Ah, Tenerife! A laid back vacation this time? You couldn’t be more wrong! This Spanish island has to be the most underrated holiday destination ever. Yes, the sun is on standby almost all year round. True, it’s teeming with sprawling beaches. And yes, luxury resorts are springing up like mushrooms. But, uh… Can it be a little more? Because Tenerife is also a perfect destination for hikers. We did some wonderful hikes in three completely different regions.
- in this article
- 1. Parque Rural de Teno: from Santiago to Masca
- 2. Montes de Anaga: trekking from Benijo
- 3. Parque Nacional del Teide: a geological treasure
Parque Rural de Teno: from Santiago to Masca
The Teno Mountains are located in the northwest of Tenerife and offer deep ravines, wild valleys, abundant cacti and, above all, laurel forests. The best known and most popular site in this region is the Masca Gorge. However, several incidents led to the closure of the trail in February 2018. It wasn’t until three years later that the gorge was reopened to the public, but now access is only granted upon request and in limited numbers.
The coronavirus presented us with an extra challenge. The water taxi that normally takes hikers back to the port of Los Gigantes after an adventurous descent was out of service when we visited in the summer of 2021. This seemed to be a clear sign from the universe that we needed to find an alternative.
No sooner said than done! We parked our rental car in the streets of Santiago del Teide, a village on the edge of the mountain range. Some construction just outside the village made it a bit challenging, but we managed to find the right trail, number 56, marked with a yellow and white flag. The first two kilometers were a steady climb until we reached the ridge. From there, we took a small detour to the left, all the way to the top of Pico Verde, where the wind almost blew our clothes off. From this highest point it was all downhill, so we could fully enjoy the view. Not only can you see the Masca Valley, but on a clear day you can also see the islands of La Palma and La Gomera.
After almost six kilometers, we took a sharp left turn and followed the signs to Mirador Cruz de Hilda. This path led us to one of the few roads that crosses the Teno Massif. This exceptionally beautiful road, dotted with viewpoints, finally brought us to the village of Masca. Okay, we didn’t hike through the gorge itself, but we did get an amazing view of the gorge from above. It was definitely worth it, I promise!
Unless you want to hike down the winding road (not recommended), this is the end of the hike. Here you can take bus 355, which will take you back to Santiago del Teide in about fifteen minutes. Please note that during the week this bus only runs four times a day. On weekends, the route is said to be more frequent. You can check the bus schedule here. We couldn’t believe our luck when two friendly gentlemen offered us a ride in their convertible!
Santiago del Teide – Masca
Montes de Anaga: trekking from Benijo
The Anaga Mountains are located in the “donkey’s ear” of Tenerife, the northernmost and greenest part of the island. This is because it is the only area in Tenerife that stays “wet” all year round. Even when we went exploring here, there were a lot of clouds hanging around. Luckily we didn’t see any rain.
We laced up our hiking shoes in the tiny village of Benijo. Bigger than the village is the nearby Playa de Benijo, a paradise for surfers. Unfortunately, we know nothing about surfing, so we decided to take a hiking trail to El Draguillo. This wide, easy trail led us along a rugged coastline with dangerous cliffs, gradually ascending. The panoramic views were simply breathtaking. Wow!
The real climbing began after El Draguillo, which was just as tiny as Benijo. From there we took the far right – and steepest – path. In some places stone steps were built to overcome the most difficult parts. Occasionally we had to stop to catch our breath and marvel at the dragon trees growing by the side of the road.
After the steepest part we came to a junction. We chose the right path, continued climbing a bit more, and finally reached the highest point. We weren’t alone up there! Dozens of mountain goats kept us company and showed us the way down. The trail here was straight, with no turns or forks, so we just followed it like a herd of sheep – hehe.
Parque Nacional del Teide: a geological treasure
The National Park around El Teide is a completely different experience, truly unique. It’s dry, drier, driest! The park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it’s no surprise why. The landscape is dominated by crater after crater, lava flows and colossal rock formations, creating an impressive and Martian-like scenery.
In the center of the park is Mount Teide, a dormant volcano and the highest point in Spain, reaching an elevation of 3,718 meters. We climbed this majestic volcano to watch a stunning sunset from the top. It was truly the highlight of our vacation, both literally and figuratively.
But the park has even more to offer! The volcano is located in a kind of half bowl, as if a natural grandstand had been built for the die-hard fans. The highest point of this ” grandstand ” is Montaña Guajara. A hiking trail to this summit is marked from the El Portillo Visitor Center. Finding the way is easy, but the trail itself is a bit more challenging! We endured a serious struggle during this 12-kilometer loop. We walked all day under the scorching sun and climbed over 700 meters.
We didn’t make it any easier by hiking the loop around the Roques de Garcia. The lava has taken on spectacular shapes here, creating giant sculptures like La Cascada and La Catedral. A must see if you’re in Tenerife!
Roques de Garcia