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Camino Gran Canaria

Steven Baggs

Member
Past OR future Camino
2020
During a recent holiday on Gran Canaria I managed to convince my wife that a few days in the mountains would make a nice break from the usual coastal tourist spots. We set off on a bus from our base in Las Palmas on 31st October to the resort of Maspolomas where this short Camino begins. Arriving there just after 9am we had decided to take another bus part way up the mountain as it was going to be a late start and the temperature was rapidly rising.
We managed to find a spot where the trail crossed the road and began our walk from a place called Arteara. It was an immediate ascent up a steep track and very hot. We had planned just 10km to the town of St Bartolome de Tirajana where the pilgrimage originally started but had barely got started when my wife decided that this was not for her. Thankfully there was another point at the village of Fataga only 5km into the walk on the bus route where I left her in a cafe with a glass of wine to wait another 3.5 hours for the next bus.

From the start of this walk I can only say that the scenery was stunning. I was completely blown away by it. It was like walking through a desert on the side of a mountain. Apart from a few orange trees near Fataga it was mostly just large spiky cactus plants growing everywhere. There only seemed to be one direction on this Camino, up!
I eventually arrived in St Bartolome a bit overheated but having thoroughly enjoyed my day. I had passed one young couple on the way but nobody else was walking in that heat.
The church in St Bartolome had large scallop shells on the front and the cross of St James, all recently added as they were absent from a photo of the church in my guidebook. Inside it had a large statue of St James the Moor slayer doing his bit for inter faith relations with 2 unfortunate Moors beneath his horse’s hooves.
I found my accommodation, a very nice apartment. Note there is no low cost accommodation on this little Camino so it was €80 for the night. My wife eventually arrived by bus and we agreed that I would walk the next day alone and she would ride the bus to Tejeda and then on another bus to meet me at Cruz de Tejeda at the end of the second stage.
I set off the next morning, 1st November, for another short day, just 15km. I had enjoyed the first full nights sleep of my holiday due to the cool overnight mountain air. I left at sun up which was 7.20am and passed a ‘Camino de Santiago’ sign just outside the town as I started back on the trail. With hot air coming up the mountain and cold air coming down the first hour was kept to a nice temperature.
Without doubt this was the most visually stunning walk of any Camino i have walked (Francaise, Primitivo, Portuguese central, coastal and Finistere). The trail zig zagged it’s way up out of the appropriately named Grand Canyon through a national park. The terrain was a mixture of cacti desert and thin pine forest where one could see for miles. At one point I could see the sand dunes and lighthouse of Maspolomas over 30km in the distance.
I’m not usually one to stop and take many pictures but I found myself stopping often to try and capture something that my camera really couldn’t do justice to. There was a tendency to get distracted by the view and I had to try and focus back on the trail as it was getting a bit dangerous. It would have been easy to trip over the edge whilst getting distracted by the scenery.
As I got further towards the highest point, some 1.8km above sea level I was rewarded with views across the whole island from Maspolomas in the south to Las Palmas in the north. Over to the west I could see the Island of Tenerife from end to end.

The paths up to this point had been very rocky but not difficult. I had to negotiate a few areas of landslides and climb over some large boulders that had fallen onto the path from the rocks above. There was even one bit of the path that goes under an overhanging cliff, like walking into the mouth of a cave and back out again.
At one point I spotted 4 walkers joining the trail from another route ahead of me in the distance but didn’t see anyone else until I had reached the highest point where people were walking to the summit from the other side, a much gentler climb and accessible from car parks and campsites nearby.

At the top of the mountains the terrain changed dramatically and I found myself in a pine forest walking on soft pine needles and patches of lava flow rock.

The second part of the walk was fairly easy going, there were quite a few day walkers out enjoying the cooler mountain air. It was still a hot day in the end by my standards, comparable to any hot day on a Spanish Camino.

I stopped at a roadside souvenir shop just 1.5km from my destination where I was asked if I wanted a stamp for my passport. I told the lady I didn’t even know there was a credential for this Camino and she promptly produced one with three official stamps in it, stamped it herself and got me to register my details on a list of pilgrims. She then sent me on my way having charged me nothing!

