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Land Rover Island, LA GRACIOSA - Canary Islands

Have you ever dreamed of a desert island, with sand beaches and white, sun-bleached houses where the only form of motorised transport on the island is the trusted Land Rover?

Well I think I’ve found it; La Graciosa, the closest of the Canary Island’s archipelago to the African Continent (34° by 56°), where the harsh realities of life in the centre of the ocean, have proven over the years, that no other form of transport can stand up to the aquatic and ariel onslaughts given out by mother nature except for the Land Rover and the now retired camels and mules.

The only way onto this desert island (except for helicopter or private boat) is by the passenger ferry that runs four times per day from 0800 to 1900 to the village of Caleta de Sebo. But if the swell gets up, this lifeline will be cut off, leaving you stranded on this volcanic outcrop until the waves drop down in size and the passage into the port of Orzola on the island of Lanzarote becomes passable again. If this happens to you; relax and rent the 110 Santana taxi (or stretch your legs) for a trip over to the fishing village of Pedro Barba on the eastern side of the island: On your way, you will have to cross the shrub covered desert that ends at the beach before the old laver flows stretching into the sea, force the change in gears as you drop into the village below, deserted throughout the winter months.

Look west from the ferry and stretch your legs for one hour along the coastal path that picks its way between the beautiful beaches and volcanic debris before you find yourself at Yellow Mountain. This yellow cinder cone, a haven for 15 and 16-century pirates, praying on the rich pickings of the trade from South America to Europe rises up to a height of 100 metres above sea level. In the protected bay to the south of this volcano, you can still see the dock carved into the rock where the fast manoeuvrable pirate ships where constructed, hidden from the eyes of the Spanish Government on the edge of the new world.

The north shore is a region of exceptional natural beauty, shaped from the volcanic rock by the northern swells and protected by the under water reefs that hold the key to the world class fishing and surfing that are found on and around this island. If the climatic conditions are up for it, you will not find a better winter spot so close to home with all the right ingredients for an action packed sports break. Getting around is also possible by mountain bike (rented in the village) but drifting sand dunes do get the heart pumping after a day on one of the empty beaches out of the wind relaxing in the sun on the Tropic of Capricorn.