Step by Step: Hiking Holidays in Gran Canaria
The third largest of the Canary Islands, Gran Canaria boasts a range of landscapes — and what a mighty range it is. Thanks to its unusually varied terrain, the island is often described as a continent in miniature, containing everything from mountains and deep ravines to lush, tropical forests and an arid, desert-like south complete with undulating sand dunes. It’s also home to an impressive 32 protected natural areas.
Be sure to pack your hiking boots if you’re going to explore once you step off your flights to Gran Canaria. Away from the regular tourist
hotspots, you’ll find plenty of rugged and beautiful routes to explore. One day you can be strolling through pleasant, green meadows admiring the local flora and fauna, while the next you can be scrambling along barren rock fragments in a lunar-like landscape.
Many of the walking trails follow “Caminos Reales” (“Royal Pathways”). Built shortly after the conquest of Gran Canaria by Spain, these routes were designed to facilitate easier movement around the island and were commonly used by farmers, who took their donkey carts along them to reach local markets.
Experiencing the highlights
To enjoy the best hiking trips in Gran Canaria, it pays to move around. You won’t, for instance, want to miss out on the green north and central part of the island. There you can explore the precarious-looking Roque Nublo volcanic rock and the village of Teror complete with its pilgrimage cathedral. You’ll also get to admire the views over the volcanic crater the Caldera de Tejeda and you can walk around the region’s atmospheric pine forests.
Meanwhile, in the south-east of the island, you can trek to the village of Santa Lucia, which is nestled in the Caldera de Tirajana. You can also visit the Ansite crags and caves and wander past fruit plantations, olive groves and reservoirs.
Right at the southern tip of Gran Canaria, you’ll find Dunas de Maspalomas. Walking through these vast golden sand dunes is a real experience. The dunes were designated a national park in 1994 and after seeing them for yourself, you’ll be left in no doubt as to why. Meanwhile, if you fancy a break from your trekking, there’s also the option of booking a camel trip (who’d have thought it!).
Taking guided tours
If you don’t want to plan your own itinerary, you can book yourself onto guided tours. This is a good way to ensure that you’ll get off the traditional tourist trail. Not only that, you’ll learn lots of interesting facts about the island from your guides, who will be very knowledgeable about the area.
Whether you choose to go it alone or take advantage of these special packages, you’ll be able to embark upon some truly memorable treks in Gran Canaria. No specialist equipment is needed to hike on this island and most of the paths are in good condition, although bear in mind that you may have to navigate your way through bushes or step over rock falls occasionally. Also, make sure you pay attention to the weather conditions and always take plenty of water and sun protection with you.
Images by blinking idiot used under creative commons license.