The meaning of the place name “Temisas” has not been satisfactorily determined and academics remain unsure of its origins. Austrian scholar Dominik Josef Wölfel gathered all possible derivatives: themensay, themiaas, theminsas, temensa, temisas and temisa. The singular form, Temisa, is the name of a farm house in Haría (Lanzarote). According to Gregorio Chil y Naranjo, a well known doctor and scholar from Telde, the plural form, Temisas, means “covered in olive trees”.
In the 19th century, German geologist Leopoldo von Buch wrote: “Few olive trees are found in the island these days and these are in Temisas, a particularly lovely village in the centre of Gran Canaria. These large trees are as tall as willows and are found in great numbers, making it a reasonable assumption that they are native to the land”
With its white houses, Temisas is also known as the Canary Islands nativity scene. The entire historic area is protected by the Canary Islands Heritage Law, as it is home to the earliest church in the borough of Agüimes (1729). Temisas is sheltered by the craggy mounts surrounding it and has escaped the voracious development that changed the face of many towns of inland Gran Canaria.
This may have helped it keep its cultural heritage, ranging from Pre-Hispanic caves and grain stores in La Audiencia and Cuevas del Gigante (the Giant’s Caves) to ethnographic elements such as the tile kilns, olive oil mill and the typical houses with tiled gable roofs. These examples of Canary Islands architecture have won several awards from the Tourism Board. At the entrance to the village is Chorro Santo (Holy Spring), which dates from the 18th century, when it was the main spring of Temisas and provided water for the entire population and much of the crop land.
Distance: 13,120 km.
Time: 5 hours not including stops
End point: Same place.
Getting there by bus:
The number 34 bus (Saturdays and Sundays) stops at the bus station in Agüimes at about 8.30 am on the way up to Temisas. The best way to get there from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is to take a number 11 bus to Agüimes.
Returning by bus:
The number 34 bus (Saturdays and Sundays) stops in Temisas at about 15:45 and 18:30 on its way to the bus station in Agüimes and to Cruce de Arinaga, from where you can catch buses to other destinations.
Changes in altitude: 726 – 1.120 – 1.180 – 726 m.
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SECTION 1º: Village of Temisas – Hoya de Cho Santo and ascent to Cruz del Lomo Arañul
Approximate time: 1 hour. Distance: 2.7 km.
The walk starts near the spring of Chorro Santo, where the bus will drop you on the main road from Temisas to Santa Lucía. Go down the street to the church of San Miguel, which is on your left. Continue along the sealed road until you come to an intersection then head to the hamlet of Sagrado Corazón (GC-552).
When you reach number 15, look out for two concrete steps leading to a path between the houses. In the beginning the path runs alongside a green metal fence next to a private dwelling then goes up a steep climb. Follow the wooden power poles until you come to the next landmark.
The path comes out on a dirt track. If you follow it to the right, it comes to a sealed road, but the walk doesn’t go that way. When you come to the dirt track, go left and then take the path that appears on your right. Continue going up and cross over the main road just ahead of you and then go up another track as far as a place called Hoya de Cho Santo. You’ll find another bus stop here, where you could also start the walk, avoiding the village of Temisas and the ascent.
The concrete path goes past a group of houses on the right and heads towards a round holding pool. A few metres before you reach the pool you’ll see the start of another path on the right. This well kept path will take you to the intersection of La Cruz, in Lomo de Arañul, where there are several options for walks [No. 1 on the map]. A signpost indicates that you’re entering Los Marteles Special Nature Reserve (Reserva Natural Especial de Los Marteles).
SECTION 2º: Gullies and ravines.
Approximate time: 1 h 30 min. Distance: 3.6 km
As you go up, head right along the edge of the ridge, from where you can see Temisas at all times. You’ll come to a junction with a ruined stone house on your left. This is the area known as Los Quemados [No. 2 on the map].
