This was my fourth visit to the island and one I approached with new eyes.
Gran Canaria has some hidden gems and they just needed to be sought out. I did ALOT of research and discovered some amazing spots. However this trip was also some much needed relaxation time so I needed to be able to find a balance. Something that in all honesty, I find quite difficult to do. Travelling for me, isn't about laying by the pool and sunbathing or going all inclusive, cramming in as much food and drink as you possibly can just to get your moneys worth. For me its all about adventure, seeing the world, embracing what it has to offer and enriching the soul with experiences. I don't want much, eh?
It all began with where would we stay. All previous visits had been in very touristy areas and we were really looking for something different. We came across a place called Eco Tara, a yoga retreat and in their words - 'More than a retreat, another way of living' - based in Fataga and nestled in nature up in the mountains. This looked perfect.
So off we went! After landing and picking up our car we headed to the mountains and boy, were those mountain roads a little risky! You do really need to be a confident and experienced driver to attempt some of those tight bends on the edge of the mountain. Especially when there are coaches coming the other way! Even the bikes, of which there were hundreds. An event called Epic Gran Canaria was actually due to take place the following week so lots of cyclists were checking the route out. I take my hat off to them, its certainly not a feat I would want to attempt!
On arrival at Eco Tara we were met by Sophie. Sophie is one half of Living Yoga, along with her partner, Boris. We got to know Sophie very well during our stay and I have to say, they are both a huge inspiration to me. Both giving up their jobs to live a lifestyle teaching yoga whilst travelling the world. They are now moving onto the next location and at our last time of speaking, they weren't sure where next, apart from sunshine. Absolutely living the dream! I wish them the best of luck and happiness with everything they do.
Anyway back to Eco Tara.... being shown around by Sophie we quickly discovered what a place of peace and tranquillity it was. A community of like minded people enjoying the peace of nature, taking part in yoga lessons by Sophie and enjoying the produce from the veggie garden. I joined in with yoga every single morning, just as the sun would rise over the mountains - truly a perfect setting! The retreat is made up of a communal house and many communal areas to eat, sit by the pool and lots of little hidden areas to sit and read or just relax. Also set slightly back from this and right by the veggie garden was our place. The Enjoyment Bungalow. We spent every morning sat outside eating breakfast, enjoying fruit and veggies from the garden, relaxing in the hammock, chilling on the outdoor sofa drinking lemon tea straight from the garden and watching the stars in the evening. Plus the retreat has many animals - just another reason in choosing this place to be honest! The cats, who we named Rosie and Jim joined us very regularly. Snuggling on the sofa with us and waiting by our door for us to get up in the morning. Dani, the dog who had such a beautiful, kind nature. Plus Baku the pig and the chickens, who we went to visit and deliver our left over veggies most days. It was pure heaven! The owner Sella, has done such an amazing job in creating this place, a retreat away from the rest of the world and in harmony with nature.
Now onto the adventures. I of course had a huge list, as I always do with everywhere we visit. This is the bit where I mentioned earlier, I find it hard to relax when travelling and I rarely get the balance right. This time I did. We only visited a very small selection of what I had researched and I was fine with that. I enjoyed every moment of the whole experience. Plus it leaves some spots for some future visits too!
The first place I have to tell you about Roque Nublo. There wasn't much research necessary on this one. Just where to park the car and which way to head up and that was all pretty easy! Located in the central municipality of Tejeda, on the island of Gran Canaria, Roque Nublo is considered one of the biggest natural crags in the world. The rock itself is 67 m tall, and its top is 1,813 m above sea level. We ended up heading up there twice and the reason being the first visit was completely fogged out! We started our walk during golden hour and as the fog swept in, it lit up all kinds of orange and red from the sun. It was pure magic. We made it barely 10 mins into the walk before realising we couldn't make it any further. So instead we stood back and enjoyed the view and of course I got lots of pictures. I couldn't believe the views up there, especially in the atmospheric conditions. The second time however, we made it all the way to the top (quite an achievement after getting lost a couple of times on the route up - I'll warn you, some points aren't particularly clear! ha-ha). We got to the top and found a quiet spot and chilled out watching the sun go down. I grabbed some beautiful shots of Carol at this point, lit by the fading sun. We began the descent just as the sun dipped below the horizon, not really wanting to get stuck up there in the dark, however, with pink tinges appearing across the sky, of course I wasn't done! A few more shots then we walked super fast back down, finishing the last part of the trail in the darkness.
Next onto the slot canyon of Gran Canaria, Barranco de Barafonso. It's a short, narrow slot canyon carved by water into a deep vein of soft volcanic ash or tuff. This was a little more difficult to find which makes it a complete hidden gem. The hike was an enjoyable one, with a wrong turn taking us to a straight drop down and realising we must have gone wrong. Its not an Endean hike without a wrong turn or two! ha-ha. Anyway, once we walked into the canyon opening, it was a sight of pure wonder. There were only a couple of other people around which was amazing, and another reason this is so nice its hidden away and not sign posted attracting the crowds!
Another spot but a real popular one this time, was Las Dunas de la Maspalomas. We went to watch the sunset which was another awesome evening. On the south coast of the island, these dunes sweep across as far as the eye can see and have been protected as a nature reserve since 1987. The far off view to the left of the sunset was where el Faro sits. The exact place where I proposed to my wife Carol 10 years ago. Wow, where does the time go? I think of all our travels and experiences since then and it makes me so happy. There's not another person in the world I'd want to share it all with.
One last thing I need to touch on is the food. Being vegan its something of a huge excitement to discover places where there are so many options for us. Well, down in Maspalomas there is a place called Tropical Soul which we stumbled upon when looking for the toilet and ended up there several times. Poke bowls, waffles and super tasty coffee.... what more would you want?
Anyway, enough of my waffle and let me share some pictures with you. Hopefully you can relate all of these to something you have read here.... It was a very special trip and I can assure you we will be going back to Eco Tara and exploring some more of the island as soon as we possibly can.
As always, thank you for reading!