topography, climate, flora and fauna. There are
species of animals indigenous to the archipelago,
along with a rich tapestry of history.
Almost 43% of the territory of Gran Canaria is protected. This
means approximately 66,571 hectares of land, which is almost
1,000 square metres of protected land for each inhabitant of the
island. Due to the geological
formation of the interior of the island, the landscapes of the interior
are very different from those of the coast, originating many and varied
ecosystems on the island.
An anecdotal piece of
information is that only 1% of the island's population lives on
protected land. The Parque Rural del Nublo is an interesting case in
this regard. This rural park, which stretches over eight municipal
areas in the centre of the island and covers a surface area of
26,307.4 hectares (the size of La Gomera island), but it supports a
tiny population of around 5,000 inhabitants. This fact is ironic in
the light of the environmental problems caused by overpopulation on
Gran Canaria, mainly in the Northeast of the island where the
greatest part of the population lives.
volcanoes that form the islands' backbone saw the light of day
at about the time the Atlas Mountains were formed in North
Africa millions of years ago. The highest volcano, Teide at 3718 m on Tenerife, is Spain's tallest peak and
the third tallest volcano in the world after two in Hawaii. All
the volcanic activity has ensured that the soil is very fertile,
but there are no rivers and the islands have been periodically
plagued by water shortages. Most of the drinking water on some
islands comes straight from desalination plants.
Being of volcanic origin, the island's orography has a conical shape
that is split in two by the ravines of Tirajana and Agaete, representing
the main line of division that separates the enormous contrasts of the
North and the South. Numerous ravines gouge their way across the centre
of the island in the direction of descent.
This feature, together with
the complicated relief and the massif (known as Los Pechos) that runs
from the north-west to the south-west, are the main architects of the
great variety of climatic conditions that exist on this island and,
therefore, the great variety of ecosystems to which the island is host.
The inhabitants of the islands have put together a supply of
nature tourism that is characterised by an equally deep respect
for the environment. This includes everything from century-old
country houses that have been renovated, as well as a wide range
of leisure activities that include everything from high risk
sports, such as rock climbing, to hiking along the "Caminos
reales" or ancient network of country pathways, which has been
reopened for use by the public and which forms part of the
cultural and historic heritage of the island.
The Canaries bask in an
eternal-spring climate, with temperatures ranging from 18°C
(64°F) in winter to 24°C (75°F) in summer. On a hot day at the
beach, it can still be pleasantly cool if you get up into the
mountains, and you'll definitely need warm clothes if you reach any
high altitudes during the winter.
Except for Lanzarote and
Fuerteventura, the northern side of the islands is sub-tropical,
while the south, including the first two mentioned islands, is drier
and slightly warmer. There is not much rain except on parts of the
windswept northern coasts, and what there is tends to fall on the
northern side of the more mountainous islands.
The flat islands,
with no mountains to trap rain clouds, hardly receive a drop of
rain. On occasion, especially in summer, the sirocco (the hot wind
from the Sahara) blows in from Africa, turning day into twilight and
coating everything with grime. It's at its worst in the eastern
islands, and is known locally as the calima.
In Gran Canaria one can do anything, from hiking through the
most beautiful nature areas to taking part in adventure sports,
or merely contemplating the hundreds of indigenous species that
are unique in the world. In Gran Canaria, anything is possible
for those who want to satisfy their need to get in touch with
following are some of the nature areas on Gran Canaria that
deserve special mention:
Monumento Natural de Bandama
This nature area, which covers a surface area of 325.7 hectares,
includes parts of the municipal areas of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
(the capital), Santa Brígida and Telde
Parque Rural del Nublo (Rural Park):
This is the largest protected nature area on the island. The
26,307.4 hectares of this park are spread over eight municipalities,
namely Tejeda, La Aldea de San Nicolás, Mogán, San Bartolomé de
Tirajana, Artenara, San Mateo, Valleseco and Moya
Parque Natural de Tamadaba (Nature Park):
This nature park, which
covers a surface area of 7,538.6 hectares, with its pine groves,
lies within the municipalities of Agaete and La Aldea de San Nicolás.
Parque Rural de Doramas (Rural Park):
Covers an area of 3,586 hectares in the municipal areas of Moya,
Valleseco, Firgas, Santa María de Guía, Arucas and Teror
The long catalogue of
protected areas on Gran Canaria is completed by the Natural rural
monuments of Montañón Negro, Roque Aguayro, Tauro and Arinaga.
There are also a number of
areas that have been declared as "Natural Rural Landscapes", namely
La Isleta, Pino Santo, Tafira, Las Cumbres, Lomo Magullo, Fataga and
Montaña de Agüimes.
Lastly, there are a number
of areas that have been declared as "Areas of Interest", these being
Jinámar, Tufia, Roque de Gando and Juncalillo del Sur.
The terrestrial fauna of the
Island is characterised by the absence of big vertebrates and harmful
species. Birds and reptiles are the most numerous species of Gran
Canaria wildlife. Among the vertebrates we have the Canary Island lizard
- endemic of the island and whose abundance is overwhelming, the Gran
Canaria skink, Boettger's Canary wall gecko and Osorio shrew.
the biggest representation in the Island's wildlife population:
specifically, 48 species including the nesting birds of this island,
with endemic birds such as great spotted woodpeckers, robins and the
blue chaffinch, the latter in the pine forests of Pilancones-Inagua.
The canary bird deserves a separate mention due to its symbolic
establishment that relates it both to the Canary Islands and to Gran
Canaria in particular. The interesting thing about this bird, with a
great singing ability, is that it was bred through crossbreeding with
other species, thus producing a great variety.
Besides, the Island is a
resting place for many of the migrating birds.
We can point
out the birds included in the marine and nesting
fauna of Gran Canaria is very rich and diversified in species, and this
peculiarity is a result of the environmental diversity and the
geographical situation of the island.
One of the distinct features of
the marine settlements of the waters of Gran Canaria is the coexistence
of species such as pelagic fish and turtles.
species is conspicuously the most common of the family turtles. These
species coexist with rays, manta rays, stingrays and angel sharks,
swordfishes, big tuna fish or coastal species such as white sea breams,
parrot -fishes, goldlines, saddled sea breams, pompanoes, groupers,
blacktail combers, john dories or pollacks.
Within the mammals that are
found in the waters of Gran Canaria are common dolphins, bottlenose
dolphins and whales.