Walking the Caminos Reales of Tenerife

Fri, September 6th, 2013 - By Andrea Montgomery

If you’ve been taking advantage of Britain’s lovely summer to wander its picturesque country lanes, there’s no need to pack the rucksack away for the next seven months before you can once again enjoy the hedgerows and cottage gardens. On Tenerife the summer never ends and the island’s tapestry of cobbled ‘caminos reales‘ are a joy to wander any time of the year.

 

Camino Real, Santiago del Teide

 

When the Spanish first conquered Tenerife at the end of the 15th century, they found an island ripe for development where growing conditions for the lucrative sugar cane crop would ensure rapid financial returns. But getting the crops to market was not going to be easy on an island criss-crossed by deep ravines and mountain ranges. So the Spanish Crown set about a programme of developing the myriad of paths used by the Guanche to move their animals between winter and summer grazing.

 

Camino Real, Anaga Mountains

 

Using money from the Crown, paths were cobbled and widened to make them broad enough for a donkey and cart to traverse and on the main routes, local authorities were paid to maintain them, hence they became known as ‘caminos reales‘, royal paths. Today many of those paths have been restored and maintained by the island’s environmental departments and they provide a network of beautiful walking paths that take you up into the mountains and down to the coast.

Historically, one of the most important caminos reales is the Camino de Chasna that traverses the island from La Orotava, up through Teide National Park and down the other side through Vilaflor (formerly Chasna) and on to Granadilla and Guimar from where it then breaks off into smaller sections to join villages within Adeje and Arona.

Camino Real, Teno National Park

 

Few of us want to traverse the island from north to south, preferring instead to take a more leisurely stroll through country lanes and for that, there are numerous caminos reales from which to chose. One of my favourite walking places is the Anaga Mountians where you’ll find a lovely camino real joining Cruz del Carmen to Chinamada and continuing all the way to Punta del Hidalgo. In fact the mountains are riddled with old trading routes and you could spend a week just exploring this region.

Camino Real, Los Realejos

 

In the south, the cobbled path that joins San Miguel de Abona with the Centinela Mirador is an easy climb up on the way out and a lovely descent on the return and takes in a panorama across the arid, volcano dotted southern landscape. In the west the fabulous El Palmar to Teno Alto path is constantly lined with hedgerows brimming with flowers and the cliff walks through the stunning Teno National Park take in some of the finest views on the island, when they’re not veiled in low clouds. Less prone to cloud, the Arguayo to Las Manches way traverses the side of Santiago del Teide valley above Tamaimo before descending into the lovely Valle de Arriba. In the north west the Rambla de Castro coastal camino real takes you along Tenerife’s most beautiful stretch of coastline from Los Realejos to Punta Brava on the outskirts of Puerto de la Cruz.

So, instead of resigning yourself to a hedgerow-free winter, book a holiday to Tenerife and take to the royal paths to enjoy the island’s famous eternal spring.

Posted : Friday, September 6th, 2013 at 11:14 am
Category : about tenerife
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