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la 8 Islands Cycling Challenge

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la 8 Islands Cycling Challenge

Going to the Canary Islands by bike for the 8 Islands Cycling Challenge means finding a unique territory, full of contrasts and memorable landscapes, with mild temperatures even during the winter. One more reason why the Canary Islands are confirmed as an ideal destination for lovers of cycling, racing, MTB or gravel challenges.

Canary Islands by bike: the 8 Islands Cycling Challenge

For cycling enthusiasts there is the 8 Islands Cycling Challenge, a unique itinerary to discover the Canary Islands by bike from La Palma to La Graciosa in 8 days: an exciting and extreme journey, full of effort and satisfaction, over 900 km and over 21,600 meters of positive altitude difference.
Crossing each island on two wheels, whether on the road or by mountain bike or gravel, will therefore be an excellent opportunity to discover the history and culture of these places, as well as to admire their diversity and charm.

1. LA PALMA: between volcanic areas and boundless pine forests

If La Palma were a colour, it would be green, in all its range of shades. The capital, Santa Cruz de la Palma, marks the beginning and end of a 154 km tour that covers almost the entire island. We start immediately with the longest climb of all the eight itineraries: 32 km with a difference in altitude of 2,400 metres, an exciting but challenging ascent, with gradients of up to 16%.
From here, the adventure continues towards Roque de los Muchachos, the highest point of the route and of the island which offers different panoramas, from extensive pine forests to volcanic areas, with unique rock formations and impressive craters. Once at the top, the surprise continues with the enchantment of the Caldera de Taburiente National Park.

The road then descends towards Santo Domingo, one of the most picturesque corners of the island, and leads towards Tijarafe and Tazacorte, up to Jedey. A gentle climb of about two hours leads to the highest area in the south of La Palma, Los Canarios. Finally, we return to the starting point in Santa Cruz de La Palma.

2. LA GOMERA: the vastness of natural wonders

Rich forests, deep gorges and small pristine beaches are the typical landscapes of La Gomera. We start from the capital San Sebastián for a 98 km itinerary, with a gradual ascent towards Las Poyatas, up to the Hermigua valley, and in about 30 minutes you reach Agulo, a charming village of cobbled streets and restored houses.
There waiting for cyclists is the Garajonay National Park, a natural treasure declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, with its ancient laurel woods.

The itinerary continues with a pleasant descent towards Arure, in the upper part of the Valle Gran Rey gorge which is home to the Arure waterfall, worth seeing before tackling the Alto de Garajonay. After an epic climb, with long climbs and steep slopes, you reach an altitude of 1,300 m, the highest point of this route, from which you can admire the surrounding area and where you can visit the villages of Las Hayas, El Cercado and Temocodá before returning to San Sebastian.

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3. EL HIERRO: silent and mysterious island

The poetry of this small island is unparalleled, a corner of peace and tranquility to be admired along the more than 100 km of the route. El Hierro, the youngest of the Canary Islands, with its aura of mysticism, offers volcanic environments, exuberant nature and spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean.

In just over 14 km you get from Puerto de la Estaca to Villa de Valverde, the island’s capital, on a journey that winds along an 8 km pass, between gentle curves and moderate gradients. Then follows the most challenging part of the itinerary: to get to Frontera, in addition to being amazed by the views of the El Golfo valley from the Mirador de La Peña viewpoint, you will have to overcome over 1,300 meters above sea level near the summit Tenderist.

Continue north, where you can admire the iconic junipers twisted by the wind and go around the Tenaca, Tembárgena and Tomillar mountains, as well as the Montañita del Guanche de Arriba, to then face the climb towards Isora.
From there begins the 8 km of descent that leads to Timijiraque, with its practically uncontaminated beach, before returning to Puerto de la Estaca.

4. TENERIFE: the most tiring but full of satisfaction stage

The 150 km long Tenerife track is undoubtedly one of the most challenging. It starts in the south-west of the island, in Los Cristianos, from where with a ride of about 12 km you reach Adeje: here it is worth making a stop to be dazzled by one of the most beautiful panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean.

Approaching Guía de Isora, on a route with gradients between 5% and 7%, you reach an altitude of 600 m, passing from arid landscapes to lush vegetation. After 5 km you arrive at Chío, and after another challenging stretch of 8 km, you reach Santiago del Teide, 930 meters above sea level. From there, you soon descend towards Icod de los Vinos, where you can contemplate the famous Drago Millenario, the oldest dragon tree in the entire archipelago.

