How can you not love Tenerife, Canary!

Mar 20, 2017

If spring is slow in coming to London and you long for warmth and sunshine, Canary Islands, 4 hours away by flight, are perfect destination. I now totally get why the Brits flocks to Canaries. I chose this time Tenerife Island, largest of the archipelago. Warmth and sunshine I did find, plus so much more. Tenerife filled our four day island break with delight and adventures, leaving me regret that it had not been a longer stay.

An island of Atlantic Ocean northwest of Africa, steep, mountainous, Tenerife’s landscape is, to say the least, dramatic,  palm trees, cactuses and stunning scenery abound, scorched land here and there reminds one the volcanic island that it is.

It is also an island of interesting contrast. Terrain alternates between dry land and lush, green mountains. While sun drenches the south coast, opening above it a soaring azure welkin, clouds often shrouds the peaks. Communities are varied too, while Costa Adeje on southwest coast of the island is a sophisticated, beautiful resort town, there are traditional villages and banana plantations throughout.

Hard we may have tried, what we experienced is only a small set of what Tenerife has to offer.

Costa Adeje

Costa Adeje is a trendy resort town on the south coast of Tenerife. Beautiful resorts, shops and restaurants galore and stunning scenery on top of that, it is truly a delightful spot. Among others, you can eat, shop, walk on the beach, bathe in the sun, swim or just soak in the atmosphere.

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Like most others on the island, the town is spread across steep slopes. Melia Jardines Del Teide, a lovely resort hotel where we stayed, is situated on the higher end of the town. It is several minutes to the ocean but has fantastic view of the town and ocean. Instead of one single mammoth building, it is a complex of small buildings, restaurants and terraces surrounding the activity center, a set of swimming pools. It is also just minutes to Plaza del Duque, a modern shopping mall.

P.S. A practical tip on Melia Jardines Del Teide. While ocean side is gorgeous, mountain side can seem unattractive due to what seem defunct former farms next door. If possible, get ocean view rooms.

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Masca to Los Gigantes

A visit to the village of Masca and a trek through Masca Gorge came highly recommended and we took that up.

There are different options. We opted to drive to and park at Masca Village, hiked down the gorge to the beach where it ends, took a taxi boat to Los Gigantes from the beach, took a taxi back to Masca where we reunited with our car. It is best to book the taxi boat ahead of time, the boat waits a little past its last scheduled run for those who sign up. This is the web site for it: http://www.trekkingmasca.com/?lang=en.

The drive and the visit to the village was easy and highly rewarding. The tiny village is located in a stunning valley, and the scenery along the way from Santiago del Teide, a cute village itself, to Masca is breathtaking. Quite interesting too, while the road is paved, it is twisted, dizzyingly steep and narrow for a two lane road, especially when there is a bus going by, albeit a smaller sized bus.

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The hike through the gorge is a totally different ball game. It was like nothing I had done before.

You’d find the entrance to the gorge in the middle of the village, where there is a large sign that warns that the path is closed due to landslide. No idea how long that sign has been there, but we had read people mention it and said they ignored it. Somehow we followed suit. There must be a little bit of the dare devil in us.

The path, zigzagging its way through the gorge, is mostly bumpy, rocky, hard and tough on your feet. There is barely any part of the path that is level. You have to negotiate almost every step of the way.

The first 1/3 was the best, the view was fresh and exciting, presenting lots photo ops.

But it became daunting when it dawned on me that it was going to take much longer than expected and we might miss the last boat. What would be the alternative? Hiked back up to the village? What a cringe worthy thought! Doubt and vacillation, still I couldn’t give it up. So I soldiered on. There was no time for break, we had to eat our sandwich on the go.

Over the last 1/3 of the path, there are many spots where there didn’t seem to be a path at all, only big boulders for me to nervously slide down, climb over or squeeze through. At one point, we had to get through by walking the edge of a boulder, which hangs over a ravine, while holding on to cables attached to the boulder. Multiple times when it sprinkled, the rocks became slippery, extra care and effort were the order.

There are sign posts along the way, the last one I spotted was #36.

Four hours later, my knees were about to buckle and legs were about to fall off. But we finally made it to the beach. And we beat the last boat. It turned out we had got the wrong time, one hour too fast. Hallelujah! We were saved. Not likely I could have hiked back up to the village in my state.

Was it worth it? You bet! The rock formation is fascinating and every turn presents a stunning view. I’ve also got lots memory to take away with me; a tiny little boy, who was probably not more than 4, on his way up with his parents to the village from the beach and they had been hiking for 3 hours when we crossed path and he was still energetically pushing on, totally putting me to shame, or the two goats, or the colorful, calm birds, or the various, lovely floral, or other hikers we crossed path with, but most strange of all, the woman in red checker shirt who disappeared into thin air or maybe a secret path only after I had spotted her for a brief moment.

