This blog post was copied from www.travellinghewitts.com – the blog I maintained between 2015 and 2018 with Lena, my now ex-wife who I was travelling with at the time. I have no intention of going through the old posts to update them – the past is what it is and doesn’t change. Apologies if some of the context seems a little strange as a result!
We booked two 125cc scooters for this trip and we’re buzzing around the island on one because Lena neglected to bring her license*. When the destination is fundamentally a mountain that makes for sluggish uphill progress. I’d forgotten just how crap scooters are. Ah well; this trip isn’t about riding. Although in some respects I rather wish it was – if I had all my gear with me I would be hiring a dirt bike; the national parks have hundreds of kilometres of fantastic dirt roads – specifically signposted as being legal for bikes. With my shabby skills I’m not going to chance it in approach shoes and summer trousers but it would be a great place for a fly-and-hire dirt riding trip. If anyone reading this wants to give it a go the local government gives comprehensive information, including GPX tracks. You also need a free permit; which you can apply for on their website. Oh, how I wish the German state was so enlightened.
When you escape the coastal cities the island is, genuinely, a little paradise and well worth exploring. The landscape changes rapidly as you move around the island; you have the beaches (yawn) but venture away from them and in one day you can be in a volcanic wasteland, a banana plantation, a pine forest, a dank canyon, terraced vineyards, goat-farming moorland or a snow-covered volcano peak. You find yourself crossing “zones” in the course of a walk; let alone in the course of a day’s riding. If you’d like a factitious account of why the island is so varied Lena has, as a result of a little research and a lot of imagination (combined with being bored on the back of the scooter) documented The Story of Ten Rif and the Kraken.
For me the two really outstanding areas were Las Canadas (GPX); a collection of volcanic craters to the north-east of Teide peak; accessed from the junction of roads TF-21 and TF-24 and Anaga; the North East portion of the island. Both were virtually abandoned; in both cases I could count on one hand the number of people we encountered. Las Canadas is a dramatic wasteland; there is minimal sign of life and lots of aerated volcanic rock. Anaga is the other extreme; so full of life and vegetation it’s positively lush. Every step seemed to trigger something in the undergrowth running off. We took a route (GPX) up from the church in Catalanes, which goes up into the Monte de Aguirre “restricted zone”. In both cases I found a route on WikiLoc that was well reviewed and followed that, the routes are linked above.
The more frequented spots like Teide peak and the Masca canyon were fine days out but packed with people. The peak is moderately interesting and worth a visit if you are happy to pay a fortune (€27 per adult) on the cable-car; the hike from the upper cable car station to the peak requires a permit and only takes 20mins. It’s not really that grand a view though; it’s not like there are nearby mountains to gaze at. If you do take the cable car up book on-line in advance; we didn’t and wasted two hours in the queue. Fun. Masca canyon is stunning but it’s jammed full of people; literally by the busload. Walking down the canyon and taking the boat ride back to Los Gigantes seems to be the popular way to do it but I wouldn’t bother; the boats are total chaos and public transport back to Masca from Los Gigantes is awful – if we had not been lucky enough to hitch a ride back we would have been looking at a 3hr journey. Fun. If I did it again I would walk both ways.
Vital information for anyone planning to hike on the island is that the hike to the top of Teide and two of the national parks in Anaga; El Pijaral and Monte de Aguierre require a free government permit. The process is easy enough, especially with the help of Google Translate – just fill in the forms linked above and it’ll arrive in your inbox.
Being a tourist destination the island is packed with every cuisine imaginable and we’ve eaten lavishly without spending a fortune. The supermarkets are cheap; some cheese and sliced sausage alongside fresh bread every day has kept us happy for breakfast and lunch. With some careful tripadvisoring (there is an art to it, people) we’ve averaged about €30 a night for a shared starter, two mains, two desserts and a drink each.
The local cuisine is, largely, a variation on the usual Spanish fayre. They are (justifiably) proud of their wrinkly, salty potatoes and their ♂mojo♂ sauces. Although I can’t help but wonder if they’ve been extracted from a certain groovy British secret agent, yeah baby, yeah! Gofio is very odd; it’s a toasted cereal flour which is mixed up with who-knows-what to make a grey bar that might have nuts in it. What I can say is that it definitely tastes like Gofio. I can’t say with any certainty if that’s a good thing.
It might be worth noting that this is a package deal; it’s the cheapest way to get flights and accommodation. Even Google Flights and AirBnB couldn’t get close to the price. Hotels are a pain in the ass for WiFi and working but I’ve been fairly lucky; the “Free Wi-Fi” the hotel was listed as having seems to operate on dial-up but their in-room WiFi was only €10 for the week, for two devices and it’s been rock solid. That said I am going to try to avoid working from hotels from here on out; there is always some complication with connectivity and it’s so much nicer to stay with someone – rather than just stay somewhere.
*Top-Travel-Tip: Always have an electronic copy of your critical documents available, for example in Dropbox. It’s especially important to have an electronic copy of the critical documents of anyone dopey enough to interpret “no, you don’t need to bring any cash” as “no you don’t need to bring your wallet or anything at all which it contains”.