With heavy snow in the UK and Mount Teide wearing her finest winter white, peak holiday season looms and thoughts turn to an escape to the sun. What better time to think about pulling on the walking shoes and heading into the great outdoors to explore some of Tenerife’s lesser known beauty spots?
Keep the fitness levels high, shed a pound or two and discover the breathtaking beauty that our little island in the sun has to offer with TM’s brand new series – Walk This Way.
Why walk this way?
La Caldera is a large volcanic crater nestling amongst the pine trees of the upper La Orotava Valley above Tenerife’s north west coast.
Just off the main TF21 Teide National Park to La Orotava road and on two bus routes from Puerto de la Cruz, it’s easily accessible from the north of the island and even from the south and west for car drivers, provided you’re happy to make an early start.
Endless trails meander amongst dense forest with stunning views of Mount Teide on the horizon and the whole sweeping vista of La Orotava Valley at your feet. On most days of the year the air is thick with the heady scent of hot pine and on winter days when the clouds roll in the fires are lit and the aroma of wood smoke fills the damp air.
For me, the contrast between this area and the coastal region couldn’t be more marked. Here, the landscape is a dense emerald green where fat pine trees festooned in lichen tower above your head like a whole casting studio of Tree Beard wannabes.
Alongside the picnic zone on the path that skirts the crater is the characterful log cabin restaurant of La Caldera. Patrons tether their horses further along the path or park their forest fire trucks outside while they enjoy a lunch of grilled trout from the nearby fish farm.
Hike this way
From the wide forest pista (path) of La Caldera a trail snakes up through the forest, ever higher until it reaches the ridge and the world below opens up at your feet. You can sit on flat rock chair, dangle your legs and tuck into egg butties in front of a wide screen vista that makes you glad to be alive.
From there the path enters a wonderland of giant pine trees covered in the tattered clothing of lichen and huge bushes of sweet scented yellow broom in the dappled sunlight.
Feeling like you’re the first person to discover this magical trail, you weave your way through the dense foliage, crossing old water courses and rock rivers, until you arrive at the lip of a long, deep ravine.
Skirting the ravine, sometimes the ledge hangs above the sea of clouds that fills the void below so it feels as if you fulfilled that childhood imagining of stepping out of an aircraft and onto the clouds.
At the far side of the ravine there’s a tiny stretch of path that has Indiana Jones fans breaking into the familiar theme tune and vertigo sufferers looking nervously around for the alternative route as the ledge narrows to nerve testing proportions and a hand rail embedded into the cliff face becomes your new best friend.
The homeward journey adds gravity defying balance to the list of achievements being notched up as forest slopes thickly coated in dry pine needles present a slalom run that takes you freestyling back to the forest floor without the aid of skis.
Stroll this way
The wonderful thing about La Caldera is that all you have to do is step off the bus or out of the car in the car park and you’re right in the middle of rural Tenerife.
You can do a circuit of the crater which takes you along an easy, dappled path past the Caldera restaurant. Or you can follow the wide forest path that begins beyond the restaurant and heads towards the rock formation of Los Ã“rganos which is hewn into the cliff face of the ridge.
Popular with locals on horseback, hikers en route to more challenging endeavours and a motley assortment of strollers, this is a well used woodland way.
Peaks: For me, the highlight of the Los Ã“rganos hike is the scenery overdose. From the ever-present Mount Teide and undulating hills of the deepest green with isolated cottages peeking above the canopy, to plunging ravines boiling with clouds.
Troughs: I”M always glad to get the first long, hard slog through the trees from the path to the ridge over and done with in the first third of the walk. It’s a thigh and lung tester of a climb.
My view: 4 Stars – One of my absolute favourite areas for walking on Tenerife. Endless paths give so many choices of routes and scenery that I recommend repeated doses should be applied regularly to keep the soul and heels in tip top condition.