Friday, 12 November 2010

Autumnal Walking on Tenerife

 When you live on the island of eternal spring it can sometimes be tricky to spot when the seasons change, particularly when you have a summer like this one where calima after calima keeps the temperatures above the seasonal norms.
But anyone visiting Tenerife at the moment will spot a couple of things that are a dead give-away that autumn is upon us.
The first thing to look out for are the budding poinsettias which thrive in cultivated hotel gardens, parks and roadside displays all over the island at this time of year and can be seen growing wild by the side of the road and along country paths. In Tenerife's climate the poinsettia grows like weeds and left to its own devices [read full post]

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Tenerife Walking with Children

Ever since I first pulled on a pair of walking boots and set off down a country lane, I've realised that  walking and hiking isn't, as I once thought, the exclusive domain of anoraks and middle aged dog owners. For us, the fun factor has always been top of the agenda which means that dull, route marches are given a wide body swerve and every outing should end with a beer or two in a local hostelry.

It was while answering a query last week from a customer about walking with youngsters that I realised how many of our Island Walks are actually excellent for families. It's one of the great things about walking on Tenerife that you can still find so much ' undeveloped space filled with surprises that make it the perfect environment for family outings.
Here are some of our favourites [read the full post]

Monday, 6 September 2010

Tenerife Scene of the Week an Idyllic Place to Live

Depending on likes and dislikes people will tell you why they prefer to live in the south of Tenerife as opposed to the north, or the east as opposed to the west…or any variation of.

I have moments when it hits me like a crane’s wrecking ball straight to the solar plexus why I love living in the north of Tenerife as opposed to…well anywhere at the moment. I had a major one of those at the Pinolere Craft Fair on Saturday...READ MORE

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Pools and Pines, A Stunning Tenerife Walk

The Erjos Pools in Santiago del Teide are one of our favourite spots on Tenerife but for many a year events have conspired to prevent us from hiking them.

A couple of weeks ago we spent an idyllic weekend at the Rural Hotel Señorio del Valle in Santiago del Teide and we took the opportunity to finally hike around the Erjos Pools again and this time, to record our route for others to enjoy.

We've called it Pools and Pines and it's now part of the 'Into the Valley – Erjos to Arguayo' Island Walks. Anyone who has bought the Into the Valley Island Walks from us, either individually or as part of the All Walks offer, just email me and I'll send you the updated version free of charge.
Here's a taster of this lovely walk and you can read about it on our Walking Tenerife website.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Rural Hotel Señorio Del Valle, Santiago del Teide.

The Santiago Valley nestles high above the south west coast of Tenerife, flanked by fragrant, emerald pine forests and backed by the site of Tenerife’s last volcanic eruption.
Opened in March 2010, the beautiful Rural Hotel Señorio Del Valle in Santiago del Teide is the ideal place to base yourself for one or two nights to explore the valley’s excellent walking trails... [read the full report on our new Walking Tenerife website]

Monday, 9 August 2010

Update on The Barranco del Infierno in Adeje

The news about one of Tenerife's most popular walks isn't good. The Barranco de Infierno in Adeje closed last August for a bit of TLC for a month...and has never re-opened.
The Barranco was almost ready to be opened to the public in February this year and then disaster hit in the shape of torrential rains which caused serious damage.
Since then news about the re-opening has been sketchy...until now READ MORE

Saturday, 31 July 2010

Walk Tenerife from El Palmar to Teno Alto

This is the stunning El Palmar Valley; a secret paradise in Tenerife's north east corner. It's through this valley that the wonderful El Palmar to Teno Alto walk climbs.

You can read about the walk on our new website [...]

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Discover Great Hiking in the South West of Tenerife

For many, the south west of Tenerife represents the perfect holiday destination, enjoying as it does some of the longest sunshine hours on the island.
Less frenetic than Playa de Las Américas, better value for money than Costa Adeje and more rural than Los Cristianos, the coast which stretches from Los Gigantes in the west to Playa Paraíso in the south encompasses a diverse selection of resorts.
Backed by colossal cliffs, Los Gigantes is a family resort in a spectacular location where whale and dolphin watching cruises operate from its picturesque marina.
Moving south along the coast, Puerto de Santiago has great fish restaurants around its unpretentious harbour while neighbouring Playa de la Arena gets the blue ribbon award for its clean and sheltered beach.
Little Alcalá brings a Canarian/South American character to the coast and Playa de San Juan provides [read the full blog at our new site]

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Walking and Hiking on Tenerife – Some Little Quirks

This is connected to our recent post about trusting directions whilst walking on Tenerife. Our friend who commented about our blogs where we followed paths that took us on the road to nowhere said something else interesting that made me think.

She commented that we mentioned things that if you’ve spent a lot of time walking around Tenerife’s countryside, you hardly register. She’s absolutely spot on. Spend a lot of time hiking on Tenerife and you become very familiar with the island’s little ‘quirks’. (Read the full feature at our new website)

Monday, 12 July 2010

Why You Should Trust Directions from People Who Take Wrong Turnings

A few days ago a friend who enjoys walking on Tenerife commented ‘I enjoy your walking blogs, you’re always getting lost.’

