The Azores are on the UK’s Green Travel List!
The Azores (a region of Portugal) are a group of nine volcanic islands in the North Atlantic Ocean, offering a gentle climate and unforgettable landscapes. If you are a walker or simply a visitor who wants to drink in the sights, these unique islands will not disappoint.
The islands are divided into three groups:-
The Eastern Group (Grupo Oriental) of São Miguel, Santa Maria and Formigas Islets
The Central Group (Grupo Central) of Terceira, Graciosa, São Jorge, Pico and Faial
The Western Group (Grupo Ocidental) of Flores and Corvo.
For mountain lovers, you’ll find Mount Pico, on the island of Pico, the highest point in Portugal, at 2,351 m There are many other impressive peaks to be discovered.
There’s a wealth of walking trails to be followed, enhanced by wonderful views and flourishing unique endemic plant life.
The largest of the islands is São Miguel, where ancient laurel forests and a wealth of endemic flora thrive. The landscape on all the islands is rugged, with extreme peaks; lakes hide in volcanic craters and hot springs confirm the islands’ volcanic geology.
Tempted to visit? Before you go, why not plan your adventures. You will need a detailed, up to date map. If you want to do any walking on the islands, you need a map that clearly shows the walking trails.
We recommend Azores Tour & Trail Super-Durable Map, from Discovery Walking Guides Ltd.
Each of the Canary Islands has its own unique personality. Lanzarote is strangely surreal. There’s plenty of wide open unspoiled places ideal for exploring by car, bike or on foot.
The best map by a long way is Lanzarote Tour & Trail Super-Durable Map.
But don’t take our word for it – there are dozens of user reviews on line. Here’s a few of them:
Kung Fu Panda
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended if planning a driving holiday on Lanzarote
Compared to many “travel” maps this map is very good with an impressive level of detail, including different road types, paths and tracks, contouring, etc. The map itself is printed on a very durable (and ultimately recyclable) plastic sheet material. I would highly recommend this to anyone planning to drive around Lanzarote and perhaps to combine that with some walking. I have just driven around 500 miles during a 10-day holiday and found this invaluable.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great product.
I’m a regular user of OS maps & wanted a map of Lanzarote for our forthcoming holiday. This map, with the accompanying book, looks just the job. I particularly like the way the map & book cross-reference each other & the useful information about the walks.
5.0 out of 5 stars great product
Fantastic map at a very reasonable price. Large scale shows walking trails etc. Great for research prior to our planned trip.
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Excellent map, a must for driving around as road signs are atrocious on Lanzarote for independent motorist! Very good for walks too. Also, yes bended, folded, chucked on back seat & footwell several times, and not a single tear of hole on the folds. Would recommend & will buy for other Canaries when we visit them.
Lanzarote for sunshine, blue seas, amazing huge skies and volcanic sci-fi landscapes. See it for yourself. You’ll never forget it.
They don’t call it the ‘mini-continent’ for nothing!
Though it’s under a 5 hour flight away (from the UK and western Europe), it feels like a different world.
There’s plenty to see and do, though the best thing of all is to walk the trails and marvel at the views, the forests, flora and fauna and the ancient villages.
Gran Canaria Tour & Trail Super-Durable Map is now in its 5th edition. This is the level of detail you need when exploring the island.
Here at Discovery Walking Guides, we’ve watched the rise and rise of this fascinating island as a hiking/biking/touring destination over the past few years. Gran Canaria has emerged from the shadows to become a ‘must walk’ destination in the Canary Islands.
There’s wonderful dramatic scenery and unspoilt villages, plus clean, spacious beaches for the days you don’t want to walk (or bike or drive).
To get the best from your visit, get the best map. Here’s a small segment – look at that clarity and detail. To find out more about the map look here.
There’s plenty of walking information from Rambling Roger, who lives there and knows the island like the back of his hand.
If you fancy 18-23C and mostly sunny days from December to April, hop over to Gran Canaria.
Thanks go to David L, just back from walking (and golfing) on the Canary Island of La Gomera. He’s been there before and knows the walking pretty well, and has sent us a detailed review of some of the walks he did (self-adapted in part) using Walk! La Gomera guidebook and La Gomera Tour & Trail map along with digital mapping which he accessed on his smart phone.
Here’s part of David’s walking report:
On 18 December 2017 at 20:24 David L wrote:
“Where? La Gomera – Jardin Tecina Hotel
We did three – or perhaps more accurately, 2.5. We took golf clubs and tennis rackets, too – and my wife is not a bad walker, but not as keen as I am.
We were looking for walks with the least amount of travelling possible, avoiding those with vertigo warnings, and ideally, in the sun.
The walks we did were:
- Playa Santiago to Targa With Variation (Walk 10)
- Degollada de Peraza to San Sebastian (Walk 1)
- Playa Santiago – Baja de Guane – El Aguila – La Trinchera – Playa Santiago (Short Walk)
- Navigational Aids
All walks were undertaken with benefit of the digital version of the Tour & Trail Map on iphone via Memory Map, and hard copy print of the relevant area – one side with route marked – the other unmarked. Full hard copy Tour & Trail Map and Walk! La Gomera Book taken but not referred to en route.
Previous visits/walks have been in February and December. In comparison, the countryside was far more burnt up on this occasion, with virtually no greenery, and noticeably warmer than Christmas, but cooler than Feb. We have had NE Alisio weather patterns on previous visits, but, on this occasion, the wind was between south and west.
