We had booked a kayak tour through the cruise island for on Gran Canaria. We had been notified that the tour was cancelled due to cold weather. So we went with our second choice, a trek to Caldera de Bandama. The description said that you would view the caldera and then hike approximately 2 km down hill. Okay, we could handle that….
We ate breakfast, departed the ship, took a port of Las Palmas picture, and found our bus and guides, Paco and Monica.
We were given a small backpack with water, a granola bar, and a potato,egg, and onion sandwich. We drove out of the port up the mountain, Paco told us about the Canary Islands. They are a Spanish territory made up of 7 islands. There are 4.5 million people living on the islands. They were formed 20 million years ago by volcanic activity. The last major eruption was 5000 years ago and there is no active volcanoes at the present time. There are also no snakes or spiders on the island. The island only received about 9 inches of rain per year, so most plants get moisture from “horizontal rain” which is basically fog or morning mist.
The islands were populated as early as 500 BC. Starting in the 1300s, the islands had many attempted conquests by various European countries. The final and successful conquest occurred on April 29, 1483. This was after a 5 year campaign that was supported by Queen Isabella I of Spain. Before the conquests, Gran Canaria was covered in thick forests. After the conquests, the island was stipped of the forests for farming (mostly sugar cane), and building materials. Recent efforts have resulted in a reforestation effort, but only 1 % of the natural forest remains.
The mountain hillsides sugarcane terraces were replaced by vineyards as this was a more profitable crop. The hillsides are now covered in vineyards. In the 17th century a man by the name of Bandama came from Belgium to grow grapes and felt the best place for him to grow grapes would be in the caldera, thus the name Caldera de Bandama.
We arrived at the caldera parking area and were given walking sticks. The caldera has been designated a protected environmental area, but locals refer to the caldera as the underworld. Perhaps that is why one sign said road to the boiler 🙂
At it’s highest point, Pico de Bandama it is 1867 feet high and crater is 3,300 feet wide. It is approximately a 2 km hike to the bottom of the caldera with a 700 foot descent.
The trail was steep and slippery, due to the volcanic pumice dust. This was compounded by the fact that we thought we would not be hiking, so we did not have proper shoes. We slipped several times. At one point, Cindy had her phone in her pocket with the camera attachment connected, she fell denting the camera and breaking the attachment point. Always an adventure….
The views were wonderful and we felt fortunate to have a clear morning, and the deeper we walked the more impressive the view.
The flowers were beautiful and we even saw a lizard.
Near the bottom, you could see the cave dwellings of the first inhabitants on the island, who arrived approximately 3000 years ago. Over time, they lost the knowledge of sailing. When the Portuguese came in the 16th century, they found no trade or communications between the islands or with North Africa, which is only 93 miles to the east.
Once on the floor of the caldera, we explored the buildings. There was a stone circle also known as the Devil’s Dance Floor. This was used for threshing grains.
There was the residence…
and an old wine press.
We walked around and stopped at a sign commemorating the reforestation effort. We also enjoyed our first taste of prickly pear cactus. You use the cactus needle to cut it open.
Yup…it is a purple fruit!!! And it is full of big seeds…
We took our time, walking back out of the caldera. The tour description said 2 km down, but didn’t say anything about the up…lol. We assumed that we were hiking the outside of the caldera, okay, an unexpected adventure.
Back at the top, we boarded our van and we drove to the top of the caldera for some great views…
We then drove to a nearby winery. We had a short walk and learned about carob. The donkey loved the pods.
The flowers on the walk were beautiful.
We don’t drink, but it was interesting to see the wine process in the small display area.
There were boards showing the “stomping of the grapes”.
We went into the barrel room…the small barrels are the starter wine, much like a sour dough starter mix.
We were invited to taste the wine. The other tour guests said the white was the best. We really enjoyed the goat cheese, and ate our potato, egg, and onion sandwich.
After a visit to the winery, we headed back to the port of Las Palmas. We walked around the mall, which was very busy as there was a Carnival parade later that afternoon. Who would have thought that Harry Potter would be popular, but there was a train ride for kids. The McDonalds in the mall, had free wifi, so we sat in the food courtyard and caught up on emails.
Back on the ship we decided to have sandwiches, soup, and salad at the buffet and then ate appetizers at the Blue Lagoon Cafe.
A tradition on most cruise ships is to have some form of a “Not-so-Newlywed” game. Jim signed up to be a contestant, and he and Cindy were chosen. Okay let just say that some of the questions were embarassing with adult children in the audience. Cindy answered questions first…
then it was Jim’s turn.
In the end, we matched on 4 of the 6 questions. We won’t go into details about any answers.
It was a fun evening and one that Jade and Jerie will not soon forget…they were called the trampoline kids all week by the other guests!!!
Tomorrow we will be on the island of Tenerife and have a tour to Teide NP.