It wasn’t the first time someone had made this comment and it suddenly made me wonder about how our ‘honest’ tales of walking and hiking on Tenerife might be perceived by others, especially those who are looking for walking directions that they can trust for routes on Tenerife.

I mean, would you buy walking directions from people who tell tales of turning up old paths that suddenly fall away into an abyss of a more at our new website.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Enjoy a Tenerife Holiday Walk

You don't have to be a committed hiker or a keep fit fanatic to enjoy a holiday walk in Tenerife.

Regardless of where you're staying on the island, you'll find a nice holiday walk close by which will stretch your legs and allow you to see something other than the beach or your hotel pool during your visit.

With Island Walks, we have a whole series of suggested routes to suit everyone from the keenest of hikers to those just looking for a nice holiday walk. Island Walks cover a wide geographical spread of Tenerife so that wherever you're staying; whether you're dependant on public transport or intend to hire a car, there's a walk or two to suit... [read more]

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Walking on Tenerife – Exploring the Secret North Coast

We'd been more or less shackled to the computers over the last week and a half., so yesterday decided a bit of great outdoors time was long overdue.

Walking in an area we hadn't really explored before appealed and with yesterday being our wedding anniversary, and a long leisurely meal was due to be the reward for a morning's walking, we didn't want to travel too far.

A hasty bit of research turned up the usual. The official website for Los Realejos waxed lyrical about their wonderful countryside, but didn't actually provided details of walks. In the end we settled on La Matanza, scene of a great Guanche victory over the conquistadors [...] Click her to read more

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Walking on Tenerife – That’s The First Time I’ve Ever Seen!

Normally it’s the scenery that astounds us when we’re out exploring Tenerife’s network of trails and forest paths, emerging from dense pines, or turning a corner in a barranco to be faced with an unexpected ‘WOW’ vista. However, the other day the weather performed a neat little trick which I’ve certainly never witnessed before[...] Click Here To Read More

Thursday, 10 June 2010

A Big Change to Island Walks

We've decided that a nip and tuck is necessary for Island Walks. What started out as a blog has evolved to the extent that we decided that we wanted more flexibility to present information and display photographs about walking on Tenerife in a more dynamic manner. So Island Walks is moving to a brand new website -

We're currently building up the site and will continue to post walking articles on this blog as well as on the new site for the time being. But soon we're hoping to move everything across to Walking Tenerife - we really hope you'll like the change of style.

Walking Directions on Tenerife – The Chinyero Volcano – Almost Perfect Signage…Almost

This week we thought we were going to have to eat our words about the lack of consistency regarding official walking signage on Tenerife when we ‘oohed’ and ‘aahed’ at the lovely brand new signs leading us to the Chinyero Volcano in the west of the island.

Admittedly getting to the actual walk had involved ignoring a signpost which suggested that the road to the start of the walk may or may not have been shut – it wasn’t – and then knowing where the actual walk began as the signposts didn’t start till we were on the walk. This sort of flawed thinking runs through a lot of Canarian thinking. You have to know that something exists, and where it exists to find out more info about it. It means that if you’re a visitor, there are a lot of things going on that you never get to hear about. Walking routes don’t just start at the first signpost.

But being already armed with this info, this potential stumbling block at the start didn’t pose a problem. To be honest, I didn’t even think about it until I started writing this. It’s something we have to remind ourselves of on a regular basis – to try to look at walks through the eyes of someone who isn’t overly familiar with Tenerife or its quirky little ways.

Anyway we set off along a new and very clear path and at every crossroads there were signs complete with distances. Okay, the angle of a couple might not have been perfect, but that’s being overly picky.
It was one of, if not the clearest marked walking route that we’ve experienced on Tenerife and was getting the thumbs up from us as the perfect walking route. This was looking like a shining example of what the future of Tenerife as a top walking destination could look like.

But this is Tenerife; where the illogical is almost compulsory. As we reached a point in the walk which was less than a couple of hundred yards from the Boca Tauce road and therefore a perfect spot for walkers to access the route from the south and south west, the path completely ignored this and continued parallel with the road before heading inland again.

Not only were there no signs from the path to the road, or vice versa, there were yellow and white crosses advising that it was definitely not part of the route.

Basically this was a walk which was perfectly laid out for people starting from the northern side of the island, but people on the southern side might not be aware it existed even though they were only metres from it. It was bizarre and I can’t quite figure out, considering the care and attention that went into signposting the rest of the walk, why there was such a serious omission at that point.

But there you go; ours is not to reason why, ours is but to do and…discover.

Monday, 31 May 2010

Walking on Tenerife – all that glistens is not gold.

We often get asked about walking routes in the west by people who are planning to holiday in and around Los Gigantes. So over the past couple of weeks we’ve been concentrating on that area and trying out some walks.

We knew that there was an old trading path running from somewhere around Guía de Isora up into the hills so last week we set off to find it. We were working off information supplied by the Ayuntamiento (Town Hall) which, as usual, was reprinted on a regular basis without anyone checking if it was still current.
Consequently, the start of the route had long since disappeared, replaced by new roads and walls.

