Authored by Sven von Scheidemann
Ever walked above an ocean of clouds? Or hiked through a zone where you smell nothing but fresh laurel or rosemary? Well, that’s exactly what it’s like to hike in Gran Canaria’s outback. An unforgettable journey through diverse and impressive landscapes.
It’s like traveling from Sherwood Forest to Jurassic Park, while taking in Middle-Earth and the Grand Canyon all in one trip. You’ll discover fairytale places you could have only ever imagined.
Though as in all fairytales, there are certain dangers to be wary of …
To fully enjoy your trips off the beaten path, you need to be mindful of a few critical tips. Tips that may make the difference between coming back with a bunch of great photos from your trip and getting picked up by the SAR helicopter.
Sure, you probably won’t find any orcs here. And the chance of being eaten by a bear is zero (there aren’t any dangerous animals in the Canaries). But the less-experienced hiker can run into other serious health risks.
Hiking in Gran Canaria isn’t like hiking through your average forest. Remember, this is a volcanic island, and that means stones and rocks. Everywhere. Big ones, small ones, and lots of grit on most paths.
The climate can also play funny games with you. The cooling Atlantic winds will make you forget the hot sun – but your quickly sunburned skin will be a painful reminder if you’re not careful.
Here are a few potentially life-saving security hacks to make your first hiking adventure in Gran Canaria a wonderful experience you can’t wait to repeat.
Choose the Right Clothing and Gear
They call Gran Canaria the island of eternal spring, but they never mention that the temperatures vary a lot depending on which zone you’re in.
It can be colder, or sometimes much hotter, in the mountains than on the beach. In winter you may even see some snow on the peaks, while your friends at the same time are taking a sunbath on the beach in 30 degrees C (86 Fahrenheit).
Be prepared for any climate change by carrying layers in your backpack, and wear walking shoes that provide good ankle support instead of flimsy flip-flops. (Don’t laugh – I’ve seen that many times.)
Hiking sticks may look silly to you, but in this environment they can save your life, or at least help you avoid getting back to your hotel with broken legs. Nobody wants broken legs.
Take Plenty of Water and Energy Snacks
I know how delicious an ice-cold beer or soda tastes after two hours of hiking through stunning scenery, but it’s best to hold off until you’ve reached civilization again. We locals don’t enjoy collecting the bodies of those who have died from dehydration while hiking the mountains.
Fill your pack up with energy snacks and plenty of water instead. Alcohol and soda which will just slow you down, drain your energy, and dehydrate your body.
Listen to Your Body’s Signals
How is your breathing? Are you feeling fatigued or dizzy? Do you have a headache?
True, you’re not climbing Kilimanjaro or Mount Everest, but hiking in Gran Canaria isn’t a warm-up either if you’re not in the best of physical condition. Even on the well-known monument Roque Nublo (5,948 ft.), you have around 25% less oxygen available to your lungs than at lower, more normal altitudes.
If you get a strange feeling, stop, find some shade, and rest for an hour. Altitude sickness is nothing to make light of.
Leave a Note at Your Hotel Reception Desk.
Electronic devices have one major drawback – their batteries don’t work forever. In case you get lost or something happens to you in the middle of nowhere, it‘s a good idea to have somebody know where you are.
Leave a note at your hotel reception desk with each day‘s route and tell them that if you don´t pick up the paper in the evening, or don’t call them by a specific time, they should call emergency.
If you have a change of plans, just make sure to notify the hotel immediately. And notify them when you say you will – or emergency personnel will be on their way!
Always Protect Your Head and Skin.
Not using strong sun protection and a cap will be the end of your hiking adventure. The last days of your stay will be uncomfortable and painful.
For your own health, don´t get fooled by cooling winds on the island peaks. The strong sun will burn your skin and may even provide you with a painful headache, in addition to the other dangerous side effects of sunstroke.
Share your GPS location
I’m not a friend of all the electronic controls in our smartphones, but the app Life360 might be just the right thing for getting urgent help.
You can add members to a list who can then see, in real time, where you are. With just one tap, the app can send out a SOS alarm with your exact GPS location to all list members.
They can immediately call the local rescue forces, or maybe your hotel in Gran Canaria to ask them to call medical services immediately.
Pro Tip: You can also call 112 in the Canaries in case of emergency. But if your battery is almost dead and there wouldn´t be enough time to explain to the operator what happened and exactly where you are, then Life360 could literally be a life-saver.
Hiking in Gran Canaria
With the above points in mind, your hike through Gran Canaria’s wilderness will be a fantastic experience for all your senses.
You‘ll see breathtaking landscapes, and the surrounding laurel and rosemary will cleanse your lungs. And if you have the chance to hike at night, you’ll have a front row seat for a spectacular view of the universe.
Be smart. Prepare yourself beforehand, and enjoy your fairytale hike on this island of eternal spring without worrying about unforeseen dangers.
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Photo Credits: Featured by Ricardo SB. Pinterest images by El Coleccionista de Instantes & Mapping Megan. Next Image Set: El Coleccionista de Instantes. “Choose the right clothing and gear” by El Coleccionista de Instantes & Mapping Megan. “Listen to your body’s signals” by El Coleccionista de Instantes. “Always protect your head and skin” by Ricardo SB.