Sunny Canaries

VILLAVERDE

Cueva del Llano

La cueva del Llano is a volcanic tube of considerable dimensions situated close to the village of Villaverde. A jameo is the local term used for an entrance to a lava tube and the jameo at Villaverde is an entrance to a passage that divides into two branches; one goes north and the other towards the south.  The north branch is 500 meters long and 400m of this are developed with paths and electric light. The lava tube was formed by a lava stream from the Mt. Escanfraga. Mt. Escanfraga is one of a chain of craters, which is typical for Fuerteventura. This chain was formed more than 690,000 years ago, which would mean that this cave is of extraordinary age for a lava tube. The tube was dated to be of Pleistocene age; lava tubes are generally only a few thousand years old, as they are destroyed fast by erosion. 

The jameo at Villaverde was developed by the Cabildo of Fuerteventura to protect it and to make it a tourist destination. The jameo is now covered by a building of more than 400m², which contains an exhibition, cafe, shop and toilets 

The cave is famous for endemic troglobionts, which are portrayed in the little museum at the entrance. In a study realised by the University of La Laguna, an endemic spider was discovered that lives in the last part of the north branch; in fact two new endemic spiders live here, one only known from this cave. One was named Maiorerus randoi Rambla, which seems to be a new genus, or even family of spiders, not only a new species. The other spider, Spernophorides fuertecavensis Wunderlich is also a true troglobiont, but does not show the same intense adaptation to the lightless environment. In the south passage interesting vertebrate fossils, and sub fossil gastropods were found. 


AJUY

La Caleta Negra 

(Black Bay) is north of Ajuy; it is reached by foot on a well-maintained coastal trail; it starts at the northern end of the bay of Puerto de la Peña and follows the cliff. After about half a kilometre, (15 minutes walk,) is a fabulous outlook, which shows views of the coast, the sea, and the caves. There are walls and ruins, which are the remains of limekilns, this is one of the few places on the Canarian islands where limstone is found. The volcanic islands generally do not have this kind of sedimentary rock. As limestone and especially lime and cement are important for many purposes, the limestone here was mined, burned to lime and exported from the nearby quay towards other islands, especially Gran Canaria. The lime export ended in the 19th century, but the lime burning continued to the mid 20th century. The limestone of this area is extremely pure and thus rather valuable. 

The caves of this bay, numerous huge entrance portals, are open for visitors, a narrow trail goes down to the sea and the caves. It is easy to find the huge entrance and visit a 600m long horizontal cave. Good shoes and lamps, are a good idea and of course someone outside who knows where you are and will call for rescue if you do not come back. If this sounds too dangerous, you may ask in one of the nearby restaurants for a guide, locals often guide visitors into the cave and a tip is much appreciated. 





LA SOLAPA

The American Star 

is a bizarre sight, a huge liner gone aground, you can only guess at her former glory as the old lady is in an increasing state of ghostly deterioration. But she was once a real star, a super cabin liner launched into the River Hudson in August 1939 by the first lady of America, Mrs. Franklin D Roosevelt. She had a long and varied career, during her 55 years she had 7 different names, visited England, France, Holland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Fiji, Nova Scotia, Greece and Egypt amongst other places. She sailed great oceans such as the Pacific, Atlantic, across the Mediterranean and down the Suez Canal. During the war she was requisitioned by the American Navy, she served faithfully and had many close calls as the “Grey Ghost” from 1941-46. During the 60’s she took English, Dutch, German, Yugoslavian and Italian immigrants to a new life in Australia, but mostly she worked as the cruise liner she was designed to be. Her last voyage in January 1994, had her heading for a refit in Taiwan, before taking on a new role as a floating hotel off the Thai island of Phukett. Under tow from Greece, she ran into rough weather near the Canary Islands and got caught up in a storm that raged for many days during which she broke loose leaving 4 salvage crew on board with no power. After unsuccessful attempts to get a towline on board the crew were helicoptered off and she ran aground on the beach near Ajui. She still sits there, broken in half now, just a shadow of her former glorious self, once the largest first class liner in the world (724 feet long) a sad undignified end to a once great lady of the seas.

You can visit the wreck by driving in a southerly direction from Pajara; just past the turning to Ajuy you will find a track to the right. (Classified as off road, so some hired vehicles may not be insured here) As you drive down this track you will pass through a military zone, the army uses the land for maneuvers and if there are exercises you obviously will be turned back. Most of the time though, there is no sign of the army and you can pass through the “bombing range” safely. The ship is close to the shore and many people have boarded the ship but there have been accidents both on board, due to the wrecks deteriorating condition and in the water (including a number of deaths.)

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