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If you have already visited Lobos in one of our trips you already know the best. But there are still many places you must visit. This time we’ll tell you about Los Lajares, a village about 10kms from Corralejo.
Lajares is a village with around 3000 inhabitants in the North of the island. Despite not being next to the sea, Lajares is the surfers’ village par excellence in Fuerteventura, as it is in a privileged location next to the best surfing peaks in this island, at the same distance from the Eastern, Western and Northern Coast.
Residents from different nationalities live in Lajares, which enriches its culture, apart from being a tourist and yet not crowded place, as the lodging offer consists of apartments or really charming houses.
Lajares is a crossroads town, as it is located between El Cotillo and Corralejo, the three of them being the most interesting places in the Northern area as far as tourism is concerned, having a great leisure offer. In the main street of Lajares you find everything: surf and kite schools, clothes and crafts stores, apart from bars and restaurants for all tastes to have breakfasts, lunch and dinner and enjoy live music almost every day of the week: Canela Bar, Return Bar…
What to do in Lajares?
Visit Calderón Hondo Volcano
Probably one of the best preserved volcanic cones in Fuerteventura. Climbing it is a pleasure, and this will allow you to enjoy the views of the North of the island, Lanzarote and Lobos Island. It won’t take you longer than one hour, and the track is fully accessible for the visitor. The track is not hard, but recommended for all kind of people.
Strolling along “El Barranco de los Encantados”
This is probably one of the best kept secrets of Fuerteventura. It is a sandy ravine you can access on your way out of Lajares towards Cotillo. You must take the dirt road exit on the roundabout. There you can park and start the trekking. As you get into the ravine the landscape becomes impressive: you find the most original rock formations and a great deal of fossil remains. These special rock formations in “El Barranco de los Encantados” come from large antique masses of sand under the sea; when significant drops of the sea level took place these large masses of sand were exposed forming, over time, this place of unequalled beauty. It has been declared asset of cultural interest, with the category of palaeontological area in 2008.
On Saturdays, Crafts market in Lajares
Every Saturday from 10 to 14h different craftsmen in Fuerteventura put on a market where you can find a large variety of pieces of handicrafts. A highly recommendable visit, as thanks to the market the village is extremely lively. Besides, it is located in the very square of the town and just next to it there is a playground, so if you are travelling with children this is a perfect stop.
Enjoying the Jam Session on Wednesday
If you like live music, every Wednesday, in an emblematic spot in Lajares, “Canela Café”, musicians and amateurs meet to put on one of the best known sessions in Fuerteventura. Around 20h locals and tourists turn up to enjoy the gastronomic offer of this place, and around 22h music starts. You’ll be amazed to see the large number of people from different nationalities that pop up.
In our quest to let people know about the wonders of Fuerteventura we continue writing about those places you should definitely visit to fully enjoy the island. We are based in the port of Corralejo and our favorite place is Isla de Lobos, a place where we make our tours for visitors to enjoy, but there are plenty of corners in this paradise island, one of them is the fishing village of El Cotillo.
It is the most northern town on the west coast. It is an uncrowded fishing and tourist town, as the offer for visitors focuses on the rental of apartments and small aparthotels and just one new built hotel. Its beautiful beaches, for all tastes, are some of the most beautiful ones on the island, with fantastic natural landscapes and the charm of a small fishing village that turn it into a must visit for traveller. It also has a very good range of restaurants where you can enjoy delicious local fresh fish, as marine fauna is abundant.
Points of interest:
EL TOSTÓN LIGHTHOUSE. Lighthouse in El Cotillo . Traditional Fishing Museum.
This beautiful lighthouse, located in a wonderful setting, both for its landscape and the richness of the birds that frequent it, now houses the Museum of Traditional Fishing, a representative sample of what the fisherman trade meant to this town of El Cotillo and all over the island throughout its history.
This dock is a natural breakwater combined with a pier, used as a shelter dock for traditional fishing boats and small boats.
It is a small but lovely dock which has a small beach of black sand and pebbles, bounded by the pier and the cliff and surrounded by a variety of restaurants and bars where you can enjoy the local fresh fish and heavenly sunsets.