After a precipitous false start and some hesitant exploration, we finally found the route and once we were on our way, were pleasantly surprised to find that it was in fact well signed and easy to navigate. At multiple path junctions, signposts gave good directions and distances, routes were way-marked with painted stripes and there were even information boards at various points, showcasing other routes.

Having enjoyed and chronicled a lovely, rural, circular route we emerged back into Guía alongside someone’s house, at the bottom of a dead end, accessed via a series of climbs, twists and turns through housing estates, with not a single signpost to mark it. Had we been looking to start the walk from that side, we would probably still be wandering around Guía now.

That same afternoon we drove further up into the hills to do a short(ish) route at the start of which a brand new, fancy sign had been erected by the Cabildo (Island Government).
Within metres of setting off from the sign, we were unsure of which way to go, our indecision hampered by two small dogs growling and snapping at our heels. Once we’d found an overgrown semblance of a path, it split off in different directions constantly with no marker signs for guidance. Although we were alongside a steep barranco (ravine) and so our direction was pretty obvious, finding the way through was proving to be impossible.

After aborted attempts to drop down dodgy trails on the side of the barranco, we finally found our path completely blocked by two parked vans alongside a house. Re-tracing steps; trying different trails and even asking a couple of locals all amounted to nothing. We finally gave up, tired and frustrated with feet embedded with sharp seed heads from wading through the tangled mass of undergrowth.
The Medio Ambiente (Environmental Department) had clearly decided to re-open the path and had begun by putting up the fancy sign. When, or if, they’ll get round to re-claiming the path from man and nature and giving it clear markings is anybody’s guess.

The moral of this tale is that, on Tenerife, you can’t tell a walk from its signpost.

Walking routes for the south west coming soon…

Friday, 28 May 2010

Walking in the Teide Crater – It's Tajinaste Time

They don't seem as though they belong. In an other-worldly setting they look like visitors from another planet themselves; their tall proud spikes standing out against the ruddy tones of the volcanic landscape like splashes of blood on a canvas.

It's easy to believe that they are extra-terrestrial visitors enjoying their annual couple of weeks in Tenerife's sunshine before heading back to who knows where.

If anyone hasn't seen them up close and personal then, at some point before mid June, it's worth making the trip up to Las Cañadas del Teide see the brief but spectacular blooming of the tajinaste plant.

Yesterday we traveled back from the south of Tenerife to Puerto de la Cruz via the crater, hoping that our timing was right and the fields of this unusual plant would be there to welcome us – we weren't disappointed.

As you drive along the roads from the southern entrances toward Mount Teide, the tajinaste aren't always easy to spot; they can behave like shy creatures, keeping just out of sight below ridges beside the road. But once you know where they are it's impossible to miss them and conveniently they come back to the same spots year after year. They also congregate around the cable car like the human visitors to Tenerife and by the time you're on the road north, they've lost their shyness and huddle around miradors (viewing areas) and stand at the side of the road like flamboyant hitch-hikers.

But it's essential to get in amongst them by foot to really appreciate their uniqueness. We must have timed it perfectly this year as the island's bees were enjoying their annual shopping trip to the tajinaste – the black spots in the picture aren't dust on the camera lens – and the air was alive with excited buzzing as I leaned in close to try to get some intimate shots of the bees on the flowers. I wasn't particularly concerned that bees were buzzing around my head; there was only one thing on their little insect radar and it wasn't me. I was able to take photo after photo without fear of getting zapped by a bee.

Visiting the tajinaste in bloom is one of those unique little experiences that makes walking on Tenerife ultra special and witnessing these amazing plants bloom in such spectacular style in such a dry, violent landscape makes the soul soar. I can't recommend it enough.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Walking on Tenerife – Those Boots Were Made For Walking

My favourite boots are a pair of old Camel boots that I've probably worn about twenty times. I was completely seduced by an advert in a travel magazine which basically showed a foot resting on a log in a clearing in the jungle. On the foot was a gleaming Camel boot which looked about as at home in that exotic setting as a piece of leather, not actually on an animal, could be. I couldn't resist them.

Their first outing was to Kenya where they seemed just the ticket for exploring Tsavo East on foot. The reality though was that, as walking boots go, they turned out to be a complete bust. They might have looked the part, but just walking from the safari lodge bar to a table overlooking a watering hole with a G&T (don't actually drink the stuff, but it did seem appropriate) to enjoy sunset was enough to bring up a blister. In the end I carried them around Kenya instead of them carrying me.

Since then I've learned to choose my footwear carefully when it comes to buying shoes for practical reasons; something that when you're tackling Tenerife's diverse range of landscapes is a far more sensible approach.

Footwear for Walking on Tenerife

My number one walking boots for donkey's years have been a trusty pair of brasher's, similar to their current Hillmaster boot. I brought them from Britain with me and they've proved equal to the task of tackling all of Tenerife's terrains from the sliding volcanic scree on the way to the summit of Mount Teide to pine covered forest floors in the forests of the Orotava Valley and icy slopes in Las Cañadas del Teide.

