LINDA JACKSON
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RURAL HOLIDAYS IN GRAN CANARIA - stay in rural accommodation in Gran Canaria and discover the island's hidden beauty. Discover the nature and flora of Gran Canaria on a guided walking holiday in Gran Canaria

To the right, a lunar landscape... craggy, barren, not a tree in sight. To the left, a lush wooded area with tranquil pathways meandering through blooming broom, flowering false fennel and towering pines. There on the south side of the mountain are blue skies and brilliant sunshine. Around the corner, on the dank and grey northern slopes, thick mist reduces visibility down to a few yards.

Waving in the breeze as cars pass, hordes of pastel blue agapanthus line the steep winding mountain roads - replaced by Canarian pines as the narrow road climbs higher. So very diverse is the landscape on the 'miniature continent' of Gran Canaria that exploring the island is akin to finding yourself in a collection of assorted film sets.

Gran Canaria's lunar landscapes and sub-tropical vegetation
Volcanic craters, majestic mountains, deep ravines, oddly shaped basalt rocks, desert features, enormous sand dunes, archaeological sites, 100-year-old pine tree forests, thick palm groves, sub-tropical vegetation, exotic plants.... the list is endless, but this kaleidoscope of landscapes can be found on this fascinating island, the third largest of the seven major islands that make up the Canarian archipelago and one declared by UNESCO to be a "natural treasure of the world".

Discover 'hidden' Gran Canaria with a recommended walking guide
Surprisingly, not many of Gran Canaria's milliions of visitors each year go treasure hunting for its natural beauty. Most are lured to the island by its year-round nigh-perfect climate to bask in its abundant sunshine, play on miles of golden sands, frolic in its blue seas; to play golf on the handful of excellent golf courses; or to revel in lively pubs, discos and casinos found in the popular tourist resorts in the south.

Rarely do these visitors ever discover the real 'treasure' of this island - the hidden core with its lush valleys and majestic lunar landscapes. But they should, it's rural tranquility at its best and a haven for hikers.

Love high mountains and deep valleys, volcanic landscapes and wildflowers in abundance? Then make base camp in one of Central Gran Canaria's rural accommodation gems - these Canarian houses are oozing with character and nestle in tranquil dells, tiny hamlets, and even in the middle of banana plantations. But take a Spanish phrasebook, it could be needed in rural areas.

Don't miss:

  • hiking up to Roque Nublo (1,658m/5,439ft) an enormous basaltic rock in the form of a monolith over 64m (210ft) high, caused as a result of volcanic activity during the Pleistocene age. It's a scenic introduction to the landscape

  • driving up to the highest peak on the island, Pico de las Nieves (1,782m/5,847ft) from where the summit of Mount Teide, the sleeping volcano on the neighbouring island of Tenerife, can be seen clearly in the distance, its peak jutting through the clouds

  • wandering through the narrow streets of the sleepy town of Tejeda, known for its locally produced ground almond confectionery and for fantastic far-reaching views across the valley

  • visiting Artenara to see cave dwellings (still occupied), burial caves, a 15m (49ft) statue of Christ that dominates the town, an 18th century chapel installed in the cliffside, and an impressive pine grove with spectacular views

Getting around:

Armando Sosa Matos is an English-speaking guide with a great sense of humour as well as an in-depth knowledge of walks and flora. Telephone 0034 686 71 34 75 or email armandososamatos@hotmail.com

Local Car Hire - Dola Rent-a-car, telephone 0034 627 93 22 58 or 0034 609 98 27 27, email dolarcar@hotmail.com

Gran Canaria rural accommodation with character

Hotel Rural Las Calas, San Mateo, is a large nine-room B&B Canarian house dating from 1800. Telephone 0034 928 661 436, email reserva@hotelrurallascalas.com, www.hotelrurallascalas.com

El Borbullon, Teror, is a Canarian house within a walled garden, with three separate self-catering very chic apartments (apartments can be hired separately or the complex for exclusive use), swimming pool and immaculate gardens. Telephone 0034 928 23 02 86, email elborbullon@yahoo.es, www.elborbullon.com

La Hacienda del Buen Suceso is located in the midst of a banana plantation, this 18th century estate has 18 stylish rooms, a gym and heated pool. Telephone 0034 928 62 29 45, email hacienda@haciendabuensuceso.com, www.haciendabuensuceso.com

Contacts


Gran Canaria Tourist Office: telephone 0034 928 219 600, www.grancanaria.com

Spanish Tourist Office: telephone 020 7486 8077 (9.15am-1.30pm), www.spain.info

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Puerto Mogan

Strata

Forest ferns

Lunar landscape

Passion flower

Sand dunes


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