After having spent a whole day in Bergamo and an afternoon in Valencia, which turned out to be both amazing pieces of experience, we finally reached our destination – Tenerife – where we spent more than 10 days, working on a project and, indubitably, exploring the beauties of the so-called Island of Eternal Spring.
Some Information about the Canary Islands
The flight from Valencia to the largest of the Canary Islands took around 3 hours. All of the Canary Islands are being washed by the waters of the Atlantic Ocean just off the coast of Morocco.
Some of them, such as Lanzarote and Fuerteventura, are somewhat desert or semi-desert. The island of Gran Canaria boasts a very diverse scenery, such as Roque Nublo and Maspalomas. The moist and warm Gulf Stream influences the climate of La Palma, La Gomera, and El Hierro.
Tenerife, our destination, is even more fascinating. The lush vegetation in its northern part is due to the effects of the humid Atlantic winds, while the southern part of the volcanic island is predominantly arid.
I can go on, but first things first.
Arrival and First Impression of Tenerife
We are welcomed by a marvellous weather – a plenty of sunshine and around 25 C (77 F). Tenerife, which is only 2,034 km2 (785 mi2), has two airports. Our flight landed at the one in the southern part of the island. We needed to reach a place, called El Bolico, which is located less than 50 km (31 mi) from the airport. The thing that made our reaching there impossible is called El Teide, the highest peak on Tenerife, and Spain, respectively.
Therefore, we had to pass through the island’s capital – Santa Cruz de Tenerife – and then continue to El Bolico which took more than 5 hours. I was particularly astonished by the vast highways and, more specifically, the plantain plantations which were omnipresent on the island.
After reaching the capital, which is a cosy town of around 200,000 people, we changed the bus and hurried to Buenavista. Our hosts had been waiting for us there to take us to the El Bolico hut in the mountains, where we spent the next several days working on an environmental project, and, of course, exploring the drop-dead gorgeous beauties on the island.
After two more hours of meandering around bananas, breath-taking crags, and stupefying ocean views, we reached the point where the organisers had been patiently waiting for our bus.
Jack, a British guy, put all our belongings, started off the engine, and slowly drove to our destination. Arriving at the hut was accompanied by a couple of surprises – both pleasant and unpleasant.
The not so pleasant was that some of the participants could not speak English (which was good for me as I had a chance to practise my French and Spanish skills, but not so good for the other participants). The pleasant news was that there were people from five European countries – Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovakia, Portugal, and Spain (our hosts) – who were all awesome people, coming from various backgrounds, speaking different languages, and united around one thing – raising environmental awareness.
To be honest, we only spent a couple of days talking about the Aarhus Convention (which was the cornerstone of our project) and focussed on getting to know each other and discovering the pants-dropping beauties of Tenerife.
During some of the days, we had an amazing weather, but there were also others when it rained and it was cold and humid (remember, we were in a hut in the mountains).
In the beginning of our second week, we embarked on a journey to the tiny mountain village of Masca which was in the close vicinity of Buenavista. Situated at the foot of Macizo de Teno Mountains in the north-western part of the Island of Eternal Spring, Masca is a petite village which is quite challenging to reach.
Nevertheless, the road, leading to Masca, passes through verdant scenery and a staggering mountainous region which is all very well worth the drive through the narrow roads with hairpin curves. The village with its not more than 50 houses, scattered around the breath-taking ridges and flabbergasting rock formations, is a dream destination for avid photographers.
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Since back then, in 2011, my photographic skills were not at their peak (neither they are now), I just took some mediocre ones. Despite that, the mesmerising beauty of the place can be easily seen and fallen in love with.
From Masca, we started a long descent to the tiny Masca Bay which is presumed to have been a hideaway for pirates. The strenuous hike down to the bay takes around three hours. We did it for around four since we frequently stopped to shoot the gorgeous ambience around.
Be informed that when you reach the bay, you will either have to go back to Masca (which takes twice as much) or embark on a boat to the nearby town of Los Gigantes.
