Punta de Teno Virgin Tenerife
17 March, 2017
The wildest, most secluded corner in Tenerife, in the north-west tip of the island, is the perfect idyll for a few days’ enjoyment of revitalising contact with nature – cycling excursions on the slopes of Teide, hiking through the humid laurel forests, canoeing under the huge sea cliffs… all this without having to leave this remote and amazing kind of “island within an island”. It even has its own microclimate, in an area which was practically inaccessible until just a few years ago. Here, far from the bustle of everyday life, any outing along the over one hundred kilometres of signposted trails reawakens one’s appetite for the fruit and recipes of a rich, fertile land which treats visitors to fresh scenery at every turn.
Mountain Biking – Pedalling On the Slopes of Mt Teide
The Corona Forestal Nature Park which, as its name suggests, forms a complete ring around the Teide National Park, offers four approved mountain-bike routes. The longest trail is the Ruta Norte (North Route), which covers 85 km on the main track, with another 52 km along side tracks.
Our first cyclotouristic proposal takes in one of its stretches but, in order to get the most out of the experience, the best option is to hire a local guide who will provide you with latest-generation bikes and escort you along the whole route, while pointing out details of the peculiarities of the delicate ecosystems in this rugged, vertical mountain terrain of the Teno massif. He will pick you up at your hotel in a flashy van, driving you up to an altitude of 1,600 metres on the slopes of Mt Teide, so that most of the trail will be downhill.
Forests and Volcanoes
In the vicinity of Montaña del Cascajo – a volcano, needless to say – the scenery is absolutely breathtaking. Hieratic fields of red lava are juxtaposed with lush forests of Canary Island pine, their rough bark bearing tell-tale signs of having suffered the scourges of the odd forest fire. According to Iván Méndez, our guide, these pines are “natural survivors”, as this indigenous variety is fire-resistant.
With hardly any effort we enter the Chinyero Special Nature Reserve, a volcano of black earth which last erupted in 1909, located alongside another volcano which two centuries earlier swept away most of the port of Garachico, a small town situated 8 kilometres away.
A bit further down we enter the underworld of Macaronesic laurisilva, shrouded in a dense cloak of mist. We pedal through a gloomy, watery universe characterised by vegetation similar to what covered much of the earth 65 million years ago, which nowadays is found in but very few isolated spots.
After several forested kilometres we return to civilisation to refuel in a tavern with views where they serve up roast cheese with red mojo and palm syrup, codfish with sweet potato and roast goat meat… delicious!
We reach our hotel with a sweet tang on the palate and not at all tired. We have cycled just 42 km, with a drop of 1,800 metres and a climb of only 200 metres, yet feeling as if we had just discovered a piece of nature brimming with allure. Never before had we seen, felt and breathed in so many different landscapes and microclimates in so few kilometres.
Walking Expeditions – Endless Trails
Thanks to a vast network of signposted footpaths, the Teno Rural Park offers myriad itineraries of all ratings.
If you stay at Buenavista, for instance, there is a nearby access route to the spectacular, heady Bujamé Gorge, namely the PR-TF 58 Camino del Risco, which rises along an old path towards the green meadows of Teno Alto and the hamlet of Los Bailaderos, where you can taste one of the best craft cream cheeses in all of the Canary Islands. The route leads between Roque de Marrubio and Roque de la Cruz, and past the remains of an ancienttagoror,a meeting place for community leaders in the period of the Guanches. Oddly enough, this steep trail is known locally as “the descent of the dead” as, in bygone times and up until the 1970s, it was used to carry the deceased down to Buenavista from Teno Alto, where there is no cemetery. Another tell-tale sign is the Cueva de los Ataúdes (Cave of the Coffins), where you can still see two humble communal caskets – one for adults and another for children – once used for the arduous procession.
Owing to the rugged terrain of the Teno massif, virtually all routes are interconnected, so you can combine different stretches of them to create a personalised itinerary, depending on the time you have available or how far you care to hike. For instance, once in Los Bailaderos, you can continue eastwards along the PR-TF 57 Callejón de Teno as far as Cuevas del Palmar, or else westwards along the PR-TF 51 up to the Punta de Teno lighthouse. It is here, on the westernmost edge of the island, that you can witness an unforgettable sunset, with the cliffs known as Los Gigantes basking in the golden sun.
Canoeing Among Giants
In the time of the Guanches, these 600-metre-high basalt rock faces were known ominously as the “Muralla del Infierno” (Wall of Hell). Today they are called the “Acantilados de Los Gigantes” (Cliffs of the Giants) and the area is preserved as a veritable sanctuary on account of its inaccessibility. It is also the perfect spot for spending the day kayaking, as this stretch of water is permanently sheltered from the prevailing trade winds by the cliff faces, which provide a natural barrier, so that the sea is always calm.
The group outing starts in the Los Gigantes marina. It lasts for two hours and is guided by instructors, who comment on the peculiarities of this amazing spot. The excursion is suitable for people of all ages and no prior experience is required. What’s more, the party is escorted by a tracking boat which is always on hand to provide assistance in the event of any mishap. The kayaks are single- and two-seater beginner canoes which are totally stable and sit-on-top. Details and bookings: Teno Activo.
Trekking, Kayaking & Snorkeling in Crystal-Clear Water
El Eco bay is the ideal spot for swimming and exploring the seabed by skin diving in the crystal-clear water. At the foot of the cliffs, the maximum depth is just 30 metres. The same canoe or kayak excursion can start at Masca beach after walking the 5 kilometres down the gulley of the same name, then paddling back on the return journey as far as Los Gigantes after having visited Barranco Seco bay.
Dolphins and even whales can be spotted off the Los Gigantes coast, but in deeper waters. After the kayak outing, the best thing is to board a 36-seater boat which leaves from the same marina. The ride lasts two hours and, on the return trip, the boat weighs anchor for 15 minutes in Masca bay, allowing guests to have their last swim at the foot of the cliffs.
A Chill-out Hotel
The Melià Hacienda del Conde Resort Hotel is also located in this secluded enclave in the north-west of Tenerife. Affording splendid views over the ocean, it is the perfect base camp for spending an active and at once relaxing holiday in the Teno area. Their spacious rooms, swimming pools, spa, refined culinary offerings and adult-only status make this a favourite destination among visitors seeking peace and quiet.
Book your Vueling to Tenerife and venture out across the Teno volcanic massif.
Text by Sergio Fernández Tolosa of Con un par de ruedas
Photos by Sergio Fernández Tolosa and Teno Activo
17 March, 2017