Caldera de Bandama

The great Bandama Volcano

This walk in Bandama proposes a different approach: walking around the EDGE OF THE CALDERA. It’s an exciting walk right around the rim of the caldera, a volcanic landscape that’s home to plants capable of surviving the constant lashing of the wind, although the cool breeze caressing the impressive scenery is a welcome companion.

Surprisingly, the path’s well trodden, although just after the hotel, erosion has made some parts a bit tricky and slippery.

Starting point: Casas de La Caldera, on the GC-802 local road at km point 3.5 approximately
End point: El mismo
Distance: 3,4 km
Time: 1:10 h.
Level: Medium.
On some parts of the edge of the caldera hikers might experience vertigo. The walk is on volcanic gravel and is very slippery in places.
Changes in altitude: 450 – 488 – 443 – 475 – 450
Comments: Accessible by public transport (Global bus No. 311)
Taxi stand in El Monte, phone: 928-35-01-63.
Taxi stand in El Casco, phone: 928-64-01-76.
This walk goes through a Protected Natural Area with strict regulations. Walking off the track is not permitted.
GLOBAL reserves the right to change this information.

Caldera de BandamaThe walk starts next to the bus shelter, at an altitude of 450 m. The entrance to Caldera de Bandama is signposted. Walk a few metres towards the signpost, passing the hamlet’s small chapel on your right. After a few seconds you’ll arrive at a metal gate that marks the start of the descent. Go through the gate and immediately to your right you’ll find the entrance to a lookout built of volcanic rock, where an information panel explains the history of the volcano. The lookout is known as Mirador de Los Cuartos.

AlgarroberoIn one corner of the lookout you’ll find an old carob tree with a white signpost that says “zona de seguridad –prohibido cazar” (safe area – no hunting allowed). Go under the tree and continue on the well trodden path that follows the line of power poles heading towards some cypresses. After passing an abandoned tennis court on the right, continue on a slight rise until you come to a dirt track leading to the back of the golf course hotel. You’ll have taken approximately 14 minutes to reach this point.

Cornical
Cornical

Keep heading in the same direction, veering left a little as you start the descent. Caldera de Bandama is on the left and a construction belonging to the golf course is on the right. You’ll start going down a path alongside some water pipes. During the descent you’ll have a view over the small ravine of Barranquillo de Las Pilas, which runs down to your right.

When you reach the end of the descent it’s a good time to take a look around. On the left you’ll see the huge rock faces jutting out from the caldera. To the right is the small ravine, and at the bottom you’ll be able to make out another ravine, Barranco de Las Goteras. The altitude here is 388 m, at a point known as Degollada de la Cañada de La Mina. The plant life in this area mainly comprises a Canary Islands shrub known as cornical, sea rosemary, Canary Islands sorrel, bugloss, spurge, lavender and houseleeks.

Parolinia de Bandama
Parolinia de Bandama

On the stony edge, the path ascends towards the ridge of Lomo de la Caldera, on the southern end. Twisted mastic trees adorn the sides of the path. Strangely, this area is known as “Lomo del Lentisco” (Mastic Ridge), in the singular. One specimen stands out from the others because of its roots, which look like tentacles reaching out to take over the ridge. On the right and at the bottom of Barranco de Las Goteras you can see the damage caused by mining in the borough of Telde.

After this point you’ll go up a slight rise and then you’ll come to a different landscape in the borough of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria: Marzagán and Jinámar. Then you’ll start to head downwards, towards Degollada de la Hoya de la Cucharilla, at an altitude of 385 m, through vegetation consisting of white retama and the odd tamarisk.

The path goes up again and changes sides, leading towards a fork. On the right a new path heads down to El Tablero and Los Hoyos. This is the point known as Degollada de Don Benito. For this walk, though, you need to keep going up towards a crumbling wall and the sealed road that goes up to Pico de Bandama.

When you meet the road, walk to the left about 500 m heading downwards to reach the starting point of the walk.

Map of the Bandama Caldera
Mapa de la Caldera de Bandama

Geology of the Canary Islands

To understand the magnitude of the Bandama Volcano and the landscape of the Canary Islands in general, you need to know something about the formation of these volcanic islands in the Atlantic. These introductory paragraphs provide a short explanation of the volcanic origins of the Canary Islands, some of the most studied volcanoes in the world, along with the Hawaiian islands.

The archipelago is on the African Plate, on the Atlantic Continental margin. This slow-moving plate (less than 1 cm a year at the latitude of the Canary Islands) is rifting anti-clockwise to the NE, drawing it closer to the Eurasian Plate. Although the origins of the Canary Islands have been the subject of much scientific debate and many theories have been put forward in recent centuries, most of the scientific community has now reached a consensus. Modern thinking is that the archipelago arose through the action of a thermal anomaly in the earth’s mantle (known as a hot point) capable of melting rocks at great depths (up to 100 km).

This forms magmas, which begin their long journey to the earth’s surface (in this case, from the sea beds surrounding the islands, at depths of 2000 to 4000 m). The magmas that manage to reach the surface (less than 50% of the total volume) give rise to volcanic manifestations and the accumulation of materials (lava and pyroclasts) in a specific area. With the passage of time (hundreds of thousands to millions of years), this accumulation can rise above sea level and result in the birth of a new island.

