Access to this gorge, today known as the Viewpoint and previously as the Seamen’s Pass, was gained along the dangerous steep cliffs by daring orchilleros, peasant shepherds who used to extract the valuable lichen (the raw material used in fabric dye) from the orchilla plant growing here; and especially, seamen who would make their way down through here to the coves and beaches in search of traditional fish and seafood.
This is the ancient part of Gran Canaria; a volcanic island which emerged from the sea some 15-14.5 million years ago, and which, in over a million years, in the shape of a shield, advanced a few kilometres towards the sea.
The ancient isle must have almost certainly caved in along this particular flank, leaving an arc-shaped swathe of some 20 km, which we can make out from this Viewpoint, from the Punta de La Aldea to the Punta de Sardina. These steep cliffs are like an illustrated storybook of the island’s geological history, revealing each of the basalt volcanic lava flows, which, rather like a cake, elevated the island to an altitude of several hundred metres, where we are now.
At its central point some 30km away, this stretch of ocean separating Gran Canaria from Tenerife reaches a depth of 2,500 m, where an undersea volcano is pushing upwards, with a cone about 500 m high.
We are standing at the southern flank of the Tamadaba National Park, packed with many species of indigenous vegetation (with its cliffs and hills covered in cardones cacti, and tabaiba bushes…) as well as local wildlife, especially marine birds (pardelas, petreles…) who regularly nest along these cliffs.
Its history is not, however, just about the orchilleros, shepherds, seamen, and their pass, but also for the winding road linking La Aldea to Agaete (1934-1954). The pathway rose up from La Aldea past here, providing the base for the building of this historical 32 km road, laid out under extremely difficult conditions, especially along the Andén Verde. Today it provides us with some stunning views from La Aldea to Agaete.