Gran Canaria, like its sister Canary Islands has been formed by volcanism. The island was first rose above sea level about 15 million years ago and saw its last big eruptions around 3.5 million years ago. Since then it has been exposed to the erosive activities of wind and water, which formed big erosion craters and a large number of profound canyons. One of the most popular and impressive ones is Barranco de Mogàn in the south-west of the island. Less than 2km wide it is up to 1000m high and exposed to the afternoon's sun when it is hottest. The canyon is extremely dry as the humidity deposited by the trade winds almost never makes it thus far to the luv side of the island.
The barranco runs from south-west to north-east and is bounded to the south-east by one of the most impressive geologic structures on this geologically interesting island: Los Laderones de Mogàn. These walls rise above the barranco floor (at 100m elevation) up to 1000m and culminate iin the table-top mountain Montaña de Tauro. The walls are made up from basalt - the typical red canary variety - and form nice, but brittle pillars at its top. Further down the walls turn into less and less steep slopes, which level out in the barranco floor only.
Thus climbing Los Laderones starts as a steep hike but he higher you get the more steep it turns. The most impressive route (see below) starts in the middle of the barranco at Molina del Viento and heads directly for the walls. As you reach the vertical section a ledge system leads you to the one weakness, a chimney-like gully, which takes you to the top.
Los Laderones bound barranco de Mogán for a distance of roughly 7km. The highest and most impressive section is near Montaña de Tauro in the north-east, for 4km the walls stay level around 900 - 950m before slowly descending towards El Cercado in the south-west. On top yoou find a high plateau, overgrown by euphorbiae and llavender bushes. The walls themselves host a variety of birds of prey,, most coommonly the kestrel falcon.
There are three trailheads from which you can reach Los Laderones, two of which are located in Valle de Mogan, the third one can be found to the east of Montaña de Tauro and serves as trailhead for this mountain as well. All three are easily connected and can be best reached by motorway GC1 from the south:
- From the airport take motorway GC1 south all the way to its end at Playa de Mogàn.
- Switch to highway GC200 to Mogan.
- The first trailhead is at El Cercado at the end of Calle los Quesadas
- The second trailhead is at Molina del Viento just across GC200 from the reconstructed windmill.
- For the third trailhead drive through Mogàn until GC605 turns off straight and winds upwards towards the big western plateau of the island.
- Almost on top of the plateau, again in a sharp turn left the road to El Baranquillo de San Andres (GC505)turns off right.
- After some 1 - 2km you get to a small, dried-up reservoir on the left hand side. Park here or a few metres beyond on the right hand side of the road, where the trail to Montaña de Tauro and Los Laderones starts.
Having hiked only two of the three routes (even though I stood above Los Laderones three times, I can only describe those two:
- Eastern route across Montaña de Tauro:
From the trailhead on GC505 take the trail which heads south-west, circumventing a large promontory. It soon vanishes inside the pine forest and steeply climbs towards the broad shoulder of Montaña de Tauro. There are good views near a ruined farm building to the east of the mountain, less interesting views from the top. Either forgo the summit or return to the shoulder, which heads south-west along the edge of Los Laderones.
- Route from Molino del Viento:
From the windmill head directly for the walls of Los Laderones. A hiking trail first heads straight up but as the walls get steeper starts to switch back and forth until it reaches a ledge right beneath the vertical section of the walls. Turn right onto this ledge for some 400m until a steep gully leads you to the top. Turn left here and head in the direction of Montaña de Tauro, where the most impressive walls can be found.
As you can see from the GPS track, there also is the option to circle Montaña de Tauro. The walls above Barranquillo de San Andrès. are almost as impressive as Los Laderones themselves
The area of Montaña de Tauro has been declared natural monument Monumento Natural de Tauro. The usual restrictions for natural parks apply. The rock walls of the Laderones are fragile and offer a nesting ground for Gran Canaria's birds of prey, mainly buzzards and falcons. Take care not to disturb them in the nesting season in spring.
Gran Canaria has a lot of options for accommodation. Most visitors book hotel rooms from their travel offices or over the internet. However, you will most certainly end up in the ugly tourist centres along the south coast. Therefore a much better solution is to rent a holiday home, most often a rural finca. This can also be done by travel office or internet.
Camping is a bit of an issue on all the Canary Islands. There are designated camping zones but getting a place often involves some bureaucracy. The closest campground is at Embalse de las Cuevas de las Niñas some 4km to the north-east of the mountain. Wild camping is not permitted anywhere on the island.
The following table gives a rough general overview over the weather on Gran Canaria, at sea level.
|Avg. day temp.[°C / °F]||21 / 70||21 / 70||22 / 72||22 / 72||22 / 72||23 / 73||24 / 75||25 / 77||25 / 77||25 / 77||24 / 75||22 / 72|
|Avg. night temp.[°C / °F]||16 / 61||16 / 61||16 / 61||17 / 63||16 / 61||17 / 63||18 / 64||20 / 68||20 / 68||18 / 64||18 / 64||17 / 63|
|Water temp.[°C / °F]||19 / 66||18 / 64||19 / 66||19 / 66||19 / 66||20 / 68||22 / 72||23 / 73||23 / 73||23 / 73||21 / 70||20 / 68|
The Canary Islands (as well as Madeira) are located in the trade wind zone. You almost always encounter northeastern winds which carry a lot of humid air. Being forced to climb to higher altitudes this moisture condenses into clouds. This in return means that most of the time the northeastern part of the islands is covered in clouds from altitudes of 1000m through 1500m.
The mountainous region in the centre of the island is of the same alltitude and higher and thus stops the clouds. While the northern parts of the islands can be foggy and rainy the southern parts most often are sunny and hot. On Gran Canaria the north-eastern part of the island collects almost all moisture. However, unlike on the other Canary Islands no cloud forest remains. The laurisilva fell victim to the agricultural development of the island.
Maps & Books
- Gran Canaria
Kompass Map WK237
- Gran Canaria North
Public Press Map 442
- Gran Canaria South
Public Press Map 443
Kompass is the only company known to me which offers GPS digital Maps. In addition for those of you with Garmin GPS receivers there is a map source map set of all Canary islands out there.
- Gran Canaria
- Islas Canarias
Map Source custom map
By Manfred Pepper
My recommendation is a guidebook by Rother Verlag, available in English and German. The book is an excellent hiking guide covering all the interesting areas of the island. Since it comes with small maps for each excursion it might even be used without a map to support them.
- Gran Canaria
ISBN 978-3-7633-4816-9 (English)
ISBN 978-3-7633-4000-2 (German)