Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Walking in the Hills and Mountains on Tenerife

If I had a euro for each time that I read that it can be cool during the day on Mount Teide even in summer, I’d be rich. Well I might not be rich, but I’d be able to pay for a nice meal.

It’s one of those Tenerife myths of which there are a few. It’s usually advice given by well meaning people, but where they got this idea I really don’t know and anyone walking at altitude on Tenerife in summer expecting it to get cooler the higher they climb is in for a shock.

This post is a sort of companion to a recent post about taking precautions at this time of year, but with the temperatures blowing the top off the thermometers we felt that it was important to reinforce the message that during the height of summer, the higher you go the hotter it is likely to get and it’s essential to realise this.

Last weekend we had planned to camp on the North West slopes and do some walking in that area in preparation for the next in our walking guides. Unfortunately I developed a 24 hour tummy bug and didn’t feel up to a long trek. But we headed into the area anyway to go to the splendid little Dia de la Trilla fiesta near El Tanque at around the 1100 metres mark.

It had been 30+ degrees at the coast, but as we drove higher with both car windows open and my arm leaning out of the window, the air rushing past became hotter and hotter until it felt as though someone was pointing a hairdryer at it. By the time we reached the fiesta the temperature was in the 40s and we bought a couple of straw hats to protect our heads.

Within moments, even with the hats, we were a pair of sweaty messes. At that point it occurred to us that my tummy bug had been a blessing in disguise. To walk in these temperatures would have been madness.It is incredibly hot at the moment, even for summer and most of the time you can still enjoy walking on Tenerife at this time of year as long as you are prepared. But don’t head into the hills expecting some relief from the heat or you might find that it feels as though you’ve literally stepped from the frying pan into the fire.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Walking on Tenerife – Coastal walks near Puerto de la Cruz: La Rambla de Castro

One of the nicest coastal walks on Tenerife, in our opinion, is merely a hop, skip and a jump from Puerto de la Cruz and can be reached via a path behind the Maritim Hotel near Punta Brava in neighbouring Los Realejos. La Rambla de Castro forms part of the old merchants’ highway which used to link the coastal communities along the north west coast. What makes this walk special is not just the spectacular scenery, but also the incredible diversity of interesting little curios that can be found along its winding path; It acts as somewhat of a time warp and a glimpse into life on Tenerife in bygone days as well as a beautiful and not particularly difficult walk. Where else can you find banana plantations and beautiful old haciendas; drago trees and palm and Indian laurel tree groves; tunnels leading to secret coves and wooden bridges over ravines; old communal washing areas and the building which housed the first steam engine on Tenerife; a tiny pirate lookout fort and even a rock which looks like an animal?

Oh, and did I mention the views of the North West coast were simply stupendous? The last time we walked it a warden from the bird sanctuary was releasing seabirds back into the wild and paragliders were launching themselves from the cliffs to glide inches above our heads.

It really is quite a magical part of the countryside that is only now being discovered by visitors to this area of Tenerife.
The Rambla de Castro walk is one of five coastal walks included in 'Captivating Coastlines' - FREE with any purchase of Island Walks or Island Drives.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Walking on Tenerife in the Heat of Summer

Driving into Santa Cruz yesterday to take our friend Jo to the bus station for her bus and ferry back to La Gomera, I noticed that the Anaga Mountains were completely clear and shimmering in the heat haze.
“This would be a perfect day for walking in the Anagas,” I said.
“Too hot,” said Jo, “unless you stuck to the forests.”

Jo lives in Los AceviƱos, right at the edge of La Gomera’s Garajonay National Park; a dense rainforest of lichen-covered ancient laurisilva and Jo’s favourite terrain for walking
Wherever we’ve been walking with Jo (Britain, La Gomera, Tenerife, Greece...) she’s always embarrassed us by wearing wholly inappropriate head gear to protect her from the sun. She has never invested in a proper hat or cap for walking, on the grounds that they really don’t suit her, although how she can possibly consider a T shirt or a pair of shorts draped across her head, ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ style as a better solution, eludes me.

But for all of that, Jo’s remark about the heat acted as a timely reminder that walking on Tenerife in summer can be a dangerous business if you don’t follow some simple but critical rules.

Temperatures here are hitting 32° C by 9 o’clock in the morning, and that’s in the north of the island. By midday they’re nudging the mid to high 30s and they don’t lose their ferocity until around the 5.30pm mark. And if you’re walking at altitude, like in Teide National Park or in the mountains, then the intensity of the sun is even more magnified.

A couple of summers ago Jack and I set out on a cloudy July morning to walk in the Anaga Mountains from Chamorga to Roque Bermejo. By the time we reached the lighthouse high above World’s End (as we christened Roque Bermejo), the clouds had disappeared and the sun’s heat was merciless.
Stupidly, we didn’t refill the water bottles in the village before setting off along the interminable barranco (ravine) which would take us back to Chamorga.

With just a trickle of now hot water left between us, the landscape took on a distinctly ‘Sergio Leone film set’ look and Jack and I had visions of the lizards picking at our bleached bones. We laugh about it now, but there were some seriously dodgy moments on that return hike and we were very relieved and badly dehydrated by the time we finally made it back to Chamorga.
So, a word of advice for walking on Tenerife in summer:
Always wear sunscreen and head protection (whether you chose to go with the over-sized knotted hanky look or not is entirely up to you) and carry at least 1½ litres of water per person, refilling whenever and wherever you can.
Other than that, take your time, enjoy the spectacular vistas that will accompany you and keep reminding yourself that you’re actually on Tenerife; a Tenerife that exists only to those who choose to venture away from their resorts and see something of the real island.