Tracking Tenerife’s Volcanic Trails

Wed, April 11th, 2012 - By Andrea Montgomery

Enjoying a picnic in the dappled serenity of Tenerife’s pine forests with only the chatter of birds to hear or sunbathing on one of its quieter beaches with just the sound of the lapping waves to lull you, it’s hard to imagine the violent forces of nature that created this island paradise. But in many parts of Tenerife the evidence of its eruptive past is clear to see and has formed a landscape of surreal beauty that is accessible to all to enjoy. Here are three of my favourite volcano trails.

Site of Tenerife’s last volcanic eruption in November 1909 when, for 10 days, Mount Chinyero spewed molten lava that ran through the forests, destroying everything in its wake as it crept ever closer to the village of Las Manchas in the hills above Santiago del Teide. Fearful of losing their homes, the terrified villagers brought statues of Christ, the Virgin Mary and Santa Ana (their Patron Saint) to a spot below the encroaching lava and prayed for their salvation. Miraculously (they say), the lava flow split and took a course around the village before coming to a halt.

Now a popular and easy, circular hiking trail, the Chinyero Natural Reserve can easily be reached from Los Gigantes, Playa de la Arena, Alcalá and Playa de San Juan, beginning on the TF38 road from Chio to Boca Tauce above the west coast.

Perhaps Tenerife’s most famous eruption, and most damaging in structural terms, was the 1706 eruption of Montaña Negro which destroyed 384 neighbourhoods in the little town of Garachico and filled its harbour with solidified lava, robbing it of its status as Tenerife’s most important port. Stand on the port today and look up the cliff in front of you to see the twin frozen streams of lava that caused the devastation, or take the San Juan del Reparo trail from behind the town to follow the course of the eruption.

Teide National Park
The ultimate vulcanologist’s destination, Teide National Park is a 10 mile wide volcanic crater whose surfaces chronicle the eruptive history of Tenerife and whose colours change with the hour of the day, the colour of the sky and the seasons. Many visitors choose to take the cable car to within 200 metres of the peak for a satellite view of the Canary Islands. A walk from the top cable car station to the Pico Viejo (old peak) gives you some of the most stunning views you’re likely to see with your feet still on the ground.

Walk or drive through the desolate lava fields produced by the last volcanic eruption to take place within the National Park in 1798 into which the Boca Tauce to Chio road is carved and you’ll see Las Narices del Teide (Teide’s nostrils), the source of the eruption. On a clear day, floating off the southern tip of La Gomera, you can see El Hierro, the smallest of the Canary Islands, which has been witnessing volcanic eruptions off its coast for the past six months. Clearly, volcanoes are not yet done with our little islands in the sun.

Posted : Wednesday, April 11th, 2012 at 11:08 am
Category : about tenerife
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