Canary Islands

Islas Canarias, Spain

 

Canary Islands are a Spanish archipelago located in the tropics just off the northwest coast of mainland Africa enjoyed by millions of Europeans each year.  While the people of Oslo, Stockholm, Helsinki and other northern European cities suffer through a cold dark and long winter in the Canary Islands people are walking around in short sleeves, sunning and bathing at the beach.  It is easy to understand why every day hundreds of planes take off leaving behind the cold north to land in the sunny Canary Islands.

Sun and beaches! These are the advertisements in travel agencies throughout Europe and that is exactly what las Islas Canarias offers year round, seven islands awaiting the invasion of the northerners mainly Tenerife and Gran Canaria.  The volcanic origin of the islands is obviously displayed in the black sand beaches of Tenerife and even more so in the more eastern islands like Lanzarote where marvelous fields of black lava are home to an exotic National Park, Timanfaya.  The volcanoes of Lanzarote form a spectacular landscape which greatly complements its beaches.   The simple white houses of Lanzarote’s farmers really stand out from the black of the earth and the green of the palm trees and crops.

Each island is unique, close to Lanzarote is Fuerteventura where the dunes of the beaches ofcanary-islands-fuerteventura Corralejo are spectacular.  The interior of the island is arid but the beaches to the south are a paradise for wind surfers.  These islands are poor, for a long time isolated, but full of surprises for their visitors.  No comparison to the crowded over built beaches of the bigger islands of Tenerife and Gran Canaria.  These two islands have very mountainous interiors, Tenerife has the highest peak in Spain and its surroundings are part of the wonderful National Park of Cañadas del Teide.  Meanwhile, Gran Canaria welcomes the archipelago’s largest city, Las Palmas, a vibrant and cosmopolitan city whose area of la Vegueta retains a colonial feel closer in style to South America than Spain.  In fact the Canary Islands were part of the route taken by Spanish ships when sailing towards America and despite their proximity to the African coast the islands are in their history and even of their way of life closer to South America.

The remaining islands are different from the rest, the humid winds shower them with rainfall more frequently and thus they offer much greener landscapes.  Their coastlines are less conducive to beaches but the interiors offer spectacular sceneries.  The National Parks of La Caldera de Taburiente in the green island of la Palma and Garajonay in the small island of La Gomera display rare subtropical forests among volcanic landscapes.  La Gomera stands out due to its laurel forest, its distinctive horizontal rain and the peculiar language of whistles of its inhabitants.  Surely anyone who dares travel to the westernmost and smallest of the islands, el Hierro, will rejoice in visiting a remote location where time seems to stand still.

 

 

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