End of October. No signs of fall on the Canary Islands. Blue skies and over 20 degrees C early in the morning. Fuerteventura, the second largest island of this archipelago close to Africa, is again kissed by the sun. Yes, it is a bit hard to leave the awesome beaches close to Corralejo or the hotel pool of the Gran Hotel Atlantis Bahía Real (the best one you can find on this precious island). But – Ingrid, who is working in the marketing department of the Atlantis Hotels, has promised me a stunning tour. „You will see places on this island which even I have not been to so far. And our guide Andreas is the best I can imagine.“ Wow, that sounds indeed promising. At 10 a.m., Andreas is waiting for us in the hotel lobby. A hippie kind of German guy, in his early 50s but with the energy of a 25-year-old, tanned and with a blond braid. „Every morning I am either in or on the sea (which means swimming or surfing), simply the best time of the day.“ Sympathy at first sight, I like this cool guy. And he knows just EVERYTHING about Fuerteventura, but I will get back to that later.
Off we go – Ingrid, Andreas and myself. Andreas is driving and guiding us in his brand new bright yellow VW bully. „Fuerteventura is the oldest of all Canary Islands and has literally emerged from the sea 20 million years ago.“ Amazing! From a geological perspective, our life span is just a blink of an eye. I can´t wait to see all those mysterious mountains. From Corralejo, we drive West. „In this area, you can hike for days without seeing a human being“, says Andreas. I already envy him a bit – always in nature, that keeps you young.
Photo: Ingrid, Andreas and the cool VW Bully - KHL
We pass by the mountain La Muda (698 m) and reach the Tindaya, just 400 m high but honored as holy mountain by the islanders. Petroglyphs and shards of pots were found here. Fuerteventura is a pretty bleak island with awesome colors. You do not deviate and just focus on the essential. Prior to the conquest by the Spaniards in 1402, the so-called „majos“were living here. It is assumed that they descended from the Berbers. Continuing our way on the excellent road, we pass by the site where the famous Spanish poet Miguel de Unamuno was banned in 1924. The alleged punishment turned out to be almost a blessing. The bizarre volcanic landscape inspired Unamuno to become even more creative before he disappeared years later under the regime of Franco. A sad part of Spain´s history.
Photo: The holy mountain TINDAYA - KHL
We continue to Alcogida and its little eco museum with pieces of local artisans. The museum is a well-kept little village and shows the traditional rural life on the island of Fuerteventura. It was inhabited until 1970 before a renovation in the early 90s and the transition into a museum.
It is hard to believe, but there are wonderful river valleys in Fuerteventura. The reservoir Los Molinos is a real paradise for birdwatchers. There you will also find one of the last real authentic coastal villages with pretty ugly cabins. „Prior to the tourism boom, Fuerteventura was a rather poor island. The people lived from fishing, their many goats and the cultivation of tomatoes“, explains Andreas.
We visit Betancuria, the former capital of the island, so pretty. In 1402, the first king of the Canary Islands resided here and by then, Betancuria was the capital of the whole archipelago. Today, this village with its white houses, the many palms and the bizarre mountains, is one of the island´s most popular spots for visitors and photographers! Meanwhile, Andreas talks about the weather. The climate on the Canary Islands („islands of eternal spring“) is said to be one of the best in the world. For just a few weeks, it may get unpleasant when the so-called „calima“ reaches the islands. A desert wind that brings heat and sandy dust. I recall having seen cars completely covered by dust. Fuerteventura has an average of five rainy days per year, it never gets really cold. There are very few nights when it cools down to 10 degrees C.
Photo: Isn`t that an excellent location for movies? - KHL
There is a cheese museum in the super clean and charming village of Antigua, just in the middle of the island. Here you will learn all about the famous (and tasty) goat cheese. „Goats were always a guarantee to survive“, says Andreas. „In former times, there were more goats than people on Fuerteventura.“ This has changed in the meantime. Today, Fuerteventura has a population of 110,000 inhabitants (a lot of them are immigrants). However, there are still many goats. I admire them climbing the mountains, very agile animals.
Photo: Do you spot the goat?
The volcano Gayria with its huge crater has erupted 10,000 years ago. Yes, Mother Nature can be so brutal and powerful. Today, you will find bananas, guavas, pumpkins, passion fruit and papaya here – all of them so tasty and healthy at the same time. We pass by Tuineje, the „tomato capital“ and reach the stunning village of Pajara. Andreas points out the many „tabaibas“, plants that reach a height of up to 10 m and get over 100 years old. „The Canary Islands are the Galapagos for endemic plants“, says Andreas. „There are so many of them you can only find here.“
Photo: Happy KHL on a gorgeous Sunday!