4.1 Playa Santiago To Targa With Variation (Walk 10)
I had done this walk twice previously, so knew roughly what was involved. The part through the former cultivation terraces is probably fair enough for one experience but, in my view, not more.
So we headed up your down route, which was hot work in mid 20s C, but OK.
The route to the climb up the Playa Santiago cliff is completely different to the map – but more similar to the blow up on the reverse.
Had lunch in the shade close to the FRANCISCO DIAZ BARROSO NAMEPLATE Waypoint. Waypoint beyond this particularly useful as otherwise not clear when to head up the hill to the right – though clearer looking back on it.
Turned left to Targa itself and then along a couple of paths to Alajero. Bar where second path joins road up from Playa Santiago closed. Turned off into central Alajero, where found an open bar with Bus Stop opposite. Perfect! Bus turned up on time and dropped us off by Jardin Tecina for next to nothing.
Conclusion on 1. I think the route we did is better than the one in the book – but I was looking for something different to the route through the cultivation terraces. Probably worth including as an alternative. The variation at the top was not planned in advance, but evolved when we got there.
The leg adjacent to the stream south of Targa is tricky/ steep sided in places with few foot/handholds.
An unexpected hazard was the local authority painting some of the bus stop benches – but not warning of this! My wife wrote off a pair of trousers! Not sure whether this is a seasonal event!
Overall, an enjoyable and rewarding walk. Nice to get up into the cool – and amongst some genuine village life.
4.2 Degollada de Peraza to San Sebastian (Walk 1)
This is one of the more accessible walks from Jardin Tecina without vertigo risk- although, by analysis of non-vertigo walks, I have since found a more accessible one, at least to start.
We had toyed with which is gazetted as a’ vertigo trial’ but I had done the bottom 75% of this on my own on a previous visit, and had backed off when I reached a very sheer slope; furthermore, a section of this looked very sheer on Google Earth. It also looked pretty aggressive from the top of Degollada de Peraza.
Up here, we were in cloudy conditions, but the cloud base was well above us.
Shortly after the start, there was no observable issue with the landslide you mention. The path is quite steep sided in places and flat sided in others. Throughout the first 75 % or so, it is dominated by views of the main road from San Sebastian up to Degollada – and traffic noise from it, which was a pity.
On the plus side, we had some good views, and encountered a watchful raven, which I had not previously seen on the island.
The run down into San Sebastian was hard work, along a made up but very uneven ‘donkey’ track.
To return, we had the options of buses or the Fred. Olsen Ferry. We chose the latter, to give us a chance to relax a bit, an opportunity to see this section of coast, and avoid the lengthy/somewhat tedious road route.
We enjoyed the ferry ride, albeit that it was late starting by half an hour, it appeared because of a mechanical issue.
Conclusion on 2. We enjoyed the walk, but were disappointed by the main road/traffic noise impact and the extent of uneven donkey tracks on the descent. Probably good for anyone to do once, but I do not think we would do it again.
4.3 Playa Santiago – Baja de Guane – El Aguila – La Trinchera – Playa Santiago (Short Walk)
This was really a ‘fill in’ while my wife wanted to sunbathe – which I cannot do. I have a friend who has a holiday Property Bond Investment and had stayed at ‘Balcon de Santa Anna’ – and wanted to have a look at this – and the walk round the cliffs outside shown on the map looked interesting.
All went according to plan – having your map on my iphone proved ever useful, as I was not sure how long I was along the walk, on several occasions. Good views of the cliffs and breaking seas – and a pleasantly made up path. Also a short link at the end down to Playa Santiago.
Conclusion on 3. An enjoyable and worthwhile short walk which it might be worth mentioning.
- Overall Conclusion On Walks
We expanded our horizons – though did not visit the Valle Gran Rey/El Cercado area this time.
We enjoyed our walks – which were much aided by your materials and, particularly, the digital functions, which had either not been available or we hadn’t been aware of before. The map on the iphone with the flashing curser and marked waypoints really is a massive help.
We were surprised how warm the weather was – particularly having experienced quite a cool Christmas here once. The countryside was much the most frazzled we had ever seen it.
I am quite a keen bird watcher. I missed the plain swifts over the mountains and villages, normally in abundance. On checking, I see they return to Africa for November and most of December. On the plus side, we had a hoopoe in the hotel grounds, where there were singing chiffchaff and blackcap, and the aforementioned raven.
I attach copies of our tracks, in case of interest. As your book suggests, we took a good bit longer than you did! I also include some vehicle/ferry tracks and one round of the golf course, in case of interest. The speed the ferries travel at is notable – and the time saving from San Sebastian to Playa Santiago by sea, as opposed to land. The golf round was quicker than for an average UK course – because the hole sequence was downhill?”
Thanks David! User feedback is like gold!
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:
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:-
Just arrived – Fuerteventura Super-Durable Map. HIghly detailed and right up-to-date and printed on a special polymer withstanding rain, wind and folding many times. The island appeals to windsurfers, cyclists, walkers and adventurers, and has miles and miles of pure, clean beaches too.
It’s an intriguing island with a timeless quality, the raw bones of the island shaped by a volcanic past. Unique – once experienced, never forgotten. Read more here