Descending through the dappled, scented beauty of the pine forest, red earth beneath our feet and the distinctive outline of Roque Nublo, black and shimmering in the heat haze against the cobalt sky, the first fleeting glimpse of a lake shows itself.
At first it appears like a mirage through the gentle green haze of the pines draped in their lichen beards, but as we descend further the trees begin to thin. We round another bend in the path and the view below us suddenly opens up to reveal a landscape of such dramatic beauty that it demands we stop in our tracks and capture its perfect profile.
Part of the Parque Natural de Tamadaba in the municipality of Agaete in Gran Canaria’s stunningly verdant north west, the Presa de los Pérez is not a natural lake, it’s a huge dam constructed in 1934 which has now grown into the landscape so effectively you’d swear it had always been there. Bordered by steeply terraced hillsides and stretching into the distance between towering ravines and rocky peaks, today its surface is the same olive green as the spurges that speckle the dry terraces on its flanks.
Under the watchful eye and expert lead of our guide, Armando, our circular hike of the Parque Natural de Tamadaba began several thousand thigh muscle stretches ago when we set off from the little hamlet of San Pedro, just along from Finca Las Longueras where we’re staying. Ascending the endless Tamadaba mountain range while the Barranco de Agaete and the white houses of San Pedro diminished into the distance.
This is Armando’s territory, his island. He knows every plant, every bird and every feature of its handsome face. His Portuguese forefather came to Gran Canaria as a mercenary with the Castillian forces of Pedro de Vera in 1483 when the caves beneath the overhang near the top of the range were still occupied by the ancients, Gran Canaria’s first inhabitants.
“When I retire I will move to a cave,” says Armando.
It’s a common practice here in the rugged interior of the island, and beyond Presa de los Pérez we stop for lunch in the pretty church plaza of Los Lugarejos, beneath the gaze of the community’s cave homes built into the mountainside. From a distance the cluster of white faced cottages appear to be built below the ridge of a long overhang in the cliffs but as we draw nearer, we can see that only a couple of square yards protrude beyond the rock face, the bulk of the houses being buried deep within caves.
In the heat of the afternoon, it’s downhill all the way as we make our way back to San Pedro, skittering down Barranco Los Berrazales to round off our journey with a visit to its bodega and coffee plantation to slate our thirst on tropical fruits and to sample the fine Moscatel and Malvasía wine and Agaete coffee.
Another perfect day walking on Gran Canaria.
Gran Canaria Walking Festival – 15th to 22nd September 2012
If you’ve ever considered a walking holiday on Gran Canaria, now’s your chance to experience its hiking wonders on the island’s most spectacular trails and in the safe hands of its most experienced guides by joining the Gran Canaria Walking Festival.
Andrea (Andy) Montgomery is a freelance travel writer and co-owner of Buzz Trips and The Real Tenerife series of travel websites. Published in The Telegraph, The Independent, Wexas Traveller, Thomas Cook Travel Magazine, EasyJet Traveller Magazine, you can read her latest content on Google+