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Discovering the Real Tenerife
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Contributed by Gary Rosson   
Tuesday, 20 June 2006

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I make no apologies for saying that I love the island of Tenerife. I own a home on the island and get very annoyed with ignorant ‘travellers’ who book a ‘cheapo’ package holiday in the sun and come back complaining of ‘beer-swilling Brits’ and ‘concrete jungle resorts’. The reason the island appears this way to this ‘type’ of traveller is because that is what they have bought into and they should not be surprised when this is what is delivered. I happen to think that the island is a tropical paradise but then I do put a bit of effort into my visits. It always baffles me that most peoples reports of a holiday virtually always consist of a review of the hotel, the pool area, the beach and the local ‘Brit-pubs’. With the possible exception of the hotel/accommodation, why do these things assume such importance on a holiday? I could not bear the thought of being stuck in a small patch of a resort/town for a whole holiday, worrying about who’s putting their towel out before me or the flavour of the sausages in my English breakfast or the price of a pint of John Smiths ale.

Tenerife has an abundance of package holiday commercialism in a small stretch of coast in the south-west, which does not give an accurate representation of Tenerife anymore than Blackpool does for England. After all, The Lake District is only a few miles away from Blackpool!  Any serious visitor to Tenerife will soon realise that there is far more to the island than Playa de las Americas.  Admittedly, anyone who has visited the south of the island for the first time may find the immediate terrain a little barren, but the sun is usually shining, so explaining the barrenness and popularity of this semi-desert area. If the slightly startled newcomer were to cast their gaze inland, they will be greeted with a scene of mountainous splendour just asking to be explored. For those who take the trouble, they will not be disappointed. Tenerife has such a vast variety of scenery, climactic zones and micro-climates that within minutes of hopping on a bus or into a hire car, and driving away from the concrete jungles of the south, you are transported to a totally different and exciting place. Within a very short space of time you find yourself hundreds of feet above the coast, heading through quiet towns & villages, the flora becoming more lush and abundant as you leave the scorching, sun-baked coastal plain behind.

As you pass through the village of Vilaflor, the highest in Spain, on your way to the Parque Nacional Las Canadas del Teide, you will see, at the right time of year, fields carpeted with a multitude of colourful wild flowers. People who stumble on this scene as they drive around the island, frequently pull over to pick the beautiful blooms, although I personally think they look better left where they belong. Just out of Vilaflor, on a sharp left-hand bend, is the Lomo Blanco track leading to the Paisaje Lunar or Lunar Landscape (below). This six kilometre track can be walked or driven along (carefully) to the start of a 1.5 hour return trip to an unusual, weird landscape of eroded pumice pinnacles, jutting up from the surrounding pine trees
Returning to the road, your journey now takes you through a cooling belt of Canary pines as you climb ever higher toward the summit of the island. As you break free at last from the trees and if the conditions are clear, you will be able to see the island of La Palma, apparently floating on a carpet of cloud above the sea. Soon, you leave the trees behind completely and enter another world at Boca de Tauce. As you round a bend you will truly feel as though you have been transported to another planet, an overused analogy anywhere else but not here. The sudden severe starkness of the terrain is something of a jolt at first and as you assimilate your surroundings, you are aware of a looming presence on the far side of the huge caldera. Teide sits in silent splendour, gazing down into what remains of an earlier, even mightier peak. The huge volcano, at 12,192ft is the highest peak on Spanish territory but it is thought that the original peak, at around 16-17,000ft high, collapsed in on itself, its remains now forming the huge 10 mile diameter caldera.  Driving slowly through this remarkable scene, most tourists stop at the parador to scramble over the Roques de Garcia on the opposite side of the road. For those who are a little more adventurous, the Siete Canadas trail can be followed on foot to El Portillo, or to the start of the climb to the summit of the mighty Guajara, the frowning peak overlooking the parador and Tenerife’s third highest mountain at just short of 9,000ft.
Further along the road, you arrive at the day’s destination for most visitors, the teleferico station, which you can ride to just below the summit of Teide. For the hill-walker however, it is better to carry on until you reach the bus stop at the start of the Montana Blanca track, where you can park the car to climb this satellite peak of Teide. From here you can carry on up to conquer Teide itself but you will need to start out early and you will need a summit pass to get to the very top. Either way, you will have left the tourist hoards behind, allowing you to enjoy the jaw-dropping scenery, thousands of feet above the cloud,  in peace and tranquillity.
At El Portillo, after a call into the visitor centre, you leave the National Park behind, and begin to descend the northern side of the island, through the pine forests of the Upper Orotava Valley. Pulling off at the picnic site at La Caldera, you can walk the many trails through the forests giving you superb views of Teide itself and down to Aguamansa and Puerto de la Cruz on the coast. The most famous trail, and probably the most impressive, is the Los Organos path, which meanders through pine trees presenting the walker with sudden, startling views of the massive peak (pictured below) and summit of the island, which is often, although not always as some believe, covered in snow.
  The walk is fairly strenuous and will take between five and six hours to complete. As you continue your trip downwards towards the coast, you can look forward to a cool drink and meal in a restaurant in one of any number of traditional Canarian towns and villages but a visit to Puerto de la Cruz is worthwhile. This is a commercialised holiday resort, where holidaying Victorians first visited the island and kick-started tourism when Playa de las Americas was just a bare stretch of scorched shoreline and Los Cristianos, a humble port for shipping tomatoes and bananas.  Here, the ‘feel’ is much more authentic Canarian and you can stroll through tree-lined plazas overlooked by ornately carved balconies as you search for a restaurant to finish off that perfect day exploring a beautiful island.
So, the next time someone says to you that they’ve been to Tenerife and it’s nothing but a commercialised, concrete hell, full of boozing Brit’s and high rise hotels, you will be able to tell them that they have never really visited the island at all as your mind drifts back to the real beauty they don’t even suspect exists.

