Okay, enough of the cold, wet, windy miserable weather in the UK. Sunshine, blue skies and warm temperatures seem to be a distant dream. What’s to be done? If you’ve enough spare cash and no commitments, you could simply find a sunny break on the internet and be off and away in a matter of hours.
But for most of us, that’s not realistic. But, consider this; many people find more pleasure in the planning of a holiday than they do when they’re actually there. According to a 2010 study published in the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life, just planning or anticipating your trip can make you happier than actually taking it.
So, in this most un-summery of British summers, why not lose yourself in the pleasure of cyber-travelling as you seek out your next holiday destination? Thank goodness for the internet, which allows us to zoom across the planet and home in for a closer look at potential places to explore. There’s also the many reviews to look at of other traveller’s experiences which can help you home in on a few choices. Give yourself an hour or two’s virtual adventuring. Mountains? Beaches? Citybreaks? Cruising? Activity Holidays? Backpacking? The world’s yours to choose from (well, a good amount of it). You could start making shortlists of where and when you’d like to go, making notes on the best times of year to visit. Look for trips that fit your budget, or maybe dream of that lottery win. TripAdvisor is one good source of ‘what-to-dos’ for your chosen shortlist.
Even if your plans don’t become reality this time, losing yourself in the fun and fantasy of your perfect holiday gives you a pleasant few escapist hours. And when you’ve got the time, money and opportunity, you’ll already be armed with great ideas.
If you do happen to be in the position of just getting up and going right now, here are one or two suggestions:
Hop From Tenerife to La Gomera
There’s no doubt that Tenerife is one of the most popular island destinations, easily reached in around 5 hours from much of Europe and enticing with sunny skies, warm temperature, beaches and mountains and (if you want it) plenty of nightlife.
If you fancy a complete contrast, sample a day on the island of La Gomera, so close to Tenerife yet oh! so different – rugged, shaped like a well-risen circular cake topped by ancient laurel forests and with mighty ravines slicing down to the sea.
It’s laid back, offering astounding views and walks, little tipico cafés and restaurants, flamboyant plant life and stunning geology. Oh, and it has beaches.
Frequent ferries mean you can be there in under an hour from Los Cristianos, Tenerife, landing in Gomera’s capital San Sebastián, where public buses await in the harbour to take you onward. Car hire ofices and taxis are located here too.
Journey time: The fastest crossing from Tenerife to La Gomera goes via the harbours Los Cristianos de Tenerife to San Sebastián de La Gomera. The Benchijigua Express Ferry covers this distance in about 50 minutes. Other (slower) ferry services are offered by Naviera Armas. Pre-booking is essentail.
What to do? In one day, you’ll need to be selective. Take a look at these Trip Advisor suggestions.
Day Trip – Island Hopping Nº1
Going to Lanzarote? Hop to Fuerteventura!
You’ve planned your trip to Lanzarote, booked flights, accommodation and maybe a hire car.
Why not plan a day trip to the next island south too, just a 25 to 45 minute ferry trip away?
Fuerteventura is Lanzarote’s big sister and has its own personality. Watersports are big here (think Fuerte+Ventura = Strong Wind) and there are biking and hiking routes too. Or hire a car for the day and take a look. At about 100 kilmetres in length, it’s too big to see everything in just one day, though you’ll get a taste of the place and may want to return for a longer visit.
Things to do – Trip Advisor has good suggestions for beaches, cafes, museums and watersports.
It’s useful to get hold of a good map before you go. Take a look at this link for up-to-date map information:
There’s a useful website for those wanting more information about hiking and biking on Fuerteventura; take a look at:
If you are one of the many who found a Garmin GPS in their Christmas stocking, this post is for you.
Get your hands on a free sample ‘real-time’ map and see your Garmin come to life. You can choose a sample map of Graciosa ( off Lanzarote, Canary Islands) or Sierra de Aracena (Andalucia, Spain).
What you’ll get is a highly detailed real-time Tour & Trail digital download map, which you can save on your hard drive, transfer to your Garmin GPS CustomMap memory or onto a micro-SD card; you can also use the maps in Garmin Basecamp and Google Earth.
Alpujarras (Sierra Nevada, Andalucia, southern Spain)
Costa Blanca Mountains (Alicante, southern Spain)
Axarquia (Andalucia, southern Spain)
Sierra de Aracena (Helva province, southern Spain)
Residents on the Island of Lanzarote tell us that more visitors than usual have been enjoying the great outdoors on this unique island during November and December this year. The dramatic volcanic landscape is unforgettable, though is usually desert-dry with little natural green to see.
It doesn’t rain much (or often) on this arid Canary Island, so recent falls have been most welcome, bringing colour and plant life back to otherwise arid areas.
What a great time to visit! Warm days and sunshine (average of six hours per day in December, even more in January), plus the chance to see the colourful green swathes and flower carpets that happen for only a few weeks each year. Walk, hire a bike or car, or jump on a bus.
There’s plenty of interesting information about the island on the Lanzarote Information website; use the link below.
