On African Soil in Spain or

On Spanish Soil in Africa – Tenerife

Spain’s highest mountain on Tenerife, Canary Islands

Friends of ours kindly asked us to join them on their holiday on Tenerife. Since our olive harvest was over and a change of scenery would be nice, we agreed to come for a week. Alas, I messed up the flights, first the airport, as there are actually two airports on the little isle, north and south. Then I got the dates wrong, Ryanair offered cheap flights from Seville to Tenerife North on a Saturday. However, our friends were going to leave on the Wednesday from the Tenerife South Airport.

But as is often when you take a wrong turn, you end up discovering lovely byways you would not otherwise have known.

Karin and Robert have been to this lovely island many times before and know the walking routes very well. They broke us in gently on our day of arrival with a 6.6 km coastal loop walk, called Malpais de Guimar around the volcanic Montaña Grande cone, which is with merely 10,000 years relatively young.

The next day, after a leisurely breakfast, bringing a picnic with us, we set off from the car park at the village of Las Vegas. Las Vegas meaning floodplains, where rain and level areas are predestined to grow wine, potatoes and vegetables and not casinos, hotels and theatres; you will find nothing of the sort here, not even a restaurant, shop or bar. [see https://siebeninseln.de/en/tenerife/las-vegas/ ].

This was a rather pleasant hike, uphill, along a relatively smooth hiking trial, up and down stony steps, sometimes under pine trees, with views over valleys, up mountains and a glimpse of the south-east coast and the glittering Atlantic.

On the way you can see the cave houses carved into the mountain, which used to keep humans and animals cool during the hot days.

Along the hillsides you can see water channels, tajeas, carved into the mountain side. These tajeas, similar to the acequias in the Alpujarras, transport mountain water or snow melting water to the agricultural areas and villages.

Nigel and I sprinted ahead to see the ‘Risco el Muerto’, the wall of death, where climbers can exercise their death defying sport.

After a refreshing picnic break we all wandered on. The paths are twisting and turning, going up and down, around boulders, trees and rock formations. The trail is marked by stones and signposts are positioned at junctions, so you should not get lost.

Then it was on to the highest mountain in Spain, the El Teide, 3,718 meters above sea level. Measuring the volcano from the ocean floor, it is the third highest volcano on earth with 7,500 meters.

For more info see [ https://www.volcanoteide.com/en/national_park ].

It was not supposed to be a very long walk, but because we left the hire car at a different car park as almost all were already full, we had to add another 3.5 kms to get to the accent to the El Teide.

Our path was no.35, Minas de San José – Tramo Base de Montaña Blanca, then we crossed the road and took path no.7, Montaña Blanca – Rambletas, for ca. 7 kms. We stopped at the base of the Montaña Blanca, because we had left our friends behind, they had done this trek many times before, and also this was supposed to be a day of rest. So in the end we walked around 18 kms this day and saw spectacular volcanic landscapes, all manner of shapes and colours of rock formations.

And this was just to warm up for the real grand trek for Nigel and Robert on day three, 30 kilometers in ten hours, up to the brother of the El Teide, 2,800 meters above sea level.

We girls chauffeured them up to the starting point in Las Vegas, and then we went for breakfast and some shopping in Guimar. Clothes had to be washed and the dinner prepared, then at 17.00 we got the call to collect the boys at Arico Arriba, Ortiz at 18.00 and they needed food, drink (a lot ) and a hot shower. Well done them, but this rather extreme exercise took their toll on them.

By the way, Arico is the premier climbing area on Tenerife, at least in terms of numbers of routes (250), and also one of the first to be developed (over 30 years ago). It even gets the coveted 6 karabiners rating in Donde Escalar [follow link https://rockaroundtheworld.co.uk/2019/12/21/arico-arriba-y-abajo/  for more information].

I am glad I pulled out due to my aching back, because it would have felled me for a week or more. As it was, the boys got a chill descending through the damp, cold cloud layer.

I would have loved to do more hiking, but due to my schedule mix up, Robert and Karin left the next day and we took the bus to Santa Cruz and onto a lovely stay at Finca El Trazo near Tacoronte on the north-east side very near the Airport North.

The accommodation is a really nice, charming cottage full of curiosities in a well kept garden with hens, tortoises, giant yuccas, free oranges and avocados and a host that will look after all your needs and is at hand to give advice or even print the flight tickets.

The bus is in walking distance, so we didn’t need to hire a car for our three days. We took the bus to the next seaside town, El Sauzal and had a lovely lunch at a restaurant in a park with view of the steep coastline. Two rather strong Mojitos relaxed my back and the steps back up were not as bad. But we were both not in great shape to explore more of the North side of the island, just rested our weary bones, heads and backs, which is also a legitimate way to spend your last two days of your holidays.

I would like to see more of this island as the climate is so mild, even day and night temperatures don’t differ much which is a perfect environment for plants to flourish. I never knew avocado trees can grow so big and poinsettias (the Christmas potted plant) grow into bushes and whole hedgerows. They are actually native to Mexico and I usually keep my potted plant alive until well into the autumn of the next year, but never for another season. I keep trying.