Less than 100 miles off the north west coast of Africa, in the centre of the Canary Islands archipelago, sits the volcanic island of Gran Canaria - often referred to as 'a miniature continent' with its extraordinarily varied landscapes ranging from the north's lush green forests and valleys, to the towering mountainous interior, to the desert-like dunes and beautiful white beaches of its southern shores. For millennia, the elements have sculpted the most outstanding natural beauty: steep volcanic mountains punctuated by deep palm ravines; imposing rocks towering above high plateaux; vast fertile valleys of prickly pear, aloes, almonds and figs - it's little wonder that nearly half of the island is protected by UNESCO Nature Reserves and offers some of the finest hiking in Europe.
On this twin-centre walking holiday, you'll mainly follow well-marked, ancient Caminos Reales - centuries-old royal trading paths lined with broom, heather and Canarian Pine - as they criss-cross the island linking the mountains to the sea. Highlights this week include: the iconic blood-red rock of Nublo, the shimmering Chira Dam and the 'magic' volcanic cauldron of Bandama whose eruption, over 2,000 years ago, influenced the entire geography of the island. You'll also pass troglodyte villages built by the religious Guanche (the Canaries' first inhabitants) 4,000 years ago, and have the chance to step back in time in the old part of the island's colourful capital, Las Palmas.
You spend your first four nights at the Hotel Rural Las Tirajanas, a mountain lodge style hotel with fabulous views of the valley below. For your final three nights, you'll head north to **** Melva Suite, a luxury 8-suite hotel set in a lovely estate of tranquil grounds, just 10 minutes' drive from the postcard-pretty white town of Firgas.
Walks on this holiday are on village streets, country lanes, farm tracks and rural paths. Walking boots are essential. Walking poles are recommended. As the walks do not start directly from the hotels, a hire car is included in your holiday price.
Collect your hire car at Las Palmas airport and drive (50 mins) to the Hotel Rural Las Tirajanas, set just outside San Bartolome de Tirajana and offering stunning panoramic views of the valley and close by mountains. The hotel has a part-covered pool and sun terraces - ideal places to relax after a day's walking. (Staying at Hotel Rural Las Tirajanas, Half Board)
It's just a short walk into the white 'sugar cube' village of San Bartolome whose unique volcanic landscape combines rugged agricultural scenery, rich vegetation and a diverse historic architecture. From here, it's a relaxed, easy going walk through the fertile Tirajana Valley and up through extensive palm groves to the pretty village of Santa Lucia for lunch. The museum here displays an impressive range of archaeological finds including Guanche artefacts, farming tools, leather goods - even the odd skeleton! In the afternoon, a panoramic cistus-lined mountain ridge offers continuous views of the yawning Tirajana gorge as you cross the ravine floor and head back via Fataga (stopping for a chilled beer perhaps) to your hotel. (Staying at Hotel Rural Las Tirajanas, Half Board)
A 10-minute drive brings you to Cruz Grande. Your route takes you first south through pine forest then out along an undulating mountain ridge where massive valleys slice through the wooded hillsides to reveal your first glimpse of the magical Chira Dam - a stunning deep blue lake-like reservoir, home to a large habitat of bird, fish and wildlife. You'd be hard-pushed to find a better picnic spot! After lunch, an enchanting tangle of aloes, almonds, figs and prickly pear cacti pave your path as you climb steadily up out of a ravine on one of the ancient Camino Reales. (Staying at Hotel Rural Las Tirajanas, Half Board)
Balanced on an 1,800m-high rock plateau, the volcanic monolith of Roque Nublo dates to the Pleistocene Era and is a must-visit. Enjoy stunning views from the top - including Tenerife's snowcapped Mount Teide on the horizon - before a gentle, pine-scented descent into the Tejeda Valley and the tiny farming hamlet of La Culata. This is the 'real' Spain - herds of goats and donkeys still tend the fields here and the Bar Roque Nublo doubles up as the village cafe-cum-bar-cum-local shop! After a light lunch, the almond-scented path leads you up to the Mirador de Degollada Becerra viewpoint (arguably the most renowned skyline on the island) and back through pines to your car. (Staying at Hotel Rural Las Tirajanas, Half Board)
