Not everyone thinks of hiking when planning a trip to the subtropical Canary Islands. With more than 3,000 hours of sunshine per year you can choose pretty much any sport that comes to mind –
there are several first class golf courses, all forms of water sports, parasailing or paragliding.
But to really enjoy the incredibly diverse landscapes, hiking is the thing! The island is crisscrossed by volcanic mountain ranges, so amazing opportunities for trekking are guaranteed ridiculously close to almost any spot you’ve chosen to.
The ultimate must-do is to hike the lava-strewn landscapes of Mount Teide, situated in the middle of the island. The volcano is the highest peak in Spain (3.718 m), even climbing the curvy roads to Teide national park is a mind-blowing experience. One of the best routes to El Teide goes through the luscious green valley of La Orotava. You start with the more subtropical feel of the coast and then drive through the more temperate Mediterranean-like sceneries with vineyards. Finally, you enter the lush alpine-like forests and are surrounded by Canarian pines and wisps of fresh air. There’s a reason they people label it a path to the clouds.
The “pico” (peak) is surrounded by volcanic caldera and it stands high above the clouds. Between November and March, you might see the higher slopes covered with snow. The sight of the treeless caldera might also make you feel like you had travelled to the Moon!
Some of the hikes reach to the edge of the caldera and others to the peak itself. You could also spend the night in the refuge close to the top, or at the national hotel, Parador. Gaze at the stars under immaculate skies next to one of the most important astronomical observatories in the world.
Other of Tenerife’s striking landmarks are The Anaga and Teno mountain ranges. They form the northeastern and northwestern peaks of the triangle-shaped island. The Anaga massif reaches up to 1,000 metres and is famous for its natural black beaches under its steep slopes – like Playa de Benijo. The area is scarcely populated and declared as a Rural Park and a Biosphere Reserve. It has the largest amount of endemic species in Europe, and another of its wonders are the subtropical Laurel (laurisilva) forests. Hard to believe that it is only less than an hour’s drive away from the capital of Santa Cruz.
The Anaga Rural Park provides challenges for different level of hikers. The northern mountain slopes catch the Trade winds and rain, resulting in a temperate climate and abundantly green nature. And at these latitudes you're able to enjoy all this all year round. From the temperate climate follows that the temperature seldom drops below 20C or rises higher than 30C. Winter is not coming.
Some of the routes combine mountains, ravines and descends to a beach. With the more challenging ones, the passages are just slightly exposed and the terrain above the paths may be unstable. After heavy rains, there may be rocks falling around so it is no walk in the park.
According to a legend, in ancient times, witches inhabited a spot called "El Bailadero". The name refers to the dances witches performed around a bonfire. The legend may be connected to the rituals celebrated by the island’s indigenous Guanche people for rain. This sounds equally fascinating.
Also, the Teno Rural Park at the opposite tip of the island offers changing landscapes from green hills to arid slopes. The area provides countless hiking routes; therefore, you might want to rent a house or an apartment in this region. One of its most emblematic features are the massive, almost 600-metre high coastal cliffs.
Teno has also been declared a specially protected area for the several endemic species of birds. While hiking on its slopes, you might as well bump into a goat herd, blackberry bush or a traditional cheese farm. As such, many trekkers report to have fallen for the quest for local delicacies of various sorts. Some of the routes pass through the breathtaking Masca volcanic ravines (barrancos).
Above the steep emerald green slopes and in the valley thrive the orange, lemon and almond trees. Definitely a sight to behold, bust just one of the many that the volcanic landscapes of Tenerife gives to those who wish to see them.
Elina Laamanen blogs about Tenerife – La Isla Afortunada. A couple of years ago she took refuge from the cold and dark up north, and set sail for the Canary islands. But she feels that her heart has always been here. Her blog is essentially about travelling and enjoying the hidden gems of the island of Tenerife.
As a social scientist she cherishes the idea of giving “a deeper look” on the social and cultural aspects too. Life on a subtropical island offers a range of outdoor activities which she tries to explore to the fullest. You can find her running on the beach, hiking or practising outdoor yoga.