These sort of sturdy boots are good all rounders for exploring the island on foot. But mine can feel quite heavy in the summer months when the temperature rises off the scale and boots like the brasher can make my feet feel as though they're a wee bit overdressed.
So when the temperatures rise, and the terrain permits, I tend to switch to a walking sandal. For a long time I wore a pair of Merrells when walking in summer months (between May and the end October) in areas where the ascents weren't too steep or slippery (good for coastal walks). They struggled a bit with some of the terrain, especially in the upper La Orotava Valley where a bit of dry floor ski-ing can add some excitement to trails when the forest floor is thick with pine needles. It was on one such walk that one of them fell apart mid-walk (to be fair I'd had them for a few years and they'd seen some action).
I couldn't find a suitable replacement until I spotted what looked like an almost identical pair of sandals in my local supermarket at a fraction of the price. To be honest I didn't expect much of them and tried them out on a short coastal walk around Las Ramblas in Los Realejos to see how they'd hold up. It turned out they felt no different from my old Merrells and two years later they're still going strong. They were an incredible bargain considering they cost me €2.99.

Recently I added another addition to my walking footwear stable, a pair of Quechua lightweight walking shoes. I could feel my feet sigh with joy as I tried them out for the first time on a trek last week. The temperature was hovering around 30 degrees and the terrain was more uneven than I'd expected with a couple of steep ascent/descents but the shoes stuck to the path as though they had solvent on them. After 15 kilometres my feet and the shoes were still best of mates.

The only downside was that they were so comfortable that at the end of the walk I was denied that delicious pleasure of peeling off my boots and walking socks and slipping them into an airy pair of sandals to let them breathe a sigh of relief.

It was only their first outing, they'll get the second tomorrow, so it'll be interesting to see how they hold up over the long term.

They won't be sturdy enough for the most serious walks like climbing Teide, or even the muddy Anaga paths after the winter rains, but it looks as though the brashers are going to get a well earned rest over the summer.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Organised Walks – A Bee's View of Mount Teide

Here's an interesting little guided walking route – El Teide A Vista De Abeja. It's based around an area  which is a magnet to bees-the Fasnia Volcano, and is as much about the flora, bees and honey as it is about enjoying the stunning scenery.

There are limited places available and a €15 fee includes transport from La Laguna. The 7 km walk takes place on Saturday 29th May; the perfect time for a walk in the crater as the tajinaste should be in full bloom.

For more information call the Tenerife Rural office on 922 531 013

Creating A Barrier Free Paradise – Tenerife's First Wheelchair Friendly Path

Last week the first wheelchair friendly forest path was opened by Tenerife president, Ricardo Melchior in Tacoronte's highlands.

The specially developed path is in Agua García, next to the Barranco de Toledo, and covers a distance of  860 metres (both ways) through the forest.

It might only be a small concession to opening up Tenerife's countryside to people who may not otherwise be able to enjoy it, but it is a commendable one.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Walking on Tenerife – Into the Unkown; South West Tenerife

I get excited by the thought of walking in areas that you rarely hear mentioned, so when we parked the car in a hamlet above Tenerife's south west and headed to what we had worked out would be the start of the new walking route we were researching,  I had mixed emotions when we were faced with a shiny new board with information about the route.

I say mixed emotions because on the one hand I wanted to feel we were exploring territory which is generally ignored even by the island's most enthusiastic walkers. On the other it was good to see that the local council were recognising that walking on Tenerife has enormous potential and providing signs to help walkers find their way around this wonderfully diverse island is a step in the right direction.

Within a hundred yards we realised that whilst the board was a step, it was a baby-sized one. Ahead of us were three paths; none signposted. It turned out that the signpost at the start of the route was the one and only signpost along an old merchants' trail which skirted abandoned houses and terraces, with potential paths leading off in various directions along the way.

Six years ago, when we first started exploring Tenerife on foot, I'd have been flummoxed by the lack of clarity regarding the way ahead. But experience since then of not relying on signs, trusting our instincts, and learning to spot the merest hint of a path hidden by the overgrown undergrowth has made us a bit wiser. I say a bit - there are still times when Tenerife's maze of trails confound, that's when the old compass comes in handy.

As it happened we successfully found our way to our objective, a partly abandoned  valley hidden in the folds of the hills without use of the compass. And to be truthful, the lack of sign posts and directions on many Tenerife walking routes adds a buzz to finding our way to places which are way, way off the beaten track.

However, visitors to Tenerife who fancy exploring its rural delights and head off along a signposted trail to find themselves faced with tracks heading in all directions and no more signposts to show the way, may not agree that 'buzz' is an accurate description of the emotion they feel at that point.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Walking on Tenerife: The Abandoned Village of Las Fuentes

For me the best walks on Tenerife, or anywhere, involve routes which offer lots of interesting curios, OMG scenery moments and also have something that little bit different which sets them apart form other walks.

