Water flowing in Gran CanariaAs you drive or walk around Gran Canaria you get the impresssion that it's a dry island because there is no water flowing in the valleys. However, this is an illusion as almost every barranco on the island should have a natural stream. 

Before tourism, water was life in Gran Canaria. Vast networks of water channels carried it from natural springs and deep galleries carved into the island to where it was needed for drinking, washing clothes and watering crops. These stone waterways and aqueducts were built to last for centuries and managed communaly by the people they supplied. The washing points were meeting points for local commmunites and the flowing water kept valleys cool and allowed the island's birds to drink. The water was chanelled but still leaked out to keep palm groves watered.

firgas gran canariaNowadays most of the water runs through undergound pipes. The old water-sharing agreements have disappeared to be replaced with commercial contracts. Water no longer flows free and a shocking amount goes to irrigating unprofitable banana plantations that only make money thanks to huge subsidies.

Palm trees all over the island, such as the Agaete Valley and Telde, have died in their hundreds and there are no streams to act as natural firebreaks during the summer.

Free the water: A common resource and vital for tourism 

A growing number of local people are calling for change. Why does the island's water flow out of view? Why do a few people get to decide what it is used for? Why don't we put it back where it belongs; running free down the island's barrancos? Why do we spend a fortune keeping a few farmers in business when the money coGuayedra Gran Canaria 001uld be spend on rewilding the island, replanting its forests and making Gran Canaria a more attractive place to live and to visit? 

If Gran Canaria wants to be a more attractive place for walkers and visitors, putting the water back would be a good start. You only have to look at the popularity of the few places where free-flowing water remains; Azuaje, Barranco de los Cernicalos, Barranco de la Virgen up by Fontanales, and the water town of Firgas.

Firgas: Gran Canaria's water town

firgas gran canaria Firgas is the place in Gran Canaria that most visitors associate with water. The islands eponymous mineral water is bottled nearby and the main street in town has a flowing water feature. The old part of town is dotted with restored water mills, aqueducts and water channels. 

In the surrounding countryside, the main crop isn't bananas but watercress or berros, essential ingredient of one of Gran Canaria's most famous dishes; potaje de berros.

And where better to try it that in Firgas itself?Potaje de berros in Firgas

Any restaurant in or around town will serve you up a bowl of watercress, maize and pork soup, often sprinkled with gofio (toasted maize flour).

But one restaurant has upped its berros game beyond just potaje...

El Rincón de Marcos goes all in on the green stuff

El Rincón de Marcos, five minutes walk southwest of the Firgas church, puts watercress into everything. Green, pepperry bread, cress croquettes, green alioli, salads loaded with watercress,  watercress soup, even a flan (creme caramel) with a greenish hue for dessert.

The potaje de berros, alioli and croquettas are excellent, as is the bread. The dessert and a couple of other green dishes are more about the novelty than anything else (does anyone reEl Rincón de Marcos in Firgasally need a green flan?). It also serves plenty of non-watercress options like steak, calamares and papas arrugadas.

The restaurant itself is rustic with an outdoor terrace for warm days and cosy indoor rooms for the inevitable wet days. There's a reason why Firgas is famous for water; it's one of the island's rainiest spots. 

Book el Rincón de Marcos if you plan to visit Firgas at the weekend but you should be fine just walking in on weekdays, especially if you turn up early (before 14.00). 

 

































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Firgas town in north Gran Canaria is famous for water. The island's eponymous mineral water is bottled nearby, the main street has a waterfall, and the old part of town is dotted with restored mills and aqueducts.

 

 

Published in Members Only

Drive the GC 200 west coast road from Mogán to Agaete and your first stop is Fuente de Los Azulejos just past Veneguera village.

Published in Day Trips
Thursday, 07 May 2015 13:57

Seven Great Gran Canaria Boat Trips

The sea in south Gran Canaria is almost always calm so it's a perfect place to get out on the ocean. You'll experience the island from a fresh perspective, get a tan and probably see dolphins and turtles. 

Published in Excursions
Thursday, 15 January 2015 17:24

GC 15: The North Route Up To The Cumbres

The GC 15 is the main northern route up from Las Palmas to Cruz de Tejeda and the Gran Canaria highlands. It's windy but wide and runs through the green valleys and hillsides of northeast Gran Canaria and a series of interesting towns and villages. 

 

Published in Day Trips
Thursday, 15 January 2015 16:11

GC 200: Gran Canaria's Most Spectacular Road

The GC 200 has it all from hairpin bends to sheer cliff-edge drops. It's Gran Canaria's most spectacular road and takes you right through the Biosphere Reserve along its most remote coast.

Published in Day Trips
Thursday, 15 January 2015 15:52

GC 210: Dropping Into Wilderness

Steep and hair-raising, the GC 210 road drops from the pine-shrouded cumbres right down to the west coast town of La Aldea de San Nicolas. It's the kind of the road that fries brake pads and makes grown men cry (we've seen it happen).

But wow, is it spectacular.

GC 210 starts between Cruz de Tejeda and Tejeda on the GC 60. First you drive through Artenara, Gran Canaria's highest village: Stop for views of the island's central caldera and its iconic rocks. Further on the road drops steeply in a series of hair pin bends and get glimpses of the cave village of Acusa Seca (look behind you) and the emerald green Presa de Parralillo reservoir.

The most famous viewpoint here is by the renovated old windmill: A great spot for the photos without having to stop in the road.

This is Gran Canaria at its wildest with huge masses of volcanic rock cleaved by deep ravines. Nobody has lived here since pre-Hispanic times apart from a few goatherds.

The GC 60 links up with the GC 606 that takes you back up to the main road, but it's a steep old climb with huge drop-offs and no barriers.

Otherwise, you come out in La Aldea and have to choose between going north or south along another lunatic road: The GC 200. North takes you along the cliff edge route up the west coast to Agaete and south heads inland through the steep Degollada de Tasarte back to the south.

Published in Day Trips
Thursday, 15 January 2015 14:28

GC 606: The Wildest Drive In Gran Canaria

Gran Canaria's least-driven road takes you to white villages surrounded by palm and almond trees and past Roque Palmés: Little brother to Roque Nublo.

The GC-606 road is only 12 kilometres long according to Google Maps but takes a good hour and a half to drive as it is barely wide enough for a car and long stretches are barrier-less. It's spectacular or terrifying, depending on how you handle heights. 

Starting as a fork on the GC-60 between Tejeda and San Bartolomé (Tunte) it winds downhill to the tiny hamlets of El Toscón and Carrizal de Tejeda before linking to the GC 210 that links Tamadaba with La Aldea. Between the two is a viewpoint overlooking Roque Palmés.

The lower half of the road is the scariest as there's nothing between you and the Barranco bottom hundreds of metres below. Stop for great views back towards the Tamadaba massif and the Presa de Parralillo reservoir in the valley.

This pie slice of the island tucks into a fold and is hidden from the main Cumbre roads. That and the fact that it links up to another crazy road: The GC 210 between Artenara and La Aldea, make it Gran Canaria's least driven tarmac route.

For an idea of just how wild and rugged west Gran Canaria is we recommend it: Just takes things slowly and use the horn on the blind bends. 

Published in Day Trips
Thursday, 16 January 2014 00:00

Ten Top Gran Canaria Towns

There are still towns in Gran Canaria where the children stare at tourists, the menus are only in Spanish and life revolves around family, work, farming and fun rather than keeping tourists happy. 

Published in Top 10

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