On September 2006 I went to Tenerife Isl. and
La Gomera Isl. (see map) with my wife. We don't like arranged travels and we
prefer to travel on our own, because we think is the only way you can get in touch with
the real country and its people. This way of travelling is harder and more expensive than
others, but also more pleasant, relaxing and, that's the best, gives you a different point
of view on the culture and way of life.
After my experience here you have my advice if you
plan to travel on your own to these areas. You have to understand that
this is MY PERSONAL POINT OF VIEW and that it is not my intention to
criticize the people or culture of any of the mentioned places. You also must take into
account that these observations are from year 2006. Things might have
changed (either in the right or in the wrong way) since then. You must
also bear in mind that this is not a travel guide, but just the description
of my own journey and my own impressions. If you don't agree with
some of the opinions below just write your own WEB page with you own opinions,
but don't bother me.
The main idea of this journey was to visit The Canary Islands,
that we had never visited before. We had to choose which of the many islands
of the group to visit, and we selected Tenerife ,
one of the main Islands, but we also planned a two-day visit to the La
that is very close to Tenerife.
I found a relatively cheap flight from Palma de Mallorca to
Tenerife South (via Barcelona) in
with Air-Europa .
There are two airports in Tenerife, one in the south of the island (Reina
Sofia), near San Isidro, and another in the north (Los Rodeos), near
La Laguna . Taking into account the small size of the island (about 90
km along) and the short distance between the two airports (about 60 km)
it's usually not important the airport you are taken to, but of course that
depends on the way you plan to leave the airport (car, bus, etc.) and travel
by the island.
After a 5 hour flight (3 and half hours from Barcelona to Tenerife) we
arrived at about 16:00, hired the car I had previously arranged with
and drove by the motorway to Puerto de La Cruz, about 100 km away from the
airport (I wish we had been taken to the northern airport, which was much
closer, but....). It's important to mention that, in general, car rental
companies don't allow to move their cars between islands by ferry.
However, as my intention was to stay some days in La Gomera I wanted to take
the car with me (I wanted to avoid having to leave one car in the port, load
the baggage in the ferry, hire a new car in the arrival port, etc....) and
CICAR kindly gave me permission to do so.
In Puerto de la Cruz
we stayed at Hotel Las Aguilas ,
located on top of a restful hill and all surrounded by gardens. It has an
excellent view above Puerto de la Cruz
and also towards El Teide, rooms are
extremely spacious (in fact they are two-room apartments, including a
kitchen and a large balcony) and the only drawback is that, being so
isolated, you need to take the car to go anywhere (shopping, dining, etc.).
We spent our fist day in the Loro Parque
(Parrot park), an impressive and well designed modern Zoo that not only has
hundreds of species of parrots but also gorillas, monkeys, jaguars,
tigers, penguins, etc. The visit also includes several spectacular
shows of sea lions, dolphins, birds and orcas. You will need to spend a
whole day to visit the park, so start your visit as early as possible
(and pray it's not a hot day :-). Apart from the basic ticket there is also
the possibility to pay an extra for what they call the "Discovery tour" ,
a guided visit to some of the installations not accessible by everyone, but
that disappointed a little to me (and furthermore made the day much more
stressing due to the need to match the visit time slot they assign you to).
Puerto de la Cruz is basically a tourist city, that however keeps an interesting old
town, so it's a good idea to spend some time visiting it and walking by its
promenade. There are many shops and plenty of restaurants, however due to
the last-minute decision to visit Loro Parque we didn't have much time left
to visit Puerto de la Cruz, just some hours to have a first impression of
Before continuing describing our journeys by Tenerife, it's necessary to
explain a little its topographic particularities. The island is
basically a volcanic cone (El Teide)
, 3718 m. high, which slopes go down to
the sea. Because of this the northern coast is relatively humid and green
(the humid air coming from the north is trapped by the mountain) while
the southern coast is almost a desert. I have no doubt that the southern
coast has its own charm, but for me the most interesting was the northern
coast, so we concentrated our journeys in that area. On the other hand, as
far as the vegetation is concerned, it also very influenced by the mountain.