The route we followed yesterday fitted this criteria perfectly. As we navigated our way along a partially overgrown merchants' trail, we detoured to an old tile oven and a communal water tank which in the past was used to refresh the animals and clean the clothes – imagine cleaning your laundry next to a slavering great beast of burden.

The path also skirted the occasional abandoned house, one of which occupied an enviable spot with vistas from Alcalá all the way to the edge of Costa Adeje. We spent a few minutes exploring and imagining how wonderful it would look when fully renovated. Oddly enough the place was littered with the soles of old shoes making us wonder if a zapatero (shoemaker) had lived here.
All around was evidence of a thriving agricultural past that had been long since abandoned, possibly because of the lure of a far more lucrative income offered by the pleasure palaces on the coast below. There were rows of neat empty terraces, more eras (threshing circles) than I've ever seen in one area and old disused fountains where the green slimy puddles showed that the water of life still trickled.

We followed a cobbled trail lined by tabaiba, cactus groves and wild lavender, stopping where paths merged to make educated guesses (hopefully) at the right direction. The path undulated along gentle ravines before a completely hidden path ascended steeply to a ridge, then descended to the base of an oasis of a ravine where it disappeared into wild vines and long whispering grass.

Tracing the faintest outline we pushed the foliage apart and made or way up through a narrow ravine until we reached a point in the path where a pumice dry-stone wall bordered one side and an agricultural enclosure the other. The contents of the enclosure were covered so I couldn't see what was being grown, but it was clear that it had been tended recently; up ahead the faint sound of human voices broke the silence.
I've got to admit to my imagination running away a wee bit here and suddenly visions of Leo DiCaprio in The Beach entered my head. This was supposed to be an abandoned valley, yet it clearly wasn't. Suppose it was now a marijuana factory or something?

However rationality knocked these fanciful thoughts from my head. I've never walked anywhere that feels safer than Tenerife; the chances of being machine-gunned were remote to say the least.

We carried on toward the voices and pushed a curtain of grass aside...and there it was; Las Fuentes, an immaculate little agricultural valley hidden away in the hills.

I love those moments when you reach the highlight of a walk when suddenly one step opens up a whole new world. The Montaña Guajara walk is a bit like that. But this was a place I'd never even seen a photograph of, so it felt extra special.

A couple of old guys tending a row of vines were the only signs of life in the place. They told us that they sold their wine in Guia further down the hill and pointed out where the path continued. We spent some time exploring the hamlet before scrabbling up to an ermita high above the village where we ate lunch, drank spring water from a fountain in the village and generally just enjoyed the hot sunshine atop what must be the best viewpoint along the south west coast.

This sort of experience is what walking on Tenerife is all about.

A detailed guide of the route will be added to Tenerife Island Walks soon, that's a definite.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Walking Above the Clouds on Tenerife

One of our computers has been in hospital for the last three weeks  where it was being lovingly brought back to life by the guys at SITEL in Puerto de la Cruz (if you need work on your computer, these are the guys to go to).

The reason I mention this is that when we were putting the finishing touches to our new 'Hiking Highs – Walking Routes in Teide National Park' I realised that I couldn't find the most up to date photos from the last time we walked up to the summit of Montaña Guajara.

Adding the finishing touches to our Island Walks routes really means slotting the photos into place – it's one of those lovely little jobs which basically involves going through my library of photos to see which ones fit best.

One of the ones I wanted to use was a shot of Andy standing above the clouds. Looking down from above the clouds is one of Tenerife's true 'WOW' experiences. If anyone out there hasn't enjoyed the privilege, emerging above a sea of clouds is like being on a plane when it breaks through a thick bank of clouds to emerge in an intense blue, cloudless sky above a cotton wool landscape.

It's one of those moments that remind you that Tenerife is a very special place with a seemingly endless stock of magical experiences that, ironically, the vast majority of its millions of visitors never, ever witness.

Anyway I searched and searched for the image, but couldn't find it. Although I regularly back up my photos, there was one set that I had missed and which I realised lay, possibly gone forever, in the computer that was ill. This situation was a right bugger. There are some shots where it doesn't matter (towns etc), where I can just go out and get them again, but the summit of Guajara isn't one of those places where you can just nip out to to replace lost photos.

However, the computer was returned last week, pulled back from death's door Lazarus-like by the miracle workers at SITEL and lo and behold my Guajara photos were saved.

In the end I used an image from a previous walk, which I probably like better, but this is the one I was going to use.

Isn't that an incredible vista?

Monday, 3 May 2010

Walking on Tenerife – Simply Stunning Scenery from Off the Beaten Track #3

For this month's Stunning Scenery shots, we're heading up into Teide National Park for two contrasting landscapes.
The first is taken above Arenas Negras alongside a small ravine where the wind has eroded the rock face, revealing its volcanic layers in shades of coffee and cream. Millions of years of volcanic activity has created layers of different types of rock and volcanic fallout which, when revealed, form beautiful patterns of marbled swirls. The best example of this layering effect is at La Tarte on the amazing  route along Tenerife's spine from La Laguna to Teide.

