Explore the "Ruta de las Cumbres"
A day trip into the mountain and natural landscape of Gran Canaria
This we want suggest (or rather present) you an excursion into the mountain landscape along Gran Canaria’s "Ruta de las Cumbres". The trip is starting from the bus station San Telmo in Triana with busline 303 (bus company GLOBAL) heading for San Mateo. The Bus drives from 6am till 10pm and passes the station each half hour. If an early bus from San Mateo heading for Tejeda and Ayacata is desired (about 8am), the bus in San Telmo (line 303) should be taken at 7am because from San Mateo only two busses ride to Tejeda and Ayacata in the forenoon. One at 8am and the other one at 11am.
The ride from Las Palmas (starting point bus station San Telmo) to San Mateo lasts approximately 1 hour and costs 2,15 Euro. If it’s unusual to stand up so early in the morning the bus ride, which lasts approximately one our, can be used for a short nap. Because of the breathtaking landscape it maybe will be hard for curious eyes to close.
During the ride continually brief insights into the valley of Barranco de Guiniguada can be made. We are passing the places Tafira and Santa Brigida and force our way into more and more green and species-rich vegetation territory of the valley. Here the “jungle face” of Gran Canaria is shown - so it's no wonder that the Isle is also called “the small continent”.
Arrived in Vega de San Mateo, we directly change to Bus line line 18 heading for Ayacata and Tejeda. Now we are driving on country road GC-60, which is one of the most beautiful panorama streets in Europe for sure. Bus line 18 is starting near the lighthouse of Maspalomas and put the whole track of "Ruta de las Cumbres" aside. Hardly any tourists know about the existence of this bus, which is appearently the cheapest and most comfortable way to get known the mountain landscape of Gran Canaria in only one day.
"The bus is often as good as empty so in fact I can stop wherever my few passengers want to", bus driver André reports. To get to our destination, the mountain landscape around the small village El Juncal, we have to get out at the stop directly at the crossroad of the streets GC-60 and GC 661. Here we’ll take the bus at about 6:30 pm back heading for San Mateo.
Now the more difficult but also the more spectacular part of our trip is starting here: Across the country road GC-661 we are relegated into the valley "Barranco de Juncal". After approx. 500 meters we‘re turning left into a small, stony path, which leads along the crests of Montana de los Jarones (1473 metres) and Morro de Pajonales (1429). Unfortunately no signposts exist on this trail but if you don’t leave the well marked route there’s no danger of loss of orientation. A good and well detailed map of the isle is also helpful for sure.
We are strolling along a ridge through deep pine woods and gawking at the nearly unrealistic beautiful view on the mountain landscape of Gran Canaria. Backdrop the Roque Nublo is being enthroned high above the remnant landscape. Looking into the direction of the ocean and Teneriffe the Roque Bentaiga is extolling. Once you’ve seen this mountains with your own eyes it’s easy to understand why these were holy places for the tribal people of Gran Canarias. With each minute which elapsed views of different perspectives of the mountain village El Juncal and the eponymous Canyon are given. Later, after the descent of the mountains, we’ll view this two sights more precise.
At one of numerous viewpoints hungry hikers can make a short break for a snack and afterwards have a siesta in the warm sun. The contrast to Las Palmas can’t be bigger. By now we are marching about 1 hour and didn’t meet a human soul yet. There are just the warm and friendly sun and the sough through the knotted old pines which are banning all dark thoughts out of our brain. Mostly walking along the footpath feels like walking over feathers because it‘s padded with the needles of the trees.
If we are staying on the footpath after around 2 hours we’ll come across a bigger gravel road. If we turn left we’re heading to the reservoir Cueva de las Ninas. But instead we’re leaving the trail, which leads along several crests, by turning right and heading to village El Juncal. The descent along the curvaceous path lasts nearly 1 hour but the wonderful views into the valley of Juncal let forget all our strenuousness. Over Juncal between volcanic rocks the next mountain village is hanging like a aerie. It is involving Toscón where many people are still living in (modern) caves.
Reached the valley’s bottom we are walking around 1 minute (so "big "is the village) through El Juncal. No human soul is seen and just a few yapping scrawny dogs are breaking the nearly creepy silence. Along blossom almond trees, cacti, reeds and blooming gardens, where oranges almonds and tomatoes are planted, we are pushing forward into the narrowing canyon. On both sides of the valley rock faces riddled with hundreds of caves are extolling. Meanwhile we already have lost our sense of time. How long we already walk through this enchanted mountain landscape ? Which year do we have now anyway? This all isn’t relevant. So is time just a stressful invention of human beings ?
Suddenly the canyon is sloping down into the ocean and in front of us an unforgettable view over a landscape in sunset light is arising, which is mentally repositioning us into a time where the world still hasn’t known anything about stinky cars, ties, air conditioners, internet, pension or working times.
It nearly seems as if the peacefull silence of this region is merging into us. When looking over mountains and hills, upraised in the world by a huge volcanic outburst thousands of years ago, afterwards pick up an inconsiderable stone and contemplating it while rolling it between your hands, since then you probably arrived in real Gran Canaria. Now it wouldn’t be even a surprise when a Guanch (aborigine) would come round the corner (or rather round the rock) with a loincloth, arrow and bow and shouldering a bagged rabbit.
Along the way several caves can be found, where sheeps and goats spend the cool nights over here many times. Did Guanches live here hundred years ago? Suddenly in front of one cave a headless bird is lying and increases the furious and anarchic mood, which is reigning over this valley.
However, for us it’s the signal to head back to the bus stop over the mountain village El Juncal. This way will last once more about 1,5 hours and due to the bus who drives back to San Mateo lastly at 6.30 pm we shouldn’t risk anything and better cut along.
For the reason missing the bus due to bad luck or timing still an order for a taxi from a hospitable native’s house can be made in case of emergency. Adventurer also can tramp here unscrupulously, because here everyone helps everyone and natives are still friendly and honestly to tourists …