Walking in Gran CanariaMany visitors to Gran Canaria never venture away from their Resort (indeed, some do not leave their Hotel!) and leave the island having seen little more than the rather ugly coastline between the Airport and the Southern Beach Resorts. This is a shame since the interior of the island is quite spectacular and leaves the visitor with a totally different impression of the Island.
In recent years, the Cabildo of Gran Canaria (Local Government) has invested in the restoration of old footpaths (Caminos Reales) in an attempt to diversify the Island's tourist attractions. These Royal Paths (apparently a Spanish King ordered their construction) criss-cross the interior of the island connecting the old villages. Work is currently being carried out to improve the sign-posting of these routes, however one of the many good walking guides is an invaluable companion for anyone wishing to explore the interior of Gran Canaria on foot. There are also an increasing number of professional guided walking tours available.
The island varies considerably in landscape and climate according to altitude and rainfall (the north receives more rain than the south). The semi-desert southern part of the island has deep canyons and desert Flora and Fauna, while the centre of the Island offers Pine Forests interspersed by Valleys that have been dammed to create reservoirs. The farmland in-between these two extremes produces a huge variety of crops with Oranges and Lemon Groves, Vines, Avocado, Almonds, Tomatoes, Potatoes, Bananas and Maize to be found in this fertile zone.
When to go
During the Winter, weather conditions can vary tremendously. The South Coast can be basking in Sunshine and enjoying temperatures in the mid-twenties Celsius, while there is snow at altitude in the Interior and it is raining in Las Palmas! Walking is possible throughout the year, although the high-temperatures that are sometimes experienced between the end of June and early September may rule out some of the trails. Likewise, Shorts and a Tee-Shirt may not be appropriate for Pico de las Nieves (1,949m) in January.
Gran Canaria is perhaps at it's most attractive between January and May, when it is at it's greenest and the flowers are in bloom.
Walks for all levels of fitness can be found on the island, and again, one of the Walking Guides will give a good idea of the difficulty of a particular trail. You should bring Walking Boots, Long Trousers (to avoid being cut to shreds by thorny brush) and a Telescopic Walking Stick. A Fleece and a Woolly Hat are also a good idea if walking at altitude.
There are no poisonous snakes or insects and the only dangerous animal that you are likely to encounter is a farmer's dog!
The views of the snow-capped Mount Teide in Tenerife and the emblematic Roque del Nublo from Pico de las Nieves on a clear day are very special.