This is our third cruise and walk holiday with Ramblers, which provides the best of both worlds, as my husband John and I enjoy cruising but also like rambling.
Some people may think that the Canaries cater only for people who want guaranteed sunshine while surveying the hotel pool from their sun lounger. Not at all! Away from the coastline, the islands have been developing walking routes, well signed to show the tourist the varied hinterland, which is rich in geological formations and lush plant life.
We visited six islands in seven days, with the ship moving us to a different destination overnight. It would be easy to imagine that being close together, the islands would be rather similar, but the walks varied enormously. The common features were the steep gradients and rocky terrain, but the vegetation was always different. The spring climate is warm without being humid and generally dry, so we had excellent walking conditions.
What were the highlights? There were many: walking along side the levadas in Madeira and then descending to the coast by cable car, climbing up to the crater of the volcano on La Palma, and following the mule track from the highest point on Lanzarote down to Haria for a welcome coffee before catching the bus back to the ship.
The Canaries are noted for the clarity of the atmosphere so there are wonderful views from the mountains, and within a short distance of leaving the coast you experience wilderness and feel as if the everyday world is far away.
There were 20 in our group and our leader Chris set a steady pace, which we could manage easily. We always had stops for early and late lunch so that we could enjoy the excellent picnic provided by the ship. You don’t get mud, nettles or thistles there so you can sit down anywhere for a rest! Some paths had loose gravel and we had to be careful in case we slid on loose stones, but mostly the going was good.
After a strenuous day, it was delightful to return to the ship, knowing that there would be a delicious meal in good company, and if you could keep awake after all that exercise and fresh air, a choice of evening entertainment.