Taking a helicopter ride over Gran Canaria

As you will know from my earlier ‘Climbing a via ferrata in Gran Canaria‘ post, I’ve just come back from an adventurous few days in Gran Canaria where we’ve also had the opportunity to drive the rather sleek and stylish Hyundai i30 Fastback N. The previous post showed the vehicle in Engine Red, but here it is pictured in Performance Blue, a colour specifically formulated for the N.

The car has a sporty interior to match, with exclusively-developed N sport seats offering maximum support in all driving situations.  Such is the versatility of this hot hatch that it is a car that you could be taking out on the track at Silverstone or at the Nürburgring one moment, and then doing a quick run to the shops the next. Inside it has a ball-type gear knob and specially-designed steering wheel to improve driver feel, and an electronic instrument panel with a with a 4.2” LCD screen, making it a very comfortable car from which to explore the island.

Driving around the island’s roads was one thing, but some of Gran Canaria’s landscapes can only truly be appreciated from the air, so we drove to El Berrio Aeroc Airport for an aerial excursion with a difference. Gran Canaria attracts an impressive three million tourists each year, but only a relative handful of those are lucky enough to experience a helicopter ride over the island.

Helidream Helicopters, which has historically operated out of Tenerife, has only just this year expanded its business to Gran Canaria, and offers a variety of helicopter tours over Gran Canaria’s most breathtaking landscapes.

After watching a short safety video which included useful guidance on the boarding procedure and other safety advice, we waited to be called for our flight. I’d been up in a helicopter before but still looked forward to the opportunity with great anticipation and, before we knew it, we were soon boarding the helicopter – a JetRanger Bell 206.

Take-off was smooth and, as we gained height, we also gradually moved inland. The pilot and passengers were all able to speak to each other via connected microphones and headsets. A short while into the tour, the pilot advised us that we would be taking a fairly sharp turn and, as we did so, the dramatic landscape and ravines of Berriel quickly came into view. This was close to where we had done the earlier via ferrata climb and the scenery that unfolded before us was quite dramatic; sadly, the photograph does not do it the justice it deserves!

After following this valley along its length, we passed over what looked like a kids go-kart track (Racing Kart Maspalomas) and a waterpark (Aqualand Maspalmoas Water Park) before swinging round to Meloneras and Maspalomas. This was the area where we were staying and we could make out our hotel from the air. Even more dramatic, though, was the expanse of sand dunes that lay ahead. The Dunas de Maspalomas are a protected area consisting of beach, dunes, palm grove and an important lagoon for birdlife – it might not look that vast from the lofty position of a helicopter but covers an area of approximately 1,000 acres.

After circling around the dunes for a short while, we returned in a north-easterly direction towards the aerodrome where we landed smoothly and disembarked, with broad grins on our faces as we watched the helicopter take off once more for its next trip. This had been a memorable outing and one that I would definitely recommend if you ever find yourself on the south of the island.

Disclosure: Our trip to Gran Canaria was sponsored by Hyundai UK.

Comments (18)

  1. Peter Ryan says:

    You make a good point about the i30 Fastback N taking you to the shops one minute and then being ready to perform on the racetrack. The car’s designers seem aware that we live complicated lifes. Cars need to be chic and smart to park outside a smart hotel or restaurant but also resilient to kids and dogs etc. The i30 looks to have all the bases covered.

    • Paul Johnson says:

      Thanks for dropping by, Peter. Yes, you’re right – it’s a very versatile car. I don’t think there are many cars out there in this class right now that offer this same degree of flexibility.

  2. Leo says:

    Personalised name tag in the window is great. Even got a Union Jack too? Peel it off and bring it home for your car?

    • Paul Johnson says:

      No, I didn’t! :-) But it was certainly a nice little extra detail that they put on for us…

    • Karen Morris says:

      I’ve got a friend who is a travel journalist and loves collecting the lanyards from all over the world. He says a fellow journalist has got so many that she displays them on a curtain rail. They like to make the most of the souvenirs.

    • Paul Johnson says:

      I have a similar collection of running medals from half marathons, marathons, etc. but I think if I kept all the lanyards I had from other events, it would make for a rather huge (and perhaps a little dull – think conferences and other mundane stuff) collection!

  3. Jez Brown says:

    I’ve got a real thing about aerial views. I know Gran Canaria and have enjoyed the views coming into land at the airport but you were phemonally lucky to get up above the Dunas de Maspalomas and look down on the toytown of the Island’s attractions.

    • Paul Johnson says:

      Yes, very lucky! This is an area that is off-limits to drones also (despite there being some drone footage, I notice, on YouTube, but that’s actually illegal since it’s in controlled airspace) so this is really the only way to truly appreciate the dunes from the air.

  4. Tim says:

    What we tend to forget is that just 110 years ago very few people had flown and to have looked down from such a height would have been unthinkable – almost God-like. Sometimes we forget the pace of progress. What was once exceptional is now the ordinary.

    • Paul Johnson says:

      Yes, it’s incredible how quickly things have changed. The Wright brothers did their first flight in the early 1900s, with the first helicopter flight around 20 years later. But surprisingly I think it’s estimated that there are still only something like 60,000 helicopters in existence worldwide, so – on a planet of around 7 billion people – it’s quite a privilege to go up in one.

  5. Rob says:

    My wife’s suggested a helicopter or ballon ride for my next birthday which is quite a big one. I don’t intend to sound ungrateful but it would be much more exciting to fly over an exciting terrain like Gran Canaria than over England’s Home Counties traffic jams. It is a big birthday and I don’t think that a long weekend in Gran Canaria is asking too much. Is it?

    • Paul Johnson says:

      Hi Rob… Gran Canaria is definitely doable as a long weekend. Direct flights from London tend to be a shade over 4 hours – presumably you’d need to add another half hour to do it from the Midlands, but it’s still very possible.

  6. Moya Finn says:

    With its craggy landscape Gran Canaria is a place that’s difficult to get a grip on. It can take you a while to drive up from the south coast into the hills. Helicopter’s got to be the way to go.

    • Paul Johnson says:

      Hi Moya… thanks for dropping by. And yes, Helidream do a number of different tours. Ours was quite a short one, just close to the airfield and then hugging the coastline, but they do much longer ones that take you other the mountains in the centre of the island.

  7. Nina Hobson says:

    My sister in law lives here with her family and I’m definitely going to send here these details. Looks amazing!

    • Paul Johnson says:

      Thanks, Nina… I would imagine she may already know about it if she lives there, but you never know… they are a new operation as far as Gran Canaria is concerned.

  8. Rose Rivera says:

    The views are amazing! Looking at sand dunes from up above is a great experience. I’m a sucker for thrilling rides such as helicopters and I even ride in drift cars for the adrenaline rush. I love having new things to try and see myself as an adventurous person. If I would be given the chance to fly a helicopter, I would never hesitate. Looking forward to check these things soon!

    • Paul Johnson says:

      Hi Rose… thanks for dropping by… it was certainly a great experience and I would recommend it if you’re ever visiting Gran Canaria as you’ll get to see some places that others can’t easily, and from vantage points that aren’t normally possible given local drone laws. Kind regards, Paul

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