Today you have the option to give your boots a rest and explore by car! Driving north east, we strongly recommend stopping at the island's capital, Las Palmas. The historic colonial district of Vegueta - today a UNESCO World Heritage Site - boasts beautiful buildings, quiet squares, pretty churches, soaring cathedrals and narrow cobbled streets that were walked by Columbus 500 years ago! Lunch perhaps on one of the beautiful twin bays, before a short drive east to the fascinating Caldera de Bandama. If you're feeling fit, the steep hike to the bottom takes about 30 minutes (a bit longer coming back up!) - there's a good chance of spotting flocks of linnets, trumpeter finches and the indigenous Berthelot's Pipit. Your final drive takes you past vineyards, sugar cane and lush banana plantations on the approach to 4-star Hotel Melva Suite, home for your last three nights. (Staying at Hotel Melva Suite, Half Board)
Today's walk starts from the 'sparkling' white village of Firgas where more than 200,000 bottles of sparkling mineral water are produced every day! Take a stroll around the historic village (C16 church, waterfall, stepped fountains) - and, on a clear day, soak up beautiful views out across northern Gran Canaria towards Tenerife and Fuerteventura. A circular route from here takes you through the lush green vegetation of the Azuaje Nature Reserve, famous for both its endemic and medicinal plants - don't be surprised to see locals foraging for natural remedies! You'll gradually ascend a narrow ravine before a final winding descent through eucalyptus forest loops you back to Firgas. (Staying at Hotel Melva Suite, Half Board)
The longest drive of the week (1hr) but we think well worth it! The walk starts in Artenara - at 1,270m it's the highest village on the island with an important cave heritage: nearly 400 cave houses, most dating back to C15, can be found here and in the pretty neighbouring hamlets of the Tamadaba Natural Park. The distinctive black outline of the northern face of Roque Nublo provides a stunning backdrop as you descend towards Lugarejos, an old troglodyte village famous for its kiln-free pottery. Bordered by steeply terraced hillsides, you head gently up through dappled, pine-scented forest to a shady poppy-carpeted ridge where you are rewarded with great views down to the Lugarejos Reservoir and out across the north western coast and the sparkling Atlantic Ocean. (Staying at Hotel Melva Suite, Half Board)
During your holiday you stay at the following hotels. If you'd like to extend your time at any of these or, if you'd like to enhance your stay with an upgraded room, just let us know at the time of booking.
NEARBY:The Hotel Rural las Tirajanas, is a mountain lodge style accommodation above the county town of San Bartolome de Tirajana, it offers stunning panoramic views of the valley and close by mountains.
Room upgrades: Junior Suite.
Junior Suites are more spacious.
NEARBY:This new, small hotel has been built to mirror a traditional Canarian house. The large grounds make way to great views of the mountains.
Room upgrades: Grand Suite Deluxe.
Please call our sales team on 1-800-267-3347 or email email@example.com to arrange flights and connecting transfers to your hotel.
Everyone who goes on a Headwater holiday will be emailed a link to our post-holiday questionnaire where they can give us an honest assessment of all aspects of their holiday - everything from how quickly we answer the phone to how clean the hotels were - plus an overall rating and comments about their holiday.
Any feedback collected is posted to our website, so that people can make an informed decision based on past experiences before heading off on holiday. We don’t edit the reviews, the only thing we do is proofread them and alter any typos, where necessary, to ensure they are easy to read for everyone. All reviews will be published (except in certain extreme circumstances), and a member of the Headwater team will respond to any constructive criticisms/comments under the reviews, at their discretion. So, for the real tales, twists and turns of our holidays, look no further than the reviews from our previous travellers.
Wonderful, if fairly energetic, walking in an outstanding landscape.