Between sea level and about 1000 m. high there are very few trees and
basically you can only find bushes and cactus. Above 1000 m and up to
about 2000 m, all around the mountain, there are beautiful forests,
mainly of pine trees (Natural Park of the Corona Forestal
And above 2000 m. high almost no vegetation can be found (it's the
domain of the volcano, in the National Park of El Teide). There is an
exception to this rule, in the north-eastern part of the Island you can find
the Monte de las Merdedes
, a beautiful, although small, primitive forest of
The following day we went to the north-west part of the Island, so we took a
secondary road that takes by Los Realejos and La Guancha towards Icod de los
Vinos. Icod de los Vinos is a small town with some examples of old Colonial-style houses in
some of its streets, the church of San Marcos (first part of the XVI
century) and the well know Drago Milenario (a millennial and 15m high Drago,
a very curious tree endemic of the Canary Islands.). From there we continued
towards Garachicho and Buenavista towards Punta de Teno , the most western
cape of the island and from where you have a nice view of the the cliffs of
Los Gigantes. After going back to Buenavista we drove to El Palmar
Portelas and Masca by road
crosses the massif of Teno
and that offers spectacular views of the
gorges of the area. After some km. we got to Santiago del Teide, where we
had a typical local dinner, Conejo [Rabbit] al salmorejo and Papas Arrugadas [Boiled
potatoes] with Mojo in the restaurant of Bodegas Chinyer .
One day later we had arranged a maritime excursion with Tenerife Dolphin
by the western coast of the Island. The excursion
takes about five hours and takes you from Los Cristianos to Playa
de Masca , where the boat stops for a while, just enough to have a quick
lunch and swim if you wish. The best of the excursion are the absolutely
impressive views of the cliffs of Los Gigantes
and the dolphins and small whales that can be watched quite
often from the boat.
The following day we had to move to La Gomera island, but the ferry was
leaving late in the afternoon so we spent the morning quickly visiting the
north-east part of the Island. From Puerto de la Cruz we went to
Tacoronte, Bajamar and Punta Hidalgo,
then we took the road to Tegueste and to the park of Monte de las
a small but beautiful humid forest, that contrasts with the desolate lands
that surround it. It's specially interesting to stop in the view point know
as Pico del Ingles [Peak of the English man]
that offers excellent views of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, La Laguna and,
of course, the omnipresent Teide. All this area is know as the peninsula de
Later we drove to Los Cristianos and took the Fred Olsen
ferry that in 45 minutes left us in San Sebastian , the capital city
of La Gomera. It was already late so we went directly to the hotel,
the excellent Parador Nacional de Turismo ,
located on top of a cliff, just above the city, had dinner in its restaurant
(I had a delicious grouper cooked the local style and a bottle of the
excellent local white wine Asocado)
After a quiet and restful night, we left San Sebastian to make an
excursion with the car around the island. La Gomera is really small but moving from one town to another is not so easy as it
could seem because of its orographic particularities. The island is a high
circular plateau with several gorges at which end the coastal towns
are located. So moving from one town to the other means almost always having
to go up about 1000 m. by a gorge and down by another. Up to about 800
m. high the landscape is mainly desert-like (with some exceptions in the
valleys) and isolated palms are the only trees, but above that height
there are pine tree forests and a little higher the Laurisilva (a
tertiary forest of bay trees and ferns), within the limits of the
National Park of Garajonay .
Well, as I said we left San Sebastian towardsHermigua ,
Lepe , Agulo ,
Vallehermoso , Arure and finally Valle Gran Rey,
that is one of the most tourist areas of the Island. I should have say it
before, but one of the charms of La Gomera is that you don't find those
ugly, huge buildings that populate most coasts of the tourist
towns. They have managed to keep a balance between tourism and nature, and
that makes this island so special. From Valle Gran Rey we took the road that
crosses the National Park of Garajonay and then back to San
Sebastian, passing near the Roque de Agando . We still had some time left in the afternoon to have a walk by
the small old town and promenade of San Sebastian.
The following day and I had planned go rambling by some footpath in
Garajonay and after looking at the different routes I chose one of the most
typical, but that looked really interesting (Bosque del Cedro).
My wife decided that it was too difficult for her and preferred to stay at
the swimming pool of the Parador (great!, I would be free for some hours...
;-). I drove towards the Park and left the car in a place know as Alto
del Contadero (about 1400 m. high). From there the footpath goes down,
initially amongst heathers and later by a tertiary forest (know as
Laurisilva), with 30 m. high bay trees, 15 m. high heathers and 2 m.
high ferns! After a while the path goes along the Arroyo del Cedro, a
stream of water that is very welcome in the warm days (as it was that
day...). Continuing the descend by the forest you get to the Ermita de
Nuestra Se?ra de Lourdes, a small hermitage, and then to the hamlet of
El Cedro, right in the boundaries of the Park and about 800 m. high.
