The village and the natural monument of Ajuy in Fuerteventura
|Ajuy is a small fishing village of a hundred inhabitants, situated in the south west coast of the island of Fuerteventura. The town is best known natural Monument of Ajuy, a protected natural area of geological interest which has the oldest rocks of Fuerteventura and the Canary Islands, including the caves.|
The village also has a black sandy beach, especially popular with majoreros, the Canary Islanders.
|Etymology and toponymy|
|The place name Ajuy, sometimes written Ajuí, predates the Norman conquest.|
Often confused Ajuy with Puerto de la Peña; actually Puerto de la Peña is a tiny port on the cove Caleta Negra, 500 meters north of Ajuy. It is at Puerto de la Peña would have landed the Norman Jean de Béthencourt and Gadifer de La Salle came to conquer the island of Fuerteventura.
|The village of Ajuy is located at the mouth of two ravines that converge at the village and open a breach in the cliff that borders the west coast of the island: the Barranco de Ajuy, north of the village and the Barranco del Aulagar the south. The average altitude of the village is 16 meters. The region Ajuy is an area of gullies separated by hills, except for the small plain Tablero de Comisianes.|
The Barranco de Ajuy becomes upstream Barranco de Mal Paso and the Barranco de las Peñitas that reaches the village of Vega de Río Palmas. It is through this route that Jean de Béthencourt went inside the land Fuerteventura to found his capital at Betancuria.
Ajuy is part of the municipality of Pájara whose capital is located 9 km southeast of Ajuy. Since Pájara is reached Ajuy - 15 minutes - for the FV-621 road that crosses a mountain before descending to the west coast by a small valley, planted tamarisk and palm trees, which is the Barranco de Ajuy. Ajuy is located within the Rural Park Betancuria.
At the entrance of the village of Ajuy is a small palm grove, behind which there is a large parking lot; you can continue on foot to the village center.
|The village of Ajuy|
|Ajuy consists of a few fishermen houses some of which were converted into relatively simple accommodations; but the location does not include a hotel. At the beach two restaurants serve the catch of the day; Two other restaurants are located within the village.|
Throughout the twentieth century the sparse population in the area subsisted by farming, agriculture and fishing, the latter being limited by the state of the sea. It was only in 1986 the village received electricity and running water.
|Beach Ajuy (Playa de Ajuy)||Black Cove (Caleta Negra)||The port of Puerto de la Peña|
|Beach Ajuy is nicknamed “the Beach of the Dead” (Playa de los Muertos) because dangerous currents of the coast often bring back to this beach ’drowned bodies; the black beach Ajuy only underscores this fatal character. The legend also wants this nickname comes the numerous attacks of bloodthirsty pirates that took place there, because pirates used the caves of Ajuy as a reference and as a deposit.|
The beach Ajuy is located between Barranco del Aulagar and the viewpoint of Ajuy. It is a beach of dark colored sand, almost black when wet, with some pebble areas; the beach is 300 meters long and 40 meters wide. Beach Ajuy is a nice beach but not very suitable for swimming because of strong currents can cause swimmers out to sea. In summer, the Beach of the Dead is usually monitored from 10 am to 17 pm; an information panel indicates if swimming is allowed: a red or black flag means that swimming can be fatal.
|Along the coastline of the Caleta Negra are many caves, the most important and most visited is 600 m on the north side of the creek.||Puerto de la Peña is a small fishing port on the cove Caleta Negra; fishing boats anchored in the cove will go out to sea during the summer season, from May to October.|
It is at Puerto de la Peña, in 1402, that landed the Norman conquerors Jean de Béthencourt and Gadifer de La Salle who penetrated to the interior of the Barranco de las Peñitas and established their capital at Béthencourie (Betancuria) Puerto de la Peña became the port of Betancuria. The port served as a place of export of grain and livestock from the island of Fuerteventura to the domestic market or even of Lower Andalusia and the island of Madeira, as shown in the minutes of the agreements Cabildo de Fuerteventura.
In the nineteenth century, the port lost its importance in favor of Puerto de Cabras, today named Puerto del Rosario, the capital of the island of Fuerteventura.
|The Monument of Natural Ajuí (Monumento Natural de Ajuí)|
|Natural Monument Ajuí is a protected natural area located north of the village of Ajuy. The protected area covers 31.8 hectares from the Barranco de Ajuy to northern cove Caleta Negra. It houses a deposit of very old materials, which are present in ocean sediments and fossils of extinct marine animals today. This exceptional scientific interest justified the classification of this area as a natural monument in 1994; it is also classified as Special Protection Area for Birds (ZEPA). Natural Monument of Ajuy is located within the Rural Park Betancuria.|
The major advantage of this natural area is the oldest rocks of the Canary Islands appear at the surface and tell the origin and formation of Fuerteventura, there are over 100 million years, when the American and African continents s’ were not yet separated. They are fragments of the African continental plate that can be observed in Ajuy.