The quick way back to the crater floor from this spot is straight down the face of Arenas Negras itself, scurrying and sliding down the volcanic surface. We call it volcano surfing and it's great family fun, if a little nervy in parts. If you fancy giving a go, follow the Arenas Negras route in Hiking Highs.

The second shot is taken on a path that leads from behind the El Portillo Visitor centre to Montaña Blanca where the serious business of ascending Mount Teide on foot begins.

The landscape here is vast and littered with volcanic debris, cones and craters, all of which just beg to be scaled so you can look inside; a temptation which is only given into once as the altitude and the soft terrain take their toll on thigh muscles.

Teide National park has many different faces and wildly contrasting landscapes depending on which area you choose to explore but the one thing they all have in common is self evident in both these shots; leave the beaten track with its coachloads of visitors and you'll soon find yourself alone with the lizards in this unearthly wonderland.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

New Guide to Walking in Teide National Park

Hiking Highs - a detailed guide to walking routes in Tenerife's Teide National Park is now available to buy for delivery to your email.
So pull on the walking boots, smooth on the factor 15 and discover a world of surreal beauty all to yourself.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Walking in the Mount Teide Crater – Are You Prepared for Walking on Another Planet?

Our last blog was about walking in the incredible landscape of Las Cañadas del Teide, or the Mount Teide Crater. However, before you lace up your boots and head into this wonderful world, there are a few things to be aware of.

If you've never walked in the crater before be prepared for some surprises. The first is the sheer 'WOW' factor of standing in an epic landscape that is truly unique. Take the time to slowly survey the incredible terrain and the most fascinating and unlikely shapes are revealed; from surreal rock formations to rivers of knotted lava. And the colours are mind-blowing- it's hard to believe that Mother Nature could create so many contrasting tones out of just rock.

The second surprise after the vistas have stolen your breath away is that it doesn't come back...well not immediately anyway. Most hiking in the crater involves walking at altitudes which are 2000 metres plus;  a height which is significantly higher than the UK's highest peak, Ben Nevis which reaches up a vertically challenged 1344 metres into the sky. The air is thin up there and although altitude sickness doesn't usually affect people until around the 2400 metre mark, there's no doubt that you can feel the effects when starting out on walks. Breathing can be just that bit more laboured until the body acclimatises, so take it easy at the start.

Another factor to be aware of is that the air is also incredibly dry in the crater. After a few minutes your lips will dry out quicker than had they undergone a Guanche's mummification process. Leave them and after an hour of running your tongue over them, they'll feel as though you're licking the volcanic landscape itself – Vaseline keeps you smooth and soft.

Shade is virtually non-existent in the crater, so don't forget the hat. In winter it might feel on the 'fresh' side when you set off, but the heat from that big golden ball in the sky will soon make itself known to you with a vengeance.

Finally, and sticking to the subject of the sun, even when there are clouds above the coast, the chances are the sun will be shining on the place where the earth holds up the sky. In fact the lower the clouds are, the more chance it'll be clear skies in the crater (here's a simple tip if you want to walk in sunshine: if you can see cloud above Teide, don't go. If you can't see Teide for cloud, it should be sunny).
Stock up with plenty of water before setting out. Ideally, fill up with some sweet spring water at a recreation zone en route and then you won't have to sell the hire car in order to be able to afford a bottle of 'agua' from the Parador café.

After that, you're ready to leave the crowds behind and travel deep into one of the most unique walking terrains you'll find anywhere...on this planet at least.

Real Tenerife Island Walks - Walking Routes in the Teide National Park now available to buy for direct delivery by email within 24 hours

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Tenerife Walking Guides - Teide National Park.

I seem to have some kind of timing mechanism in my head which, if it doesn’t get away from a screen and into the mountains or valleys of Tenerife on a regular basis, starts to emit a dull whining sound which blocks all creative thought.
Of course, that’s just an elaborate way of saying that I can only survive so long before going on a walk – it’s food for the soul.

We’ve been trying to put the finishing touches to our latest Tenerife walking guide – Hiking Highs;Teide National Park – but we’ve been incredibly busy for months now (yay!!) and haven’t had time to map out the final route…until last Monday when we broke free and headed up into the crater.

We’d timed it perfectly as the high cloud that’s been hanging around for a couple of days finally lifted and Teide National Park lay below her customary intensely blue sky. The last vestiges of snow on the peak are diminishing daily as the sun climbs higher and now the spring flowers have burst into bloom. This is a wonderful time of year to go walking in the National Park.

Setting off from the El Portillo Visitor centre, the large white flowers of Teide broom and the elegant indigo stems of Tajinaste Azul accompanied us as we climbed gently above the crater, the twin peaks of La Palma emerging above the sea of clouds on our horizon.

It’s an incredible feeling to be in such a surreal landscape with the sun on your back and only the lizards and canaries for company. Mount Teide was her usual, stunning best and from our vantage point we could clearly see the path that leads over Montaña Blanca before climbing steeply to the summit. Skirting the edge of a spectacular gorge of wind-eroded rocks, we arrived at the top of the Arenas Negras volcanic cone. Then we regressed to giggling childhood as half running, half surfing, we descended its black cinder face, covering a distance in 15 minutes that had taken us 40 minutes to ascend.

