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      July 2012 > Under the donkey’s belly

Under the donkey’s belly

Walking holidays in the Canary IslandsI’ve just returned from my first Inntravel trip abroad. With two colleagues, I visited four of the Canary Islands – and I now consider myself to be a NIP, (‘newly impressed person’) having enjoyed first-hand the ‘Inntravel experience’.

Over the past few months, I’ve been working away here in our offices in North Yorkshire, learning all about how our walking holidays in Spain work, and so I was easily persuaded to join James and Chris on a tour of Gran Canaria, La Palma, La Gomera and Tenerife. After all, this dismal British summer weather (ha!) is getting us all down and I longed for the sun on my back.

Walking holidays in the Canary IslandsBefore I knew it, we were being whisked away from the airport at Las Palmas (Gran Canaria), and were soon heading out into softer countryside which became increasingly attractive and far more inviting to the idea of leisurely exploration the further we went.

Indeed, by the time we were walking through the shady courtyard of the Hotel Las Longueras in Agaete, where fresh plump oranges weighed down the branches of the trees, the silence was surprisingly noticeable – it was instantly relaxing, and was to set the scene for our time in ‘Las Islas Canarias’.

Walking holidays in the Canary IslandsGran Canaria is described by locals as a ‘mini continent’ (“Quite a bold statement,” I thought, “though I suppose it’s one way of differentiating this island from its main rival, Tenerife!”). However, as time progressed I started to see that each region we visited did indeed have not only its own landscape, but also its own micro-climate. One minute we were staring in awe at the iconic jagged Roque Nublo (‘Cloudy Rock’) which felt more like the Grand Canyon, magnificent and raw; and the next we were descending into a forest of a thousand Canarian pine trees which stretched all the way down to the ocean.

As we came closer to the coast, we came across an emerald lagoon hidden way in a deep gorge (above) and surrounded by palm trees. “Truly,” I thought, “I have found paradise!”

Walking holidays in the Canary IslandsThe island is centred around snow-capped mountains, with cloudy slopes in the north and sunnier towards the south coast. (“Which sounds rather familiar doesn’t it?”) The trade winds blowing in from the north-east pushes a band of low-lying clouds (right) up against the mountains and causes a spectacle that the locals call the ‘donkey’s belly’! This nickname comes from the habit of farmers taking a siesta within the shade offered by their donkey’s belly. However, when the low-lying clouds appear, this is no longer necessary as it is the clouds that then provide the longed-for protection from the heat of the sun!

At the end of our far-too-short time discovering the Scented slopes and mountain lakes of Gran Canaria, we witnessed the most magical sunset – and I now understand the meaning of ‘picture perfect’. As the sun finally dipped behind the distant profile of El Teide, it became apparent that although Tenerife may host the highest mountain in Spain, it is the other islands that get to enjoy it. [In the next instalment, Simone, Chris and James explore La Palma…]

Walking holidays in the Canary Islands

Posted: 12/07/2012 16:32:54 by Peter Williamson, Inntravel | with 0 comments
Filed under: Canary islands, nature, slow, Spain

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