Sport Traditions
are very
deep-rooted in the
Canary Islands
Shepherd's Leap > Salto del Pastor
"Autochthonous Sports in Gran Canaria!"
The origins of salto del pastor may date back to the
Guanches, the aboriginal inhabitants of the islands
prior to the Castilian conquest period of the early
15th century. Canarian shepherds required a
specialised means of transporting themselves
safely across ravines and down steep
embankments, and settled on the use of long
wooden poles known as "lanza" or "garrote". These
poles are fitted with sharp metal points called

Salto del pastor practitioners have developed a
wide range of techniques to facilitate quick and
agile movement across extremely difficult and
dangerous terrain. These techniques range from
pole-vaulting across crevices to the "dead drop" in
which the practitioner leaps into space from
heights of up to eight metres, jamming his/her
garrotte into the ground below and then sliding
down the pole. There are many other types of
leaps, depending on the nature of the obstacle that
needs to be cleared. Some of these are so fraught
with risk that they have given rise to beautiful
legends, such as the salto del enamorado (lover’s
leap) and the salto de media luna (half moon leap).

As salto del pastor has now developed into a folk-
sport, the garrote is also used in competitive
events, which include climbing up and jumping
over walls, speedy descents down steep rocks,
precision leaps, acrobatic feats and leaps of
various styles.
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