Just over 100 miles off the coast of northern Africa, the Canary Islands are Spain’s subtropical paradise. Tenerife, the largest of the islands, sits sort of in the middle of the archipelago, sandwiched between bustling Gran Canaria and unspoiled Gomera. Tenerife is a diverse and stunning vacationer’s dream, especially appealing for hikers, cyclists, water-lovers and sun-worshipers. The view from my hotel room, below, attests to Tenerife’s appeal to those of us who survive on salt air.
The locals like to create sort of pools in the ocean, and the hotel had one. It was cold as a witch’s elbow but some of the spa/hotel’s (mostly German) guests were taking a certain “cure” and swimming daily in that icy water was part of the deal, and so they did. Note that this Carolina girl did stick her toe in the water and sufficient was the chill that no other body parts took the plunge. Brrrr!
I chose this spa/hotel, the Oceano, on the northernmost tip of the island, trying to steer clear of the crowds. It was a good choice. I enjoyed excellent service, clean and modern amenities, a free yoga class, vegetarian dinners, access to several restaurants and bars, and a quick walk to the bus-stop. I could have chosen Thalasso therapies as well, but got active and saw some of the many local sights instead. And the black lava sand beaches in front and rugged mountains behind made for a stunning setting.
It also gave me access to a trailhead that leads through the Anaga Mountains to a ranger station about 10 kilometers away. I started at Punta de Hidalgo and ended at Cruz del Carmen. The trail is mostly well-marked with tiny stripes painted on rocks but once in a while you come to a signpost that tells you pretty precisely where you are.
Most of the first half of the trail is quite challenging, very rocky and steep. I often found myself on a narrow path with caves on one side and a drop-off on the other. Once in a while, I used my hands to grasp a bit of large rock to help heave myself up. The higher I went, the cooler it became, but I worked up a healthy sweat and so didn’t mind. I was glad I had my light jacket, though, as it came in handy at the highest altitudes, 700 meters above where I started.
This is a good view of one of the early sections of the trail, taken after I’d hiked it.
The hike was essentially 100 percent uphill, and though classified as moderate, I can assure you it was not. The descent may have been, but I started on the ascending end, and so it was a bit more than moderate. But the vistas were well worth my aching buttocks the next day!
A little over midway into these 10 uphill kilometers rests charming Chinamada, a tiny community of farmers who live in houses built right into the sides of the mountains. The lifestyle of these hardy people is not all that different from that of their ancestors. Raising everything from chickens to sheep to melons to oranges and even vineyards on these craggy hillsides, they manage to support a little bar/restaurant along the trail. We hikers contribute to the community by purchasing a cerveza or bowl of cabra (goat) stew to steel us for the second leg of our journey. I might’ve partaken of the aforementioned cerveza, but this (mainly) vegetarian will pass on eating a furry potential friend!
The bar/restaurant is also a cave house.
Beyond Chinamada, the hike was not as difficult. Still uphill, the path widened and the surrounding laurel forest often reminded me of hiking the Southern Appalachian Mountains when I was younger.
I was delighted to see that the clover was heart-shaped.
I hiked quite a lot on this trip, which was part of the plan in choosing Tenerife. In addition to the Anaga Mountains, it is home to Spain’s highest peak, ancient volcano Teide, rising over 12,000 feet above sea level. I rented a car for one day so that I could drive to Teide National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, in the middle of the island. Along the way, I was sure it was going to be a bust because it was cloudy and overcast. At one point the fog was quite thick. I didn’t realize that I was driving through clouds! Above them, clear and sunny! That’s Teide, to the left, above the clouds, on the right.
I didn’t hike all the way up, of course, just in the park, but it was also a lot of climbing, and the moonlike landscape of Teide National Park didn’t disappoint.
As you can see from the photos, it has been a mild winter all over Europe, including the Canaries, and so the flora is blooming. The trip was a treat by all accounts, and I’ll share the urban trekking I did in the next post. I’ll leave you with Anaga Mountain Birdsong.