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Gran Canaria  INFO & DIARY  1

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 GENERAL INFO (Jump to Diary)
Gran Canaria or Grand Canary Island is one of Spain’s Canary Islands, found 150 kilometres north-western of Africa. It covers 1,560 square kilometres, and the highest peak; Morro de la Agujereada is 1956 metres high. The island is of volcanic origin, mostly made of fissure vents. It has a round shape, with a diameter of approximately 50 kilometres.
The population is reaching one million, most found in Las Palmas. In antiquity, Gran Canaria was populated by the North African Canarii, who may have arrived as early as 500 BC. In the medieval period, after over a century of European incursions and attempts at conquest, the island was conquered on April 29, 1483, by the Crown of Castile, under Queen Isabella I.
According to the Köppen climate classification, Gran Canaria is considered to have a desert climate due to its severe lack of precipitation; my favourite environment. Gran Canaria has consistent warm temperatures in spring, summer and autumn, and mild winters. Gran Canaria is noted for its rich variety of microclimates. Generally speaking though, the average daytime high ranges from 20 °C in winter to 26 °C in summer. Some cool nights occur in winter, but lows below 10 °C are unknown near the coast. I got away with 19C at night and 20-28C at daytime. Inland the climate is still mild but mountainous areas see the occasional frost or snow. Annual rainfall averages 228 mm, most of this falling in the cooler months, with July, August and September normally rainless.

Until the conquest, Gran Canaria had extensive forests, but then suffered extensive deforestation as a result of continuous logging, land divisions and other intensive uses. This reduced the forest cover to just 56,000 hectares, making the island the most deforested of the Canary Islands. However, in the twentieth century reforestation of the ridge of the island was begun, recovering some of the lost forest mass.

Approximately five hundred species of the plants are found on Gran Canaria, are also found on the other islands, but there are more than a hundred species that grow only grow on Gran Canaria. I  the caudiciforms in bold: Astydamia latifolia, Bryonia verrucosa, Dioscorea communis, Dipcadi serotinum, Dracaena draco, Dracaena tamaranae, Ecballium elaterium, Euphorbia canariensis, Euphorbia balsamifera, Kleinia neriifolia, Pancratium maritimum, Semele androgyna, Umbilicus heylandianus and Withania aristata.
A few others are interesting, but I can't get confirmed they are found on Gran Canaria: Ficaria verna, Muscari graecum, Scilla latifolia and Urginea maritima.

Birds counts 48 species and the Common Chiffchaff; Phylloscopus canariensis, Gran Canaria Blue Finch; Fringilla polatzeki, Blue Tit Subspecies; Parus caeruleus teneriffae and Atlantic Canary; Serinus canaria was cool to see.
The reptiles counts four species: The large Canary Island lizard; Gallotia stehlini, which is endemic of the island and whose abundance is overwhelming, the Gran Canaria skink; Chalcides sexlineatus/simonyi, Boettger's Canary wall gecko; Tarentola boettgeri. I'm not sure Mediterranean House Gecko; Hemidactylus turcicus is endemic?
The mammals are made up by The Osorio shrew; Crocidura osorio and the bats: Plecotus teneriffae and Savi's pipistrelle; Hypsugo savii.

26/11 2024. A way too early train bring me and my three kilo of luggage into the airport. After being computer-less in South Korea and Japan, I decided to bring along a computer, and get the photos and diary done every evening.
A five hour flight, spend sleeping and then a bit bored. What is important is that the temperature changes from -3C to pleasant 24C.

I get my car swiftly, and head bye one of the few Sunday-open supermarkets, to stock some food. Pass the cosy room to drop the food and bag, then straight to the nearest beach for a good long stroll. Playa de Vargas is a beach, mainly made up by fist- to head sized lava rocks, and the succulents love it. I find at least ten different species, along with a Apiaceae, probably Astydamia latifolia.

Home to cook and work with diary and photos. Then I catch-up on the last Formula 1 race of the year, and hit the bed recently early.

27. An early start on the day, and I get to enjoy the sunrise at the first site. The low sun covers the area and the nearby tiny villages in a golden blanket, and only the distant sea looks blue.