Keep an eye out at this point because it’s easy to go the wrong way. If you keep heading up, you’ll come to an area known as Lomo Guaniles, although before you reach it you’ll find a wooden signpost for Guayadeque [No. 3 on the map]. However, from the junction at Los Quemados you can take an alternative route to avoid a steep ascent. When you come to the junction with the ruined house, take a path that leads off to the right and goes down via Los Graneles as far as Cho Pablo ravine. Go up a few metres until you come out on the main track to Guayadeque, then head right [No. 4 on the map].
You’ll now be walking across volcanic terrain. The colour of the loose gravel indicates that you’re in the area of Zamora and you need to take the path to your left. Hikers often like to keep going straight ahead, at a lower altitude. If you do this, you’ll come to an abandoned house and the Zamora path, which will take you back to Temisas, but this isn’t the suggestion for this walk.
Keep going upwards on the rocky path, where steps are cut into the volcanic rock. You’ll come to a place known as Mesa de Santana (1,120 m) and you’ll have a sweeping view to the left, where you’ll be able to make out El Pinillo (the lone pine) on a solitary ridge. This is your first sighting of the tree this walk is named after.
From here simply follow the clear path with well indicated sections, heading north. You’ll cross some small ravines and go past some abandoned caves, some of which have recently been cleared. Go across the Chorrillo ravine and you’ll come to a place known as Orilla del Seto, where you’ll see a large threshing floor a bit higher up on the left. This dates from the 18th century and has an area of approximately 172 m2. The construction is surrounded by a stone wall and is on a terraced area next to a slope, with stones set into the ground. Next to it you’ll find two caves where grain was stored.
Cross over Pilancones ravine at its source, and then after El Pino ravine you’ll see the caves at Cuevas de los Setos, where beautiful almond trees line the path. When you reach the top, El Pinillo (the lone pine) is a stone’s throw to the left. If you like it, you can take a walk up to the pine tree from here. You’ll be going across country on a small track used by hunters, although this isn’t part of the walk.
Instead of taking the hunters’ track, keep walking until you come to the double intersection in Lomo del Granillar [No. 5 on the map], the start of the next section.
SECTION 3º: El Pinillo loop.
Approximate time: 30 min. Distance: 1.3 km.
This is the start of a loop section that goes up to El Pinillo alongside some caves known as Cuevas de Juan López. The legend of these caves continues in Guayadeque today. The story goes that Juan López wanted to go and live on the coast, but his wife didn’t. His two sons threw him into a well, where he died. They were tried for this act and served sentence. While in prison, the brothers learned to cook. On their release, they returned to the area but finally decided to go and work in the south of the island… by the sea. An old pathway by the caves goes down to the Guayadeque ravine (walk described by JMG in the newspaper La Provincia, on 18-11-1990).
Legends aside, the walk continues as you follow the path heading towards Guayadeque. When you come to a wooden signpost (SL02-Guayadeque), keep straight on, going up a short rise to the caves, from where you have a view of the Guayadeque ravine. By the caves you’ll see some white, green and red paint (like the Italian flag). Continue on the path to the left, heading towards El Pinillo. This section is very easy as far as the intersection, from where you need to leave the main track to head down towards the majestic dead tree trunk of El Pinillo.
After the visit to the tree, go back to the main track then down the other path. If you continue going up you’ll be heading to Sepultura del Gigante and Caldera de Los Marteles and you could even go as far as the peaks of Gran Canaria [No. 6 on the map].
For this walk, go down to the left to rejoin the path at the intersection of Lomo de Granillar.
SECTION 4º: Descent of Pilancones ravine to the pipeline on Camino Real de Agüimes (Barranco Hondo).
Approximate time: 45 min. Distance: 2.9 km
Take the path that descends (on your right) towards a stone threshing floor with an ellipsoid base. It’s easy to spot and is a landmark you need to look out for on this walk.
