Canary Islands Photo Essay

Category:  

Bucket List Worthy  

By Gary Arndt

Editor’s Note: The original version of this photoessay, published on Everything Everywhere, won the 2012 NATJA Award for Best Photo Essay and the Lowell Thomas Award for Photo Illustration of Travel.

In 2011 I had the pleasure of visiting the Canary Islands. Located off the coast of Africa, the volcanic chain of islands are a Spanish province and have a history that goes back to the colonization of the Americas. I was able to explore 5 of the islands in the Canaries: Gran Canarias, Lanzarote, Tenerife, La Gomera, and La Palma. Each island’s unique geography gives it a character distinct from its neighbours. These images capture some of the culture and diversity I found on the Canary Islands.

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A natural land bridge on the island of La Graciosa.

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In the village of Teguise on the island of Lanzarote, the doors can only be green or brown.

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A cactus garden on the island of Lanzarote.

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The island of Lanzarote is covered with lava. It is extremely dry, very windy and there is little in the way of natural plant life on the surface. Nonetheless, there is agriculture. In vineyards on Lanzarote, each grape plant is protected by a semicircular wall to protect the plant from the wind.

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By law, all of the houses on Lanzarote have to be white. This makes for very a very dramatic contrast between buildings and the volcanic soil.

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The city of  Las Palmas on the island of Gran Canarias is one of the two capitals of the Canary Islands.

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The cathedral in the city of Las Palamas.

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The city of San Cristóbal de La Laguna on the island of Tenerife is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Many of the churches in the Canary Islands were built around the same time period as Spain colonization of the New World. Many of the architectural styles are similar to what you will find in former Spanish colonies.

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El Tiede is the highest point in Spain and is the centerpiece of the El Teide National Park, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Clouds below Mount Tiede on the island of Tenerife.

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The island of La Gomera is home to the most extensive terracing I’ve seen anywhere in the world outside of the Philippines. The terraces can be found almost everywhere around the island. Due to changes in weather patterns in the early 20th Century, most of the terraces have been abandoned and are slowing blending back into the landscape.

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The island of La Palma is home to one of the largest collection of telescopes in the world, including the world’s largest telescope: the Gran Telescopio Canarias.

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One of the MAGIC gamma ray telescopes on the island of La Palma.

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You can see why La Palma is considered such a great place for astronomical observations. I took the image on the southern tip of the island near sea level. Viewing conditions higher up are even better.

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There has been a great deal of cross cultural pollination between the Canary Islands and the Americas. One tradition which came to the Canary Islands from Cuba was cigar making. This cigar factory is located on the island of La Palma.

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In the middle of La Palma is Caldera de Taburiente National Park, which is the center of a volcano. The is the image as it appears looking down from the top of the volcano.

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Inside Caldera de Taburiente National Park is very serene as it is surrounded by rock walls that keep out the wind.

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One of the unique features of La Palma is the cascade of clouds which goes over the mountains on the middle of the island. You can go from totally sunny to being immersed in clouds in a matter of minutes.

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Sea Salt evaporation pools on La Palma.

 

Comments:

  • Have not been to this part of the world just yet. Great pictures. I think I was mixing this up with Cape Verde :-(.

  • The Canaries are so close to me, yet I’ve been just once. Most Spaniards associate it with holiday makers, but thanks to bloggers, I’ve seen that the islands are a real treasure!

  • Luscious photos! We haven’t yet visited the Canary Islands (maybe someday?). We have spent time on Majorca – and certainly loved walking the trails and checking out the charming villages in the northern part of that Spanish island.

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