Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Up into the mountains of central Gran Canaria

Our first foray into the interior of Gran Canaria was a drive to the village of Fagata. We left the populated costal area with its beaches and suddenly found ourselves in an unattractive rocky volcanic landscape. Fortunately, this changed quite quickly and there was lots of scrub and cactus. The road climbed steeply with many sharp switchbacks. Usually this doesn't bother me but I was certainly sitting up taking notice. The number of professional cyclists we had to drive by with not much space added to the thrill. There are thirty-three microclimates on Gran Canaria and we were to experience several on this trip. We encountered many changes in the landscape passing orange orchards and even some market gardening as well as areas full of pine trees.

Eventually we arrived in the hamlet of Fagata. Aboriginal people lived in this lush ravine for many years before the arrival of the Spanish. In the valley below us we could see an oasis of palm trees, flowering shrubs, spurges and juniper bushes. There was even a dense reed bed. We stopped for lunch overlooking the valley before wandering around the narrow streets with their whitewashed houses. The church was at the centre of the village and it was the first time we had heard church bells since arriving on the island.

We drove further up the road to the next town, San Bartolome de Tirajana, before retracing our steps. We stopped at some spectacular viewpoints on our return journey. From Mancizo de Amurga we looked out at rock lava flows 500 meters thick. These were the result of the final phases of the first volcanic cycle in Gran Canaria, 11-12 million years ago. The material is highly sought after for the production of concrete and Tarmac, which explains the wonderful roads on the island.

The surrounding semi-desert vegetation included sweet Tagalog, which produces a sap used for chewing gum. The bottom of the ravine features the Canary Palm tree whilst the Gran Canaria Dragon tree, not found anywhere else, grows on the surrounding cliff areas. The view in every direction was quite dramatic.

It was quite a day and gave us a greater appreciation of what we would see in future trips around Gran Canaria.

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