On Christmas day, after a night of staying up late and eating all the food that was put in front of me (and then some!) we were up bright and early, and waiting for our Presas y Paisajes Canarias tour to pick us up and take us to the southern part of Gran Canaria.
Organized through our hotel, this full-day, eight hour tour promised to take us to the most beautiful and touristic parts of the island, seeing sights completely different than Las Palmas. With guarantees like that (and a price of just €45/couple), how could we say no!?
Our journey kicked off in Las Palmas. After picking up guests at a few other hotels, we were off on the motorway south towards Maspalomas.
Maspalomas is a tourist town in the south of the island of Gran Canaria, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and set against the backdrop of the Parque Natural Pilancones. A construction boom in the 1960s/1970s lead to the development of modern-day tourist-focused Maspalomas. Unlike other resort areas, Maspalomas has evolved into a fully equipped town (similar to Palm Springs or Palm Beach), and has a variety of infrastructure and public services not often seen in other touristic areas (Swedish language schools, for example) (source: Wikipedia).
Maspalomas is also home to a special tourist attraction, which was the highlight of our trip to the southern part of Gran Canaria: the Maspalomas Dunes.
This 1,000-acrea area of land, located just a few hundred meters from the main street, a hotel and a golf course, is a protected nature reserve. Once a contender in the 12 Treasures of Spain competition, the Maspalomas Dunes are an expanse of beautiful white sand as far as the eye can see. They seemed completely out of place in this tourist town, and stretched for miles towards the ocean. Honestly, looking at them made me feel like I was standing at the edge of the Sahara.
This was the kind of paradise I was hoping to see in Gran Canaria.
Our stop at the Dunes was all too quick and before we knew it we were back on the bus. With all the guests on board we were on our way to Puerto de Mogán, a quaint harbour town known as “Little Venice.”
Puerto de Mogán is a picturesque resort and fishing village set against the backdrop of a steep-sided hill on the very southern coast of Gran Canaria (source: Wikipedia). Little white buildings with colourful trim line each of Puerto de Mogán streets, and sprinkled throughout are a series of canals linking the harbor to the marina, leading the city to be nicknamed “Little Venice” or the “Venice of the Canaries.”
Following a couple of hours of wandering through the streets and market, we were back on the bus and continuing with our journey. For the drive down to Puerto de Mogán, our driver stuck to the motorway. While most highway drives are quite boring this one was not. We drove through valleys and tunnels, passed plantations and tiny pueblos. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and as we left Puerto de Mogán I was looking forward to seeing it again and seeing what I had missed. But apparently, that just wasn’t in the cards; you see on the way back we took the seaside route.
Or, as I fondly remember it, that terrifying drive where I was essentially hanging over a cliff for hours as we careened along a tiny winding road.
At first, the drive wasn’t so bad. We were cruising along and I was having a great time looking out the window, admiring the ocean and taking in all the little details of Gran Canaria. And then we started to climb. And continued to climb. I was trying to overcome my discomfort so I was forcing myself to look out the window, but as we started to drive around the mountains I just couldn’t.
Thanks to the size of the bus, as I looked out the window all I could see was a straight drop towards jagged rocks and white-capped waves. Why couldn’t we have just taken the motorway back? I liked the motorway!
Up and down, and around we drove, or at least that’s what I think we did because after a while I had to close my eyes and pretend to nap—really, the only benefit of the early morning start time was that I could pretend I just had to nap as we were careening along the edge of the cliff. Please excuse the greenish hue to the photos, they were taken from inside the bus.
The only reprieve from my mountainside journey was that we stopped at a few coastal towns/beaches along the way. These ½-1 hour breaks offered travelers the chance to stretch their legs, explore a bit, and maybe run away and abandon the tour if need be (I thought about it, but soldiered on…)
One of such stops was Palya de los Amadores, a beautiful beach of golden sand and crystal clear waters. Stretching over 800-meters and protected from the ocean, Playa de los Amadores was the perfect place for me to dip my toes in the ocean (and nothing else, it was only 20C out; far too cold for this gal!)
In all, the tour was 9ish hours. By the time we were dropped off at our hotel we were pooped. It’s really amazing how spending a day on a bus can be so exhausting.
Although it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, I’m really glad we took the trip to see the southern part of the island. It gave me a good appreciation for Gran Canaria and all of its various little pockets.
Stay tuned. Next week I’ll be sharing my third and final travel diary from Gran Canaria, this time focusing on the north part of the island.
Read PastTravel Diaries from Gran Canaria:
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