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Gran Canaria, like other Canary Islands tagged with the mass tourism label, generally suffers from being viewed mainly as a sun, sea and beach destination created for the pleasure of weather-weary northern Europeans. And just like the other Canary Islands, this blinkered view is total nonsense. This is an island that stood at the crossroads of the old world and the new; an island that played host to Christopher Columbus on his quest into the unknown.
There is a deep well of riches to be found on Gran Canaria and it doesn’t require an explorer of Christopher Columbus’ calibre to find them.
In the Caldera de Bandama
There are signs that humans once thrived at the bottom of the volcanic crater known as the Caldera de Bandama – eras (threshing circles), crumbling cottages, abandoned plots and an old lagar (wine press). All there is now is an old man with his goats, horse and loads of lovely looking fruit and vegetables. Seems a strange place to hang out but he seems happy enough… especially if brought a little present like a can of cerveza.
The Inmates of Viera y Clavijo Botanical Gardens
According to Armando, our guide, the Viera y Clavijo gardens are underused by the local population because they are free; if it doesn’t cost anything, there’s no value. Shame for the gardens but it does mean you have the maze of paths and funky plants like these ‘hippy’ cactus (not the official name) nearly all to yourself.
The Canary Islands produce some outstanding cheeses. This delish little selection at the Hotel Escuela de Santa Brígida represented the best of El Hierro, La Gomera, Fuerteventura and Gran Canaria. It was a real cheese feast.
Ideal for Aspiring Troglodytes
There are still lots of people living in caves on Gran Canaria. Most are a bit more des res than these but, as an estate agent might say, they’ve got plenty of potential if you fancy becoming a cave dweller. Being cool in summer and temperate in winter, cave living on Gran Canaria isn’t as bizarre as it might sound.
Going Green in Gran Canaria
If your image of Gran Canaria is one of sand dunes and the sea, this verdant vista will probably surprise. Hiking trails through the Tamadaba Natural Park lead to some stunners of scenes like this emerald lake whose waters match the pines on the slopes surrounding it. It’s not a true lake as it’s actually dam but who cares, it looks a treat.
One Sunset, Two Islands
The views at Cruz de Tejeda leave you gasping at the best of times, especially if you’ve hiked from San Mateo to get there. But at dusk they move up a gear when the setting sun silhouettes Tenerife’s Mount Teide giving you two Canary Islands for the price of one. Some locals say you get the best views of Spain’s highest mountain from Gran Canaria – they’ll have to fight that claim out with the people on La Gomera who insist they have the best views.
Buzz Trips were guests of Gran Canaria Natural who introduced us to a very different face of the island and to fascinating people who were infectiously passionate about their island.