I love swinging my legs off a sun lounger every hour or so, to sink my toes into the sand, as much as the next person. But making the most of a holiday destination often means swapping your flip flops for walking shoes and a fold-out map, and taking at least one hike into the countryside.
This is especially true of Tenerife where sandy beaches play a bit part in a sprawling landscape of pine forests, rocky ravines, lush valleys and surreal volcanic terrain, which includes Mount Teide, the third largest volcano in the world.
The popularity of walking tours in Tenerife has been steadily on the rise and everyone seems to be catered for, from hardcore hikers to leisurely amblers in search of flora and fauna. Try a guided tour or, if you’re a fit, active and independent soul, hire a car and tackle these three popular trails for starters.
Teide National Park is a spectacular World Heritage Site, comprising 130 square kilometres of volcanic geology. It attracts over four million visitors per year, making it the most visited national park in Europe. Most visitors take the cable car to see Mount Teide itself. Hill-walkers, on the other hand, can tackle Tenerife’s ultimate walking trail: the zigzagging path up and over the lava fields to the volcano’s summit (or as close as you’re allowed to get without a pre-arranged permit). By no means an easy walk in the park; the ascent can take up to seven hours and altitude sickness is a possibility.
Deep, dramatic gorges dominate Tenerife’s Anaga Mountain range in the northeast, where cobbled bridle paths criss-cross scenic terraced fields and laurel forests. These bridle paths – called Camino Reals (Royal Highways) – were originally used by indigenous Guanche goat herders and by merchants moving between the remote villages. The seven mile-long circuit of Chinamada village is a popular trail with today’s walkers.
Walkers can circumnavigate the Badlands (or Malpais de Guimar), home of the Montana Grande volcanic cone, in about three hours. Visit in springtime when the coastal plants are in flower, adding shots of colour to the lava field. The Badlands are on Tenerife’s east coast, at the Guimar exit off the TF-1 motorway.
Posted : Monday, December 6th, 2010 at 12:59
Kelly Pipes is a writer and editor who has worked in travel and travel publishing for the last ten years, and has enjoyed every single minute of it. Alongside other projects she shares off-beat travel news and authentic travel experiences on her own blog, Sandwagon.