Updated: Nov 29, 2022
In pandemic we got stuck in Madrid community for a while and when the restrictions were getting lifted, Juan got stuck at the project which wasn't going to end any soon. The next thing on the horizon was relocating from Madrid to a new place that would mean no time for any travels for a while. I got to convince him to go and try out a vanlife and work in nomadic style while enjoying a different landscape. The trip was organized within just a week before the departure. We got a portable router, an unlimited data sim card and rented a camper van for 2 weeks through Yescapa platform. Aridane, the owner of the van, met us at the gas station near the Las Palmas airport, educated us on the van facilities and left us at our disposal. Here is an example of the route that can be done living in the van.
Despite its horrifying name, it's a very vibrant village. Every single facade is boasting of colors and beautiful doors. In Teror we didn't find a parking in a picturesque location so we stopped overnight in a public parking ground in the center of the village. It was enough for us to sleep quietly inside the van and I could easily get out to explore the village in the morning without a need to walk far.
On our arrival to the village, the sunny weather remained for some time but not for long. By the evening it was all covered with gray clouds without any hint for sunset or sunrise. Nonetheless, I woke up early to meet the village life with the rising sun. Lack of sunlight wasn't a problem either, overcast sky worked fine for capturing the village exterior.
Somewhere in the middle of my exploration I turned into the street where a gang of roosters were hanging out with their wake-up alarm songs. Their defiant behavior devoured my attention for good half an hour.
By the time I finished my morning walk, the sun decided to show up for a little while.
I stopped by the terrace in the main street to enjoy breakfast with coffee and croissant.
While Juan did his day job in the van, I spent some time on researching the evening location. We decided to try a viewpoint up the mountain, that would reveal the village in the valley but on our way up it started drizzling and visibility was completely ruined. This made us twist our plans and go higher up to the mountains. Passing through foggy Valleseco, the higher we drove along the mountain pass, the clearer the sky was becoming and the clouds were staying below us, with some spectacular views all around us. We arrived to Corral de Los Juncos campsite around 11 pm at night, parked the van and went to bed shortly after with my alarm set for the early morning.
Roque Nublo Natural Park
Oddly, in my first morning on Roque Nublo trail I didn't reach Roque Nublo itself at all. There were so many exciting scenes to shoot on the way, I decided to dedicate that morning to them and return next time to shoot different scenes. Roque de El Fraile and sea of clouds in the valley were among things that grabbed my attention. It takes about 1 hour 15 min to hike to Roque de El Fraile from Corral de Los Juncos campsite.
On a closeup, that sea of clouds looked breathtaking.
On the opposite side from this valley I was witnessing a hypnotizing cloudfall. Could be watching this nature spectacle infinitely.
The same place at the sunset was equally magnetic to watch. You can see the mountain of my interest on closeup and in wider view.
Not all sunrises had to be a 1+ hour hike. I've encountered gorgeous views just within a few minutes walk to the right from Corral de Los Juncos campsite.
Corral de Los Juncos is an excellent base to explore the mountain area of the island, many trails can be started from there in various directions. Workwise, mobile coverage is very good there. Due to the Covid times, the quantity of allowed campers was way lower than in normal times which allowed us to enjoy the area in relative tranquility. It's also one of the coldest places in the island, we got to experience that during one foggy and windy morning (in the end of June). To be able to stay in the campsite it is required to request permission from Cabildo de Gran Canaria where you can also request permission for staying in other campsites in the natural park territory.
A beautiful but crowded sunset spot is one of the so called "Ventana del Nublo", an arch in the rock through which we can see the famous rock and also Teide volcano in the horizon.
After 3 nights in Corral de Los Juncos we drove up to Tejeda village which appeared as one of the most charming villages I've seen in Spain so far. From Tejeda we attempted to go to La Solana by the old road along the steep cliff, where emergency alarm of our our rented van went off and we returned to Tejeda parking for the night to fix the problem.
The way Tejeda village is scattered along the mountain slopes is unbelievable.
After a messy sunset I woke up to meet the sunrise in the village surroundings. Roque Nublo and Roque Bentayga again, cuddled by the golden hour light, from a different angle this time.
When golden hour ends, it's time to explore the morning streets of the village and enjoy the typical Canarian facades.
This was also the day when a heatwave started and my beloved cloudfalls ended. For sunset we were choosing between Pico de Las Nieves and Mirador Degollada de Becerra. The latter one won.
For this night we returned to Corral de Los Juncos one more time.
Barranco de Los Cernicalos
This day went slowly and we dedicated it to exploring Los Cernicalos ravine with its waterfalls. The trail starts close to MerenderosBarranco De Los Cernicalos, where parking spot is located. To my disappointment most of the waterfalls are very small and we barely noticed them. The last 2 on the trail are the most worthy. Nonetheless, the trail is enjoyable and very green.
Due to inclination angle at the parking we didn't stay there overnight and relocated to parking in Valsequillo instead. The area is known for its strawberry farm and we spent a lazy day there walking in the village and eating strawberries bought in the local market.
