We received an email recently asking us how up to date our Real Tenerife Island Drives routes were. It’s a fair question. Things change on a regular basis. But we chose the routes specifically because they follow old roads and take anyone who drives them into parts of Tenerife where life and traditions haven’t changed that much in decades; places which are worlds apart from the resorts on the south and south west coasts.
However, it looks as though one of the routes will change significantly in the not too distant future. Maybe not the road layout, or the sights to see along it, but being actually able to access it by car.
A lot of the focus on Masca is on when the Masca Barranco will be open. But there’s another potential issue lying in store when it does reopen and that’s whether there will be limited access for visiting car drivers. If there is, and there are definitely plans to implement a scheme which restricts traffic, then our Hidden Depths driving route will be seriously affected.
But for now the road remains open to all, so between now and summer 2020 it might be worth experiencing one of the most interesting areas of Tenerife; an area of rich history, dramatic scenery and quirky traditions.
Here are six scenes illustrating some features from the route.
Masca is a scenic jewel in Tenerife’s crown, and deservedly so. It’s an amazing place, the snaking drive to reach it adding to the adrenaline rush and amazement at seeing this tucked-away treasure for the first time. But what lies beyond? People talk about tourism ruining Masca, to a certain extent. Continue beyond the village and you’ll discover what life is like in other parts of Teno where tourism hasn’t had such a great impact.
A few ravines along lies one of our favourite valleys on Tenerife, El Palmar, whose lush loveliness is enhanced by a curious cone in its centre. Driving scenic roads is all well and good, and anyone can follow a map, satnav, or Google Maps, but what none of them do is add meat to the bones of the scenes you pass. Knowing the whys and hows is vital to us, not just so we can share interesting information with others but because we really, really need to know why there’s an earthy, pie cone in a village; what’s the source of distinctive aroma wafting through the streets; and the reason behind a bizarre-looking sculpture of a creature chasing people.
The area around Buenavista del Norte is also a deep well of intriguing natural and human-made attractions. This was prime land following the conquest; the reason why there are so many historic towns, villages, and grand haciendas in this part of Tenerife. Even though it is dramatically eye-catching, the coastline lacks decent beaches. So although it attracted nobility way back in the day, it has had less of an appeal as far as mass tourism is concerned. The result is the area remains unspoilt and unmistakably Canarian.
Whereas Garachico draws the daytrippers, other towns such as Los Silos stay off the coach excursion radar. There might not be any huge attractions to warrant coach-excursion interest, but there is charm, history and bags of odd little snippets to satisfy the appetites of inquisitive independent travellers who want to experience authentic locations. This is a town which holds an annual storytelling festival and a fiesta in honour of the sea.
Garachico might be known to many, but that’s because it is one of the prettiest towns on Tenerife and the Canary Islands, and another place with a fascinating history. Despite the hordes who visit during daylight hours, the small town doesn’t get clogged like some destinations where overtourism has become a serious problem. In fact most visitors don’t actually explore the town in depth, therefore missing some of the things which make it a joy to wander around.
It was part of this route which had made us think that Tenerife might just be the right island for us. I can remember the exact spot. It was our first visit and we’d left Los Gigantes to take a look at the north of the island. Stopping at a viewpoint above Santiago del Teide, Mount Teide and Pico Viejo revealed their combined enormity for the first time; Santiago del Teide looked alluring in a valley coloured by spring flowers; and the pine forest lining the road was totally unexpected. This was a side to Tenerife we hadn’t known existed.
It was a drive which hooked us.
However, it is likely it is going to change, part of it at least. We knew that when we drove it in April, and have already recorded the route we’ll replace it with when, or if, it does.
Enjoy it in its entirety whilst you still can.
In future we’ll be taking a brief look at more of our Island Drives routes.