As the second largest and third highest of the Canary Islands, Gran Canaria is of volcanic origin. Unlike its western neighbours, however, the last eruptions occurred thousands of years ago so that its prime aspect is caused by erosion. There is a central highland, the Cumbre Central, which separates two huge erosion craters (or valleys), Caldera de Tejeda in the north-west and Caldera de Trajana in the south. The central landmarks, located right opposite of each other are Roque Nublo on Cumbre Central and Roque Bentayga in the centre of Caldera de Tejeda.
Both rocks are former volcanic plugs, made up from basalt, which due to its solidity remained standing while the surrounding softer material was washed to the sea by rockslides and rainfall. Roque Bentayga (also Bentayga or even Ventayga) is the perfect example: a standalone rock in the focal point of a huge erosion crater, attracting attention from any direction.
It also is a historical (as well as archaeological) landmark with its more than 100 pre-hispanic caves in the south face and an old guanche shrine near its top. During the Spanish conquest of the island, Bentayga was the last retreat for the pre-hispanic Guanches who used the caves to hide from and attack the Spanish troops. The rock, as well as the neighbouring ridge of Cuenca de Tejeda have been protected by the archaeological park Roque Bentayga y Cuevas del Rey.
Today there are numerous archaelogical sites all around the rock formation, with a visitor centre at its southern base. There are several climbing routes, especially on the north face, which are in permanent danger of closed due to the historical interest in the archaeological sites.
As one of the major european vacation getaways Gran Canaria can be reached from all major European airports. There are almost no regular flights but lots of charter flights. The airport of Gran Canaria is in the western part of the island.
From the airport take freeway GC1 northward to the exit Telde, turn westward onto GC10 and then in Telde take GC 41 in the direction of Vega de San Mateo. There turn left on GC15, direction Cruz de Tejeda, where you meet GC60, which you follow through Tejeda. Some 3 km after Tejeda a side road leaves for Roque Bentayga and some of the hamlets in the center of Caldera de Tejeda.
There is a parking lot attatched to the rock with a visiitor center which gives detailed archaeological information on the rock as cult site and place of worship. The ascent path is steep and lofty but takes only some 30 minutes.
On Gran Canaria you can find all types of red tape. While the eastern half of the island is densely habitated and there are no restrictions to speak of, the centre of the island, Caldera de Tejeda, the Tamadaba Range and much of the southern highlands have been declared natural parks or monuments. In these parks accommodation (camping) is restricted to the designated sites (see above) and activities are limited to hiking along the designated trails.
Gran Canaria is a climbers' island with many locations all across the place. There used to be some red tape if you wanted to go climbing, but by 2013 no permits were required anymore - provided you don't start bolting new routes.
On Roque Bentayga, due to its historical and archeological significance, some additional restrictions apply. Together with the neighbouring rocks it has been protected as archaeological park Roque Bentayga y Cuevas del Rey. Hiking to the platform to the east of the rock is allowed while exploring the caves in the south face generally isn't. The bolted climbing routes on the north face ar free to be climbed but additional routes may not developed.
You can also book guided tours of the whole complex. Either ask at the visitor centre or contact the following address:
Cabildo de Gran Canaria
Servicio de Patrimonio Historico
Bravo Murillo, 33
35003 Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
Tel. +34 928 381 368 / 302
+34 928 170 384
AccomodationOf course you can find a lot of hotels, fincas and casas on the island which you can book from any travel office. Those of you who prefer to camp are in for a pretty cumbersome process. There are two official campsites, both at sea level in the south of the island.
There are quite a number of camping zones in the central part of the island (see a list below). You can camp for free in these camping zones. The facilities are very basic. At most of them there are toilets and there is drinking water, sometimes fire pits. But you need a permit!
Somewhat inconveniently, you have to get your permit in Las Palmas (don't forget your ID). The address:
OIAC Cabildo Insular de Gran Canaria
Pérez Galdós 53
35003 Las Palmas
The following campsites in the centre of the island (Artenara, Tamadaba and Tejeda) are maintained by OIAC. For more information and a PDF two pager on each campsite (as well as others) followthe OIAC link above.
- Zona de Acampada Bailico (Tejeda)
- Zona de Acampada Corral de los Juncos (Tejeda)
- Zona de Acampada Llanos de la Mimbre - Tamadaba (Agaete)
- Zona de Acampada Llanos de la Pez (Tejeda)
- Zona de Acampada Los Garajes de la Cumbre (Gáldar)
- Zona de Acampada Montaña de Artenara (Artenara)
- Zona de Acampada Presa de la Cueva de las Niñas (Tejeda)
- Zona de Acampada Roque García (Artenara)
There are several sites on the web which give you information on the weather on Gran Canaria. However, they all show the weather for the coastal regions (Playa dos Ingles or Las Palmas) which significantly differs from the weather in the mountains. Moreover weather conditions along the weather divide of Gran Canaria cannot be predicted accurately. The following table shows data for Las Palmas on the coast.
|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 2000m.
The mountains themselves - being of the same altitude -finally stop the clouds so that on their southeastern slopes the clouds "run out". Roque Bentayga is located centrally in Caldera de Tejeda. While clouds often ooze across the caldera rim they hardly ever make it to its centre, so that Bentayga is in one of the driest and sunniest spots 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
OSM Topo Map of European Islands
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 978-3-7633-4711-7 (Spanish)
ISBN 978-3-7633-4000-2 (German)