Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Coasting Along

When most people talk about going walking it usually involves lacing up the hiking boots and heading into the hills. Walking on Tenerife you don’t need to head inland to find great walks with views which will have your camera in a clicking frenzy.

We like to intersperse venturing deep into the hills with more leisurely strolls along the coast listening to the soothing sound of the surf breaking against the shore and breathing in the smell of the sea.

Thanks to the original Guanche inhabitants and then the post conquest settlers there are old trading routes along the north coast linking a lot of the historic towns and communities. In the south and east, more recent trails are testament to man’s determination to make a living out of even the most inhospitable places and amongst the malpaís and volcanic terrain are salt flats and fishing communities.

Personally we prefer the northern coastal walks, but then we like lush scenery and sprawling old haciendas of which there are far more in the north of Tenerife. All the prize lands were in the north, so the noblemen lived there, hence the existence of charming towns like La Orotava and Garachico and the wonderful old colonial buildings dotted all along the coast. Saying that, there are some really interesting coastal walks with wonderful scenery and surreal landscapes in the south and east as well, especially around El Médano and Güímar.

Some walks are well signposted; some don’t have any…that’s Tenerife for you. Most are in places which aren’t particularly coach friendly, which keeps them free from hordes of people and helps retain an element of seclusion and discovery.

Coastal walks are generally easy to navigate by their very nature (i.e. you follow the coastline) so detailed directions aren’t really necessary. Knowing where they begin and end, what the highlights are and what interesting curios to look out for is a different matter which is why we’ve put together a mini guide to our five favourite coastal walks on Tenerife which comes FREE with any purchase of Island Walks or Island Drives. There’s still a lot of Tenerife out there which many visitors never see.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Real Tenerife Island Walks

Whenever we travel to a new country we always buy a guidebook. Some have been good, some have been so-so and some have been written by people who have clearly never set foot in the place. But whatever, I like to wander about with a guidebook in my hand to be able to refer to whenever I want.

The same applies to walking. Where possible I like directions to follow and, as we mention on our walking page of our Real Tenerife website, an AA walking guide to Britain was a perfect example of a great route guide. Not only was it interesting, you could detach individual routes whenever you wanted to use them.

I was reminded of this during one of the first times we went walking on Tenerife. We’d purchased a guidebook and whilst it was thoroughly researched and decently written, it was a real pain trying to get it in and out of my pocket in between checking directions and then I’d have to re-read a number of pages to find the relevant spot as routes weren’t broken down into stages.

Five years down the line we thought about this again when designing Real Tenerife Island Walks. Guidebooks are great to look at, but for the reasons mentioned, I don’t find walking guidebooks always practical, so we decided against printing a book and went for a version which people could print off themselves instead.

We believe there are a number of advantages in this design, the main ones being:

  1. That you only ever have to carry the route you’re following.
  2. They don’t add extra weight.
  3. Routes are broken down into stages, so reference to where you are at any one time is quick and easy.
  4. Sometimes up in these hills it does rain, so if your Island Walks gets rain sodden and filthy, you can simply sling it and print off another.
  5. They’re really nice to look at (okay we’re biased), so don't take our word for it, see for yourself.

Real Tenerife FREE OFFER

Buy a copy of the guidebook, Real Tenerife Island Drives, any Single Routes or Island Walks and receive a free copy of ‘A Captivating Coastline’ – a twelve page guide to five of the most interesting and beautiful coastal walks on Tenerife.

See Real Tenerife Island Drives for more details

Walking on Tenerife – Organised hikes

Between February and October, the Tenerife Cabildo have included a series of guided hikes ranging from easy peasy to muscle torturing difficult in their ‘Nature and Adventure Program’. These are open to residents and visitors and cost around €12. Each walk has a maximum of 30 places. See our Tenerife Matters page for more info.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Into the Valley - a Tenerife Walk

I’m waiting on the path for Jack to re-appear.
In the distance I can hear a great deal of rustling and the occasional muttered expletive.

Five minutes ago a large bird ran across the path in front of us and disappeared into the undergrowth, hotly pursued by Jack, camera in hand. Now I have a funny feeling that the distinct lack of stealth I can hear emanating from Jack’s traverse through the bushes is not exactly working in his favour.
Eventually he emerges.
“It was too fast for me” he sighs. “What do you think it was; a grouse, a Barbery Partridge?”
“I’m fairly sure it was Roadrunner” I reply.

Climbing out of the little hamlet of Arguayo we emerge onto a ledge which skirts Montaña de la Hoya.
8oo or so metres below us the Santiago Valley spreads its green, undulating mantle all the way to the Teno Mountain Range beyond it. Down the valley wall the road zigzags its way past the settlements of Tamaimo, El Retamar and El Molledo, while out to the west the sun is shimmering on the ocean’s surface at the resort of Playa de la Arena.
Up here, we feel like Gods. We’re standing on the edge of the world looking down on the painfully slow snake of Dinky-sized cars that are threading their way up the TF 82 behind a banana truck, and we’re smiling to ourselves at the sheer beauty of our surroundings.

All the way around the mountain the breathtaking views accompany us and we stop frequently to drink them in.

We’ve still got at least a couple of hours walking ahead of us, some of it involving hot, uphill slogs, but the memory of those views stay with us all the way, augmented by quaint villages, starkly contrasting black volcanic lava fields and meadows bursting with wild flowers, an ascent through Tenerife’s version of Helm’s Deep and the occasional fleeting glimpse of cartoon wildlife in the bushes.

This is a big walk through BIG country high above Tenerife’s southwest coast. The trail takes you through great swathes of fertile valley, the site of Tenerife’s last volcanic eruption, dense pine forests and deserted quarries, some of which now form natural pools which are a haven for wildlife and all the while, Mount Teide gazes benignly down on you while the islands of La Gomera and La Palma float on the horizon. Walks don’t come much better than this.