With an average annual temperature of 24 degrees, generally not falling below 20 Celsius even in the middle of winter, Gran Canaria is a very popular holiday destination for those of us living in cold Great Britain and the rest of northern Europe. After doing a lot of research about possible short-haul locations for a break ourselves, we chose to visit this Spanish island off the coat of Africa for a week of relaxing in February, with the intention of warming up the bones and giving peace to the mind.
It might seem full of sprawling beach-side hotels, but there is more to Gran Canaria than all inclusive resorts. Here is a post about some of my favourite views from our week on the island.
We found and booked to stay at the Masai Mara Resort close to Fataga, which is about 14km north of Maspalomas on the famous GC60 mountain road. This steep, narrow and winding road itself should perhaps make it onto my list as the views from it are quite stunning. Hugely popular with cyclists, and while I’m no road cyclist I can completely understand the pull of a mountain road like this, the locals tear up and down it like maniacs while tourists in hire cars pootle along at a snail’s pace. I reckon we did a pretty good job of fitting somewhere in the middle, driving neither too fast for the tourists or too slow for the locals most of the time. It’s a great road, though (it would be a fabulous motorcycling road), and meant that our hotel choice really was the quiet getaway we wanted it to be – away from it all surrounded by orange trees and mountain views. If you want to take a look, we booked via Expedia.
Enough of the hotel, as nice as it was, as we aren’t the kind of people to spend all our times sat on loungers by a kidney shaped pool. You are here to read about some of the amazing views I was able to see while in Gran Canaria; an excellent way to express to you just how stunning the scenery is on this little Spanish island, and hopefully encourage you to visit some of these places yourself the next time you are looking for a bit of winter sunshine.
Degollada de La Yegua
Let me start on that mountain road I mentioned above, and the Degollada de La Yegua, which is a viewpoint around five or six kilometres north of Maspalomas. There is a reasonably large parking area on the cliff edge, so it is easy to stop and take in the view. The panoramic vista is of the Fataga valley, a winding, canyon stretching around eight miles in length, with smooth sides and sharp ridges. It is nothing short of breath taking. The sides and floor or the valley are covered with arid, desert-like vegetation including Cactus and Aloe, and you can easily make out the sea on the horizon towards the south. The sunset from here is rather special and there were almost always people there admiring the view. It was also from here that we saw a quite horrible looking wild fire roar in the valley below on our way back from dinner one evening – thankfully it had been extinguished by the following morning, but it was quite something to see.
This beautiful crag has already been featured here on Splodz Blogz (read about hiking Roque Nublo), but I couldn’t write about great views without including it here too. Of special significance to native islanders, Roque Nublo is of volcanic origin – as is much of the island landscape – standing 80 metres into the sky. I absolutely love an empty landscape, I find them incredibly humbling. The mountain itself is 1,813 metres above sea level and apparently is situated right in the middle of Gran Canaria. It’s been a popular spot for centuries; an ancient place of worship for the aborigines, it was declared a protected natural space in 1987 and a rural park in the mid-90s. It towers over everything in the area, providing anyone who reaches the summit plateau with incredible views all around.
Caldera de Bandama
The Caldera de Bandama is a huge kilometre-wide crater in the Gran Canaria mountains over on the east of the island, formed by volcanic activity millions of years ago. We drove from Roque Nublo over to the Caldera, through the ravines of Las Goteras and Guiniguada, which was in itself a beautiful drive along winding mountain roads. The crater is 216 metres deep, 574 metres high and 1,000 metres wide, and you can drive all the way to the top making the view accessible to everyone. For those who wish to put in the effort, it is possible to follow a rugged path all the way around the rim of the crater, and to get down into the basin, but these things often look better from a slight distance where it’s possible to take in the full scale of the hole in the ground.
El Bufadero, La Garita
We visited El Bufadero after spotting some reviews of it on TripAdvisor after exhausting things to do in the town of Telde, and we are very glad we did. It is a natural geyser in the rock pools of La Garita; as the waves move in and out water spurts up into the sky as it might from a whale’s back. It is possible to get right up to the spout if you clamber over the rocks, although bear in mind this is rough sea and the tide comes in quickly and the rocks are slippery – this natural wonder has taken life before and it would be hard to recover if you were knocked off your feet into the water. I did smile at one review that called it the Old Faithful of Gran Canaria; it is definitely not on a par with the famous geyser of Yellowstone National Park, or even of Spouting Horn on the Pacific Coast, but it is impressive in its own right and worth a visit if you are in the area.
Dunas del Maspalomas
Okay, so we did visit the big beach resorts on the south coast a few times, mainly to eat, but also to see the Maspalomas sand dunes for ourselves. The internet promised me proper desert dunes that were hot underfoot and danced about in the wind, and I was not disappointed. What a place! Covering an area of 1,000 acres, it is protected by the Canarian government as a Nature Reserve of special value, including the beach, the sand dune system, a palm grove and a brackish lagoon where we spotted all kinds of birds. I’ve heard some people suggest the sand blew over from the Sahara, but others say the dunes were formed by sand from the bottom of the ocean during the last ice age, when the wind blew the sand towards the coast of the island. Apparently the dunes move up to five metres every year – I’m surprised it’s not more based on what we saw on our visit! It’s easy to get to the dunes on foot from Maspalomas or Playa del Ingles, and if you’re heading to either of these large resorts for your holiday then you absolutely should.
We did manage to squeeze quite a lot of places into our week long holiday on Gran Canaria, thanks to hiring a car and being based in the mountains, but I know we didn’t get to everywhere that would deserve a mention in a blog post like this. Have you been to Gran Canaria and found an amazing view I need to know about? You never know, there might be a next time – I could certainly get used to some winter sunshine!