Hiking the west coast of Fuerteventura. Part III

Day 7 La Pared – Playa de Barlovento de Jandía
http://www.sportrouteplanner.com/?id=15121#map
The more mountainous peninsula of Jandía in Fuerteventuras southern part is connected to the rest of the island by a thin isthmus, el istmo the Jandía, which is made up by sand stone and sand dunes with a biogenic origin. Looking on the map, this stretch looked easy and the first kilometers sure were easy, walking on the hard flat sandstone next to the more volcanic intertidal zone. Eventually we came to an area where the hard sandstone ended and we had to climb up further inland in order to avoid the steep sand dunes sloping towards the sea. It proved exhausting to walk on the trail-less sand dunes, and once again there was no one to ask for the way. Surprisingly we saw an older man, wearing only underwear and Ugg boots sitting fishing on a cliff. The trail leading to the man was so narrow, we had to remove all our luggage in order to walk out to him. The man was friendly, but was unable to give us very detailed descriptions on how to pass the upcoming mountain.

”You go inland, then you go up, up, up and then you go down, down, down, then repeat.”

The information seemed familiar but we followed the instructions, losing the non-existing trail more than once. Whenever we felt lost, we just stopped, looked at the landscape and tried to choose the best route, then pushed on further south.

"el istmo de Jandía" with some of the islands tallest peaks in the background

The light parts forms  the isthmus “el istmo de Jandía”, while some of the island’s tallest peaks are seen on the Jandía-peninsula in the background.

Brenda finding her way down to the isthmus.

Brenda finding her way down to the isthmus.

Easy hiking at its best!

Easy hiking at its best!

We made it to the most remote sandy beach on the island, which has extremely few visitors because of the difficulty of the trails leading to it. Even though it’s on of the the most untouched and pristine beaches you can find, it’s still completely full of trash. Branches, plant parts, huge tree-trunks and algi all got overshadowed by the amount of plastics that we found. Old buckets, refrigerators, shoes, frisbees, plastic bags, 30 centimeters thick X meters long plastic ropes only to name a few. Most terrifying was the discovery of all the small microplastics in the sand. In some patches there were more plastic particles than sand! We had seen trash all over the coastline but this was really something extreme. How is it possible that such a beautiful unspoiled remote place can be so full of trash? It’s lying in a strategic position were the currents are bringing all the floating debris into sort of a funnel and wash it up on the beach, where it stays. Since the beach is so remote, its rearely or ever cleaned and the trash just keeps accumulating.

Playa de Barlovento de Jandía. The amount of trash that we saw on this beach was beyond horrifying.

Playa de Barlovento de Jandía. The amount of trash that we saw on this beach was beyond horrifying.

Where you usually see algi and organic materia, you see plastics instead.

Where you usually see algi and organic materia, you see plastics instead.

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The bigger pieces of plastics eventually break down into smaller ones that are now floating everywhere in the world oceans. Some get washed ashore, but most accumulate in the waters of the oceanic gyres.

Probably the the most beautiful dump that we have ever slept in.

Probably the the most beautiful dump that we have ever slept in.

Day 8 Playa de Barlovento de Jandía – Roque del Moro
http://www.sportrouteplanner.com/?id=15122#map
The beach of Cofete is the longest beach on the island, stretching about 30 km next to the tallest peaks of the island. Walking on the sand proved easy but quite tiring, especially since we were carrying a bucket full of plastics and a gas container with Chlouro-flouro-methane that we found in Barlovento all the way to the settlement of Cofete were we stopped to refill our water deposits and have a snack in the local bar. The bar was full of goat shepherds getting drunk on beer and honey rum while talking and laughing loudly, and we asked them for the way to cross the last mountains before reaching the end of the peninsula. They told us the route was not used anymore by the shephards and the trail was difficult to find.

One very intoxicated villagers told us: ¨I only know one goat shephard can pass the mountains, and he does it with the help his long walking stick and in some parts he’s forced to swim. This is the most difficult part of the whole island and you will not be able to do it, you will get lost.” The more sober shepherds were more optimistic and actually provided some useful tips on how to pass the area.

Well, we thought, it seemed like the whole coastline was ”the most difficult part of the island” so we did not take much notice but kept in mind the guidelines the shephards gave us and off we went. Looking back at the hike now, we can say that this was probably the most difficult part of the whole hike.

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Joel posing with a whale mandible we found on the beach, close to “el islote”

The label said: WARNING CONTAINS HFCF 22 (CHLORODIFLUOROMETHANE) A SUBSTANCE WHICH HARMS PUBLIC HEALTH AND ENVINRONMENT Great, what the hell is it doing in the sea? We brought it 8 km to the closest village.

