Adventure through the Landscapes of Gran Canaria

Gran Canaria Natural and Active

A round-the-world trip has to be high on any adventurer’s bucket list. The opportunity to traverse new cultures, landscapes and adventures in one big stretch is simply unmatchable. Unfortunately, it comes with a pretty hefty price tag – in both money and time – that most people simply can’t afford. But what if we told you that just off the coast of North Africa there is a little island, not more than 600² miles across, that can scratch that adventurous itch in a week.

Gran Canaria is a volcanic island filled with an abundance of colour, nature and culture. Every day you can wake up in a totally new environment; high in the mountains, deep in the valleys, surrounded by ancient laurel forests or gazing over vast banana plantations. If you’re lucky, you could even see some snow. The blend of culture that has created this island means that spending a week here is as satisfying as travelling the world for a year.

However you choose to spend your time on the island, you can guarantee no day will be the same, so let us show you some of our favourite adventures in each of Gran Canaria’s vibrant landscapes. We’ve also highlighted the best rural accommodations that invite the outside in, so you can fully immerse yourself in your surroundings and live like a Canarian for a little while.

Mountains Gran Can

Discover the Mountains

You don’t have to be a geologist to figure out how Gran Canaria was formed. Look at any map of the island and you’ll see forests, caves and valleys all building up to a peak almost slap bang in the centre. Morro de la Agujereada is 1956m above sea level and is the highest point in Gran Canaria. The views from the top are only matched by the rugged rocks, forests and ravines you’ll pass through on your climb to get there. This mountainous landscape typifies the central region of the island which is ripe with adventure of all kinds, like hiking, climbing and mountain biking.

Just shy of Morro de la Agujereada is Roque Nublo, a volcanic rock of great importance to the indigenous people of Gran Canaria. It is one of the most recognisable sights on the island and is a focal point for a lot of adventures. Climbing, hiking and mountain biking can all be done in its rugged surrounds and are a great way to soak up the twists and turns of the mountains. A place like Hotel Fonda De La Tea has a view of this magnificent rock from the terrace and keeps adventure at its heart. The staff can guide you through the hiking and biking on offer in the area, with the Tejede Basin and, of course, Roque Nublo being the regional highlights. Equally as enticing is the Las Cáscaras Holiday Cottage. In a similar region, the views of the Roque Bentayga at sunset, with the colours flooding your own private solarium, can’t be missed.

Everything in this central area is touched by the mountainous terrain, with the cuisine being no exception. The food and drink on offer is as vibrant and bright as its surroundings, which you can plainly taste when sampling the wines from the Bodega Las Tirajanas winery. With wines that showcase grapes from all across the islands, the ones grown in the nearby Caldera de Tirajana are unmistakable in their aromatic qualities. Spending a day at the winery alone allows you to travel the island on your tastebuds, surrounded by rolling hills and vineyards. Staying at Hotel Rural Las Calas will keep this sensory experience going, as a walk around the garden means sampling everything from tangerines to blackberries from the native trees.

The Canarians have called these mountains home for centuries and there’s no better way to understand their significance than a visit to the La Fortaleza caves and the La Fortaleza Museum. Nestled in the Las Tirajanas Ravine, these caves, that were the last strongholds against the Spanish invasion in 1487, are some of the best preserved examples of indigenous fortified settlements. To fully immerse yourself in this significant landscape, stay at La Longuera De Tirajana; a traditional Canarian house just a stone’s throw from La Fortaleza that offers a true escape from the modern world.

Gran CAnaria Natural and Active Forest

Take in the Forests

In the north of the island the valleys are awash with greens and blues from the forests and rivers. The most famous of them all is the ancient laurisilva forest; Los Tilos de Moya. Hidden amongst the trees are mysterious ravines and many species of animals that you can only find on Gran Canaria. The ravines and waterfalls that have carved their way through the trees also make for the best adventures. With an active travel company like Climbo you can walk, jump, climb, and abseil through these magical waters all year round. Finca Casa De La Virgen  and Casa Rural El Drago are set in and around these protected areas of forest, as well as near some fascinating archaeological sites, the magic of which you can feel in every room.

An equally as exciting forest is the Llanos De La Pez, home to some of the most unique wildlife and incredible views. Vivac Aventura has made this forest an adventure hub on Gran Canaria, taking advantage of its interesting natural features. Train at their pool, tennis courts and biking/hiking trails before exploring the island at your own pace, or set up camp in their dedicated accommodation to soak in the most of this special forest.

It’s impossible to ignore how the land affects the food in Gran Canaria and, like with the wineries of the mountainous central region, the lush valleys of the north provide for sprawling banana and coffee plantations. The bright yellow façade of the Hotel Rural La Hacienda Del Buen Suceso is set off by the sea of green banana trees surrounding it, creating a truly joyful atmosphere in the hotel. Just around the corner, at the Museo Del Platano, you can learn about the world’s most consumed fruit and understand the long journey it took to thrive in the valleys of Gran Canaria.

The story of one of Europe’s few coffee plantations at Bodega Los Berrazales is also captivating. The rich fruit orchards and vineyards surrounding the Agaete Valley create a bright, floral coffee that is as unique as the landscape. You can live the history of agriculture in the valley at Hotel Rural Las Longueras, a nineteenth century farm house and gardens turned hotel, just north of the Los Berrazales plantation.

Natural Pools

Bathe in the Natural Pools

Moving to the west, Gran Canaria is dotted with springs and natural pools. The year-round temperate weather makes them the perfect place to cool off in crystal-clear waters after a hike along the northwest coast. Like the mountains and the valleys, these pools have great significance for the indigenous people and hold a lot of history in their depths. Joining the experts at Turinka Canarias for one of their historical hikes, like their ‘Springs Wellness’ route, is an amazing way to see these features in a new light. They will guide you through some of the best views on the island, showing you the water mills and cave springs that have allowed Canarians to thrive in this landscape for centuries.

Once you’ve learned about the amazing quality of the springs, head to El Charco Azul to cool your feet in its refreshing waters. Then travel back to the nearby Hotel La Aldea Suites who are committed to preserving the remarkable landscapes of the west, by using 75% solar energy to power their hotel.

Rest Easy in Paradise

Gran Canaria is full of accommodation that embraces the magical landscapes outside their front doors. Here are a select few from all over the island.

Travel the World in a Week

Experience the many landscapes of Gran Canaria by planning your trip at Gran Canaria Natural and Active.

This article was originally published in Wired For Adventure Volume 23