Great walking destination but hotel experience mixed
Gran Canaria makes for a stunning walking holiday. The scenery is breathtaking and the walks are varied and take you to parts of the island you would never see. Some can certainly be described as challenging at times - but we are a couple in our 60s and managed fine. Not madly keen on buffet style meals at Hotel Las Tirajanas but the food was fine and its fabulous views, pool and friendly staff more than makes up for that. Also loved Melva Suites - we were well looked after, nice view from our huge room and the food is wonderful. Having a car gave us more flexibility for deciding what walks we did each day, as did the option of alternative routes. Would hugely recommend. Thanks for another great holiday Headwater.
Gran Canaria is an excellent place to walk - stunning scenery and much greener than we anticipated with loads of wild flowers this time of the year especially in the North. Although we went later than the peak walking season, the weather was perfect, sunny but not excessively hot because of the altitude. Mostly the notes were very good but some updating is required partly because of new waymakers which don't always tie in with the notes (especially around Roche Nublo). But with the excellent map no one should go wrong. The driving to some of the walks is a lttle demanding but the views are tremendous, the roads curvy but mostly in good condition with just about enough room for two cars to pass each other. The walks are worth it! The standard of walks is perhaps a little on the tough side of the grading. Nothing difficult but quite a bit of ascent involved on some. Mostly excellent under foot. Tirajanas charge for wifi in the rooms which was disappointing - excellent breakfasts, very average evening buffet. Outdoor pool too cold for swimming. Melva Suites has amazing rooms, excellent dinners (on a 3 course menu basis with lots of choice).
Well organised, very clear guidance for the walks, great accommodation
Gran Canaria is a beautiful Island, and this was a great holiday. Both hotels were very good, although quite different. Hotel Rural Las Tirajanas is in a beautiful location, stunning views and very good facilities. The Melva suites much smaller but still good with lovely staff. All the walks were superb and the scenery is 'out of this world', vibrant colours, amazing flora, spectacular ravines and mountains. We also enjoyed having the hire car as it gave us more flexibility although the roads up to Las Tirajanis were very challenging at times as you negotiate countless 'hairpin' bends.
But we loves the people and the holiday and will return. Thank you Headwater.
There was a good variety of scenery on these walks. We only missed one day because of the weather, which enabled us to visit the city of Las Palmas. I would say that this is more of a three boot holiday rather than two as there is a lot of climbing and descending.
Really very nice hotels, very good views in the mountains and the leisure facilities all very good. We have had many holidays with Headwater, in many different areas, all excellent, we especially like the included car, which enabled us to visit places that other tourists do not visit.
We enjoyed our walking in Gran Canaria- great scenery, weather , interesting culture. Enjoyed the company of the other 3 clients with whom we shared our evening table. The instructions for the walks were not always clear but we always competed the walks with a sense of achievement.
A great introduction to the more remote areas on Gran Canaria and the varied scenery. Holiday offered plenty of flexibility for walks and a high standard of comfort.
A great place for a winter holiday. Clement weather, wonderful scenery, friendly local people and good facilities for eating out, transport and communications. I would not recommend the holiday to those who are inexperienced with navigation, though most routes were well marked. Athough we did not use it a GPS unit would have been helpful.
Most interesting and refreshing holiday exploring parts of Canaries not explored or seen before.
Unfortunately did get lost on a couple of occasions. We did not find Rambling Roger very helpful although his knowledge of island is extensive. His communication style and customer care clearly did not work for us.
Great walks experienced with excellent help provided by Rambling Roger in choosing the best walks for our needs. Fantastic vistas and variety of terrain and flora. Even had time for visiting the Botanic Garden on way to the airport before the flight home. The Gran Canaria map was an order of magnitude better than those for many holiday locations. Plus very friendly, charming and helpful hotel staff providing good food. What's not to like.
We enjoyed our holiday despite unseasonal weather. We were not prepared for narrow roads and tortuous bends when driving, especially with the steep gutters on the insides of the roads. However, we managed to stay out of trouble! We learned that the islanders are hardier souls than we because many restaurants kept their doors flung wide while people were dining. Take warm fleeces with you for dining out!
