Hidden Treasure of Artenara
Discover the Charming Mountain Side Village on the Popular Islas Gran Canaria
Board a city bus, then a charter bus, then a bus that seems like it should have retired in the 70’s. Bump, turn and wind up the rugged mountain roads with villages and forests passing by the windows, until you reach the 4167-foot peak where you are met with a Christ statue with widespread arms, similar to that of the famous Rio de Janeiro figure. This enormous structure is making its home in one of the smallest and oldest villages on the Island, Artenara. This tiny hideaway is tucked in the highest point of Gran Canaria, overlooking the surrounding rugged ridges and valleys of the islands Biosphere Reserve. The quiet town is pleasantly off the grid and allows the perfect breather from the Islands crowded resorts and coastal tourist hot-spots.
Molding to the rugged mountainside, this peculiar village is features some of the most interesting homes which are built directly into the solid rock on the mountain face, in caves dating back to the prehistoric era. The lovely white painted facades of the rock homes match the bundle of white buildings gathering in the valley between the ridges. Among the cave homes there are some hidden treasures. Including the La Ermita de la Cuevita church, which would be almost unrecognizable as a church if not for the bell above the entrance.
In the heart of the village one can find a number of craftspeople who carry out their trade in this municipality. Visit workshops to watch the creation of traditional handmade items such as ceramics and classically stitched Canaria styled table cloths. There is even a craft center that can be found in the Lugarejo area, where visitors can admire the clay craft work that is on display, which has been worked in the same manner as the earliest inhabitants of the island did.
Walk up tiny cinder block and dirt steps and push past the colorful blankets and lennons blowing in the breeze out on the line to find another cave dwelling treasure, the El Warung Cave hostel. This hostel gives outsiders a chance to see what it is like to live in the small caves that accommodate locals. Tucked away among the white stone faced homes this lovely hostel has a charming outside terrace which makes the perfect place to relax on the home made pallet couches and take in a magnificent view of the most spectacular geographical features the island has, the Crater of Tejeda, Roque Nublo, and Roque Bentayga. Converse with fellow travelers and interesting adventurers who are residing at El Warung, and at the end of the day soak up the most beautiful sunset view that the island has to offer.
Become one with the surrounding environment by heading out for a day of adventure on the mountain. Pinar de Tamadaba is the largest pine forest on the entire island and is well worth wondering through. On the rare days that the mountain top is misty, like one of the days of my own experience, the forest has a mystical, fairy tale like feel that is just as lovely and enjoyable as a day on sun. The vast mountain trails of Artenara are superb for hiking, climbing, biking, trail running, and paragliding year round and truly allow visitors to appreciate the greatest feature of this tiny village, its nature. If the ocean begins to call to you from the mountain top, no worries. While Artenara is majority interior to the island, there is a tiny coastal area in the West that has access to Punta Gongora and Punta de Las Arenas. These very unfrequented beaches can only be reached by foot, making the spot much more secluded. However, the most alluring feature of this paradise is its unique black sand beaches, which collides perfectly with the coasts big waves for surfing. An added bonus for those feeling even more adventurous is that these beaches are majority nudist, so you too can let it all hang out like a true Artenara local.
Artenara is a hidden treasure for travelers looking to dodge the Canaria Island coasts that experience a lot of tourist traffic. This municipality is perfectly secluded from hustle and bustle and allows adventure and nature lovers to delve deep into the natural historical lay of the island, live like a local, and have a tranquil breathing space for some quality one on one time with nature.
Photos by. Carson Sharp