On the left of the threshing floor you’ll find a small path that goes down and crosses the head of a ravine. The path will take you to the caves of Cuevas de Morales, which are painted white and have a signpost with their name on it. Go past the caves, where you’ll see three groups of cave dwellings. After the third group, which has a cypress tree in front of it, the path goes downwards. The descent is quite slippery and stony. After that the path goes along the left of the ravine (looking downstream). Piles of stone have been set up to stop erosion. After a few minutes you’ll see a path that’s slightly hidden by plants [No. 7 on the map], but don’t take it because you need to keep heading down. After a long section, cross over the ravine for the first time. Keep an eye out here because you’ll come to two more paths that go in different directions [No. 8 on the map].
The first path after you cross the ravine continues to go up to your right. Take the path on the left and go back down to the bed of the ravine. When you start going up again, you’ll come to a junction, where you need to go right. The path to the left goes up to Degollada de Berriel and from there you could join onto the bridle path known as Camino Real de Agüimes.
On this walk you need to keep to the path on the right, going down for a few minutes until you come out on a dirt track. This is right at the junction of two ravines: Cañada de Los Morales, which you’ve come down, and Pilancones. These go on to make up Barranco Hondo, which is joined by another small tributary a little further on.
Continue on the dirt track until you see a path to the right [No. 9 on the map] that leads down to an abandoned well construction that was once used to bring water up from the subsoil. A small sign next to one of the windows is a memorial to a deceased person, most likely a watchman or the owner of the well. Flowers are sometimes left here, indicating that some people still have an attachment to this delightful spot. At this place you’re completely boxed in, as it’s the deepest part of the ravine, and the surrounding mountains – El Montañón (828 m) and Alto del Pino (982 m) – keep a close watch over it.
SECTION 5º: Cuevas de la Audiencia.
Approximate time: 1 h 15 min. Distance: 3.5 km
In front of the concrete block construction you’ll see some enormous rusted metal pipes that were used as supports for the machinery used to penetrate the depths of the earth via the well.
Look out carefully for the start of the next path. Opposite the metal pipes, in the middle of the vegetation, you’ll see a faint path that goes down over the soil extracted when the well was sunk. Follow this path down to the ravine and cross over. On the right hand side (as you look down the ravine) the path runs alongside the bed of the ravine for a few metres at a higher level. On the side of the mountain ahead you’ll make out some hollows.
The path becomes clearer and reaches a secondary tributary. Cross over and go up on a section held up by retaining walls that bear witness to the age of the path and the hard work that went into it. As you gain altitude, look out for the crest that divides the two ravines of Pilancones and La Hornilla. A few metres further on, you’ll come to two paths. Take the one that descends and cross over the ravine. Keep heading up until you come to the main track.
Go left at this junction. Head downwards while you enjoy the view of the palm grove in El Hondo ravine. This little used path has been considerably eroded by the scrub that grows alongside it. You’ll come to a reinforced concrete water channel on the Camino Real (bridle path) between Temisas and Agüimes.
Go right, to a flat area in Lomo del Barranco Hondo. The track is clearer in this section and you can enjoy the virtually flat walk. Go past a very old stone house and after crossing a few streams you’ll come to a pass and a junction at Cruz Chica, from where you can make out Temisas.
It’s also a final place of rest, probably dating from the 18th century. There are two “resting places” in this spot, which was a junction of paths between villages in the area and a place for mourners to catch their breath during funeral processions. Small crosses indicate either deaths that occurred in the area or vows that were made. To see the archaeological site you need to go up to the left, to the ridge of Lomo de la Cruz. After gaining altitude on a clear path, go off to the right to the rocky crest and look for the gate to the site.
Return to the junction where the cross is and head towards the main road. Once you reach the road, go right, where you can see El Chorrillo ravine, and then head left through the area of Temisas known as La Inmaculada and the rear of the main part of the village. Head back up to the main road through the winding alleys..
