Fuerteventura, Dec 27 2016

Pico de la Zarza – the island high point

Peaks visited:

Peak Height PF Location GPX
Pico de la Zarza 812m 812m Fuerteventura GPX
El Paso 257m 257m Fuerteventura

Anne and I have a tradition of exploring different Canary islands during the Christmas break. We’ve previously visited La Gomera, Gran Canaria, Tenerife, La Palma and Lanzarote. This Christmas, the destination was Fuerteventura. We had rented a room at the Las Playitas fitness and sports resort.

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Las Playitas Sports Resort

The travel from Gurskøy on Sunnmøre, Norway to Fuerteventura was long and mentally strenuous. A winter storm was emerging, and we had no idea if the ferry to Ålesund would run, or if our flight from Ålesund to Oslo would get cancelled. Our plan B was to drive to Oslo, which meant crossing the mountains – with a huge chance of ending up in a convoy or face a road closure – and not make the morning flight anyway.

But we were lucky and made it to Oslo on Dec 25, spent the night at the airport hotel, and caught the morning flight to Fuerteventura the next day. The 5,5 hour flight was OK, except for the seating space, which was horrendous. It should be forbidden to make passengers suffer so much, only to make a little extra money for one or two more rows of seats. When we landed, I started to get messages on my phone, informing me that the ferry stopped running because of the storm.

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At the Oslo airport, soon to board for Fuerteventura

Picking up the rental car (Avis/Budget) took way too long time. It’s amazing that in this day and age, there has been no evolution in so many parts of the modern world for such a simple process of handing out a set of keys for a pre-booked car.

Even worse was the queue at the Las Playitas reception. It took just as long to check in a guest as it took the rental company to rent out a car.

But eventually, we could enter our hotel room and we could put all stress aside. The room was quite OK, and we (like any other guests…) had a balcony facing the ocean. It was dark already and we let the sensation of vacation in a warm place sink in…

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View from the hotel room

Dec 27 2016: Pico de la Zarza, 812m – island high point

Anne and I had decided that if the weather was OK, we would go for Pico de la Zarza – the highest peak on Fuerteventura, rising 812 meters above sea level.

We drove south towards Morro Jable and at Playa del Matorral, we turned right in a roundabout and drove up Calle el Quijote, then turned left onto Calle Sancho Panza and stayed right in the next fork. We drove until we saw the Pico de la Zarza signpost and parked there (approx. 120m elev.)

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The Pico de la Zarza trailhead

We followed the gravel mountain road upwards. First, past a building near the trailhead.  After a couple switchbacks, the we were now on a steady northwest route to the top, and had now entered Parque Natural de Jandia.

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En route to Pico de la Zarza (center)

The road follows the ridge between Barranco de Vinamar and Valluelo de la Cal and took us up to approx. 650m where the mountain trail begins.

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On the trail to the summit

After some switchbacks, we arrived at a fence, where a sign kindly reminded us to close the door behind us. Normally, these fences are there to keep people out, but I think that this fence was there to keep the goats out. And there are indeed some goats on this island. According to one of the guide books, there are more goats than habitants on this island.

After a few more switchbacks, we completed the 6,5km route and entered the highest point on the island at 12:08pm. We were not alone up there, but this was the only top of the approx. 25 tops I visited where I saw other hikers.

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Anne and me on Pico de la Zarza

The view was great and the steep cliffs below us (to the north) were dramatic. And to “bag” the high point on our very first (full) day on the island was a great start of the vacation.

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Ocean view from Pico de la Zarza

We took the same route down and arrived at the car 2h:55 minutes after heading out.

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Our route, up and down the mountain

Dec 27 2016: El Paso 257m

On the way back to Las Playitas, we stopped by Risco del Paso – an amazing beach with water on the inside of the sand banks. And with the ever-present wind on this island, this is surely a windsurfer’s paradise.

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No-risk surfing

While Anne took a walk down by the beach, I went (off-trail) up to the local top – El Paso. I had been hiking for 10 minutes when a car stopped by the road, a man stepped out and observed me. I felt uneasy, went back to the road while preparing my question through Google’s translation app. “Es esta propiedad privada?

The man shook his head and started looking for something alongside the road. OK, I was clear to proceed it seemed and I headed back up again. I had a great view towards the beach from the summit, stayed only for pictures and took the same route back down. The man was now gone.

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Beach view from El Paso

Next, I joined Anne down by the beach and she was eager to show me the sandbanks. I’ve been to  a couple of beaches here and there, but this was definitely among the coolest I’ve seen…

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Anne on the beach, with El Paso in the background

Pictures: Getting to Las Playitas

Pictures: Pico de la Zarza

Pictures: El Paso & Risco del Paso

 

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