The tour continues downhill, passing through San Juan de la Rambla and Los Realejos, before heading towards Puerto de la Cruz. With a 20km gradient you arrive at Tacoronte and from there to La Laguna, which will act as a prelude to the challenge of the Anaga Rural Park. Here you enter steep mountains and deep gorges covered by a green blanket of laurel forests, dotted with typical villages. From El Bailadero we begin a dizzying descent towards San Andrés before concluding this journey in the capital, Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

5. GRAN CANARIA: between fishing villages and natural cliffs

The itinerary featuring Gran Canaria, also known as “the continent in miniature” due to the variety of environments, begins in the fishing village of Puerto de las Nieves.
It starts with more than 32 km of progressive climb, with a small section of descent of 4 km in the middle, towards the interior of the island, through the Altos de Gáldar area, at 1,200 metres. After a short break, you face the second peak at over 1,500 meters above sea level with ramps whose gradients reach up to 10%.

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Along the following descent you pass through the municipality of Tejeda, immersed in a landscape of gorges in the shadow of Roque Nublo, one of the largest natural cliffs in the world. Its imposing presence is surpassed in height only by the Pico de Las Nieves, the highest place in Gran Canaria and the next stop on the itinerary.

After this finish line, we descend towards La Pasadilla through the Los Marteles Special Nature Reserve. With a 200 meter descent you reach the ancient village of Ingenio to head towards Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, the end of the tour.

6. FUERTEVENTURA: 6 hours between golden sandy beaches and turquoise waters

The port of the small fishing village of Morro Jable, the southernmost tourist town of Fuerteventura, marks the beginning of this itinerary, a journey lasting just over 6 hours, between white sand beaches and turquoise waters.
The route heads north along the coast, past the Jandía Natural Park towards Costa Calma, the gateway to the incredible beaches of Sotavento. On the way to Pájara, the difference in altitude then increases to around 400 meters above sea level.

Betancuria is the next destination, the highest point of the adventure, where the Morro de la Cruz is located at 600 meters above sea level. From there, however, an exciting descent opens up towards the Valle de Santa Inés and the Llanos de la Concepción in the direction of Tefía for around 17 km, until reaching the last difference in altitude.

At this point the itinerary leads towards the coast and the Parque Natural de las Dunas de Corralejo, the right place to enjoy the beauty of the island of Fuerteventura. This stretch of coast to the south is volcanic, ocher and red in colour, with harsh and dramatic shapes, while to the north, near the tourist resort of Corralejo, the last stop, there is the largest expanse of dunes in the Canary Islands, a huge extension of white sand washed by the clear waters of the Atlantic Ocean, the best place to enjoy the end of your tour in Fuerteventura.

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7. LANZAROTE: a tour through Martian landscapes

Lanzarote is synonymous with volcanoes, lava fields, black and reddish earth that contrasts with the white of the houses, the blue of the ocean and the blue of the sky. The surrounding environment has often been compared to the soil of the planet Mars.
This itinerary, lasting approximately 5 hours, starts from the tourist port of Playa Blanca and heads towards Yaiza, one of the most emblematic villages of Lanzarote. Subsequently you reach the 340 meters above sea level of the Volcanoes Natural Park, where you can observe a truly “extraterrestrial” scenario.

We then return to sea level at La Santa, on the north-west coast of the island and then continue to Caleta de Famara, a small village in the Chinijo Natural Park. And from there to Teguise, where you have to face the most difficult part of the route: 25 km, uphill, with climbs that in some cases reach up to a 9% gradient in the final part, to reach 569 meters above sea level, the summit highest of the adventure.

After about 30 minutes of descent from Máguez, you reach the Mirador del Río, at 500 meters above sea level, the last peak to reach. The ideal point to observe the Chinijo archipelago with the island of La Graciosa as the protagonist. It is a spectacular image that accompanies the route up to the final descent (11 km long) which leads to Puerto de Órzola.

8. LA GRACIOSA: recover your energy between sun and relaxation

La Graciosa, the smallest of the eight islands and the last stop on this adventure, is the ideal place to rest after the efforts of the challenge. Small, quiet and surrounded by nature, this island is surrounded by paradisiacal beaches with transparent waters and white sand.

Inserted in the largest marine reserve in the European Union, La Graciosa is a real dream come true for cyclists looking for relaxation and complete connection with the surrounding environment.

READ ALSO: Cycle tourism in the Canary Islands: the 8 most beautiful itineraries, 1 for each island

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