It’s not all about sailing, and this week, being half term, I was joined by family for some walking and sightseeing around Tenerife.
It is a fantastic island to walk and explore; one just needs to avoid the tourist centres and venture inland to find Canarian culture and fine mountains, and along the coast to find secluded spots to swim and snorkel. These activities have occupied the last few days.
With El Tiede and the adjacent peaks dominating the island, a rain shadow is formed and the geography of the south – which is almost desert-like – is in stark contrast to the sometimes lush, and very green north side which takes the trade winds and their moisture on the nose. The temperature contrast is also very palpable: routinely 26 or 27 degrees in the day at this time of the year on the south coast where we are berthed, and single figures above 2000 metres. Canarian lifestyles are therefore hugely influenced by altitude and which side of the island one lives on.
We trekked through volcanic debris and ancient lava flows, through pine forests where the trees seem to thrive in the mineral-rich sediment, and into deep ravines where cacti flourish and water management is key to agriculture. We tasted local food, enjoying tapas and paella particularly, and swam and snorkeled. It has been a great few days. I will let the photos and captions below do the talking.
Cacti in abundance, ready to prick the unwary walker. A deep ravine, as in the photo above, is called a ‘baranco’
Water transport in the days before the pipe. To the right, an ‘era’, a stone circular platform around which horses were drawn to thresh out grain
Walking around in the national park at the base of El Tiede. Much evidence of phonolytic viscous obsidian and pahoehoe basaltic lava, and skeletons of magmatic dykes – honestly!
Firs seem to flourish beside the old lava flows – the lava here dates from a 1909 eruption
A chaotically mangled landscape
Good walking around a lower volcano – this one is called ‘Chinyero’
A Dragon Tree (‘Dracaena Draco’) – one of our favourites, and the natural symbol of Tenerife. They are native to the Canaries, Cape Verde, Madeira and Morocco. This one was in La Orotava, a lovely town on the north side of the island boasting fine wooden balconies in the historic centre (see below)
Snorkeling with the GoPro