Access to Natural monument was free for 100 million years but, in 2013, the company “Parajes naturales de Ajuy” set up illegally guided tour of the caves of Ajuy and access paths, the price of 7 euros. This private operating a natural monument was regularized in 2014 by the Ministry of the Environment (Ministerio de Medio Ambiente).
|On the site, trilingual explanatory panels comment on the geological landscape Natural Monument Ajuí :|
- 1 (red) - the lower layer is the basal complex (complejo basal) formed from ocean sediments, deposits and volcanic lava, crossed by intrusive dykes and plutonic rocks. The oldest rocks are phtanites, sediments of the Jurassic Cretaceous era (there are over 100 million years ago) that were raised from the ocean floor by volcanic eruptions that formed the island of Fuerteventura, which constitute the oldest materials in the Canary Islands. This type of rock is visible only in a few places in the world.
- 2 (yellow) - a range that was more than 14 meters above the current sea level, with fossils of an age of approximately 5 million years; it reflects the lowering of sea level since the Pliocene.
- 3 (orange) - a volcanic flow Pliocene (5 to 2.5 million years ago), formed of basalt lavas with cushion volcano Morro Valdés to Betancuria.
- 4 (green) - alluvial deposits, rock fragments carried by runoff from inland towards the beach.
- 5 (blue) - fossilized dunes of Pliocene calcarenite (mixtures of limestone and sand) formed by fossil remains of shells and algae, indicators of the existence of a warmer climate.
The lower layer consists of a limestone considered especially pure and has been a holding since the fifteenth century, with the export of limestone and production of quicklime. Lime was produced from a limestone bench - which is about 15 meters above sea level - and extends along the west coast of Fuerteventura. The limestone was transported from the quarries to the lime kilns, on donkeys and camels.
|It is in the late nineteenth to mid twentieth century century the lime industry flourished with the manufacture of industrial furnaces for the production of lime. Proof of this is the presence of about 400 kilns distributed throughout the island; one can see an old lime kiln near the viewpoint of Ajuy. At the end of the nineteenth century lime was shipped from Puerto de la Peña to other Canary Islands; lime produced was shipped by sea from the beach Ajuí to the ships anchored in the docks of El Cantil (Corniche) and the Black Cave (Cueva Negra) and then exported. The Hornos de Cal (lime kilns or lime kilns), the Casa de la Aduana (Customs House), the Rampa and Túnel are vestiges of this industry. The tunnel through the rock between the Puerto de la Peña and the Barranco de Ajuy; its input is visible to the top of the ravine, at the rear of the range of Ajuy.|
Limestone could be heated by means of two methods:
- through domestic lime kilns or lime kilns intermittent generation furnaces, which used as fuel gorse, tamarisk and brushwood. These ovens were still lit two days and two nights to convert limestone into lime;
- by means of industrial lime kilns: Production furnaces continues, with the use of coal as a fuel.
Lime was used to whitewash the walls, for making mortars and concretes, mixed with sand gullies, plasters for exteriors of houses and the construction of cisterns, tanks, walls, drains, etc.
Volcanic rock, syenite, was also exported for use in the manufacture of paving stones; one can still see an example in the street Calle de Vegueta in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.
|The caves of Ajuy (Cuevas de Ajuy)|
|Several caves are scattered around the edge of the Caleta Negra; These natural caves are the result of wind erosion and marine soft rock included in the volcanic cliffs that surround the cove. These caves once served hackers to store their loot; one of the caves served as a warehouse for the lime industry.|
Visiting the caves is via a path that starts with a drive up to the right of the beach in Ajuy, at the mouth of the Barranco de Ajuy. This road was used until the mid-twentieth century to the exploitation of limestone and export of limestone and lime to other Canary Islands. This is a fairly broad but stony path, and it is better to bring good shoes to travel the 1.5 km of this walk (30 minutes round trip). Since 2013 visiting the caves of Ajuy pays; This is a guided tour.
The road first passes fossil dunes and reached a lime kiln, with its operating barracks. On the way they encounter different viewpoints from which one has beautiful views of the beach and the village of Ajuy and the cove Caleta Negra which are anchored fishing boats; clear day, it is even possible to see - to the south - the Punta de Jandía. The road then follows the edge of the volcanic cliffs of Caleta Negra, some of which can reach a height of 40 meters. the largest of the caves is reached where one can go down - carefully - with a ramp and a series of rudimentary steps.
|St John’s Eve (Fiestas de San Juan), around June 24: celebration for several days in honor of John the Baptist. procession of boats, games, music, folklore and fishing competition for children and adults. On the night of the summer solstice fires ablaze the beach and fireworks are fired from the sea.|
|Weather and forecasts|
|Ajuy offers some fish restaurants, two of which overlook the black sand beach: La Jaula de Oro and Cuevas de Ajuí.|
The family restaurant and bar Jaula de Oro (the Golden Geôle) has a sheltered terrace with sea views and a dimly lit bar. It offers a wide selection of fresh fish and seafood during the fishing season, generous portions, reasonable prices and a friendly and efficient service.
Address: Calle Gallegada / Avenida de los Barqueros
Hours: Open daily, 9 am 45-18 pm.
main dishes from 8 to 12 €.
Phone: 00 34 928 161 594
The restaurant Cuevas de Ajuy has a shaded terrace overlooking the beach. It is a popular restaurant in majoreros.
Address: Calle Gallegada
Hours: daily, 9 am to 18 pm.
Main courses from € 6.
Phone: 00 34 928 161 720
The restaurant Puerto de la Peña, or Casa Pepín, offers fish specialties, typical dishes of the island such as roast kid and rich desserts.
Address: Calle Del Puerto Azul, 4
Phone: 00 34 928 161 468