“LA CONCHA” BEACH
The beach of “La Concha” is one of the most beautiful corners of the area, located north of the village. It’s a natural pool sheltered by natural stone dikes that protect the beach from waves and made of pure white and fine sand and crystal water inviting to take a bath. In your way to El Tostón Lighthouse you can enjoy many more bays of this kind known as the Lakes of El Cotillo, because nature has wanted this area to be made of small pools of sea protected by small stone dikes, ideal free of wave beaches to swim and enjoy with children without any danger.
“PIEDRA PLAYA” BEACH
South of town, under a cliff with an amazing volcanic landscape behind we find this almost 2 km long sandy beach, the longest beach in the area, where year-round star sports in the island are practised: windsurfing, surfing ….
“El TOSTÓN” TOWER
“El Toston” Tower is a seventeenth century fortress built of stone which is accessed via a staircase connected to the door trhough a drawbridge. At its highest point there were three cannons to defend the territory against attacks by Berber , French and British pirates. Nowadays it’s a tourist information office.
Throughout the entire geography of the island lime kilns are numerous, and in between the Shelter Dock in El Cotillo and El Tostón Lighthouse you can find up to four of them.
El Cotillo is definitely a place you should not miss; you can stroll along its streets or trails to enjoy the coast and swim in clean water, eat in its restaurants and enjoy an authentic and quiet fishing village.
Not everything will be sailing to Isla de Lobos from Corralejo, and visit this piece of paradise that Fuerteventura is. On the contrary we love you to know every corner of this wonderful island. A small corner is the quaint village of La Ampuyenta, which has a historical and cultural heritage, several landmarks, worth knowing and visiting to look deep into the history of Fuerteventura.
The Ampuyenta offers, in a small walking tour, to discover the past and get to know an important part of the history of Fuerteventura. We are talking about the historical heritage resort of La Ampuyenta, an environment fully restored and ready to be visited, made up of several buildings:
-The House Museum Doctor Mena
In this house, Tomás Mena and Mesa was born to a humble family in 1802. His parents made great efforts to get him studying and at the age of 19 he travelled to La Havana for a doctorate at the University of Medicine, specialty in surgery, thanks to his brother’s small fortune, living in La Havana, who had an influential ecclesiastical position in that city. Later on, Tomas Mena y Mesa moved to Paris and he got a PhD in Tropical Medicine by The Sorbonne; back to La Havana he enjoys great fame as a physician and from there he travels to the US, broadening his knowledge. Such was his fame that he was made an honorary member of the Faculty of the University of Cadiz in 1846.
After a trip to Cadiz, he returns to his native Fuerteventura where he would spend the rest of his life, managing his vast fortune and devoted to research. But this great man never stopped providing services to others, ministering to his neighbours in his office for free.
In his legacy he left 25,000 pesetas to the people of Fuerteventura for the construction of a hospital where the needy could be taken care of. But although such a building was built 60 years after he died, “El Hospitalito Doctor Mena” never worked as such and it is currently owned by the Church and contains the exhibition of saint platforms of Fuerteventura’s chapels.
–The Charity Hospital of San Conrado and San Gaspar
This is the hospital that Dr Mena y Mesa ordered to be built in his Will, and to honour his brother, the clergyman, he named it like this. It is a picturesque building built in three pavilions linked by corridors. The doctor wanted it to be devoted to charity and to be built in his home-town, but as we mentioned above it never got to serve its purpose. At present it is known as “El Hospitalito de La Ampuyenta” and it houses the exhibition of the saints’ platforms of Fuerteventura’s chapels, a dozen of such procession items, along with an old photo exhibition of the Festival of San Pedro de Alcantara. Outside, it has a tank which can also be visited.
-The House of Fray Andrecito
In the early nineteenth century, Andrew Grace Acosta was born to a humble peasant family in this house; he worked as a goatherd but in his youth he was influenced by the Franciscans and history records that when he completed his day-to-day tasks he surrounded himself with children and taught them religion. After the death of his mother, he decides to embark on an expedition of emigrants to America caused by hunger and joblessness due to drought. First he moved to Uruguay and later on to Chile where he was related to the Franciscan order, achieving —for his work, strength and charity— great popularity in the humble occupation as beggar monk. He died in Santiago de Chile in January 1853.
