Hotel Rural Las Tirajanas ****
San Bartolome de Tirajana (Days 1-4)
After collecting your rental car at Las Palmas airport, it's just a 50-minute drive 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 Bartoleme 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 and a choice of Camino. Our chosen 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 and home to a large habitat of bird, fish and wildlife. You'd be hard-pushed to find a better picnic spot! After lunch, a wonderfully 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 1800m high rock plateau, the volcanic monolith of Roque Nublo dates to the Pleistocene Era and is one of the 'must visit' iconic sites of Gran Canaria. Enjoy stupendous views from the top - including Tenerife's snow-capped Mount Teide floating on the horizon - before a gentle, pine-scented descent into the Tejeda Valley and to 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 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)
Leaving El Molino del Agua after breakfast, you have the option to give your hiking boots a rest today 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!) - ornithologists should keep binoculars handy as 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 **** Hotel Melva Suite, home for your last three nights. (Staying at Hotel Melva Suite, Half Board)
This new, small hotel has been built to mirror a traditional Canarian house. The large grounds make way to great views of the mountains.
The well decorated rooms all of which are suites and are of a good size have separate living spaces and either balcony or terrace.
The hotel's restaurant offers superb traditional food with a modern touch.
Further details on the hotel website.
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)
After breakfast, it's just a short 40-min motorway drive to Las Palmas airport to catch your flight home.
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 rental car is included in your holiday price.