This week we have our colleague Pauline review her experience hiking at the foot of Mount Teide, Tenerife.
The lovely track escapes the small village of Santiago del Teide, and quickly turns into a path between stone walls, like an ancient route toward to the sea.
I walk from Santiago del Teide to the harbour of Puerto los Gigantes along what is now the PR TF-65 as little lizards run through the dry stones.
On the other side of the wall there are small Dragon Blood trees, Prickly Pears, Succulents, giant Aloe Vera and other Cacti in which spiders have plaited inextricable webs.
Canyons & Valleys of Teide, Tenerife
The rock becomes ochre, orange and ferrous red from time to time.
The path climbs gently before passing on the other side of the ridge and opening onto a breath-taking panorama. Facing me, a deep valley, almost a canyon with brutal vertical walls, which is called Baranco in the Canaries, and which plunges towards the sea.
These canyons are typical of the Parque Rural de Teno, where there is also the Masca Valley.
We can clearly see these barancos, from the sky, when we arrive by plane, like deep cuts in the volcanic slopes of the island. The valley is so deep that it is almost impossible to see the bottom. Its bare sides reveal the folds of the earth’s crust.
On the northern part of the Canyon stands a mountain whose ochre silhouette contrasts with the black volcanic rock that surrounds it.
The Changing Landscape of Teide
Geological questions then assail me: why is this rock different in colour? How did this mountain form? Why does the direction of the folding of the rock not follow the same movement as the rest of the canyon?
At the exit of the canyon, posed on the maritime horizon stands out the silhouette of La Gomera covered with its cloudy hat.
Then the path descends to the old road from Puerto de Santiago, near the small village of Tamaino. I am chased by a cloud. Pushed by the trade winds, it crashed on the north flank of the island, but could not pass over it. A few light scattered drops gently moisten my back, not enough to get me wet but enough to cool me down.
Then the path sets off again to assault the mountain with the ascent of a cascade of rocks, huge boulders forming natural, shapeless, raw steps, which must be climbed carefully. And suddenly I am back on the ridge, spanned by a rainbow.
Behind me, to the east, the perfect cone of Mount Teide, whose silhouette stands out against the blue sky, still proudly dominates the island.
I finally reach the Cruz de los Misioneros (the Missionaries’ Cross), which dominates the entire surrounding landscape. I am surprised by the force of the wind blowing from the sea. It makes the cross vibrate, and I must make sure that my cap does not fly up in the air.
It is this sea wind which for several hours has been blocking the advance of the cloud in my direction. The path rises a little further along the ridge towards the south. On my left the valley with the white houses of the village of Tamaino.
On my right, blue, the blue of the sky, the deep blue of the sea. The blue planet deserves its name.
And then suddenly, I see it, Los Gigantes massif, like a small mountain detached from the rest of the ridge, but which, seen from the valley, deserves its name of Giants. And suddenly the descent begins. From the top of the ridge, it looks dizzying, like a dive towards the sea. But ultimately the path descends peacefully, without my knees having to suffer.
The Path to Santiago del Teide
I find the ancestral path bordered by its stone wall and which goes up towards Santiago del Teide for 5km.
I come across the only shop on the whole itinerary of the day: an artisanal cheese dairy, alas closed, because it is already late.
However, I can still pet the donkeys, while the goats are fiercer and refuse to be approached. More unusual, below the cheese dairy I see an enclosure with … ostriches! It’s quite unexpected.
Sometimes the path abandons its stone walls to follow the bed of a dry stream. Gradually the sun sinks on the horizon, and I find myself chasing my shadow cast in front of me.
It’s golden hour, in an hour the sun will have finished its daytime run. The relief is then perfectly drawn in shadow puppets.
As my hike in the volcanic landscape ends with my return to the village, the moon rises like an organ above the Teide.
If you would like to experience hiking at the foot of Mount Teide for yourself or hike in the Canary Islands, please get in touch with us today!