The label of the gas tank: “WARNING CONTAINS HFCF 22 (CHLORODIFLUOROMETHANE) A SUBSTANCE WHICH HARMS PUBLIC HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENT” Great, what the hell is it doing on the beach? We brought it 8 km to the closest village.

The never-ending beach of Cofete with the islands highest peks in the backround

The never-ending beach of Cofete with the islands highest peks in the backround

Heading up the mountain again!

Heading up the mountain again!

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Unfortunately, the trash was not the only sad thing we saw on the beach. We found a lot of dead wildlife also, like this dead Cory’s shearwater (Calonectris diomedea).

In a beach full of bizarre kinds of human waste, we also found this baby dolphin dead. We wonder what happened to it and why its life had to come to an end so soon.

In a beach full of bizarre kinds of human waste, we also found this baby dolphin dead. We wonder what happened to it and why its life had to come to an end so soon.

Brenda with "Roque del moro" in the backround

Brenda with “Roque del moro” in the backround, very close to our camping site for the night.

Looking back at the long beach of Cofete. It took a day to walk it!

Looking back at the never ending post card beach of Cofete. It took more than a day to walk it!

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We had a beautiful evening with some fishing that resulted in a sargo and a delicious dinner.

Day 9 Roque del Moro – Punta de Jandía
http://www.sportrouteplanner.com/?id=15123#map
In the morning we started working our way up the mountan sides behind “the moors rock”. There was no trail for most of the part and the hillsides in the mountains and ravines were extremely steep. The worst thing however was that the loose rocks we were walking on we’re of the kind called ”tierra mala”. Even though the ground looked like solid pieces of rock it crumbled into gravel after we stepped on them. The terrain was very treacherous and small landslides were frequent.

When we had made it passed the worst stretch, we reached ravines made up by beautiful sand stone formations and sand dunes. One ravine was full of thin sheets of sandstone attached to the ground. When we knocked on them, they produced different tones like a musical instrument. We were fascinated. By tapping on the different sheets we were making our own music on a huge natural xylophone located in the middle of nowhere.

Crossing the sandstones we entered an area called ”Punta del mal rayo” which looked like the lightning stroke in the cliff colouring it black and red. Later in the afternoon we came to the light-house “Faro de punta Pesebre which had been our goal and final destination with the hike. However the light house was very small and not very impressive and we felt like walking some more, so we continued a few kilometers until we reached the big lighthouse in the south-western tip of the island “Faro de punta de Jandía.

Getting close to the finish. What you don't see in the picture is the steep cliff behind us.

Getting close to the finish. What you don’t see in the picture is the steep cliff behind us.

 

La punta del mal rayo "The point of the bad lighting"

La punta del mal rayo “The point of the bad lighting”.

A juvinile northern gannet (Morus bassanus)  dead

A juvinile northern gannet (Morus bassanus) dead.

With only a couple pf kilometers left of coastline, we looked back at our accomlishment. Satisfied we had made it on time, but also a little bit sad it was over.

With only a couple of kilometers left, we looked back at our the coastline we just walked. We were satisfied we had made it, but also a little bit sad it was soon going to be over.

Woohoo! We made it lighthouse to lighthouse, withour rushing but arriving on expected time

Woohoo! We arrived to the lighthouse without rushing but arriving exacly on the expected time

We had made it! After spending eight nights on the beaches and nine days walking and climbing countless mountains and ravines we had finally made it to the goal of the hike: walking the west coast of Fuerteventura from north to south. The satisfaction was complete. We spent the evening hitchhiking back to Puerto del Rosario, summarizing in our heads all we had been through the last nine days. A bit exhausted and sun burnt, but happy inside.

Ps. We would like to thank our friend Yanira for providing us with the cartographic maps of the island. We would also like to thank our friend Sara spotting us in a roundabout and giving us a ride while hitchhiking back home; thanks to the other guys who gave us a ride too. Thanks a million to all the unknown fishermen, goat shepherds and random people who helped us throughout our route, showing us the way.

Last but not least, thanks to the goats for making such awesome trails, where nobody ever dared to walk before.

  1 comment for “Hiking the west coast of Fuerteventura. Part III

  1. LG
    July 5, 2015 at 13:08

    Thank you for writing your story. We have just got back from Fuerteventura. Although we didn’t hike, we experienced some of the west coast. Reading your story has inspired me. Thank you!

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