In Pajara, we stop for refreshments at Casa Isaitas. A Spanish lady from the peninsula has created a little hideaway here with a few rooms and a nice restaurant. We enjoy a coffee on the pretty patio before continuing our way through a region that already served as a location for quite a few movies such as „Exodus“. Steep rugged mountains, canyons and beautiful palm groves. So impressive! In the Betancuria mountain mass we stop for a little hike over huge rocks and stony paths in a „barranco“ that leads to a green-blue pond. It is really an amazing sight! I cannot get enough of the contrast between the brownish rocks and the clear blue sky. And there are palm trees anywhere, like in an oasis. „Here you can see mountains that are not of volcanic origin“, explains Andreas, and it is easy to figure them out. They look much smoother. Even Alexander von Humboldt, the famous German explorer of the 18th century, was enthused by the special lights of Fuerteventura. At sunset, you can admire a real light show. The mountains change their color literally every minute, simply spectacular. I can totally understand that Andreas got stuck here 23 years ago. Back then, he was a tennis trainer! Fuerteventura is such a special place – and, by the way, ideal for yoga. Our guide is even into that, incredible. What a „Jack of all trade“ he is.
Photo: Not a bad place for coffee ... Casa Isaitas - KHL
We drive back to Betancuria with its church built in 1404 and enjoy a stunning view from Morro Velosa. Ocre hills, spiry canyons and nothing that distracts your eyes. Silent moments that last forever. It is simple happiness on this beautiful Sunday, just nature and nothing else.
Photo: Picturesque Betancuria - KHL
There is a very impressive modern art piece right in the middle of nature, how cool is that. I love outdoor art, in particular when it is perfectly integrated into the landscape. And no guards around. Andreas tells us that „his“ island has a 322 km long coastline with 55 km of beaches. There are over 1,000 species of lichens on the Canary Island which are a proof of the very good air we are breathing here. If I could only get this in my home city! Time for a late lunch (after all, we are in Spain) at „La Vaca azul“ („The blue Cow“) in the charming village of El Cotillo right on the beach. Needless to say that fish and seafood are the most popular plates here. We enjoy „tapas“ on the deck with a stunning sea view. Little potatoes with spicy sauces, shrimps with garlic, octopus salad, tomatoes with goat cheese and the typical gofio porridge. So delicious! And this place is fully booked. Many locals come here which is always a good sign. From Corralejo, it is only a 20-minute drive by rental car. Make sure to reserve your table in advance and don´t miss walking through the picturesque village.
Photo: So delicious ... tapas at "La Vaca azul" - KHL
Time to drive back to Corralejo. We pass by Lajares, probably the island´s hippest village with people from almost all over the world. „There is always something going on here“, says Andreas. Lajares is the place to be for all the cool surfers, although it is 8 km away from the sea. Trendy cafés, bars, and boutiques run by people who enjoy the simple life. And hardly any tourists. I definitely have to come back here! At 5.30 p.m., we are back at the hotel and I have had the best day of this year´s trip to the Canary Islands. Nature at its finest, no tourist resorts and such a relaxing silence. „La vida es chula“ – life is so good!
I ask Andreas about local designers. „If you go to downtown Corralejo, make sure to see Erika´s little shop.“ Sure thing. Prior to my departure the following day, I stop by. Erika`s boutique offers stationary, jewelry, bikinis, flip flops, towels, t-shirts and much more. So unique and not at all comparable to all the stuff that you can get anywhere. Don´t miss to visit her boutique! It is right on the main street of Corralejo, just next to my favorite coffeeshops „Urban Living“ and „Illy“. After a nice coffee, I quickly walk to the „casco viejo“, the charming old part of this former fishing village with its nice bars, restaurants and a beautiful little sandy beach right in the city.
Photo: Charming Erika in her little boutique
Yes, I am in love with Fuerteventura. And after our tour, I know so much more about this precious island. I can´t wait to go back. Hasta la vista, isla bonita!
Andreas Caliman is offering awesome hiking tours in English, French, German and Spanish (!) for one or more days. You can book these excursions at both the Gran Hotel Atlantis Bahía Real*****GL or at the all-inclusive Suite Hotel Atlantis Fuerteventura Resort****. Both are perfect places for active or just relaxing holidays and close to a few of the best beaches in the world (no kidding!).
Photo: Chillin`at the poolside of the Gran Hotel Atlantis Bahía Real...
... or going for a swim in the Atlantic? - Tough choices to make. - KHL
Photo: Almost unreal scenery - KHL
Photo: Palms, palms, palms ... - KHL