Psst… The locals won’t like me mentioning this because they like to keep it a closely guarded secret, but I was recently introduced to a delightful green oasis in the heart of Gran Canaria.
I’m a sucker for clear, fresh mountain air and a day surrounded by lush, verdant countryside, so when friends suggested a trip to the Finca de Osorio, close to the historical town of Teror, I didn’t need asking twice.
The day started at Teror on a damp, grey Saturday morning. Teror is an important town in Gran Canaria due to the 18th century Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pino – home of the statue of the Virgen del Pino, patron saint of the island. (According to legend, a vision of the Virgin Mary appeared to shepherds on top of a pine tree in 1481, and since then she’s played an important role in the history and culture of the island.)
I had a quick peek in the Basílica but there was a service in progress and I didn’t want to be disrespectful. Instead, I took to the streets, which were glistening with early morning rain, to see the main square and colourful historic houses, some of which date back to the sixteenth century. Many of the houses are adorned with ornate wooden balconies, while stonework is used around windows and doors for decoration. Add an antique black Mercedes to the picture, gleaming with the love of its dutiful owner, and a group of locals performing a traditional dance in the square dressed in traditional costume, and it was like travelling back in time.
After pausing to sip a cup of thick hot chocolate – the sort that leaves a chocolate moustache on your upper lip – it was time to address the real reason for our stop: buying a picnic to take to the Finca.
For this, I was directed to the market lining the streets behind the Basílica for a Teror speciality. Spanish love of chorizo is well known, but Teror takes it a step further with its traditional recipe for Chorizo de Teror. While a similar flavour, it’s characterised by its soft texture, which makes it easy to spread. My picnic consisted of a giant rustic hunk of bread, slathered with Chorizo de Teror and topped off with a generous chunk of cheese (have I mentioned how much I love Canarian cheese?).
I was tempted to load up with cakes and biscuits made by the local Cistercian nuns – another local speciality – but my bocadillo filled my bag and was at least twice the size of my normal lunch, so I resisted!
The Finca de Osorio
The Finca de Osorio is a couple of kilometres from Teror and lies at the outer edge of the Parque Rural de Doramas. While most visitors are drawn to Gran Canaria because of its beaches and sunshine, this area feels a world away though is only a few miles from tourists baking on their sunbeds. Originally it was part of a giant laurel forest, which covered almost the entire island in the sixteenth century. While much of it has been lost, it still stretches over six municipalities, its pristine forest mingling with agricultural areas and dotted with small, picturesque villages. And with much of it perched at a high altitude, there’s abundant rainfall and fog ensuring the vegetation remains verdant and crops are plentiful.
The Finca is only a small part of this, but it still manages to cram in mountains, ravines, rich vegetation, thick forests, and farmland along with traditional farm buildings – more than enough to amuse me for a day!
The entire area used to belong to the firstborn of the Manrique de Lara who was responsible for the main house at the heart of the Finca and planting the crops in the surrounding area, as well as planting and maintaining the varied forests. Today it’s under the control of the Cabildo Insular de Gran Canaria, who maintains the grounds, runs a hostel for groups, and organises various educational trips with a slant on environmental awareness and even occasional weekend sporting events.
The main house at the Finca is a traditional Canarian property with the ornate wooden balconies I’ve come to know and love. One side was draped in flowering wisteria or a wisteria-like plant (I’m no expert but one of my friends advised me it was something else though she couldn’t recall the name – let me know in the comments if you can help).
In the immediate vicinity there are farm buildings and farm animals – instantly recognisable from that healthy whiff of farmyard smells – and managed fields with crops and animals, along with buildings occupied by those who currently manage the farm. There’s also a romantic garden where flowering plants are managed, yet somehow seem to merge seamlessly with the surrounding forest.
There are several marked paths you can follow around the grounds, including one that takes you to the top of the Pico de Osorio, the Finca’s main peak. We avoided the climb and opted instead to meander through one of the ravines, where we scrambled over fallen trees and squeezed through narrow gullies, our feet squelching in mud from the morning’s damp start. It was exactly the sort of walk I adore, the air heavy with the scent of vegetation after rain and surrounding scenery adorned with the sort of brilliant green foliage only possible in areas of frequent rainfall – which the centre of this island certainly enjoys. And while we didn’t make it up the peak, we still reached higher ground from where we looked back to the city of Las Palmas, which felt a world away.
The Finca de Osorio is open daily between 9am and 5pm, and is free to visit although you need to obtain permission from the Cabildo Insular de Gran Canaria and advise them if you are taking a picnic as there are limited picnic tables. Contact them via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And for those who are interested, yes, my bocadillo of Chorizo de Teror and local cheese was delicious. And yes, it took me 2 days to eat!
Visiting Gran Canaria
I was staying in Las Palmas when I visited the Finca de Osorio in this gorgeous flat that’s now a popular Airbnb property (if you haven’t signed up to Airbnb yet, use my link for a discount of your first stay). However, there’s plenty of accommodation around the island. Check the latest hotel prices on Agoda, and see TripAdvisor for the latest accommodation reviews.