Gran Canaria’s Antelope Canyon:
Barranco de las Vacas
The local Canario’s love to refer to the island as “El Continente en Miniatura” – the miniature continent. And it’s not hard to see why.
Gran Canaria has a bit of everything packed into it’s 1,560 square kilometers. Black, volcanic beaches, Sahara-like dunes stretching to the sea, impossible rock formations balancing from mountain peaks and dramatic ravines dotted with deep, ancient caves that once housed the indigenous Canarii.
People often ask me if I get island fever, but the truth is, after two years exploring every nook and cranny of this incredible island, I still find brand new destinations that can take my breath away.
The breathtaking Barranco de las Vacas is just one of those gorgeous, hidden gems.
If you thought this was shot in Arizona’s Antelope Canyon, think again. This intricately carved ravine is located right here in Gran Canaria.
What is the Barranco de las Vacas?
Barranco is Spanish for ravine. While there are no shortage of ravines in the Canary Islands, the Barranco de las Vacas is the only one of its kind here in the Canaries.
This unique barranco is a slot canyon formed from porous volcanic ash and smoothed by water, giving it it’s unique flowing curves of colored stone.
While Barranco de las Vacas is the name that it’s most commonly referred to, there are a few other names for the area depending on who you ask. More accurately, the distinct area pictured above is the Barranco de Barafonso – a small offshoot of the longer valley. If you ask a local old dude, they’ll probably refer to this offshoot as the Toba de Colores, referencing the varying shades of beige, red and terra cotta that shift with sunlight at different times of day.
A rose by any other name, right?
Getting to the Barranco de las Vacas
The Barranco de las Vacas is located near Agüimes province at the southeast of the island. Like most things here, it’s easy enough to get to by car and doable – though a bit trickier – by public transport.
Drive first to Agüimes and continue along toward Temisas on highway GC-550. The path to the ravine isn’t signposted, but you will likely see a few cars parked along the side of the highway just before reaching a grey, brick bridge.
There is space along the side of the highway to park about five cars at a time and that, in fact, is how you will know when to pull over and park yourself. The walk is short and simple enough, though a bit steep heading up and down from the road. Simply head down into the ravine and walk toward and then under the bridge, following the path along to the left.
By Public Transport
If relying on public transport, you’ll also have to be prepared to do a bit more hiking.
From Parque San Telmo in Las Palmas, take the blue Global bus 11 to Agüimes. There are also buses from the south, but most require a transfer so it’s best to check directions from your accommodation.
Once in Agüimes, ask the locals to point you toward the Camino Real which will take you to the ravine. While I’ve yet to do the route myself, the directions on WikiLoc appear to be straightforward enough. I’ve heard that the walk takes about an hour, though I can’t personally confirm it.
What to Do at the Barranco de las Vacas
While there are few words that irritate me as much as instagramable, well… this spot it about as instagramable as it gets. 🤷 The area is relatively small (just over 250 meters, they say) and just begging you to have your picture taken there.
To avoid the crowds and too much sunlight interfering with your shots, it’s best to get here early in the morning or later in the afternoon. I arrived about two hours before sunset and while the lighting was great, there were plenty of people trying to “do it for the ‘gram”, so I’ll definitely aim for a morning visit my next go around.
If you’re up for a longer hike, you can continue along up to the nearby town of Temisas, a charming white washed village at the base of the mountains.
Around the Barranco de las Vacas
While you won’t need an entire day to experience the beautiful Barranco de las Vacas, there’s plenty to see and do in the area! Make a day of it and check out some of these gems while you’re in the area.
Have a bite in one of the cave restaurants in Guayadeque.
Stop for desert and a stroll in Agüimes
Or, soak up the sun and a shandy at Arinaga Beach.
More Gran Canaria Day Trips
Gran Canaria is so much more than the sun and sea resorts in the south – get out there and explore it! Check out these related posts of incredible day trip destinations you might like to check out on your next visit to Gran Canaria.
Erica 💙 ✌️