Currently his humble and simple home is of Cultural Interest in the category of Historical Site and Fray Andresito is in the process of beatification.
-The Hermitage of San Pedro de Alcantara
Despite its small size, this chapel is the most important religious building of Fuerteventura, as it contains one of the most valuable and unique artistic ensembles in The Islands. Its architecture is very simple, contrasting with the wealth it contains, the most important religious painting collection of Fuerteventura. This chapel was founded in August 1681 with the sponsorship of the Franciscan saint San Pedro de Alcantara, canonised in 1669.
Inside, you can appreciate paintings, most of them dedicated to San Pedro de Alcantara, along with other architectural assets. The mural painting of the chapel of Ampuyenta is considered one of the most important in the Canary Islands, dating from the late eighteenth century; it’s an unmatched work in the archipelago, due to the quality of the illusionist technique in which painting, architecture and sculpture are mixed.
For these buildings, the history of the famous people we have commented on and thanks to the work of recovery and restoration of the Island Council and the Canary Islands Government in recent years, The Ampuyenta is a must-stop for those who want to learn more about a past which is really present in this village, a great walking tour of the historical heritage resort of La Ampuyenta, a highly recommended visit.
As we said before, not everything will be day trips to Lobos and beach days; Fuerteventura has, besides all that, an interesting history.
How to get there:
La Ampuyenta is located in the municipality of Puerto del Rosario, inland, about 20 kilometres from the capital of Fuerteventura, on the FV-20 road. Old address.
These days we are enjoying our trips to Lobos Island from Corralejo’s Pier (Fuerteventura) in the pleasant company of one of the largest birds in the Atlantic, the gannet, which is in the process of migration in search of warm weather to spend the winter. Let’s look at them more closely.
Scientific name: Morus Bassanus.
The gannet, with a large wingspan, reaching up to 2 meters, is a true master of diving, able to dive into the sea, like a projectile, to catch prey (average size fish) 30 to 40 meters away and at high speed (100km / h) . It is found on both coasts of the North Atlantic and spends most of the time at sea only coming ashore to nest on cliffs and islands of the North Atlantic.
Adult birds weigh between 3 and 4 kilos. They have long narrow wings, with average wingspan of 1.80 meters and about 1 meter tall. Its plumage is white, with dark edges. They have a pointed and slightly curved beak.
Young pelicans are distinguished by the grey colour with white specks of their plumage. Because of the way they fish, diving into the water at high speed, they lack nostrils but they do have side nasal holes that can close when in the water; They have characteristic notches in the corners of their mouth, through which they breathe.
To cushion the impact of their dives, they have a pneumatic bag system under their skin (air bags under the skin of their face and chest, which protect them when they plunge into the water) acting as a buffer, their plumage becoming very compact.
To withstand the high temperatures they have a layer of subcutaneous fat and dense and overlapping feathers.
The colonies are very noisy, since these birds emit a characteristic cry when they approach although they are silent on the open sea. They emit guttural sounds of short syllables: ghaghag-hoghog.
In summer gannets nest on the shores of the North Atlantic (located mainly in the British Isles and Scandinavia). They gather in colonies of up to 20,000 couples where they make their nests very close together, with algae and marine plants.
It is when they are about 4 years old that they start breeding, laying a single blue-white egg which will be incubated for about 45 days. Both parents incubate the egg alternating periods of 24 hours, taking turns with a very peculiar ceremony, a greeting ceremony among parents.
The hatched chicks are fed by their parents for about 12 weeks, born naked and dark, and after some days their white feathers start to appear and they stop needing parental warmth. These chicks leave the nest and jump into the sea without being fully prepared to fly but with a good layer of grease (1 kilo more than their parents) that provides the heat they need while they remain floating for about 10 days until they finally begin performing their first flights and fishing.
They have aggressive behaviour in the nest, although the fights only take place among birds of the same sex. A female will only fiercely defend the nest from another female; if a female approaches the nest of another male, the latter grabs her by the neck and ejects her from there. The struggles between males occupying a nest for the first time can become quite intense. The fights are preceded by threatening gestures and males show their neighbours the property of a nest by gesturing with their head and beak facing down and erecting their wings.
