Walking Across Gran Canaria from the Mountains to the Sea

For anyone who revels in slow travel, pulling on the walking boots to hoof it across a sub-tropical island must sound like the perfect way to get to know a destination.

It is.

However, as we didn’t know for sure that we could find routes enabling us to walk from the hills above Maspalomas on Gran Canaria all the way to Agaete, there was a feeling of stepping into the unknown. There was also the thrill of pioneering. If we managed to join the dots then our friends at Inntravel might just have an exciting new walking holiday. If we didn’t, we knew we’d feel like abject failures.

A lot of planning had already gone into potential routes so we weren’t going in blind. However, what looks possible on paper and what you discover on the ground doesn’t always match.

Day 1: Getting to Know You

Around San Bartolome de Tirajana, Gran Canaria
An existing circular walk around Tunte was a good introduction. Tunte sits high up in a valley surrounded by the mountains. On one side a sea of clouds threatened to encroach, but the natural volcanic blockade held them back, save for a few wispy fingers which spilled over like brew from a frothy cauldron. We basked in the warmth, enjoying a walking route which will astound anyone who thinks of Gran Canaria as simply a fun in the sun destination. It was a straightforward path with an overload of sweeping vistas. As our limbs loosened up in the sunshine our spirits were high. It was the ideal start.

Day 2: Across the Mountains

Ascending from San Bartolome de Tirajana, Gran Canaria
Our route started with an ascent that took us to the very top of Gran Canaria’s world. The views back south grew more impressive with every grunt upwards. As we negotiated stony trails under glowering ancient cliffs,  it felt more like a savage frontier land where the original aborigines still roamed rather than a popular holiday island. The climb levelled out as we entered a pine forest where misty low cloud (bruma) filled the air with a sense of mystery and magic. New signposts seemed to offer better options so we took a chance and changed our route plans, descending to our destination, Tejeda, via a ravine at the head of a valley populated by a few sheep. The landscape changed again on our final stretch into town where we were welcomed by a vociferous frog chorus as we walked parallel to a gurgling stream. So far, so great.

Day 3: It Nearly Falls Apart

Roque Nublo, Tejeda, Gran Canaria
The remit was to come up with a new circular walk around Tejeda. Our map showed a trail that looked perfect… except it didn’t exist. Locals scratched their heads and shrugged when we pointed the path out to them on the map. By 11am we were staring at a ravine desperately trying to use Jedi powers to make a path appear. Nearly half the day gone and we’d been thwarted. This is when improvisation and a bit of luck is required. We’d spotted more new signposts the previous day and decided one had potential. A couple of hours later we stood, open-mouthed, on a mountain top plateau gazing across what could have been a lost world. It was compelling, slightly eerie and completely unexpected. It also was part of what turned out to be a revelationary route around Gran Canaria’s iconic Roque Nublo. Spirits were soaring high again.

Day 4: High Lands like the Highlands

A Forest of Ferns, Gran Canaria
The mission was to piece together a number of routes to join Tejeda with Fontanales. The map showed interlinking paths but our experience the previous day meant we didn’t take this for granted. An enthusiastic ranger at Cruz de Tejeda, which has the wacky air of a South American trading post, really got into the idea of linking up paths to find a route through to Fontanales. With his reassurance it was feasible, we set off. The route climbed through quite bleak and harsh surroundings, reminiscent of the Scottish Highlands, levelling out through fern-carpeted forests and descending past a moody volcano before the terrain changed to gently undulating emerald hills leading to Fontanales. Once again the landscape beguiled us with its constantly changing personality.

Day 5: Canine Capers

Agaete, Gran Canaria
We were joined by a friend on the penultimate leg of our journey across Gran Canaria. Hada, Fermín at PosHada’s dog, decided she fancied an adventure so she got a blog all to herself.

Day 6: Sea Ahoy

Descending to Puerto de las Nieves, Gran Canaria
Our walk across Gran Canaria took us to Las Longueras in Agaete. But we weren’t quite finished. Our final day involved researching circular routes near the hotel. It’s a beautiful valley which boasts the most northerly coffee plantation in the world. However, walking routes seemed either too long – Tamadaba National Park – or too short… except for one. A path snaked upwards to a ridge above the Agaete Valley, passing caves that were once homes to the aboriginal Canariis. From there it swung coast-wards, traversing hilly slopes populated by a colony of grasshoppers who hopped noisily through the grass as we passed. As we walked, the Atlantic grew ever larger and views along the coast revealed a proud and untamed coastline. Drawing ever closer to the coast we both experienced a rising surge of excitement. The route was completely different to the others along the way which was what we’d hoped, but what we hadn’t accounted for was the emotion it triggered.

With every step came a growing sense of completion and achievement. Clearly there was immense satisfaction of having successfully joined the dots from A to B. But as we descended from the Gran Canaria hills to reach the ocean at Puerto de las Nieves there was something else.

Standing on the edge of the shore, there was simply nowhere else to go. Neither of us had ever experienced such a feeling of absolute closure on a walking route before. It was the end of the line and that sensation was intoxicating.

Jack is co-owner, writer and photographer for BuzzTrips and the Real Tenerife series of travel websites as well as a contributor to lots of other places. Follow Jack on Google+

About Jack 799 Articles
Jack is co-editor, writer and photographer for BuzzTrips and the Real Tenerife series of travel websites as well as a Slow Travel consultant and a contributor to online travel sites and travel magazines. Follow Jack on Facebook for more travel photos and snippets.


    • In a way. It was for a new holiday walking from hotel to hotel for travel company Inntravel who specialise in independent activity holidays.

      It was one of those situations that you don’t know if it’ll work till you actually try to pull it together. We were blown way by the diversity of the route across the island. It really rammed home how good Gran Canaria is for walking. We’ll get to hear how well it goes down with others after the first people do it this autumn.

      But we’re confident folk will love it 🙂

    • I think it’s in the final stages of development at the moment. I’ll let the good people at Inntravel know about your comment.

    • Thanks Freya. The hiking on Gran Canaria was a real surprise. Some of the other Canary Islands are better known for hiking but the route we did across GC was up there with the best of them.

  1. I’m really pleased to have read several of your articles, all of which were most informative. We are going to Gran Canaria on a self organised walking holiday Feb 18 and the info you have given will prove valuable. We’re staying near Maspalomas and are thinking we’ll need a car to get into the foothills prior to actully walking marked routes. Is it practicable to take a car into the hills? We’re in our 70’s and have walked a lot of Europe and are typically 11/12 km walkers, tho’ we’ve done unlogged stuff that took over seven hours. Thoughts?

    • Hi Mike, thanks for your comments and apologies for taking a couple of days to get back to you. It’s perfectly okay to drive into the hills. Personally I like driving on the islands away from the resorts and main roads. The older country roads are far more relaxing, and usually more scenic.

      Although we were putting together a package that crossed the island, people who book it would normally stay a couple of nights in each location (Tunte/Tejeda/Agaete) which meant we also included circular walks from these bases. There are so many routes that it’s definitely feasible to find routes 11/12km long in each of those locations. There should be lots of options for you in the hills not far from Maspalomas.

  2. Hi! Is this route published yet? It looks stunning! I’m heading to Tenerife in a couple weeks and would love to find a trek across the island!

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