For more on this fascinating and often surprising island, including printed and digital mapping and walking information, take a look here:-
One of the great things about Tenerife is that you can enjoy the snow-capped peaks in the morning and have time to watch the sun go down from a warm, sunny beach that same day.
If you like lively resorts, Tenerife has them; if you prefer quiet settlements and small towns, you’ll find plenty of choice also.
The bus service on the island is pretty good. If you have to drive while back in your ‘real life’, it’ll be so relaxing to discover Tenerife by bus.
If you want to drive, there are car hire companies galore.
And the walking – it’s varied and surprising. If you fancy country strolls or want to scale the mighty Mount Teide (or anything in between), Tenerife will not disappoint you.
Tenerife’s south is drier than the north, mostly due to massive Mount Teide dominating the island’s centre and affecting the island’s micro-climates.
Teide stands above the vast volcanic peaks and plains of Las Cañadas. The easy way to get to this highest point on Spanish territory is via the exciting cable-car ride. On A clear day you’ll see for many kilometres with fine views of some of the other Canary Islands.
The verdant north includes the capital of Santa Cruz, home to some fine old buildings and modern shopping. One of the original resorts, Puerto de la Cruz, sits on the north coast with plenty to
occupy visitors. Further west along the coast lies the ancient settlement of Garachico. It’s a fascinating old town with an unusual black natural rock-pool coastal area and a swathe of petrified lava remaining from Mount Teide’s eruption in 1706.
To the north-east is the wild area of Anaga, a walker’s delight.
Dramatic and extreme geology on the west coast makes for plenty of ‘wow’ factor. The tiny settlement of Masca has to be seen to be believed though only drive yourself there (and back) if you have nerves of steel and no fear of narrow, winding mountain roads.
Los Gigantes is farther down the west coast, a larger and more modern settlement with a huge vertical set of cliffs plunging seawards with a narrow beach at their feet.
Inland from the west coast are walking paths and small settlements far from the tourist crowds.
The sun-baked south of the island offers wide choices of accommodation, beaches, night-life, sports facilities and shopping. There are also some great walks in this region too. For more information about the island of Tenerife take a look at Discovery Walking Guides’ website
There’s a brand-new edition of the highly recommended Tenerife Hikers’ Maps, out now. Find out more by clicking HERE.
What do you need for an enjoyable walking holiday when winter closes in on the northern hemisphere?
RELIABLE WARMTH AND SUNSHINE
A 5 hour flight south (from the UK) gets you to the Canary Islands, off the coast of Africa. You can expect about six hours of sunshine per day (average) with highs of 20C in December though of course there are variations depending on the island and location.
Madeira is a bit closer and almost as sunny (around 5 hours) and almost as warm though the chance or rain is higher. That’s why Madeira is so green and floriferous!
A GOOD CHOICE OF HOTELS, NIGHT LIFE, SHOPS and RESTAURANTS
The Canary Islands and Madeira don’t really have a ‘closed’ season for tourism so you will find a wide range of accommodation, eating places, shops and night life. There are quieter, smaller places to stay if you want to get away from the ‘bright lights’.
EASY TO GET TO
There are plenty of flights all year round to the Canaries and to Madeira.
WHAT’S THE WALKING LIKE?
Each of the Canaries is unique, offering a wide choice of walks and challenging hikes. If you are looking for a pleasant stroll for an hour or two, a coastal discovery route or a full day in the mountains (or something inbetween), the Canaries are an ideal choice.
Madeira is rugged and steep, though the many levada walks (mostly level walks alongside narrow water canals) make it a walking destination with plenty of choice for all.
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT CANARY ISLANDS WALKING HERE:-
FOR MORE ABOUT WALKING ON THE GARDEN ISLE OF MADEIRA, LOOK HERE:-
It may not be as well-known as some of the other Canary Islands – that means there’s plenty of room for you to explore this bold, beautiful and dramatic island.
You want mountains and ravines? You want remote, unspoiled sleepy villages? You want abundant verdant woodlands, paths and tracks? You want endemic plant life found nowhere else? You’ve got them all on the island of Gran Canaria.
This third edition includes new walking routes, even clearer ways to show routes and other map features and all the detailed cartographic information that afficionadoes of the Tour & Trail series have come to expect and rely upon. Take a look at this small extract (left).
Detailed updating and addition of new walking routes and additional data have been researched by our ‘on the ground’ walking expert, ‘Rambling Roger‘ and his fellow walking researchers who know the island like the backs of their hands.
If you’re looking for an adventure away from the European winter, with almost guaranteed good weather and great walking (definitely guaranteed) then take a look at Gran Canaria.
Walk! La Palma – new 3rd edition
Authors: Charles Davis and Jan Kostura
ISBN 9781782750215 £12.99
La Palma is the most north-westerly and the steepest of the Canary Islands; arguably it’s the steepest island in the world.
If you’re looking for a walking destination that’s wild, beautiful and unforgettable, La Palma will not disappoint.
Here’s a sample map section; there’s one for each of the 37 routes, along with full walk descriptions, photographs and GPS information.
For more information about Walk! La Palma and the companion La Palma Tour & Trail Map see Discovery Walking Guides’ website.