Or you could just be selfish and smile politely and keep the secret to yourself. After all, you wouldn’t want it spoilt by tourists, would you?

For more information on exploring Tenerife on foot log onto
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Comments

like your site verry mutch information verry helpfull visiting tenerife on 29 of february will be visiting some of the places u have mentioned could u tell me is it possible to hire satnav along with car thanks again peter and janet rosie caithness

Posted by perer, on 02/24/2008 at 07:32

Hi Gary, It was interesting to read your blog, it's always good to find that there are other people out there who realise there's a lot more to Tenerife than just the popular 'Tenerife Uncovered' image. We've been writing about the 'real Tenerife' since we moved here over 3 years ago and have even written a guide to try to inspire some of the visitors to the island to leave their sunbeds. Out of around 2 million visitors annually, surely some of them must still posess a little of the Victorian spirit of adventure??? We can but hope!
Jack & Andrea

Posted by Jack Montgomery, Whose homepage is http://www.realtenerifeislanddrives.com on 06/19/2007 at 16:03

Hi Michael,

Glad you enjoyed my post. It was actually written in anger and originally posted on the Tripadvisor site as a retort to a list entitled 'Horrible places not to go on holiday around the world'. This quote comes from the list, which had Tenerife in the no.1 spot :

'Full of horrible people who put towels on pool chairs at 3 a.m. The island itself is UGLY, barren , and soulless. The food everywhere was awful. A complete waste of money. No last minute package deal could ever be worth the 7 days of hell I had to spend there'

I was so incensed I just had to write something in reply. I am always amazed how normally intelligent people can visit the tourist resorts in the south and come away thinking that they have seen everything the island has to offer. Still, it's there loss, not ours.

Nice site by the way.

Gary.

Posted by Gary Rosson, on 06/24/2006 at 01:43

Gary,

What a fantastic walk. I quite agree about the real Tenerife. It never fails to suprise me how many people visit Tenerife on a regular basis and never get outside of the major tourist hot spots.

We have had our place now for 3 years and last time we were out we ended up talking to a couple who had been coming to Tenerife for over 20 years and we were the ones suggesting to them where to go and what to see, they were truly amaized at what the island had to offer.

Your post really sums up one of the main reasons I started Tenerife Times. Let's try and 'educate' the world about the beauty of Tenerife and it's many fascits.

Thank you.

Michael

Posted by Hopper, Whose homepage is www.tenerifetimes.com on 06/20/2006 at 08:08

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