Los Gigantes, Tenerife
We did the second. Our hosts had informed the ship in advance because we were a very large group.
Important: If you are heading down to the bay and you are also travelling en masse, it is better to call and arrange your trip beforehand.
On the west coast of Tenerife, one can marvel at the astounding Los Gigantes (“The Giants” from Spanish). From a height between 300 to 600 metres (984 to 1969 ft), gigantic (hence the name) cliffs plunge into the cold waters of the Atlantic. Don’t be misled – the waters of the ocean here are not as warm as those around Miami.
The boat ride from the Bay of Masca to Los Gigantes took around half an hour. Boy, was I left speechless? Take a look.
The small coastal town is generously dotted with colourful houses as if carved into the awe-inspiring cliffs and mountains just over the elegant marina. It is filled with small, but luxurious, yachts in waters which are teeming with fish – which can be savoured in the many restaurants scattered around the coast.
Los Gigantes is also reputed for having the highest amount of hours of sunshine. The Mirador Archipenque offers the best view of the magnificent cliffs. At sunset, photographers will most certainly climax, admiring the sun’s rays painting a drop-dead gorgeous scene on the looming cliffs and the crystal-clear water.
Parque Nacional del Teide
Tenerife is not only a volcanic island with a marvellous weather all-year-round. It is also a home to the highest peak of Spain – El Teide. With a height of 3,718 metres (12,198 ft), it has a permanent snow cap and is daintily rising in the middle of the island. The volcano is still active (1909 saw its last eruption) and coupled with its surroundings it forms Teide National Park (Parque Nacional del Teide).
This is what we visited next. Pronounced a UNESCO Heritage Site and receiving more than 3 million visitors on a yearly basis, the Teide National Park is the most visited national park not only in Spain but also in Europe (it takes the eighth place worldwide). The park is also a proud owner of a grand international astronomical observatory.
What few people know is that it is possible to explore Teide’s secrets in the subterranean galleries that have been formed by the recent volcano eruptions. Probably that is why, despite there are around 300 volcanoes which can be observed, Tenerife is also known as “The Island of Hidden Volcanoes”.
We did not have time to climb the peak, and I am sure it requires quite a lot of effort and, most importantly, proper equipment (which we did not possess). However, after entering the park, which covers around 19,000 hectares, one can go to a height of around 2,000 metres (~6,560 ft) and admire the surroundings from there. Check out the photos I took from that point.
Santa Cruz and El Medano
On the penultimate day, we passed through Santa Cruz de Tenerife, the capital city, where we had a delectable lunch – seafood soup and pulpo a la gallega (Galician-style octopus). The meal was so delicious, I forgot to take a photo of it (yes, sometimes happens). Therefore, I just downloaded an image from Wikimedia to showcase its beauty.
After that, we headed to El Medano, a small village very close to the airport where we spent our last day going to the beach and exploring the culinary chef-d’œuvres of Tenerife.
This time, I remembered to take a photo of our small group and the palatable dinner we had for less than 50 euros for 5 persons (Attention: this was in 2011, prices might have increased dramatically since then).
As a conclusion, I have compiled a small list of useful tips for visiting Tenerife.
- Tenerife is known as the Island of Eternal Spring, because its subtropical temperatures in summer vary from 24-28 C, and 20-22 in winter. Isn’t that simply glorious? Therefore, visiting the largest Canary Island can be done at any time during the year.
- If you plan to visit the Bay of Masca, make sure you arrive early in the mountainous village because the hike is tiring and time-consuming. Also, the area from the town to the bay is protected.
- The Mirador Archipenque offers the best view of the magnificent cliffs of Los Gigantes.
- Visit the subterranean galleries of El Teide if you happen to have more time when in Teide National Park.
- The waters of the Atlantic Ocean around the island vary from lukewarm to cold – keep that in mind if you prefer warm waters.
Have you set your feet on the Island of Hidden Volcanoes? Were you enthralled by its beauty?