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February 15, 2013

Day trippers

My fellow passengers on Global’s 311 bus line which travels from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria to Santa Brigida and vice versa were mainly German. For this route goes via Bandama. One of the hiking destinations on Gran Canaria that’s closest to my LP base.

Bandama Cauldron

Bandama’s magic cauldron

This green stockbroker belt’s home to the oldest golf club on the island and to the even-more-ancient Caldera de Bandama. Scientists guesstimate violent eruptions forming what’s also known as the Gran Volcán, Great Volcano, as dating back to between 47 and 123 AD.  There’s less ambiguity regarding the caldera’s measurements: 900 metres in diameter and 250 metres deep.

Black beauty

Crossing the road from the bus stop, you’ll see a chapel on your right. Continue until you pass a metal doorway which remains open between the hours of 8:00am and 5:00pm. A stone footpath through endemic and imported foliage including aloe vera and cacti leads down before you feel the crunch of dark volcanic soil under your feet.

Down, down, deeper, and down

You’ll soon come across a mirador affording views of the abandoned farmstead below. Continue for a further 25 minutes until you reach rock bottom. Literally. The hermit who’s made a home here has been known to complain if you haven’t got a permit from the town hall. Your options are to tag along with one of the hiking parties or placate Mr Grumpy with a can of beer.

Van Damme the action villain

The Caldera de Bandama crater takes its name from a 16th-century Flemish merchant. Daniel Van Damme planted vines here and Bandama’s now one of the main stops on the Gran Canaria Wine Route.  More controversially, Van Damme was a slavetrader. What he received in return for his trafficking of humans from Cape Verde to the West Indies included cowhide, pearls, precious metals, and sugar.