Top Winter Walking Destinations: The Canaries
When I was offered the chance to take part in the Tenerife Walking Festival earlier this year I jumped at the chance to explore this unique landscape (and of course to take advantage of the weather – winters in my home, Scotland, do not offer many sunshine hours!). Tenerife gets a tough time as a destination, people expect your typical beach resort and being an island they expect there to be little traditional culture left. After the great success of the Gran Canaria Walking Festival, 2015 was Tenerife’s turn. I’m delighted to say it didn’t disappoint!
Why the Canary Islands?
So let’s put aside the fantastic temperature all year round. Most people know that the islands were created by volcanoes and expect barren, dry dessert like landscapes and although it definitely ticks all of these boxes when thinking about Teide National Park, it is also blessed with lush green forests. This is the main reason why I have a soft spot for the area. One day you can be exploring Mount Teide, spotting the famous rock structures along the route. The next day, you start your morning walking through forests located high in the cloud line, spotting beautiful flora, making your way down to a small traditional town where a chilled beer a waits your arrival. If a chilled beer isn’t your thing, why not visit a local winery for a wine tasting in a sun filled court yard.
Each island has its own unique experience suitable for all levels.
Walking in Tenerife
Being one of the largest of the Canary Islands the best way to see the island is via our Drive & Hike option. You can explore the national park with spectacular views of Mount Teide, as you enjoy the heat you will be gazing to the mountains peak which is more than likely dusted with snow!
At night the sky in the national park comes alive with stars. Did you know that Mount Teide is one of the top locations to view the Milkyway? In fact Professor Stephen Hawking counts this as one of his favourite locations for star gazing in the world. In the North of the island, forests home beautiful wild flowers and laurel trees. These woods are some of the only ones left in the world.
Walking in La Gomera
The small island of La Gomera has almost a Jurassic feel to it. Vast forest covered lands, lush vegetation and a challenging walk! This one is definitely not for the faint hearted but its tough accents and descents offer fantastic and rewarding views. Garajonay National Park is a World Heritage site and covers 33% of the island.
The islands capital, San Sebastian is an interesting first stop with multi coloured buildings scattered in every direction. Fantastic culture and food to be found on every corner! We love this customer's Blog Post: https://alexisgrant.com/2014/12/28/la-gomera-travel-adventure/
El Hierro: Edge of Europe
El Hierro is one of the lesser known islands and is a true hidden gem! Unspoilt villages, authentic hospitality and bizarre twisted trees, shaped by the forces of Mother Nature.
If you have been to the main islands and you are looking for something a little different then this is the island for you. It offers easier walking options and with it being the smallest of the seven islands you can explore most of the island in just over a week.
My top packing tips!
> Sunscreen, this is a must as temperatures are between 15-25 degrees all year round
> Take layers, walking in the higher areas can be chilly in the morning
> Walking poles. Tough descents can be hard on your knees but walking poles ease the pressure