From there you still can go a little more down to the close waterfall (the
biggest of the island) by a very, very steep footpath that continues towards Hermigua.
Well, the easy part (going down 600m from Alto del Contadero to El Cedro)
was done, but I had to go up back by the same route to get to the car.
The excursion has no difficulties at all, however some parts of
path are quite steep and a minimum training is required. It took me
about five hours to complete it, however a good hiker will certainly do it
in less than four hours.
Our two-day stay in La Gomera
was over. Just the minimum time to get a first impression of the island, but
enough to be one of the best memories of our travel to the Canary Islands.
Early in the morning we took the ferry to Tenerife and in less than
one hour we were back in Los Cristianos, from where we had to go to
the National Park of El Teide
the next step of our travel.
After leaving from Los Cristianos, passing by Arona and Vilaflor, we
soon reached the pine tree boundary when entering the Parque Natural de La
Corona Forestal and just a little later we got to the Llanos de Ucanca
door to the domains of god Vulcan, with an absolute astonishing
landscape of rocks, solidified lava and wild nature. Here you enter the
National Park of El Teide and following the road that crosses the
Park you soon get to Los Azulejos
, a group
of blue rocks result of an hydrothermal process, and a few Km later on the
left you have Los Roques ,
a group of rocks of curious shapes which provide a beautiful contrast with
the slope of the close Teide, impressively raising in the background. Right
at the opposite side of the road there is the Parador Nacional de Las
Ca?das del Teide
, the only
hotel of the park, at 2300 m. above sea level in the area know as Las
Ca?das . This hotel is somehow not as
luxurious as one could expect from the Paradores Nacionales group, but
offers the special opportunity to stay overnight comfortably in this really remote, wild
and unique location. In fact it's the only building in the Park, with the
exception of the building of the cable car.
So, we left our baggage in the Parador and then continued our route,
crossing the Park till El Portillo de la Villa, a road junction where
you can find some buildings and restaurants, right at the border of the
Park, where we had lunch at the terrace of the Restaurant Buffet
gourmets, but dishes are huge, prices are reasonable and the Potaje Canario
is very good). The landscape from Llano de Udanca up to El Portillo de la
Villa is a continuous succession of absolutely impressive volcanic
that invite you to stop everywhere to take photos and admire the power of
nature in its wildest dimension. We went back to the hotel right before
sunset, and I took the chance to go walking to the close rocks of Los
Roques to take some photos with that special soft and reddish light I
love so much.
The following day we had planned to go to the top of El Teide
(3718 m high), so we went quite early to the
building (in order to avoid the long queues that are usual at later times).
The fare is quite expensive, but the matter is that it takes you in minutes
up to 3550 m high, from where you can go walking by a good although quite
steep footpath up to the highest point of the mountain (it only takes about
30 to 40 minutes of walking). From there, if you are lucky with the weather
you have a fantastic view of the whole Tenerife island and the near islands
of La Gomera, La Palma and Gran Canaria (it was not our case, as the
visibility was reduced that day by the dust in suspension, coming from the
Sahara desert). In order to use this path, know as path of Telesforo Bravo,
you need a special permission that can be obtained for free from the
Parques Nacionales administration (you are required to show it at the
beginning of the path). Right at the top of the mountain there is
still some residual volcanic activity, with some fumaroles expelling very
hot sulphuric gases, which intense smell accompanies you the last meters of
After going down with the cable car you had better avoid the
bar/restaurant of the cable car building ,
unless you want to pay a lot for nothing. You had better go, for instance to
the restaurant of the Parador
and eat some local speciality, like the stew of goat. WARNING, the
custard (natillas) was served in a soup dish and although it was
delicious you are warned that eating more than half a litter of custard can
be dangerous for your health!
Then, in the afternoon we still had time for a quick visit to the town
of La Orotava
by a good, although curved road that crosses the bushy Valley of La Orotava.
Well, after a quiet night in the middle of nowhere we had got to the
last day of our holidays, but as we had the flight late in the afternoon we
still had the chance to drive by the road that goes from El Portillo de
La Villa to La Laguna, that offers many view points
of both the northern and the southern parts of the island. Then we stopped
at La Laguna ,
that to my point of view is the most beautiful town of Tenerife. We just had
time for a short walk by its charming old town and had lunch a the excellent
Tasca El Obispo .
Right after we drove to the close airport of Los Rodeos (Tenerife North),
returned the car to CICAR and flight back home via Madrid.
Click on the links of the map below to see some
photos of the area in my photo album.