Sugared or covered in chocolate, that’s probably your childhood memory of almonds, after all they don’t just grow on trees, hmm hang on, apparently they do. Memorable crunches were very much on my mind when I first heard of Ruta del Almendra, the annual almond blossom walk in Santiago del Teide but a 4 hour wander through boughs of pink and white petals soon opened my eyes to one of nature’s best shows in west Tenerife.
Weather conditions make it a fine balancing act to try to catch the blossom in peak form and this year the season kicks off a little earlier on Saturday 29 January as Santiago del Teide Ayuntamiento (council) provide a guided tour for a mere 4 euros. Two years ago I roused myself for a 9.30 am start from the plaza outside the Ayuntamiento town hall in a chilly Santiago del Teide. Some 120 walkers had signed up and gathered with backpacks of water, food, and extra jumpers as well as sturdy shoes and an appetite for adventure.
A rough track behind the town hall led us in staggered groups onto the main road and down the Valle de Ariba turn off. Starting at this already elevated level the wind can whip across on the open path but it kept me alert and appreciative of the clear stream trickling alongside the path and the majestic pines rising up the hillside in the distance. An old small church made an interesting diversion and also marked the turning point to a rising path across the road to the right. This is where the going got a little tougher, a mix of mud and large stone blocks requiring big steps and careful footwork.
The day I did the walk was just after a stormy few weeks and it was part curse and part blessing. The almond trees began to appear as we climbed and even after a prolonged shaking from the wind there was still quite a bit of defiant blossom left. On the plus side the rains had left a stunning legacy. As we broached the hill Mount Teide appeared, capped extensively with glistening snow; a fine reward for our climbing efforts. This year’s scorching weather should see less snow but lots more blossom, you’re a winner either way.
Pushing on, the path descended into the Chinyero lava fields, a sea of craggy dark volcanic outpouring, tricky to walk on but with fascinating patterns to admire. Chinyero was the last Tenerife eruption in November 1909 and walking over an important part of history added a new edge to the day. One final descent took us down a natural staircase into the old village of Arguayo where the guides gave talks about the history of the area and later a fine spread was laid on in the sports hall. A coach back to Santiago del Teide completed an engrossing day and gave us a chance to rest our legs.
The Saturday 29 January walk is organised by Santiago del Teide council, costs 4 euros and places are limited. Call 922863127 ext 234 to book.
After that date a private company El Cardon recommended by the council organise guided walks. They are on 922127938