At the end of part 2 of my adventure recollection in my previous post I was saying goodbye to my walking group, because they were heading straight back to a miserably wet home while I was lucky enough to be staying on for another two and a half days in the blissful sun of Tenerife… and seeing a wealth of magnificent and varied scenery that my group had only touched on. I also planned to suss out some good walking routes should my group wish to come to Tenerife again. I anticipate that this post will contain quite a few pictures and perhaps not so many words – I can’t imagine immense detail about my convoluted but carefully-planned route around the island is of huge interest and, anyway, the landscape in the pictures speaks for itself.
Once I picked up my hire car, a nippy Seat Ibiza, I headed quickly away from the arid southern coast
and large touristy coastal towns in search of more scenic vistas inland, and it was not long before I found some as I got to Arona; this picture is of Roque Imoque nearby. From there I took the road up towards Mt Teide, the volcanic peak dominating the island, stopping many times to take photos, explore side roads, and enjoy the views as my route climbed higher and higher; at one parking spot there was a fairly elderly guy wearing a huge sombrero standing there merrily strumming away on a guitar. Eventually I reached Teide National Park, marvelling at the bleak but dramatic landscape – lava flows blanketing the barren lands, bizarre rock formations, and jagged peaks, as well as the conical volcano itself; it soon turned out that there were many marked paths in and around the park, and it was a shame my group had not been on any of them. I was also astonished by the odours too, there was the scent of pine from the trees growing amongst the lava, but also the burnt smell of the blackened land itself. I did not stay at the park for too long, because I intended to visit the next day, and I also hoped to get down to Los Gigantos to see its cliffs before the sun had set. As I headed down the west side of Teide I could see the island of La Gomera beyond the top of the Gigantos cliffs (see below), though by the time I got down to a viewpoint for the cliffs the sun had descended to the clouds above La Gomera and so I was alas just a bit too late.
I returned up the hill to my B&B in Tamaimo and checked in with the lady co-owner who did not speak much English. Later her husband advised me on local places to eat but, once changed into a smart dress, a quick drive along the main street highlighted that his recommendations for a lady to eat were fairly tatty-looking bars, and so I drove down to Los Gigantos. I ate in a lovely little place called The Fisherman’s Inn, on the terrace overlooking a small harbour – yes, I ate outside… in November!! The food was good, although the menu was a bit too geared away from local dishes towards standard European/British dishes – I chose as local as possible, having prawns in a garlic sauce and local fish with Canaries potatoes and salad; I enjoyed my meal… and I think I enjoyed being repeatedly addressed by the owner as “my dear”… though he did seem a bit of a gigolo.
The next morning I once again awoke to beautiful sunshine and, after an average breakfast, left for a day of exploring. I started by touring an excellent loop covering the north west corner of the island along the TF-82 and TF-436 roads, which are hardly as hairy as some Tripadvisor comments make out (just anointed with numerous hairpins), descending first to the quaint old village of Masca, with outstanding cliff and mountain views along the way; I was able to see where a famous walk starts, noting it for my group. I then headed onwards, with amazing vistas of ravines and steep hills around every bend in the road, eventually ending up passing immense cliffs several hundred metres high to reach a lighthouse at the northwest tip of the island… which I didn’t stay at for long as it was thronged with visitors. I returned to Tamaimo via a different route, with some lovely coastal views, and then headed up to explore Teide National Park in depth. Mt Teide is the highest mountain in Spain, at over 12000 feet high (3700m for European readers), and is still an active volcano; it last erupted over a hundred years ago in 1909, but its devastating power is much in evidence in the surrounding landscape, with immense lava flows, layers of ash and cinders underfoot, and a generally barren landscape. As one explores the park, it becomes clear that the volcano at some point in the past was much taller and wider, as a long line of ridges and massifs extends north-south to the east of the peak which is a former crater-line. There are numerous pull-off points and car parks to explore the park, and many footpaths too. There is much to see, much more than a portion of one day can afford, with changing lighting throughout the day highlighting different areas of the park at its best for me like me who enjoys taking photos with care, but this was my first time to Tenerife and I wanted to see as much as possible until I am able to return. I did a couple of little walks, one around the Roques de Garcia (rock formations jutting out of the ground at the base of the volcano), and then drove on, eventually descending on the scenic TF-24 road, with splendid views down to the coast, at times on both sides of the island. As per the previous evening, I had an agenda to meet before the sun went down, which was to catch the cliffs of the Punta De Hidalgo on the northern coast, which this time I got to just in time (see below). I drove a short way back to my hotel at La Laguna, the second city of Tenerife – the city was beautiful, as an evening stroll after dinner proved, with many pedestrianised and cobbled roads lined with old buildings of much character, as well as a good assortment of stores. My hotel was mixed, however – the room was lovely and spacious, but the food in the evening was bland with a menu unrepresentative of the island.
Sunday was my final day on the island and, again, I was lucky to have lovely, sunny weather. After a quick stroll around the city centre, buying an item of clothing for moi and a Christmas present for a friend, I headed quickly on to explore the north-east corner of the island, dominated by the Anaga massif and forest. Once again I witnessed stunning vistas of the coastline, ravines, and peaks as I drove mile after mile… but alas I did not have time to explore every part of the island that I would have liked. After a drive east along the southern coast as far as the road would go, I headed towards the airport, stopping along the way for a stop at a coastal village for a quick, windy walk at a beach and then a change of clothes from summery attire into jeans and top for travelling. I got to the airport at around 5.15 and, after a friendly chat to the guy at the hire-car desk, checked my bag in and then wandered around duty-free, reminded that as seems to increasingly be the case these days, the offerings in duty free are not the bargain that they used to be.
At 11.30pm I was home, in a very chilly and rather wet Northern Ireland, having had a wonderful holiday in an island full of surprises. I think I will be returning to Tenerife, and other Canary islands, quite soon…