Teide National Park is so many things; an alien landscape; a geological masterpiece; home to a mysterious creature known as the mouflon; a hiker’s paradise and a giant playground where you can take a cable car white knuckle ride to see an archipelago in satellite mode and surf volcanoes. Where else on this planet can boast as much?

The Hiking Highs;Teide National Parkwalking guide is now available to buy and have delivered directly  to your email within 24 hours.

Monday, 15 March 2010

The Barranco del Infierno – Getting into Hell is Easier

Last August (2009) we told you that the Barranco del Infierno was closed for a month for a wee bit of TLC. We also warned that a Tenerife month isn’t the same as a month in other places. Unfortunately time has proved that comment was somewhat of an understatement.

The bad news is that it’s now March 2010 and guess what? Hell’s Ravine is still shut.

Prompted by a comment on another blog I called the medio-ambiente people in Adeje to find out what was happening. Not only is the Barranco del Infierno still shut, details of when it is likely to re-open are as clear as a February day at Los Rodeos (i.e. not).

The medio ambiente person on the other end of the line mumbled something about verano (summer), but when I pressed he did a sort of soft shoe shuffle as he backed off adding ‘tal vez, tal vez’ (perhaps, perhaps).

In short, we don’t seem to be any further along since the last time I called them a few months ago.

To be fair, the torrential rains which affected some parts of the island in February, including Adeje, sent raging rivers rampaging through the island’s ravines. A lot of the work to improve the Barranco would have been destroyed, so in this case nature has to shoulder some of the blame rather than a lackadaisical approach to completing jobs on schedule (although, work was already months behind schedule before the storms hit, so they don’t get off scot-free).

Clearly this is bad news for walkers, but the good news is that although the Barranco del Infierno is a pleasant enough walk, it has become quite manicured and a bit like a hiking version of the TF1 motorway. If you’re someone who prefers their countryside a bit wilder and less populated, there are plenty of other great walks around the south of Tenerife which aren’t ‘closed for business’.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Walking on Tenerife – Instead of a Fly Drive Holiday, Try a Walk Drive One

When we wrote Real Tenerife Island Drives and Island Walks we wrote them independently of each other. The idea for a series of driving routes came about because we were constantly passing visitors to Tenerife who had hired a car, parked in lay-bys with a map spread over the dashboard, or worse – arguing furiously. Having travelled all over Tenerife on a regular basis for research purposes, we knew only too well that a map had limited value, and if driving through towns, was virtually useless.

Similarly with walking, we started writing walking routes because, as avid walkers, the ones we had tried to use were often more likely to get us lost than get us from A to B and many were simply quite a few years out of date.

However, we never really thought of them being used together until we noticed recently that more and more people were combining buying Island Drives with one or more of the Island Walks routes and we thought, ‘what a damned good idea…why didn’t we think of that?’

I suppose it’s an obvious way of getting the most out of the drive to the walking location. The Anaga Mountains are a perfect example of this. To get the best out of them really requires exploration on foot and by car (or bicycle if you opt for the green option…and are super fit).

The terrain is far too demanding to explore in great depth on foot over the course of a two week holiday. Yet there are places that can only be explored on foot like the fishing hamlet with no roads to it near Tenerife’s most easterly tip (we haven’t written a walking route for that one yet, but it’s in the pipeline) or the merchants’ trails linking tiny hamlets (which we do have routes for).

On the other hand, the road which runs along the Anaga’s spine isn’t ideal for walking along, but it does have spectacular views over both coasts and there are some excellent viewpoints worth stopping at for some breathtaking photos to impress the friends back home.

So to anyone out there who has bought Island Drives and Island Walks, you may just have pioneered a new concept in tourism, The Walk – Drive Holiday; the perfect way to get the most from car hire on Tenerife.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

The Anaga Mountains: Real Tenerife's Favourite Place for Walking on Tenerife - But What did The British Guild of Travel Writers Make of them?

The first time we explored the Anaga Mountains we were completely seduced by their astoundingly dramatic beauty.

As we walked along narrow trails through a lush valley, where we passed a few goats then a lone cottage where a smiling old woman in a straw hat tended her flower-filled garden, a thought occurred. If you dropped someone who has never been to Tenerife (or even plenty who have, but have never made it beyond the beach) into this remote wilderness without telling them where they were, you could let them have a hundred guesses and they’d never get it right.

The Anaga’s are by far our favourite place for walking on Tenerife, but because of their location they are still too far off the tourist trail for most visitors, even those who enjoy hoofing it around the countryside on foot.

We’ve been banging about how incredible the Anaga Mountains are for years. Even the walker’s paradise of neighbouring La Gomera can’t compete with what the Anaga Mountains have to offer in my opinion. And you’ve got the added bonus of having the wonderful cities of Santa Cruz and La Laguna within easy distance. These extreme contrasts found in the north east tip of Tenerife represent the best of the real Tenerife.

