Lomo de la Mesa del Junquillo and Altavista
Gran Canaria is the second largst 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.
Altavista is one of the summits on the walls of the huge crater Caldera de Tejeda (diameter 20km). The caldera is open towards it western side and the last summit on the encircling wall is Altavista. As for its name you can imagine that the summit offers very nice views of the whole island, especially everything within or at the borders of the caldera, notably Pico de las Nieves
, Roque Nublo
and Roque Bentayga
On the other hand its proxximity to the western coast of Gran Canaria offers the best views towards neighbourinng Tenerife with Spains highest summit Pico Teide
. The ascent is easy, some 550m of altitude gain along dirt roads and well kept trails.
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 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 just to an intersection. Here you turn right on GC 210 and drive along the caldera walls towards Artenara. Find a parking place near the central roundabout.
No 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 Climb
Altavista can be climbed all year round. Have a look at the clouds before you start. On returning our tour ended in spray rain and gusty northwestern winds. Nothing to keep you from hiking but there better things to enjoy than being soaked wet.
Of 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 Altavista is the one at Tamabada some 7km from Artenara). 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.
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 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 - among them Altavista - lie somewhere along the weather divide. Sometimes within, sometimes just out of the clouds. Before you start hiking better take a look first - we always went to the part of the island, where we saw no clouds. Since the wind direction and strngth change from day to day, this way you can cover the whole island.
Climbing in Gran Canaria
There 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
I 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