Will I do it again? Probably not knowingly. The aches and pain lingered for days after, each step was a torture, especially on the stair.

P.S. Parking at the village is limited and runs out fast. We circled around a few times before finding one that is out of the village center. It is good to get there early morning if you can make it. Taxi boat from Masca beach to Los Gigantes was €10 each person. Taxi ride from Los Giangantes to Masca was €25.

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Driving from Costa Adeje to Colonial City of San Cristobal de La Laguna

This was an interesting day full of surprises. Having done the trek through Masca Gorge the day before, we had earned our right to take things easy today.  The plan was to just drive around and making brief stops at Icode de Las Vino, Las Realejos and La Oratava before reaching and stopping at San Cristobal de La Laguna. All these points of interests are interesting indeed. But what made our day was what we chanced upon and was not in the original script.

Santiago Del Teide to Teno Mountain

We took the route through Santiago Del Teide. The surrounding became surprisingly lush and green as we drew near Teno Mountain, a contrast to the landscape we had seen prior to this.

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El Guincho

Thanks to an accidental wrong turn, we stumbled across El Guincho, a small banana plantation by the sea, cute as a button.

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Garachio

We took thing further on the wrong direction and ended up at Garachio, a pretty waterfront little town on steep hill.

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Icode de Las Vino, Las Realejos and La Oratava

At this point we were back on track according to plan. We drove through all three recommended villages, they are however more like towns than villages in sizes. All are built on steep hills. Of the three, Icode de Las Vino seemed more picturesque, maybe we did not take the ride route in Las Realejos or La Oratava.

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San Cristobal de La Laguna

San Cristobal de La Laguna is the former capital of Tenerife and currently an UNESCO Heritage site. It seemed relatively the most flat town we encountered on Tenerife. A stroll through the historic center is interesting, nothing grand or opulent, still its rich history and architectural heritage are fascinating. The town’s parish church, the Iglesia de Nuestra La Concepción was built late 15th century. Another church in the historic center is the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Cristóbal de La Laguna, the stain glasses there are stunning.

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Driving through Mount Teide National Park in dark

Clouds gathered and rain started to fall, it was time to leave San Cristobal. Instead of taking the faster route to return to the hotel, my hubby would drive through Mount Teide National Park. It was an interesting ride to say the least.

Not long after we entered the park, we found ourselves surrounded by dense forest. As the road ascended and wound through the forest, heavy fog descended on the road. There are signs along the way marking the altitude, 1500 meter, 2000 meters…

The same scene continued. Then we came to a point just before the bend of the road, framed by trees on both sides of the road, as if some sort of entrance, with a couple of signs on the right, giving a tantalizing glimpse to what lays beyond. Is that a snowy peak?

We drove pass the threshold, all the sudden the environ opens up to a drastically different scene, and indeed, snowcapped peaks loomed ahead.

While the stunning sight wowed the senses, driving condition took a turn, the road was covered by slushy ice. The last light of the day was fading fast as well. Needless to say, our travel slowed down significantly. By the time we were back on dry road, it was completely dark. When we reached the junction where you’d find the road leading to Mount Teide, we simply drove past it. We had traveled in the park for 1.5 hours by now, and it was another hour from then on to get back to the hotel. Part of the journey was nerve wrecking too, road was narrow and I felt at times hanging over head spinning abyss, but it was worth every bit of the experience.

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Adeje to Los Gigantes on TF47

It is a recommended costal drive. I think the best part is the look out at Puerto Santiago and the cliffs of Los Gigantes, which are both at the end of the route.

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Mount Teide

At 3700 meters high and tallest point in Spain and of Atlantic islands, volcanic Mount Teide is one of the top attractions on Tenerife.

Normally cable cars are available to take tourists closer to the summit. Tourists can drive up to and park at cable car’s base station. Once at the upper station, there are three hiking routes, one of them gets up close to the volcano crater and requires permit. You can apply for the permit at this website: www.reservasparquesnacionales.es.

The cables cars were however closed down, due to technical problems that happened the day before we arrived. We heard that the cables cars got stuck mid route in the air and tourists stuck in the cable cars had to be rescued via ropes.

With or without the cable cars, we were going to make the best of it. A second ride through the national park and this time up to the base station was richly rewarded. The scenery is stunning. The terrain and geology are truly fascinating. You’d see turned and churned lands that look as if some sort of natural phenomenon has recently occurred, but Mount Teide’s last explosive eruption was more than 200 years ago.

Often the peak is veiled by clouds. The surrounding can be clear in one moment but heavily fogged the next. Luckily, it was gloriously clear when were up at the base, revealing Mount Teide in its entirety.

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After Mount Teide, we drove by Vilaflor, highest village in Spain. And then it was straight to the airport. Descending the whole way, there was interesting sights on the way. Until the airport could be seen ahead, an interestingly large stretch of flat land by the ocean.

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Good bye Tenerife, I probably will be back soon!

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