I walked into Cruz de Tejeda at 11.50am, the exact time my wife should have got there by bus, it had taken just 4.5 hours including breaks not the 6 hours the website guide recommended. The bus turned out to be 30 minutes late due to traffic, i think this was due to people stopping their cars to take pictures.
Accommodation in Cruz de Tejeda was limited to 2 hotels. The Parador at around €150 per night had a pool over hanging the cliff which looked great but I don’t think I would have been happy to pay that to have people looking down on me from the public viewing point and cafe above.
A second hotel El Refugio was an older establishment in need of updating. With its 1970 style fittings and dodgy wiring held together with sellotape it wasn’t the best place I’ve stayed. They would only take bookings for a minimum of 2 nights which I booked for €120. One night there was though was enough for me.
As I had intended to walk this Camino with my wife and we were on holiday together I decided I had pushed my luck far enough and so I didn’t walk the final day to Galdar. We did however visit Galdar by bus and I was surprised to come across 2 of the classic Galician style concrete marker posts with 600 & 400 metres on them.

In the church in Galdar I noted another statue of St James the Moor slayer mounted on horseback and swinging his sword around. Thankfully no unlucky Moors were present on this occasion. We sat in the church for a while listening to the soundtracks to English hymns playing in the background and left the church to the sound of ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’.
I stopped to have a conversation with the lady on the stall by the church door who decided to award me with a pilgrims certificate that was available to anyone who made any kind of pilgrimage there during the Holy Year of 2021. No need to complete a full Camino after all.

The official website for the Camino is here
https://jacobeogaldar.es where you can also download the latest GPS files. These differ from other GPS files available on the internet and some now outdated descriptions of this route elsewhere on the web that describe a route starting at the tourist information office in Maspolomas and following a trail through Ayagaures to St Bartolome. The website also gives some useful historical background to the Camino.
 

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Steven Baggs

Member
Past OR future Camino
2020

Barry Coltham

BarryCamino
Past OR future Camino
Past: CF: Sarria to Santiago May 2017
VdlP/ Sanabres: Salamanca to Santiago May 2018
Fisterra Muxia
Thank you Steven for such a delightful and helpful write up of this route and your experience
My wife and I had a great chuckle at your account
Buen camino
 
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Past OR future Camino
Too many and too often!
Didn‘t @Bradypus do this Camino a couple of years back?
I did indeed. In 2017. Though I missed a turning point in the northern part of the Camino. When I realised I was on the wrong trail I decided to stick with the waymarked path I was on and finally reached Galdar by a slightly unorthodox route. I spent two nights bivvying in the mountains and one night in a backpacker hostel. A spectacular challenging route. Post in thread 'Camino on Gran Canaria'
https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/camino-on-gran-canaria.16726/post-504875
 

TrvlDad1

Covidyard Bob
Past OR future Camino
2017 Frances from Saria
2018 Finnisterre & Ingles
2019 Portuguese from Valenca
2020 Assisi(cancel.)
@Bradypus, what an intriguing adventure. What equipment did you use to bivvy in the mountains and what time of year was it. Thanks
 
Past OR future Camino
Too many and too often!
@Bradypus, what an intriguing adventure. What equipment did you use to bivvy in the mountains and what time of year was it. Thanks
I walked at the end of March 2017. For sleeping I used a short self-inflating mat, a breathable bivvy bag and a lightweight down sleeping bag. I didn't bother with cooking gear for such a short journey in good weather. Simple and compact kit which easily fitted in a small rucksack which I carried as cabin baggage. The mild winter/spring climate of Gran Canaria makes a light pack very practical. I did find a small Sawyer ceramic water filter very useful as drinking water was in short supply.
 

TrvlDad1

Covidyard Bob
Past OR future Camino
2017 Frances from Saria
2018 Finnisterre & Ingles
2019 Portuguese from Valenca
2020 Assisi(cancel.)
I walked at the end of March 2017. For sleeping I used a short self-inflating mat, a breathable bivvy bag and a lightweight down sleeping bag. I didn't bother with cooking gear for such a short journey in good weather. Simple and compact kit which easily fitted in a small rucksack which I carried as cabin baggage. The mild winter/spring climate of Gran Canaria makes a light pack very practical. I did find a small Sawyer ceramic water filter very useful as drinking water was in short supply.
Thank you!
 
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