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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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Sven von Scheidemann shows you exactly how to get the most out of your next visit to Gran Canaria.

Visit adventuregrancanaria.com now for his latest Free Travel Guide “Triana y Vegueta in one day”, and follow his stories on Facebook.

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.

    25 Comments

  1. Some great tips! We’ll definitely be working up to hiking in Gran Canaria but there are some useful tips for hiking anywhere as well – the note at hotel reception is really smart.

    • Glad you enjoyed the post Carolann! Glad to hear you have Gran Canaria in your sights 🙂 The tips are definitely a great idea to keep on hand for hiking in general though too – always a good idea to take precautions like this before any kind of trip 🙂

      Travel safe & happy hiking!

  2. You’re so right about the environment on the Canaries. We visited Fuerteventura earlier this year and most of the interior felt like moonscape. I couldn’t believe the number of lobster-red sunburns we saw, either. So painful looking! I think people go on holiday and are so distracted they forget precautions.

    • Hey Betsy,

      Yes, Fuerteventura is like moon, although it has some fantastic beaches. All seven islands have their own special environment from moonscapes to jungles.

      About the sunburns: I’m sure people know about the dangers, but their ego is stronger. Many folks want to get tan in one or two weeks…no matter what.

  3. I haven’t been to the Canaries since I was a kid. I DO remember the volcanic landscapes (and black sandy beaches!). A lot of sensible advice in this piece – does the app work world wide?

    • Fiona, I didn’t have the time to check it world wide 😀 But I can assure it works fine in the Canaries. (And without doubt wherever you have GPS connection).

  4. Geat tips. I’ve never been to the Canaries, but I did a lot of hiking, mostly in the Caucasus and Eastern Europe and I believe these tips are essential for hiking in other places, tpp. Very useful post.

    • Glad you enjoyed the post Zof! Totally agree that you can apply these tips for other hiking experiences across the globe too – always the best idea to be prepared!

      Happy hiking!!

  5. Great tips. I’m constantly amazed at how many people I’ve seen hiking in many countries inadequately prepared but here in Australia I’m constantly surprised at just the basics like people heading out in flip flops, or worse mum and dad are in boots and the kids are in jellies or thongs

    • Glad you enjoyed the post Toni 🙂 Oh and absolutely – I’ve seen the same here in Aus too. I can’t believe people head out without adequate protection like sun tan lotion, water or proper shoes. They really are the basics, yet so many people choose to not care!!

      Hopefully we can help spread awareness with these posts that you really do need to think outdoor activities fully through.

  6. until not long ago I didn’t think of Gran Canaria as a hiking destination, it was all about beach holidays. but now, that I learnt about the different side of the island I’m really hoping to get there one day!

    • Hi Kami,

      that’s exactly why I write (mostly) about the hidden gems beyond the beaches. Because most folks don’t know about. And we have lots of them. If you like a good mix out of beach and wild nature, the Canaries are paradise for you 🙂

  7. I haven’t been to the Canaries, but hiking there sounds intense! And we are hikers! We are pretty good at remembering to take precautions, especially since we hike with a child, But it is easy to forget in the excitement and exhaustion of travel! Great tips.

    • Glad you enjoyed the post Karilyn, and I hope you have the opportunity to get to the Canaries soon! Especially if you love hiking 🙂 You’ll love the different hikes here – definitely can be intense, though totally worthwhile for the experience and views!!

  8. A good reminder that dangers exist on every hike. Life360 seems a good tool. Great tips here that can be useful in lots of places. Thanks.

    • Absolutely Rhonda -glad you enjoyed reading through these tips 🙂

      Happy hiking!

  9. For a safety-conscious family like ours, these are great pointers. Leaving a note at the front desk is an excellent idea. Agreed on the proliferation of apps and its rightful use on hikes like these. Beautiful photos.

    • Glad we could help you out with some tips Stacey! Leaving a note at the front desk I think is something which is so underestimated and under utilized by people – we like to feel like we’re independent and that we don’t need anyone knowing where we’re at, though really, just these very simple actions could ultimately save your life if you do find yourself in some kind of trouble.

      Glad you enjoyed Sven’s photos … hope you and the family manage a trip to the Canaries soon!

  10. Good post – I need to share it with my friend who is travelling there in 2 weeks. I can never stress enough how important it is to wear the appropriate gear when hiking. I went on a hike last week and insisted with my friends that they wore hiking shoes despite the heat. In the end, they thanked me because they could not have done it without!

    • Glad you enjoyed it Claudia, and please do feel free to share it with your friend. Sven’s tips are all first hand so it’s like having access to your own local guide before you arrive :D!

      Glad you peer pressured your friends into wearing hiking shoes – mainly for your own sake too – can you imaging the complaining you would have had to put up with if they hadn’t!!! Lol 🙂

  11. great tips, I think any harsh environment should be taken seriously and with all the right precautions. I would love to visit this amazing island.

    • Come and visit it 🙂 All the 7 islands are magic, and each island is different.

  12. Not only are these great tips to stay safe, I also hadn’t realised until reading this how stunning Gran Canaria is outside of towns. We stayed in the middle of the bars and attractions so didn’t venture far (about ten years ago). Now I’d be up for an outdoor adventure like yours. Thanks for the advice and inspiration

    • Hi Kate,

      sad but true, most first-timers stay inside the ghettos and don’t know anything about life beyond the beaches.

      I’m happy I could give you some inspiration to discover this paradise outside the touristic and artificial areas 🙂

  13. Looks like such an amazing experience and I’ve heard so many great things about the Gran Canaria.

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