Gran Canaria is the second largest of the Canarian Islands. As all the others it was created by volcanic activity. In contrast to neighbouring Tenerife however the volcanos are not active anymore. The most recent outbreak dates back 2000 - 3000 years. The island is still shaped as a volcanic cone. It rises about 4000m out of the seaboard with it's highest peak, Pico de las Nieves, 1949m high.
Roque Bentayga (also spelled Bentaiga or Ventaiga) rises out of the center of the Caldera de Tejeda in western Gran Canaria, a giant volcanic crater with approx. 20km (13miles) of diameter. Like Roque Nublo it is the remainder of the funnel of a volcano. This volcano collapsed, creating the huge caldera and left the funnels (also Roque Palmés) standing due to the solidity of their basaltic rock.
It also was a place of worship for the native Canarians that inhabited the island before the spanish conquest. There are a lot of caves in and around the rock as well as altars and shrines. For more information, visit the link in the "Archaeology and History" section.
The ascent is short but lofty. There is a parking lot right at the base of Roque Bentayga and an archaeological visitor center.
Getting ThereAs 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 GC 1 northward to the exit Telde, turn westward onto GC 10 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 GC 60, 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.
Archaeology and HistoryVisit The following interesting link:
Beyond the Beaches of Gran Canaria: Roque Bentayga
Red TapeNo red tape to be found. There are no permits for either climbing or parking required. The process for the (free) campgrounds is cumbersome but you can read this in the Accomodation section.
When to ClimbRoque Bentayga can be climbed all year round. There are rumours that once or twice a year there can be snow. But certainly the center of the Caldera de Tejeda will be snow free. My own experience in late December / early January tells me rather that it'll be hot!
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 (the one nearest Roque Bentayga is probably the one at Tamabada some 25km away by winding road). Another zone is at Llanos de la Pez between Roque Nublo and Pico de las Nieves (distance should be pretty similar). You can camp for free in these camping zones, there are rarely any restrooms or showers, sometimes a fireplace. And you need a permit!
You have to apply for the permit in Las Palmas (don't forget your ID), you will obtain it three days later! The adresses are:
Cabildo Insular de Gran Canaria
Pérez Galdós 53
35003 Las Palmas
Gobierno de Canarias
Viceconsejería de Media Ambiente
Juan XXIII 2
35004 Las Palmas
Unfortunately both offices manage different campgrounds and it depends, where you want to go.
Weather ConditionsThere 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 Canarian 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". Look at the pictures - it looks like the clouds creeping over the weather divide.
Unfortunately all of the major peaks of Gran Canaria lie around the weather divide. Sometimes within, sometimes just out of the clouds. Roque Bentayga is a little safer since it is located a little to the west of the divide and most of the time the clouds don't reach the rock.
I order to decide, what to do and where to each day we drove to Roque Nublo in the morning and had a look at the weather and the patches of the island lying in the sunshine. And that's just where we went! It worked out pretty fine since wind direction and strengths change from day to day so that different parts of the island are covered in fog.
And let me tell you: this fog is WET!
Climbing in Gran CanariaThere are a lot of climbing routes in Gran Canaria, most of them starting from Ayacata (e.g. the one to Roque Nublo). Other worthwhile locations are Tamabada in the northwest and Mogan in the southwest of the island. Most documented routes are at Ayacata and Tamabada.
To get information on routes, trailheads, difficulties, gear you can use the following addresses:
Canary Climbing Delegation:
18 Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
Tel: 928 29 06 52
Fax: 928 46 00 45
Federación Canaria de Montanismo
La Naval 32
NatureI had to include this section because I'm fascinated by the different Taginaste bushes in the Canarias and on Madeira. The ones in Gran Canaria - though only white - with their sweet smell attract lots of bees and butterflies. They are very similar to the blue Madeira variation but VERY different from the red Tenerife variation, the Taginaste del Teide.
And being German I can only wonder at the almond blossom in late December!