I was right, sort of.

The path goes up, past another mirador and soon gets into a Canarian pine forest. The whole path goes along the edge of the Caldera, but the first leg is a bit away from it, leaving a low crest between you and the views. There are plenty of openings though and at least one cul-de-sac branch which leads to Montana Artenara. I did go up this one and got yet another beautiful view.

On the picture above you can see the path - still running up and up. It's not a very steep up, granted, but between it and a couple of extra bits that I didn't count on originally, the time needed to walk 7.6 km went up too. I ended up nearly running at the end - never a good idea in the mountains, and don't listen to the runners, they are mad bunch anyway.

Later I checked and found that Artenara is about 300 meters lower than Cruz de Tejeda. It's not a lot, but in practice it translates into looong walk up, a wobbly to and fro in the middle followed by a sharp down at the very end. Maybe it's better to do the walk in the opposite direction - from Cruz de Tejeda to Artenara. The initial ascent will be on a sharpish side, but then it's a luxury of not-too steep downhill.

There are at least two signposted branches (if there were others, I missed them) off the same walk to the caves - one set of completely artificial ones, one (Cuevas de Caballero, closer to Cruz de Tejeda) - a mixture of natural and artificial ones. One that I saw, the nearest to the path, looked artificial. I didn't try to get to the other ones, as there was no obvious path and where you could walk looked slippery. Nice rock formations, though.

As I was coming close to Cruz de Tejeda, the clouds in the neighbouring barranco became visible. By now I must be used to it, but but it still surprises me how different weather can be on the two sides of relatively low mountain range.

Little pimple on the mountains in the middle of the pic below is the military installation at Pico de Las Nieves - the highest point of the island.

As the afternoon progressed, the mist started setting in the caldera as well.

This, or very similar photo, took 7th place in 2015 "Wiki loves Earth" competition

Overall verdict - nice walk, about two hours without any branching off/checking of things. Though if you feel like it, you can make it as long as you wish. You don't need a map (although I will try to have another go at the new version of googlemaps), but you do need suitable shoes. Don't go if there were recent rains - some bits of the walk are very likely to be slippery when wet, and then you have a few hundred meters to go down to - not a perspective I'd cherish.

Inland Gran Canaria pics on shutterstock - here

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