Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Tenerife: drama and luxury

Near the summit of Mt Teide

Sea level to 11,627 feet in not much longer than one hour by road and cable car can be a pretty heady experience, especially if exertion makes you quickly short of breath. The trip up Tenerife’s Mount Teide must be one of the world’s most dramatic changes in altitude. Dramatic is also the word for the views from the path just below the top (the actual summit is over 500 feet higher), which are particularly recommended at sunrise. I’ve just been privileged to be up there at sunset, the mauve brown caldera of Las Canada below in the foreground, white, high rise holiday accommodation in the far distance, La Gomera off shore, beyond a stretch of ocean obscured by clouds jostling like sheep crowded in a pen.  The sun dipped, leaving a red gash across the horizon. It was, to use that overworked adjective in its true context, awesome. Details of sunset trips here.

Dusk in Mount Teide National Park
You can get away with trainers or reasonably stout leather shoes on the 15 – 20 minute walk from cable car station to the look out point – but I would recommend taking proper walking shoes or even boots. The volcanic rock is uncomfortable and uneven underfoot.  While it wasn’t very cold last week, remember temperatures drop sharply with height, so though you may have been relaxing in warm sunshine by the pool, after dark it can easily fall below freezing point up there. And take slow strides. A colleague – who wasn’t walking quickly – experienced dizziness in a short time.

Though it’s certainly not to be attempted without some prior heart-lung exercise - hiking up would represent a more graduated way of adjusting to the reduction in oxygen. From the starting point between the cable car bottom station and the Minas de San Jose it takes around 4hrs 30mins  - though obviously it’s best to allow longer (you need to get a permit well in advance if you’re up to the final slog to the summit).  I cannot speak from experience. Though I’ve hiked on Tenerife and can vouch for the excellence and variety of walks there, I haven’t got around to Mount Teide. Best consult the experts Andrea and Jack Montgomery, whose newly published book, Walk This Way Tenerife, is a comprehensive guide to more than 30 of the island’s best routes. Can’t wait to road test it. 

It's worth noting that terrorism attack in Egypt and, though probably to a lesser extent in winter, Tunisia, have put extra pressure on accommodation in the Canary Islands. Occupancy rates are currently very high. Do not leave it until the last minute to book 

Gran Hotel Bahia del Duque

Frequent visitors to this website will be aware that sedentary holidays aren’t my thing. But whether you just want to veg or use it as a base for walking, you can’t but be impressed by the Gran Hotel Bahia del Duque on the Costa Adeje. You need a GPS to find your way around it, mind. Its lay out is geographically challenging. Its tree shaded gardens cascade down to the promenade with pools and eateries (there are eight) at different levels. Though it is close to the popular Playa de las Americas it is decidedly upmarket, with a spa and free wi fi. Lovely rooms have balconies, his and hers wash basins, big showers – mine also had a bath and digital scales. With 351 rooms and suites this is a sizeable complex, yet you do not feel the presence of so many fellow guests. There are tennis and squash courts, billiards and a gym. A gate, opened from the outside by your room key, leads to the promenade and beach. The breakfast buffet (ok – the coffee isn’t great) is magnificent and there’s a short order cook to produce an omelette, for example. But it’s sometimes the smallest detail that signals quality. Filling a bowl with fresh fruit I noticed they had even peeled the kiwi fruit. Classy.

Tour operators offering holidays at Bahia del Duque include Thomson and Classic Collection

Images of Mount Teide are courtesy of Tenerife Tourism

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