Walk! No. 8 in 10 Things to do in Tenerife that don’t cost a fortune
No matter how long you live anywhere, there is no way that you get to know it if you breeze through in a car, even if you do that two and three times a day. That’s like seeing life from your own, little bubble. It’s not going out and connecting with people, or nature or history, all of which you can do if you just ease yourself from the couch or sunbed, and get off your bum for a bit.
Tenerife is small and there are some great drives, it’s true, like driving through the caldera, or testing your nerves on the winding roads in the Anaga Mountains, or Masca, or deliberating getting lost in the maze of winding roads and small villages, which cling to the hillsides. Definitely worth doing if you’re on vacation, or from time to time (usually if you have visitors from afar) when you live here, but the size of the island isn’t conducive to driving all day that often, and shank’s pony will open up new aspects of the island and its people to you.
Cute bar front on a side street in Santa Cruz
If you’re not a country boy/girl there are walks for townies too! A day strolling around Santa Cruz will reveal quaint side streets, art and local bars with a totally different atmosphere to those in the tourist areas, just for starters, and I promise – one day is nowhere near enough to see Santa Cruz, even without diving into the museums, churches or shops.
The university city of La Laguna is a World Heritage Site, and is rich with history and beautifully restored, old buildings. If you take the excellent tranvia from Santa Cruz, and ride to the terminal, then walk straight ahead you are in the old city, so it isn’t hard.
Beautifully restored old buildings to be seen in La Laguna
The original island capital of Garachico is a delightful and tranquil place to stroll around too, as are La Orotava and Puerto de la Cruz, but if, like so many of us, you live in the south of the island there is a lot to be said for walking around your own town, or a familiar town. Last year I spent 8 months living in Los Cristianos, and for some of those months I wasn’t able to drive, so walking became my main transportation. I was surprised at the changes in the town from the last time I’d, actually, walked around it. This, even though I’d been working there for three years, driving in and out, using local bars, shops and restaurants five days a week. You can walk from Los Cristianos at least as far as Fañabe, and I have a feeling that you might be able to walk as far as La Caleta now. Midday might be a bit warm in summer, but in winter especially on a cooler day it’s an interesting way to get to know the area or people watch. Depending on the time of year the south west coast offers amazing sunsets, on a par with any in the world. In winter the sunset can be appreciated best from Los Cristianos (take a very short hike up Montaña Chayofita for a spectacular view), or in summer it’s best from further west, Playa San Juan, or even Los Gigantes. An evening saunter around Adeje, Arona, Las Galletas or Playa San Juan is also a pleasant way to pass the time. These are just ideas, there must be dozens and dozens more. Don’t think you have to go that far to find something new in life, but what you do have to do is reaquaint yourself with your feet.
December sunset in Los Cristianos. Last ferry of the day leaves for La Gomera.
For serious walkers, there are now several excellent websites in English with information about hiking, and I will list them at the end of this post. My god, how I wish they’d been there when I first came! We already mentioned the town hall (ayuntamiento) websites for information on local events, and some of those events are organized hikes, and they are open to all, so if you’re on vacation that’s fine. OK, they’re in Spanish – get someone to translate for you, or pop into the town hall and ask. Many town halls, especially those in tourist areas have staff who speak English.
On a crisp and sunny January day the islands of La Gomera and El Hierro could be seen quite clearly from Ilfonche
I have friends who have visited Tenerife purely to hike, and have never visited the tourist fleshpots. Their experiences are a million light years from those over-tanned bodies on the southern beaches. The Tenerife they know is a landscape of mountains and trees, gullies and wildlife, where morning mists shadow-dance through the branches and a lunar landscape challenges their stamina.
Maybe what they do is too much for you, but a nice hike and some fresh air from time to time appeals? Consider Barranco del Infierno just outside Adeje. Some years ago now this was closed to general foot traffic in the interests of preserving its natural beauty. The first time I wandered up there with Trixy, to be rebuffed, I was put out. I was used to taking my dogs there, and I wasn’t used to paying. I avoided it for a while after that, on principle. More fool me. When I did, eventually, go the change was overwhelmingly good. No litter, no noise, and a tranquillity I didn’t remember as such. The ravine has been cleared of non-native species which had invaded over the years, and now is a haven for native flora and, as it proved, fauna. We were followed for several minutes by a young partridge, who knew he had nothing to fear from us, nor was begging for food. If you are a bit nervous about doing something like this, this is one walk where you have guides and help within easy reach if needed.
In the valley of Barranco del Infierno the light comes later, so even if you set off a 9ish, which isn’t so early you get spectacular views of the sun rising over the mountains.
Perhaps the prettiest, southern walk is La Ruta de los Almendros in late January/early February, when the almond trees are in full bloom. Santiago del Teide has become, in recent years, quite famous for its organized walks over this route, and the trees are simply stunning. Again, just ideas, check out the sites listed below for more.
Late January and the almonds in full blossom
Despite overdevelopment, this island is still, at heart, a rural community, and getting out of town is easy, you might even discover a new route or a forgotten path to somewhere if you just go and look. If you’re walking in the countryside, especially higher up, remember, despite the sub-tropical climate, it can get chilly very quickly, particularly after sundown, so take something warm, also sunscreen and water, needless to say, and in summer a cap or bandana against the sun. Also remember that you might lose your cellphone signal in certain places. Should you have a problem, emergency services are now very good, the number is 112.
Those websites :
In addition to these there are plenty of personal blogs and YouTube videos of peoples’ experiences of hiking in Tenerife, so if you are planning to come here on a hiking holiday browsing those would be a good starting point for information. Even if you live here, but haven’t walked much but would like to, then they are very helpful. Odds are, if you have lived here long enough, that you will come up with a name you recognise, so there will be someone to ask.
This post was part of a series, here are the others:
Take a drive through the Teide National Park
Barbeque in the “Great Outdoors”
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June 15, 2010 at 8:37 am
I couldn’t agree more! Walking is one of my passions and I think it is key to getting to really know a place and a culture.
June 15, 2010 at 10:58 am
Absolutely! In fact, walking in a town or city can be more rewarding than in the country sometimes……those narrow backstreets in European cities, where you glimpse normal life, off the beaten tourist route.
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