Thinking about Tenerife, the most common highlights are beautiful beaches with clean seawater and the mild climate all year around. But Canary islands can also be impressive locations for hikers and mountain lovers. Each island is unique and very different from the other ones. And even within the same single island, we can encounter various environment. In Tenerife, for instance, we can go from dry and rocky hills, to thick green forests, to the highest peak of Spain, Volcano Teide with its huge National Park. This variety makes Tenerife an interesting location of hiking.
Today I’m going to tell you about four hiking routes in Tenerife:
- Anaga Rural Park: a wide forest area in the north-east of the island
- Volcano Teide: a long hike to reach the top at 3.718 meters of altitude
- Barranco del Infierno: a very green area in the dry south of Tenerife
- Masca: the hiking trail I keep on postponing
Anaga Rural Park
A few millions years ago, a volcanic eruption created the north part of Tenerife, that nowadays takes the name of Anaga Rural Park. UNESCO declared this protected area Biosphere Reserve in 2015.
It expands from sea-level up to 1024 meters, changing from dry land to thick woods.
The tourist center is found at Cruz del Carmen, one of the highest points, together with a parking area and a restaurant. This is the starting point of many paths, some very simple, suitable for wheelchairs and strollers. Others can be long many kilometers. Obviously not all the routes pass by Cruz del Carmen. You can ask a map of Anaga at the tourist office to have an idea of the amount of paths you can choose from.
I tried a few of them, going from Cruz del Carmen to Punta del Hildalgo or to Taganana, for instance. Both of them are some of the most beautiful hiking routes I walked in Tenerife, and I talked about them in a specific post about hiking in Anaga Rural Park
Volcano Teide National Park
I have a real passion for peaks, “the highest point” from where you often have a 360 degrees view over the surrounding landscape. A few years back I manage to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, “the roof of Africa”, 5895 meters high. Since then, I’m always looking for new peaks. Such as the one in Garajonay National Park in La Gomera, just to name another high point here in Canary Islands!
The top of Volcano Teide, with its 3718 meters of altitudes, is one of the highest places I’ve reached. It’s also the highest mountain of Spain. In another post, I’ve explained in details how to climb Volcano Teide. Here I’ll sum up the most important information. But don’t forget that in Teide National Park there also are a lot of other paths. They might be less famous than the way to the top, ma if you have enough time to spend in Tenerife, don’t dismiss these hiking routes. The view of the Pico, which is the actual peak of Teide, can be as fascinating as the view from up there! At the Tourist Office of the Park you can get all the maps and information you might need.
You can reach the top of Volcano Teide in two ways: with a cable-car or waking.
The cable-car takes you very close to the viewpoint La Fortaleza, at 3.536 meters of altitude. From here, an half an hour hike on a rather simple but steep path, gets you to the very top of Teide, called El Pico, “the peak”. During high season, I suggest you to book your cable-car ride well in advance, because it quickly sells out.
If you enjoy hiking, the cable-car will clearly leave you unsatisfied. You could actually decide to buy a one way ticket up, and then walk all the way down. But for all the mountain lovers and good hikers, climbing your way to the top is going to be a much more rewarding experience. But you have to be ready for a long tiring hike, with good shoes and a lot of water.
The starting point is around 2200 meters of altitudes, in the middle of Teide National Park. The route is called Montaña Blanca and after 7 km it reaches the Altavista Shelter, at 3270 meters. In 2019 I spent the night here to be able to reach the peak at sunrise. But sadly the shelter has been closed down during the 2020 pandemic and it’s still closed today (summer 2022). Check out the website for the latest news and organize your hike accordingly. With some luck, you’ll find dorms with bunk beds and a kitchen.
Continuing your hike after the shelter, you will reach the Fortaleza viewpoint in about two hours. Another half an hour and you’ll be on top of the island.
The best view from El Pico is during sunrise. But I strongly suggest against a night climb: without knowing well both the route and the mountain, there are just too many risks. If the refuge keeps close, the only alternative would be to sleep somewhere between the refuge and the viewpoint. Option which could easily be illegal, besides way too cold! Don’t forget we’re talking about a route well above 3000 meters of altitudes!
So just let go the idea of sunrise at El Pico for now and let’s go up there during daytime.
It’s a 360 degree view over the National Park and, on a clear sky day, you can even see some of the other islands on the horizon.
Remember that to access El Pico, you will need a permit. You can get yours for free on the website of Spanish National Parks. Without the permit, your ascent ends at viewpoint La Fortaleza.
Barranco del Infierno
A barranco is a gorge or a tight valley between two steep slopes of a volcanic cone. A sort of canyon not created by water erosion (even though it might host seasonal streams), but rather by eruptions, landslides, seismic collapses and other volcanic activities.
In the south of the island, in the most touristic area, we find Barranco del Infierno. It’s one of the most known hiking routes in Tenerife, especially among tourists that opt for a walking day, for a change. The entire area is protected to maintain the ecosystem of flora and fauna. The access is therefore controlled and limited to small groups of visitors every hour. You can book your entrance on the barranco’s website. At the ticket office you’ll be given a helmet that must be worn at all times, since rocks and debris might fall down form the steep walls.
The route is 6.5 kilometers long (both ways along the same path) and it’s quite simple. At the bottom end of the barranco there’s a small lake with a waterfall that changes size depending on the amount of rain of the previous weeks.
The most impressive aspect of this barranco is the incredible change of landscape in only a few hundreds meters. It’s something quite rare, in Tenerife. The south of the island, in fact, is really dry, with little or no vegetation and not many animals. But in the Barranco del Infierno you can clearly see more and more green spots at every step you take, leaving behind the desert-like cactus to welcome trees and bushes. Around the middle point of the route, there’s a stream crossing your path. You’ll start hearing frogs, grasshoppers, birds and other small animals all around you.
There’s a hiking route in Tenerife I haven’t been able to try out yet. It’s the famous path that goes from Masca all the way down to the sea.
Masca is a small village in the south of the island which is, as we’ve already said, Tenerife’s most touristic area. This route became very popular among the tourists because it’s mostly downhill, therefore automatically and erroneously considered a simple hike. Even more, the route ends in a very cute cove unreachable in any other way besides by boat. There used to be indeed a private “ferry” service that would pick you up at the beach and bring you to a more accessible beach. From here you could catch a bus or a taxi back to the hotel or your car.
The problem with uninformed tourists, is that many arrived in Masca with flip-flops and swimsuits, ready for the beach, rather than good hiking shoes for the long walk. They would quickly realize that the “walk” turns out to be on a steep slope, with unsteady terrain and fairly dangerous passages. Needless to say, there have been numerous accident, a few of them were quite serious.
During the pandemic the town hall took advantage of the lack of tourists to temporarily close the route and make some works. The path is now safer and the route has a limited access, for the safety of the hikers and the preservation of the area. The boat service is still not running, though. Therefore the way down needs to be followed by the way up, along the same path. Since I’m not a pro hiker, I’ll leave this experience for better times.
Let’s see if I manage to have it on my Done List before the end of the year!
All the images in this page are owned by the author and therefore protected by copyright.
Some can be bought on Shutterstock and Dreamtime.
Leave a Reply