Friday, October 09, 2015

Pico de la Bandera — San Pedro

View into the Valle de Agaete from the trail. There is a whole chain of reservoirs down there, some at alarmingly different levels from each other

This was our first but hopefully not last experience with Mojo Picón Aventura, a small company dedicated to outdoor activities on our beautiful island. Apart from their regular weekday activities such as canyoning (barranquismo), coasteering and kayaking, they also organise walks on weekends. So the last Saturday of September we joined one. It was advertised as a medium-difficulty 9-km route "Pico de la Bandera — Berrazales" which was supposed to take about 6 hours. The price was 10 euro per person; considering that we would spend the same or more on public transport if we wanted to do the same route on our own, it looked like a great value for money.

We had to come by 8:30 am to Auditorio Alfredo Kraus, which appears to be a popular meeting place for weekend outings. There were at least two other groups assembling there at the same time.

Miradores of Artenara give you a different view into Caldera de Tejeda

We were travelling in the mini-bus which came a bit late because the first half of our party were boarding in Vecindario at 8:00 am.

Our first stop was in Artenara, where we had 15—20 minutes to have a coffee, use the bathrooms, or buy snacks. Tamara and I appeared to be the only people in our expedition who came in flip-flops, and so we used our break to put the walking shoes on and take some pictures from one of the village's many miradors. After the break, it was a short drive to Pico de la Bandera, the beginning of the route.

The first part of the route was going through the Parque natural de Tamadaba, which contains the best-preserved pine forest in Gran Canaria.

Looking back, we could see the cloudfall over the east wall of the caldera

Apparently, the pine seeds can sit and wait for the right humidity for a few years, and then they all sprout together.
That's why you often see large groups of trees looking the same age.

This very Scandic-looking reservoir is called "Embalse Tierras de Manuel". That poor Manuel must have a hell of a job getting there to maintain his lands

View of Valle de Agaete. Our final destination, San Pedro, is visible on the left

Pancratium canariense or the Canary Sea Daffodil

Luckily, most of the time it was not sunny. From time to time we found ourselves in the middle of the cloud. That cloud also could be responsible for us being temporarily lost (all these paths look about the same in the fog) and for the dearth of photographic record of our walk.

When we reached Presa de los Pérez (832 m), we realised that the route is going to be a bit longer than promised 9 km. There was still 6 km to go to our destination, San Pedro.

Soon we came to El Hornillo, a tiny village consisting of the cave houses in vertical cliff. It is situated on two levels. It is not clear how people get to/from the "upper" level, if they ever do. Maybe they all practice abseiling in the fog. The car road finish there, just before a small village church, with a roundabout. This is probably (and hopefully) not intentional, but it looks like the locals don't want you to stop there, they want you to turn around and go right back where you came from.

After El Hornillo, the trail mostly goes down, and quite steeply down too, and it was at this point that my knees reminded me of themselves, just like during our walk to Teror. To the degree that I was not sure if I can finish this walk at all. As it happens, I was not the only one with this sort of doubts. Fortunately, one of our guides managed to reach our driver and ask him to bring minibus as close as possible, viz. to the spectacularly located but abandoned Balneario de los Berrazales. The rest of the group, including Tamara, carried on. We reunited in San Pedro, a sleepy village boasting a municipal swimming pool under (re)construction. The bar where we had our beer also functions as a local produce shop where we bought delicious plums the size of small oranges and apples the size of, er, normal plums.

Conclusion: nice walk, but do not go if you have problems with you knees and downhills are a no-no. You might be better off doing it in the opposite direction, just keep in mind there it involves about 1.5 kilometers up.

Bonus knowledge - did you know the the fruit of monstera plant is edible?


Distance: 14.6 km (minus maybe a kilometer where we got lost)
↑ 513 m
↓ 1515 m

Pictures of inland Gran Canaria on Shutterstock — here
Photos by Tamara, text by Kirill and Tamara

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