I spend quite some time reaching the site, as the entire area is covered in real interesting plants. Here are numerous Kleinia neriifolia and two Euphorbias, looking quite alike. Here are invasive Opuntas and several other local plants, thriving in this arid biotope. One being a few of the tall Euphorbia canariensis, others are half meter tall Sempervivum arboreaum. Several other Asteaceaes and some Convolvulaceae silk plants and some Lamiaceaes are here too.

I finally reach the first, rather large cave, with three square entrances; Cuatro Puertas. It is rather big, but not high. Then I find the strange carvings of Almogarén, who none knows the significant to. I think it look like an egg and sperm cell, but it can't be.
It is a bit strange, wandering round here: There are no tacks, but a few nice looking signs. It seems like none ever visits.

Well, except from some pigeons, and a single rabbit, which heads off, when I get too close. I figure, I better head off too, before I hurt myself on these steep rock walls.

It is by a great but narrow sealed road, leading further on towards the Barranco del Draguillo gorge. It is real narrow, and the sun does not reach the button, this early in the day. Never the less, I head deep into it, although I only find now familiar plants.

A bit further up the little mountain, I reach the old town of Agüimes. It is a pretty unspoiled 15th century village, build around the beautiful central square. I do several loops in the cobblestones streets. Here are numerous bronze statues, from an artist, some students over a donkey to a camel, all full sizes. The houses are gentle but firmly restores, and the old church a centrepiece. I finish the visit with a cafe con leche and a bun with potato omelette, at a place, only serving locals at this time.

Further in to the mountains by a gorgeous little road to Barranco de Guayadeque, another deep ravine. I see a little lizard and some new plants, as here are a bit more fertile. Here are some bulbs, Oxalis pes-caprae, and a large Sempervivum is flowering nicely, with bright yellow flowers.

I pass the caves of Cueva Bermejas for now, and follow the road to the end. A trail leads on - so do I by foot. Here are many invasive Agavas along with the usual native plants. It seems like it is the start of the growing season for the plants in this area. The Apiaceae are all green, covering the dried remains of last year's growth. The hair-like Astaraceaes are flowering, while the Kleinia neriifolia have many seeds left.

Back at the little but inhabitant cave village of Cueva Bermejas. I walk through the caves and continues out the narrow path, leading into a deep gorge. Here I find some Umbilicus heylandianus, and a plant I can't recall the name of.
Back in the village, I do a few photo, before I head off.

On the way out of the gorge, I meet a man and his donkey, packed with grass. The only trees around here are a few scatted Australian Eucalyptus. The hill sides have been cultivated in the past, judging after the many terraces. Now, only a real few of the flat areas in the button of the gorges are farmed.

The entire inland seems to be covered in clouds by now, only the narrow coastal area receive sun. Never the less, I continue my plan, this time with a way-point, way up near the top of the island.

I stop several times, and find more Apiaceaes, a lot of newly planted Dracaena draco, and at 1250 metres, I meet the clouds. At 1500 metres, the  pines dominates - in-between the clouds. Some tiny Sempervivum grow underneath along with some half meter tall Sonchus canariensis. I follow a narrow trail by foot, but it is a bit chill up here in the clouds.

I have gone to the end of the day's list, but still have several hours daylight. I head down towards the coat and the sun, and make it to the main city: Las Palmas. I park right outside the old town, and head for Catedral de Santa Ana. The entire area is made up by 15-18th century town mansions, and a real lovely area to explore. 

I'm too late for the Marcando de Vegueta market, but I find the magnificent Gabinete Literario building from 1844. I follow the main pedestrian road; Calle Mayor de Triana, and do several other loops. A single cafe con leche at a local place, and then home through the rush-hour traffic.

On the way out of town, I pass the pointy hills, covered in old but colourful homes. Parking is a challenge by now, but I manages to parallel-park with 25 centimetres to spare. I make a mug of tea, and check-out the rooftop pool - for a few minutes. But I have 472 photos of the day to process - or delete, and start working. I finish up before midnight - several minutes actually. HIGHLIGHTS
                  Time to open Diary 2.

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