As on most of the Canary Islands, once you get away from Gran Canaria’s ...
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As on most of the Canary Islands, once you get away from Gran Canaria’s built-up south-coast beach resorts, you’ll find an astonishing landscape that combines barren outcrops with cool pine forests, and sunken calderas with sky-skimming ocean views. There’s no better way to discover this outdoor wonderland than to strap on your boots and get walking.
Gran Canaria is not as established a hiking destination as Tenerife, its rival Canary Island; yet it more than holds its own, with a fantastic network of trails that crisscross this diverse and mountainous island. Whet your appetite by trying one of these three top hikes.
The Montaña del Viso
Start: Degollada de La Alde
Finish: Aldea de San Nicolás
Duration: 4 hours 30 minutes
This route starts and finishes on the route of bus 38 between Puerto de Mogán and Aldea de San Nicolás, so if you're using public transport you could base yourself anywhere between these two towns.
Get off at the Cruce de Tasartico bus stop on Degollada de La Aldea, a stretch of road that winds up into the mountains through barren terrain. Follow the signpost for the Montaña del Viso; it’s a fairly strenuous but beautiful climb up, framed by ever more dramatic views of stark peaks across a valley dappled in sunlight. At the summit of Viso is a pine-speckled plateau where you can stop and catch your breath. You’re rewarded with the sight of the craggy sun-baked mountain ranges of the centre of Gran Canaria, as well as views over Aldea de San Nicolás (known as La Aldea), nestling in the valley below.
The route down from Viso towards La Aldea takes you through a lunar-like lava field, where the ground you tread is pockmarked with vivid patches of red, orange and green, telling the volcanic story of this island. Once you get to somnolent little La Aldea, head to the streets around its church San Nicolás de Tolentino to rest with a well-deserved cerveza.
The Camino de Santiago
Start: Llanos de La Pez
Finish: San Bartolomé de Tirajana
Duration: 3 hours 45 minutes
This route is known as the Camino de Santiago, and it's one of Gran Canaria’s historic caminos reales (king’s highways); it is still possible to cross the entire island along these routes. Your best bet for the walk might be basing yourself at the charming small town of San Bartolomé de Tirajana, stunningly located above the Tirajana Valley, then taking a half-hour taxi ride to the lush pine forest of Llanos de La Pez for the start of the route.
You’re right in the centre of the island here, and it doesn’t take long to emerge from the shade of the trees at the Ventana del Nublo, a huge natural rock arch occupying a dramatic location. There are views of the island’s highest peak, Pozo de las Nieves; and of the island’s extraordinary emblem, Roque Nublo, a volcanic monolith often enveloped in cloud as its name suggests.