Formaciones volcánicas subaéreas más antiguas (en millones de años)

Bandama volcanic complex: Gran Canaria’s most recent eruption

Because of their size, morphological duality, mode of eruption and associated deposits, Bandama’s caldera and peak constitute the best example of a complex formed by recent volcanic activity (in the last 11,000 years, during the Holocene) in Gran Canaria.

The rim of Pico de Bandama ranges in altitude from 275 m to 575 m and is the best lookout over the NE area of the island. It has a conical shape, an almost circular base and an open horseshoe crater facing NW, indicating that it was moulded by the trade winds.

Caldera de Bandama has a slightly elliptic shape, a maximum diameter of 927 m and average slopes of 270 m. The walls of the caldera contain materials from the substratum before the volcano was formed, such as phonolitic lava (more than 8 million years old). The arrangement of these layers in the substratum makes it possible to reconstruct the relief before the birth of these two volcanoes (Caldera and Pico). The area was formerly a small meseta with sides that sloped down to Valle de los Hoyos, in the north, and to Barranco de las Goteras, in the south. The materials of this volcanic complex are classified into three categories: lava, falling pyroclasts and pyroclastic surges.

Complejo volcánico de BandamaThe lava emerged primarily from the base of the crater of Pico de Bandama and was quickly channelled by Valle de los Hoyos in a path of more than 2.5 km. The morphology of the lava is the typical “aa” (malpaís), with a very uneven surface and large erratic blocks.

The perfectly symmetrical crater of Caldera de Bandama aroused the admiration and the amazement of all the travellers who visited it in earlier centuries. This same path, once travelled by English travellers Olivia Stone (who mentioned the orange trees) and Charles Edwardes (who tried the wine), is still an attraction for hikers today. “One’s first feeling is intense surprise and admiration that Nature could have formed anything so faultless”, wrote Stone in 1887, after a trip to the bottom of the crater with a group on horseback. In 1888, Edwardes wrote “This is the most perfect crater in the Canaries. It is as smooth a bowl of earth and rocks as nature well could contrive”. Edwardes descended into the crater after the locals encouraged him to try the wine, which he found “heady”.

The latest scientific publications estimate that the violent eruptions of Caldera de Bandama occurred some time from 47 BC to 123 AD.

This walk in Bandama proposes a different approach: walking around the EDGE OF THE CALDERA. It’s an exciting walk right around the rim of the caldera, a volcanic landscape that’s home to plants capable of surviving the constant lashing of the wind, although the cool breeze caressing the impressive scenery is a welcome companion.

Surprisingly, the path’s well trodden, although just after the hotel, erosion has made some parts a bit tricky and slippery.

The walk starts next to the bus shelter, at an altitude of 450 m. The entrance to Caldera de Bandama is signposted. Walk a few metres towards the signpost, passing the hamlet’s small chapel on your right. After a few seconds you’ll arrive at a metal gate that marks the start of the descent. Go through the gate and immediately to your right you’ll find the entrance to a lookout built of volcanic rock, where an information panel explains the history of the volcano. The lookout is known as Mirador de Los Cuartos.

In one corner of the lookout you’ll find an old carob tree with a white signpost that says “zona de seguridad –prohibido cazar” (safe area – no hunting allowed). Go under the tree and continue on the well trodden path that follows the line of power poles heading towards some cypresses. After passing an abandoned tennis court on the right, continue on a slight rise until you come to a dirt track leading to the back of the golf course hotel. You’ll have taken approximately 14 minutes to reach this point.

Keep heading in the same direction, veering left a little as you start the descent. Caldera de Bandama is on the left and a construction belonging to the golf course is on the right. You’ll start going down a path alongside some water pipes. During the descent you’ll have a view over the small ravine of Barranquillo de Las Pilas, which runs down to your right.

When you reach the end of the descent it’s a good time to take a look around. On the left you’ll see the huge rock faces jutting out from the caldera. To the right is the small ravine, and at the bottom you’ll be able to make out another ravine, Barranco de Las Goteras. The altitude here is 388 m, at a point known as Degollada de la Cañada de La Mina. The plant life in this area mainly comprises a Canary Islands shrub known as cornical, sea rosemary, Canary Islands sorrel, bugloss, spurge, lavender and houseleeks.

On the stony edge, the path ascends towards the ridge of Lomo de la Caldera, on the southern end. Twisted mastic trees adorn the sides of the path. Strangely, this area is known as “Lomo del Lentisco” (Mastic Ridge), in the singular. One specimen stands out from the others because of its roots, which look like tentacles reaching out to take over the ridge. On the right and at the bottom of Barranco de Las Goteras you can see the damage caused by mining in the borough of Telde.

After this point you’ll go up a slight rise and then you’ll come to a different landscape in the borough of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria: Marzagán and Jinámar. Then you’ll start to head downwards, towards Degollada de la Hoya de la Cucharilla, at an altitude of 385 m, through vegetation consisting of white retama and the odd tamarisk.

The path goes up again and changes sides, leading towards a fork. On the right a new path heads down to El Tablero and Los Hoyos. This is the point known as Degollada de Don Benito. For this walk, though, you need to keep going up towards a crumbling wall and the sealed road that goes up to Pico de Bandama.
When you meet the road, walk to the left about 500 m heading downwards to reach the starting point of the walk.