Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Walking on Tenerife – Return to the Enchanted Forests of La Orotava Valley

We never tire of walking in the La Orotava Valley – the forests are simply enchanting, the views are epic and the air has such a clean fresh quality that to breathe it feels like cleansing the lungs with purifying pine scented goodness.

A couple of friends, Richard (Life on the Reef) and Nikki (Tenerife Dogs) fancied a change from the ultra cool wind surfing scene at El Médano and suggested we meet up for a walk. And as we don’t need much persuading to put down the metaphorical pen and head into the hills for a date with nature, we jumped at the chance.

The Aguamansa circular walk is the perfect introduction to walking in the La Orotava Valley. It’s only just over two hours long and meanders through the emerald pines and below the organ pipe rock formation appropriately known as Los Órganos before heading downwards through the forest to join little country lanes on the approach to Aguamansa.

The weather was perfect for walking. At the level of the route, around the 1000 metre mark, at this time of year it’s warm without being hot. There were a few clouds around, but they were below us which just added to the visual feast of the upper valley. I always get a buzz, no matter how many times I’ve experienced it, of looking down and seeing a sea of white fluffy clouds below me. Mount Teide standing proud on the opposite of the valley, a dry and ruddy looking giant rising above the lush green forest, just adds that special finishing touch.

It was doubly pleasurable on this occasion to walk the route in the company of people who appreciated the beauty of the valley as much as we did and time passed quickly as we chatted and strolled, stopping every so often to absorb the views and marvel at the wispy lichen hanging from the trees like beards.

It’s a gentle, relatively easy walk; the only potentially dodgy bit being at the final descent where the forest meets the country lanes which is quite a steep section of about a couple of hundred yards or so. When the ground is dry, as it is at this time of year, it can add an ‘extreme sport’ element to the route and the danger of participating in a bit of impromptu ‘dry skiing’ is always a risk. On this occasion, I was the only ‘victim’ and just before I reached the bottom, my left leg shot out and down I went. Actually, my backside didn’t actually hit the dirt, but my right knee did, so Andy technically declared it a ‘fall’.

The route finished back at the little log cabin La Caldera restaurant where we replenished energy with some cervezas, Spanish tortilla, Carne con papas, papas arrugadas and fresh trout from the trout farm just down the road for under €30 whilst forest workers came and went and riders trotted by on their horses.

It is a blissful little walk which shows another, stunning face to this marvellously diverse island. It’s just a shame that the majority of visitors to Tenerife never experience it.

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