Barranco de Las Vacas
This part of canyon can be considered a small Gran Canaria version of Antelope canyon in US. Located off the road GC-550, not far from Aguimes, it's quite a popular place. In our first visit we came on Sunday afternoon, just at the sunset time, waited until all people left and did some experiments with light painting.
My hunch is that sunrise will be a much quieter time to go there to avoid the crowds.
The town itself is very touristy, entirely focused on hotels and bungalows and has little to none of authentic Canarian atmosphere. During my walk along the streets among all tourist attractions I spotted places targeted for Finnish and German tourists. There are also no parkings with camper van services. We parked in Avenida Granada close to Santa Monica Suites and Cita Shopping Center where it was more quiet compared to other parkings in the town. What is truly worth the visit are Maspalomas dunes.
The best time to avoid the crowds is walk into the dunes at the sunrise.
The light in the first morning was meh, the sun rose directly into the cloud and only appeared when it was already higher up. We didn't neglect the sunset walk and even though there were a plenty of people walking through the dunes, making selfies, etc, the light was soft, with a slight touch of wind, and we enjoyed it a lot.
We walked all the way until the lighthouse on the other end of the dunes.
After watching a football game in the bar we went back through the dunes as well and I regretted not taking a tripod with me as we passed through the dark sky area with milky way arch spreading just across the dunes.
Next morning was better, and although overnight there was not enough wind to clear all the traces, my eyes isolated some untouched areas with appealing textures.
One can even find beauty in the traces.
Textures can be quite addictive too.
But always returning to a slightly bigger picture.
Santa Lucia de Tirajana
After enjoying the dunes it was time to go back to the mountains. We were split between Fataga, San Bartolome de Tirajana and Santa Lucia de Tirajana and drove through all of them but decided to return to Santa Lucia for better mobile coverage and parking area.
There is a viewpoint Las Tederas in the north-east of the village, at sunrise the peaks get illuminated by soft golden light. That morning I had the place all to myself, being the only person who had the will to walk up there.
Another dose of Canarian facades in the village.
La Sorrueda is a place south from Santa Lucia de Tirajana village within a 10 minute drive.
It offers a viewpoint with a picturesque sunset view over Tirajana reservoir.
Continuing to drive south, we reached La Fortaleza rock formation with caves, that once used to be a refuge of the islanders at the time of Spanish conquest. That night we were not the only travelers with a camper van contemplating this mystic place under the stars.
For the night we went back to Santa Lucia village once again. Another workday for Juan, and another morning walk for me, until the viewpoint Ingenio de Santa Lucia de Tirajana in the south-west from the village. Thanks to that little red car for passing through the rural road for the sense of scale.
Last morning walk through the quiet streets of Santa Lucia de Tirajana. A woman walking with her dog was the only character I spotted in the streets but vibrant Canarian facades were in abundance once again.
Mirador Degollada de Las Yeguas
From Santa Lucia de Tirajana we passed along the Tirajana canyon, making a brief stop at Guriete viewpoint. A stop in Vecindario was necessary for the caravan services and from there we drove along the coast to visit an astronomical viewpoint Degollada de Las Yeguas and find a potential overnight parking spot nearby with a decent mobile coverage. Fataga canyon looked breathtaking but on the first signs of calima arrival the light appeared very dim and inexpressive.
However, the road along the Fataga canyon is one of the most entertaining ones we've driven. It's so steep, curved and narrow that on curves without visibility you'd be constantly pressing the claxon to notify other cars of your presence.
It's a 360 viewpoint, from there you can see the canyon on one side, Maspalomas town with its dunes on the other. Also it's one of the most visited places in the island, just as Ventada del Nublo. We decided to look for another overnight spot and drove further to the west, all the way to Arguineguin.
Unfortunately, the western side of the island isn't so adjusted for camper van travels, there are barely any caravan services or decent areas to park overnight. So we parked somewhere close to the beach and woke up to the construction noises in the morning. It's a lovely fishermen village with some vibrant fishermen houses and cozy restaurants and under different circumstances we could stay longer but in the afternoon we moved on to check Puerto de Mogan. Yet another picturesque seaside village, although with more commercial feel. Again we didn't stay here long and decided to return to the mountains.
Mirador Guriete And Return to Fortaleza
Yes, Guriete viewpoint was where we headed!
The road along the Tirajana canyon also looked entertaining but less nerve-wrecking than the road by Fataga canyon . In the next panorama, if you look closer, you will recognize Fortaleza in rock formation in the center.
Guess what we did in the night ? Yes, we chased milky way over the camper van!
Not the darkest spot for astro photography in the island and has quite some light pollution from the nearby villages and the road but this location felt enigmatic to us and that was a reason enough. In the morning we also had the place to ourselves (except for the man walking his 2 dogs). This second shot was taken from the rocks opposite to Fortaleza.
The rest of the day was dedicated to snorkeling in windy Tufia beach and then a dinner in Taliarte. My last memory of Gran Canaria is in this casual Taliarte street snap of the local boys returning from the beach. By that I'm finishing this Gran Canaria chapter...until next time.
Things we used on this trip:
Unlimited Data sim card
Hiking boots and clothes
Respect for the environment