Forget sand and sunbathing; try Gran Canaria for volcanoes and views instead!
Having just returned from a week on the sunny island of Gran Canaria, I am keen to spread the word that this well-known winter sunbathers destination has a lot more to it than you might think.
I was part of a group of tour operators and journalists who attended a Walking Week Festival which was intended to teach people about the nature and hiking opportunities that the island has to offer. The vast majority of visitors to Gran Canaria arrive into Las Palmas airport, transfer to Maspalomas or another south coast resort, locate a sun lounger on the beach and stay there for the week, with the odd day trip thrown in. While this is nice and relaxing, the island has so much more to offer.
The island is 1560 km2 and was formed by cycles of volcanic eruptions millions of years ago. This has created a playground for not only geologists and volcanologists but also for walkers and cyclists. The highest point on the island is Pico de Las Nieves and at 1949 metres it gives you stunning views over the island, above the clouds and across to Mount Teide on Tenerife. The nearby landmark “Roque Nublo” stands at 80 metres tall and can be seen from many areas around the island. There are many walks available in this central area, as well as within the volcanic valleys and ravines that spread out from it.
During walks around the island, you will not only have amazing views of the scenery but learn a lot about the history of the people of the island. There are high cliffs on the sides of valleys scattered with caves where native communities used to live before the Spanish conquest in the 1400’s. If you visit some of the caves you can imagine that the indigenous Gaunches people must have enjoyed the incredible views too!
The Canary islands enjoy warm weather all year round. If you need a warm winter get-away then Gran Canaria is for you. Temperatures stay between 17 and 25 degrees centigrade even in the autumn and winter months which is perfect for walking and cycling.
Go on… put aside any preconceptions of Gran Canaria and explore the island on foot or by bike. You won’t regret it!