Maspalomas Dunes – Gran Canaria's Desert

Gran Canaria

The Dunes of Maspalomas are a beautiful sand desert reminiscent of Sahara scenery located on Gran Canaria, Spain's second-largest island in the Canary Islands. The view from here is breathtaking: stunning rising pyramids of golden sand change shape periodically due to the whims of the wind, and you can see the nearby blue ocean from their tops, which reach a height of 10 meters (33 feet).

The Maspalomas Dunes ecosystem has protected status due to its high natural, geomorphological, botanical, and faunal value, and it coexists with the area's tourism development. It has an absolutely gorgeous 6-kilometer or 4-mile beach, a dune system, a palm grove, a brackish lagoon in the Atlantic Ocean, and varied wildlife. The sand dunes at Maspalomas, in the south of Gran Canaria, cover 4 square kilometers (1.5 square miles) and are one of the island's top five attractions.



I've never been to the Sahara, but my experience with a sandy desert, like the one in Gran Canaria, wasn't my first. Lithuania, where I grew up, also has absolutely gorgeous sand dunes, for example, Grey Dunes or Parnidis Dune, in the Curonian Split, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Although I'm a forest enthusiast and not a big fan of deserts, I did enjoy exploring the diverse landscapes of Gran Canaria and visiting such unique places as the Maspalomas Dunes.

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Gran Canaria Map


Formation


The sand dunes at Maspalomas are not from Western Sahara, which is only 250 kilometers (155 miles) away. During the ice age, from the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, waves washed up crushed shells of countless mollusks, which the wind later dispersed over a wide area.


Flora and Fauna


Unique to the Maspalomas Dunes are both its flora and fauna. The plants here are primarily salt-tolerant species such as the aulaga, the Canary Islands tamarisk, the sand sedge, the sea-grape, and the smooth flatsedge, including endemic species like the Canary Palm tree and the salado. The Gran Canaria giant lizard is an endemic reptile that is the largest of the Canary Islands' species, reaching lengths of up to 80 centimeters (2.6 feet). The hoopoe, a typical desert bird, is also abundant in the dunes.


Trails


The reserve's 8 kilometers (5 miles) of trails feature over 1,500 bollards and information signs, promoting responsible and sustainable public use of the ecosystem.


Gran Canaria
Maspalomas beach

Gran Canaria
Maspalomas Dunes from the south

How to Get There


Maspalomas lies 58 kilometers (36 miles) south of the island's capital, Las Palmas. Thanks to Global, a public transportation service that connects the various parts of the island, and to the island's taxi fleet, the tourist town is an easy and quick destination when you are on the island.


Gran Canaria: Camel Ride in the Dunes of Maspalomas


Take the Camel Ride in the Dunes of Maspalomas if you want to enjoy a camel-riding desert safari, relax in a comfortable 2-seater saddle, and experience the landscape of Gran Canaria.


Have a fantastic time exploring the stunning Maspalomas Dunes in Gran Canaria!

Arūnas


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