Males are the ones that look for a place to breed and try to attract a single female, about 4 or 5 years old, flying over the colony several times before landing and showing the male, by stretching their neck, that they allow for the wooing; the males answer by shaking their head with closed wings.
Although couples separate after the breeding, they rejoin the following year, they are monogamous, breeding together their whole lives or for many years.
When winter comes, at the end of the breeding season, they travel south, they undertake the post-nuptial migration that will take them to the Gulf of Guinea. In Spain it is a common species during migration although they don’t nest here.
Currently the gannet is listed as “least-concern species”, as it has a very wide distribution area and the number of individuals is large enough and the demographic trend seems to be increasing.
Remain attentive to this time in Fuerteventura, as you may be lucky enough to come across one of these specimens and enjoy their peculiar way of fishing, a real show. We keep enjoying their company these days in our daily trips to Lobos Island.
One of the most interesting and emblematic buildings in Fuerteventura, with a great historical meaning as much for this majorera island as for the whole Canary Archipelago, is the colonels’ house; a feudal building, located in the malpaís of ‘La Arena’, in the outskirts of La Oliva, standing out not just because of its history but because of its architecture too.
It is a civic and military building that started to be built in the second half of the XVII Century, ruled by the Sánchez-Dumpiérrez family, and it surprises us because of its great dimensions, making a contrast with the desert landscape and the plains where it is located. The Sánchez-Dumpiérrez Family held repeatedly the office of Colonel of the Provincial Militias, which was held for life and it was hereditary. They created a military aristocracy extremely mighty, and they would dominate the island at the end of the XVIII century.
Why does the figure of the colonel have so much power in comparison to that of feudal lords?
Once that Fuerteventura takes part in the Catillian Crown dominions are established, and the family Arias de Saavedra held the title of Fuerteventura’s lords. The crown is aware that their power to control their own territories is weakening, as the lands are under the rule of lords that govern their own way. So, the crown decides to create a military regiment under the rule of a colonel that would take control of the island little by little. In 1708 the militia’s regiment is settled, and their colonel holds the office and duties of ‘Governador de Armas’; the mission of this office will be to undermine the power of the island’s lords.
First of all they take away their military power, and little by little colonels become the true landowners, ruling the island from their fortress houses: the colonels’ house. Fuerteventura’s lords lived in Betancuria, but colonels settle in La Oliva, so Betancuria loses interest, and political, economic and social development starts in La Oliva, living at that time its biggest splendour.
La Oliva becomes thus the most important major city in Fuerteventura; the colonel orders the building of La Oliva’s church (the biggest one in the island) and creates and important market; the first colonel even buys the sculpture of the ‘Virgen de la Candelaria’, thus undermining that of the ‘Virgen de Betancuria’. They became the richest family in the Canary Islands. The power the colonels got was so great that they started to live as proper lords- there was a splendorous social and artistic refinement. Among the payslips found in the house there was that of a pianist brought from France, which shows the refinement and artistic sensitivity they had. Painters of a great reputation went to this house and gave expression to portraits of La Oliva’s colonels.
The architectural complex of the Colonels’ house clearly shows the power that this family enjoyed. It is a building inspired in the rustic houses of nobility in the Canary Islands (like those that at that time were built in Tenerife’s Lagoon, but improved). It was made of several areas or buildings, each one with a different function: the main square, the cistern, the stables, the ceremony area, the agricultural area…. Within this complex you also find the doctor’s house, the chemistry, the administrator’s area, the carpenter’s workshop, the blacksmith’s… and in the central area, as a powerful castle, the building where the colonel and his family lived. Colonels get their full splendor in the XVIII C, but all through the XIX C. the new economic, political and social situations bring the military power in Fuerteventura to a slow deterioration.
Populations like Puerto de Cabras and Antigua gain importance as demographic segments. Colonels will lose their political and military power, not the economic one though, which they will keep even after the colonles’ office disappeared.
Nowadays The Colonels’ house is a museum that hints at the power that Fuerteventura held in the past.