During a recent holiday on Gran Canaria, we had a trip up to San Bartolome for a lovely walk in the island’s pine-covered mountains.
Getting to San Bartolome by bus from Puerto de Mogan, where we were staying, was not easy (see Gran Canaria – What We Did and How We Will Do It Next Time). We had to first get the hour-long service to Faro de Maspalomas, and then change for the No. 18 bus up to San Bartolome. We had hoped to get a bus all the way to Tejeda, but the ridiculously inconvenient timetable made this impossible.
The logistical difficulties were worth overcoming – the road up to San Bartolome turned out to be one of the most stunning roads we have ever travelled on. I knew we were heading for the mountains, but had no idea that the countryside would be so impressive.
The bus wound its way through impossibly steep and narrow hairpins, often with sheer drops on one side. Definitely not for the fainthearted! And the country opened into vast empty canyons that I had no idea existed on Gran Canaria. It isn’t possible to capture the grandeur of such country, especially from a bumpy bus, but here are a couple of photos to give an idea of the spectacular country.
I think the tour companies are missing a treat here. If there were boards showing excursions up here, along with the boat trips and aqua parks, I am sure they would be popular. Mind you such roads can easily be spoiled (and dangerous) with too much traffic, so perhaps it is better for them to remain lesser known!
San Bartolome de Tirajana, to give it its full title, is an attractive little town nestled amongst the hills. It is the administrative centre for the region of the same name which includes Maspalomas and Playa de Ingles. Though up here the beach resorts seem a million miles away.
The town has an interesting church with lovely views over the town from its grounds (see photo above). There are a few shops and holiday residences, and a very pleasant hotel which would make a great base for a walking holiday.
It is a steep climb from the bus stop up to the church, but after the church you soon join an excellent trail, signposted Camino Real. Much of the path is paved, and although it keeps climbing the gradient is manageable.
The whole area is covered with the beautiful endemic Canarian pine trees, and there are glimpses of the mountains and valleys between the trees, making very attractive walking.
It took us a couple of hours to reach Cruz Grande at a very leisurely pace, with stops for photos and snacks. Cruz Grande is a pass where paths and a minor road meet, and there are great views of the surrounding ridges and valleys from here. Two other walkers here were the only people we saw after leaving San Bartolome – perfect!
If you have the time and energy you can continue to make this a much longer circular walk (see Landscapes of Gran Canaria), but we needed to catch our bus back to Faro de Maspalomas, so we returned to San Bartolome by the same route. The views were just as lovely on the way back.
Next time we visit Gran Canaria we will definitely spend more time in the central mountainous area of the island. The stunning landscapes, beautiful endemic pines, and from what we saw excellent walking trails, are just begging to be explored.
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