Day 7: Wild Places In The Canary Islands

Virtual escapism is a great thing and there are some really creative initiatives changing our concept of adventure at the moment.

Museums are adding more virtual tours to their collections; theatres are streaming performances live to our homes; and destinations usually trampled by tourists are putting more content than ever online so we can explore from the safety of our sofa.

Now more than ever, this online forum is coming into its own as a way for me to channel my energies, read about others’ exciting lives and search for more travel stories to fuel future trips.

When we eventually overcome this crisis and return to our own versions of normality, I can highly recommend a holiday in the Canary Islands.

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Gran Canaria is excellent for hiking a mixture of photogenic terrain. This is a view from a trail near El Roque Nublo in the island’s centre – a perfect day trip to escape the resorts.

There’s a common misconception that this archipelago is only for beach seekers.

Online advertising does tend to focus on family friendly resorts, so it’s an easy mistake to make. The reality is that you can find real adventure on any of the islands, while still always having a pleasant glass of wine every evening from the balcony of a decent coastal hotel.

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Maspalomas sand dunes in Gran Canaria can be a tough hike in the heat!
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Forests inland on Gran Canaria bring walkers out onto high plateaus with views across the whole island.

My dad, an avid walker, travels to Tenerife regularly to take on the summits of Mount Teide National Park (the volcano itself is Spain’s tallest mountain). But he’s only recently discovered the trails along the northern coast – barren, beautiful and devoid of others, he came back a changed man. Only the north from now on!

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The rugged northern coast of Tenerife. Image courtesy of Michal Klajban (Wikicommons) 

Every island has a different terrain and climate, which means that visiting one by no means gives you an idea of any of its neighbours. I had stayed on Tenerife and Gran Canaria before landing on Lanzarote last November, but it might as well have been a trip to the moon. 

Its semi-arid desert scape is fascinating even before you throw in the lava flows and volcanic ash that drape the southern point of the island.

I spent a few days exploring Timanfaya National Park and vistas in the greener north. One minute watching flames escape from the red earth at Timanfaya Visitor Centre, the next hearing about the palms that were planted in the verdant Harรญa Valley.

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The otherworldly lava plateaus of Lanzarote. Outside the National Park you can roam freely in the lava fields. Once in Timanfaya a bus takes you around the highlights of the park to avoid overcrowding.
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Haria Valley of 1000 Palms, Lanzarote: Once home to the Island’s famous artist, Cesar Manrique.

More than ever right now I’m day-dreaming of these wide open spaces in the Canary Islands, their raw nature and the sense of freedom they inspire. 


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