Romantic sunsets in the shadow of Nublo rock
The Nublo or Cloud rock is a volcanic monolith about 80 metres tall that formed naturally due to erosion of the surrounding rock. It sits close to the top of Gran Canaria and right at its centre. The pre-Hispanic tribes that lived in Gran Canaria over 500 years ago regarded the peak capped by Nublo rock as a sacred place. For modern Canarians the rock is the island’s icon and a beautiful place to watch romantic sunsets over the pine forests and cool peaks of Gran Canaria.
The base of Nublo peak is 1,750 metres above sea level and a short but steep trail leads from the GC-600 road to the rock and its two small satellite rocks: El Fraile (the Monk) and La Rana (the Frog). Walking up in the evenings guarantees beautiful sunsets over the sea of clouds, with Tenerife on the horizon and the Atlantic Ocean glistening in the distance. It’s a perfect moment to remember the evocative words of Canarian composer Néstor Álamo; “shadow of Nublo, cliffs of Tejeda, my mountain chain, mountains of my land …”
A museum by Tejeda’s sacred rock
The Roque Bentayga visitor centre is the place to plan and start a visit to the Nublo rural park. The staff at this modern museum can recommend the best options for enjoying Gran Canaria’s largest natural area. The modern and elegant facilities also explain the natural and human history of Bentayga rock; a colossal boulder held in place by a pyramid-shaped mountain considered scared by the ancient Canarians.
The centre is on the GC-671 road close to Tejeda village in the centre of the island. After parking visitors can enjoy centre’s lookout point with impressive views of the Tejeda caldera and Nublo rock. Once inside there’s a interesting circuit of displays, panels and an eight minute video. Outside, a short trail climbs up to Bentayga rock via the ‘almogarén’ sacred site where the ancient Canarians held their religious rituals.
Reservoir walking in Gran Canaria
Gran Canaria can be described as an island of reservoirs and some of its prettiest landscapes surround these artificicial lakes. In fact, one of the island most popular destinations within the Nublo rural park is the hiking trail between the island’s three largest reservoirs. It takes you past landscapes with impressive gorges or barrancos, palm groves and pine woods that belong in landscape calendars.
This circular and easy 15 kilometre route takes you past the Chira, Soria and Cueva de las Niñas reservoirs, two of which are within the Nublo rural park, which sit at the source of south Gran Canaria’s gorges. The start point is the Chira reservoir wall and one of the most beautiful stops is the Caidero de Soria waterfall. It’s worth putting off this walk in the weeks after strong rain or if rains are forecast.
Connecting with tradition in Nublo rural park
The scattered settlements within the Nublo rural park, in Gran Canaria, still hold their traditions and delicious local produce dear. The first stop on the traditions route is Tejeda village in the centre of the island where local almonds are made into traditional marzipan and bienmesabe paste. In Tejeda’s medicinal plants centre you can pick up ancient health tips and you can also buy local sweets and seasonal fruit at the daily market.
The next stop is the western village of Artenara where they make a fascinating soup (potaje) out of local maize and potatoes. Here one of the island’s last nomadic herds of sheep produces the milk for the excellent local cheese. In two villages close to Artenara you still find people making traditional products for a living. At Acusa they make brooms out of palm leaves in the cave homes, while the Lugerajos pottery centre makes pots the ancient way; with no wheel and no oven.
A botanical continent in miniature
The flora of the Canary Islands is a wonderful, freakish living fossil that survived thanks to the archipelago’s isolation and the huge variety of protected habitats on the islands. The Nublo rural park is a leading example of this protection. It holds 308 species of plants and fungus of which 51 live only in the Canary Islands and one only within the park itself.
The park, stretching from the sea to the highlands, contains a vast number of habitats. Close to the park’s high point at Cruz de Tejeda (1949 metres above sea level) we find dense Canary pine forest with its luxuriant shade. Travelling down the valleys we find willows in the valley floor and carpets of plants clinging to the cliffs. We also come across mastic trees and native palms before dropping further to the coastal scrublands inhabited by spurges and candelabra plants. In summary: A botanical continent in miniature.
Climb to Cruz de las Nieves and descend to Güi Güi beach
The 26,000 hectares of the Nublo rural park, in Gran Canaria, are criss-crossed by hiking trails of all lengths, gradients and difficulty levels. The star is the climb up to Nublo rock but there are many others to challenge walks of all levels of fitness. A good example is the climb to the island’s high point at Pico de Las Nieves (at 1.949 asl), located 3.7 kilometres from the excellent campground at Llanos de la Pez in the mountainous centre of the island.
Another popular trail, suitable for moderately fit walkers, is the 12 kilometre round trip from Tasartico hamlet down through the dense spurge and candelabra plant scubland to pristine Güi Güi beach on the island’s west coast. Yet another is the walk between the Cruz de Tejeda and Cruz de María peaks along the ridge that separates the north and south parts of the island. This trail tends to get misty as the wind hits the ridge and clouds form around walkers.
- Respect the animals. Do not bother them or feed them. If you see an injured specimen, you can call the emergency number: 112. Do not pick flowers or plants.
- Do not pick up or take away stones or any other item from the natural environment. And do not move them to pile them up into sadly famous 'towers'.
- Do not walk in areas where it is not allowed and respect the signposting along trails. Leaving the set paths causes damage to the environment and could also be dangerous for you and anyone with you.
- Do not light fires outside the permitted areas and be especially careful during the summer months.
- Try not to alter the peace of the environment with excessive noise (loud music, yelling, etc.).