San Blas Environmental Reserve, South Tenerife’s Secret Valley

Fri, March 27th, 2015 - By Linda

As we wind our way up the hillside, the sound of a conch shell echoes around the bluffs, blown by a Guanche king, who perches atop rocks below. We emerge onto a dirt road, and it’s like returning from time travel.

 

Guanche Mencey, San Blas Environmental Reserve

 

I’ve journeyed back to the formation of the Canary Islands, when volcanoes, spewing lava from the bowels of the earth, formed the ground on which I now stand; on through the Stone Age practices of Tenerife’s aborigines; to the days when rock was quarried from San Blas Valley, which is where I am, and the times when early Spanish settlers scratched a living from an inhospitable environment.

 

Sandos San Blas Nature Resort

 

For anyone who wants to see the majesty of a volcanic landscape, but doesn’t want to spend an hour  travelling to Teide National Park; or for anyone who wants to know something of the island’s history, but doesn’t want to miss the sunshine visiting a museum; this is the alternative, and it’s only about 20 minutes from Playa de las Americas and Los Cristianos. The San Blas Environmental Reserve, hosted by the Sandos San Blas Hotel, close to Golf del Sur, neatly combines history, geology, and nature study, in an entertaining way.

Our group was first invited to enter a dark tunnel, in the best Disney World tradition, where videos illustrated how the islands had formed. I don’t want to spoil any surprises, but I will tell you that this part of the tour included a “volcano experience”, and that of being on an emigrants’ ship from the early 20th century, when so many people fled the islands in search of work abroad.

 

San Blas Environmental Reserve

 

As we blinked back into daylight, we were given individual audio guides, which allowed our leader to communicate with us in English, and which supplied appropriate recordings about what we saw, as we became strung out along a walk through the valley.

The audio guide described how this surreal landscape was formed millions of years ago;  and its history, as actors portrayed various scenes from life past; and about its wildlife, which is returning since hunting was forbidden and the area became protected.

 

San Blas Environmental Reserve

 

The information, supplied by the universities of La Laguna and Cataluña, is well-researched, accurate and carefully condensed so it doesn’t get boring. Our wee adventure included being pulled across a vivid green lake on a raft, Tom Sawyer-style (the colour comes from algae since no chemicals are used in the area which would harm the flora and fauna as well as the algae). Finally we observed, nestled in the sheltering rocks at the head of the valley, the place thought to have been holy to the Guanches.

So here we are on that dirt track, and another Disney touch, an electric buggy to return us to the hotel and the final part of the tour, a visit to the small museum, in the centre of which stools, resembling tree stumps, are arranged. Sitting on them, we turn 360º as screens descend on all, four walls, with videos and more information about this quite extraordinary area.

 

San Blas Environmental Reserve

 

It has been two hours of entertainment, light exercise and interest. I don’t have space to tell you everything, but fully recommend a visit to discover some of Tenerife’s secrets – and perhaps a tasty fresh fish lunch in nearby Los Abrigos to round off.

Park in the San Blas Hotel car park, and take the lift to the 2nd floor, where reception for the Experience is located. It’s €15 for adults and €12 for children, and there are several tours each day in different languages. To book a tour in English ring 922749010. Check their Facebook page for tour times.

Posted : Friday, March 27th, 2015 at 12:44 pm
Category : about tenerife
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