MAP OF THE WALK
PROFILE OF THE WALK
Things to see:
Olive trees in Temisas
The valley of Temisas has 1,452 olive trees, according to a study by Víctor M. García Bethencourt, commissioned by the local councils of Agüimes, Santa Lucía and San Bartolomé de Tirajana. The local olive trees are an autochthonous species included in the 310 varieties listed by the World Olive Germplasm Bank. The species has been grown in this area since the 17th century and, along with beekeeping, which dates back even further, helped to bring progress to Temisas.
El Pinillo (the lone pine)
Little has been written about this majestic specimen of Canary Islands pine. At one time it was a landmark for the people of Temisas and Agüimes. Local writer Antonio Estupiñán Sánchez put together some objective, up-to-date information: height of 25 m, trunk 6 m in circumference and 3 m in diameter. He also noted that Bartolomé Rodríguez (owner of the Tagoror restaurant, in Guayadeque) remembered the tree when it was still alive about 60 years ago and had green branches and was much taller. Antonio Estupiñán ventures to say that it’s quite likely the oldest pine tree in the Canary Islands, at more than 700 years old.
Cuevas de la Audiencia and Cuevas del Risco Pintado
These two archaeological sites are in the same place. Las Cuevas d e La Audiencia is a granary and El Risco Pintado is a group of caves used for dwellings and burials and as granaries. The caves are on a cliff face that looks out over Temisas and is accessed by a poorly marked track. Look out for an opening cut into the volcanic rock, which will lead you to the site.
According to Sebastián Jiménez: The central area of Cuevas del Pósito or Agadir de Temisas comprises a large cavern with a width of six metres (from the opening in the cliff face to the tunnel entrance) and a length of 12 metres. Despite its rustic nature, the interior is a delight for visitors. In the centre a colonnade runs from the floor to the ceiling, with rough hewn arches reminiscent of a church. This cave has only one granary. An opening leads to another, larger cave on the right, with six granaries. Most of these are a metre deep and some are two or three metres wide. The opening of the granaries is normally round, with a diameter of one metre. Half the granaries are on the side walls and the others are built into the floor. Some are interconnected. To the left of the central cave lies an irregular shaped cavity with 19 granaries and a hollow dug into the rock in the shape of a human sarcophagus.
The paths of Temisas
When the island was repopulated after the conquest, Temisas had good connections to other settlements, as the bridle path between El Carrizal and Tejeda went through the village. Mule drivers drank from the springs and their animals quenched their thirst at the trough after making their way from Agüimes over the steep ravines on their way up, or down from Tirajana. Viera y Clavijo described this route: “The path from Agüimes to the chapel of San Miguel, in Temisas, is very rough, due to the depth of the three ravines, but the one after that is even worse, especially the descent of the Santa Lucía valley, which is long, steep and winding”.
In 1793, Bishop Tavira wrote in his account of a visit to Agüimes: “The people of Temisas are some way from the town and the road there is so rough, it is impassable on many occasions”.
Viera y Clavijo referred to Temisas as the “mountain pass” between Agüimes and Santa Lucía, indicating that it was a place to stop and rest. This meant that the local people could purchase a range of food items and textile products from the mule drivers at a lower price, as there was no customs house in the village. In the 19th century, the government invested 150,000 reales on the Agüimes-Temisas path as far as Arañul ravine, in La Raya. The report says that it was five leagues long and 15 feet wide. The Camino Real later included two local tributaries, one known as El Chorro, because it went up to the spring via the church square, and the other known as Camino de Los Barros, which led to the kilns. In the 1920s this section became known as the cemetery path.
Temisas was also connected to the coast of Santa Lucía by a path known as Camino del Duende (or Camino de la Montaña), through Padilla. The people of Temisas often took this route on their way down to Pozo Izquierdo and other parts of the coast to stock up on salt.
Curiously, when the motor vehicle arrived in the early 20th century, Temisas was isolated for many years.