But we’re biased northerners, so it was with interest that we followed the British Guild of Travel Writer’s tweets on Twitter as they swapped the surreal luxury of the Gran Hotel Bahía del Duque and other 5 Star hotels in Costa Adeje, the newest part of Tenerife, for goat trails and laurisilva forests in the oldest part of Tenerife. Here’s what some of them had to say:

“Changed my mind about Tenerife. Stunning scenery & amazing downhill walk in Anaga Mtns & rainforest. Must go back.”

“Had a fab walk in Anaga's laurisilva forest y'day. Robins and wagtails galore.”

“Magnificent walk in Anaga rain forest.”

“Loved today's walk through the beautiful Anaga laurisilva in NE Tenerife.”

“Hike in Anaga was great yesterday, particularly views of sea and village towards the end. Bit steep for some though.”

“Very impressed with the hiking in Tenerife's remarkable north.”

So there you have it, we’re clearly not alone in our views. The Tenerife Tourist Board pulled a master stroke by taking the British Guild of Travel Writers to a place where life continues much as it has done for centuries.

If you want to show visitors an area of Tenerife which is guaranteed to confound preconceived ideas, you couldn’t choose better than the Anaga Mountains.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Visions in Pink - The Almond Trees of Santiago del Teide, Tenerife

The Santiago del Teide Valley is an uplifting place to walk at any time of the year – old farmers in fedora hats stop their backbreaking work tending fields to wave as you walk by, old women in straw hats gossip on the corners of a small hamlet and the scenery shifts from gentle agricultural lands to pine forest to bizarre volcanic formations – but in January and February it is positively magical.

This is the time when the almond trees blossom and fill parts of the valley with their delicate pink flowers. They are a beautiful if short-lived sight to behold and make exploring the area that little bit more special.

For anyone who’s lucky enough to be on Tenerife during this blooming marvelous time and who wants to discover the charms of the Santiago Valley for themselves our ‘Into the Valley’ walking route traverses much of the valley.

Tenerife Island Walks are always a real joy to put together and the Santiago del Teide Valley route was no exception. The routes which follow former merchant and Guanche shepherd trails have some moments where the scenery is so stunning it could almost knock you on to your backside. Standing overlooking the valley with the road snaking to Masca on the opposite valley wall and La Palma, La Gomera and occasionally El Hierro floating on the horizon comes as a standard 'WOW' moment on this walk.

At this time of year, the flowering almond trees are just an added bonus.

The Santiago del Teide council organizes guided ‘Ruta del Almendro en Flor’ (Almond Trees in Flower Route) each February. This year’s takes place on the 6th, but such is the popularity that it’s already full – however, it does give you an idea of around which date the locals consider it best to view the almonds in flower.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Walking on Tenerife - Teide National Park

When your husband has insisted on buying a turkey large enough to feed a family of six and then cooked it to perfection, there’s only one thing to do the next day and that’s climb the highest peak you can reasonably get to and back before darkness falls.

So it was, with a bellyful of turkey and mince pies, that we drove to the Teide Parador last Saturday and headed off to climb Guajara, the highest section of the remaining crater wall.
We’d tried this walk before and had missed the turn off because some thoughtless hiker had chosen to take a break by leaning against the directional signpost, thus obscuring it from view. We walked all the way to the start of the Vilaflor pine forests before realising our mistake and re-tracing our steps but by then, we were too tired to make it all the way to the summit.

I’d been waiting for a chance to finally get there ever since.

It was a perfect day; the sky was the sort of blue that when you see it in holiday brochures you just know it’s been Photoshop’d, and the crater was wearing its most vivid of winter hues. The air temperature in the National Park was about 11°C and the wind chill factor was bringing it down to about 9°C but the sun was hot and within minutes of walking, I’d shed my fleece and was down to a T shirt and shorts.
I remembered the first ascent of 175 metres as being quite strenuous but then last time we did it, the crater was filled with snow and ice which made the path a bit treacherous in parts. This time, I was pleased that it only took 30 minutes to get to the ridge.

No mistakes this time, despite a couple of hikers once again resting right where the directional sign was, we turned up into the final Guajara ascent. The path was eroded from recent heavy rains and it was hard going. At times the path disappeared completely before re-emerging a few yards further on. By the 50 minute stage I’d lost the feeling in my hands and legs; my hands because the temperature was now down to an icy 2°C and my legs because they were so tired from altitude walking.

Another 10 minutes and we emerged at the summit, 2715 metres above sea level, and the whole crater opened up below us. It was awesome.
We sat on the little stone benches and ate our sandwiches (turkey – naturally) completely hypnotised by the beauty of the mountain cradled in its kaleidoscopic setting dotted with shimmering lakes beneath a blindingly blue sky.

Nowhere else on this planet can you walk in such an astonishing landscape and witness the drama of nature’s explosive past from your vantage point above the clouds. It’s a humbling experience.
But when you do it, please choose your rest spots carefully and don’t inadvertently ruin another hiker’s day…happy trails and Happy 2010!