The Melva Suites Hotel was another cold experience where the dining room had no heating and our room had only a portable oil filled radiator to keep us warm.
I would thoroughly recommend Las Tirajanos Hotel though because it was very comfortable, had a bath as well as a shower (very necessary after a long hike in the rain!), wonderful views and private terraces.
The varied microclimates of Gran Caneria provided a range of varied interesting walks. Away from the tourist venues on the coast the island provides a great venue for walking. The network of paths was great and mainly in excellent condition which was an eye opener. Generally use is low so you get lots of space to yourself, great views and opportunity to enjoy the island.
We had an excellent holiday and Gran Canaria has stunning and varied scenery. The walking was hard, at times, but very rewarding which made it all worthwhile.
The Hotels were very different in character but enabled you to visit and experience the contrast between the North and South of the island which are very different. The food in both was excellent and the warm welcome and hospitality we received at Melva Suites stood out.
A very scenic island with lots of walking opportunities, some of which can be quite challenging. Friendly and comfortable hotels.
We had an enjoyable walking experience in Gran Canaria and in general the walk instructions were excellent although there were some mistakes that were mostly corrected by the local guide at an initial meeting on arrival. It is worth asking as many searching questions from the local guide at this point.
We very much enjoyed our week in Gran Canaria. The walks we did provided panoramic views of the island and fortunately all the days we walked we were blessed with excellent weather and visibility. We opted out of the last walk on the Sunday because of poor weather conditions which seemed to affect most of the island. On balance we found the walks more strenuous than 2 Boot might have suggested, especially on some of the steep descents. We were quite stiff after 3 consecutive days but happily recovered quite quickly during the day's transfer. We do a lot of walking and exercise regularly at the gym so would stress the need for physical fitness to do these walks. See comments below about the Hotels. San Bartolome is so central really that on balance all of the walks can be accessed from there though it might involve a little more mountain driving which some folk may not appreciate.
Both the guided and self guided parts of the holiday were excellent. We were taken to parts of Tenerife and Gran Canaria that were spectacularly beautiful, rugged and interesting.
Hotel Las Tiranas is a very pleasant friendly place to stay with excellent faciities including a lovely swimming pool and wellness centre. The very extensive buffet breakfasts and lunches mean that it is possible to find plenty of food to please anyone's tastes. Lots of pleasant places both inside and out to sit and talk or just relax.
Hotel Melva Suites has a very minimalist design and is set in grounds covered mostly with small stones and few plants. It has no facilities except a restaurant but this was friendly and the food was good. Breakfast was very limited and cold and provided in the corner a huge hall. The whole experience would be much improved if breakfast was to be served in the restaurant.
We stayed in two hotels, the Tirajanas and Melva. Our stay in the Tirajanas was very enjoyable; there were a couple of niggles (separate charge for wi fi and use of safe in room) but overall amenities excellent, service and food both good, walks from hotel great (albeit quite physically challenging). We did not think the Melva was a good choice for Headwater customers - it was a long distance from the walk start points; the atmosphere and location were bleak; the food slightly odd - an excellent quality evening restaurant (even though menu choices were odd e.g. scrambled eggs and artichokes, anchovies with a small tomato) offset by a really poor breakfast in main hall (warm water from a thermos for tea/coffee; no fresh bread etc.). The rooms were clean, spacious and well equipped but the exterior was like a car park and not appealing at all. We enjoyed our visit to Gran Canaria but were we to go again we would prefer to stay for the whole week in Tirajanas and steer clear of Melva.I trust this is helpful.
First hotel was in a lovely location but we didn't get the basic cleaning and breakfast service we would expect. We weren't expecting luxury here but basic cleaning and services. Also nobody was available who spoke English for most of our stay here. Obviously in a rural area we shouldn't necessarily have expected this but it would have been very helpful.
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This holiday is unsuitable for children.
Self-guided walking Managed locally by hotelier.
All buffet breakfasts and evening meals
Tour only: The above tour only prices exclude flights but include a Europcar Group B air-conditioned hire car which you can collect from/return to Las Palmas airport
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