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We did this trail ourselves. Click here to see our full photo album.
The GR131 is a route that traverses the seven Canary Islands: Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Tenerife, La Gomera, La Palma and El Hierro. The route is actually part of the European walking route E7, which runs from El Hierro to the border of Hungary and Romania.
Although the GR131 can be hiked in one go, most walkers opt to walk the route island by island. This archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean is very diverse. There is one constant though: a wonderfully warm climate. Many Euopeans descend to the Canary Islands in winter in search of sunny spring weather. But even in summer it is pleasant to spend some time over there, because a cooling sea breeze makes it less hot on these islands in comparison to the Spanish costas. However, when an east wind blows over the islands, the temperature can rise in exceptional cases. Hot air from the Sahara reaches the Canary Islands, which can sometimes be accompanied by a lot of desert dust.
Although the Canary Islands are completely Spanish from political and cultural perspective, they belong geographically to the African continent. They are essentially the volcanic foothills of the Atlas Mountains. And it is really that volcanic character which is so typical for Gran Canaria.
This trail leads you through a landscape full of craters and extinct volcanoes. It must have been a little more explosive over here, about 14 million years ago. Because around that time the island was created as a result of eruptions on the ocean floor. At some point the island stuck its nose out of the ocean as a result of the accumulating lava. The last eruption in Gran Canaria probably dates back to 1000 years B.C.. Since then, the view of the landscape has remained more or less the same.
On Gran Canaria you will find petrified lava rivers and vast sunken parts of the landscape that were created after the collapse or exploding of immense volcano cones. These deep craters can have diameters of more than a mile (2km).
Besides untamed volcanic land, you will also hike across vast plains with desert sand. But also prepare for rugged mountains and solid rock plateaus with deep cliffs. Because there is more rainfall in the north than in the south, the landscape there is a lot greener. Yet even in the north most rivers are dry for the most part of the year. Do not count on filling your drinking bottle at the blue lines that you see on your topographical map. Drinking water can be refilled every day at your departure point. Take enough water for a whole day with you.
Gran Canaria is famous for its vast dune landscape called “Dunas de Maspalomas”. The GR131 does not pass here, but it is certainly advisable to explore this unique piece of landscape if you are still on the island. Some dunes are up to 40 feet (12m) high. Due to the wind, the dunes shift three feet (1m) to the west every year, which is why they are also referred to as the “walking dunes”.
Books and maps:
[download id=”6298″]*this gpx file originates from http://www.exploragrancanaria.com.