|Andrew's crazy hike up above El Palmar|
******But then the big day came and I was refreshed and to be honest rather excited and floating about on adrenaline; we were going to Volcano land in the El Tiede National Park. Breakfast was gobbled down and forgive me, but I had to pee a million times due to nerves, but then backpacks ready and off we went!
So my friend, have you ever walked around a Volcano? I hadn't and I really didn't expect what we came across doing the circular trail around Chinyero, over lava flows and ash and through burnt pine tree forests and paths littered with the largest pine cones I've ever seen.
Allow me please to be your guide...
|top - the path from the roadside; left - the true path starts; right - massive pine cones!|
So this was the official start of our route, as modelled by Andrew, note the white and yellow painted lines on the rock behind him, they denote an 'ok you're going the right way'. I step off the path to hug a pine, it smelt so good! The paths were all winding and beautiful and then they opened right up and lava rock was everywhere.
Then it began to narrow and after a wee climb we ended up on pure lava rock without plant life bar some lichen, for a good time and then saw this massive erratic rock. This section ended abruptly with a move to grey sludge and red grit.
The other side and the lava rocks continue on as a river into the fog, we followed it a little while and then turned back into forest with slightly rougher paths which soon smoothed out. Oregano grows wild by the side of the paths at this point and it is so refreshing to pick some, crunch it and smell it in.
The landscape is at it's most beautiful (the ground is bouncy with pine needles) when you get your view of the volcano. I took so many photos from all areas but I like this one due to the memory of the smell and cool air just here. The rest of the way back to car was a lovely walk though open pine forest, slowly climbing upwards.
The last eruption here was in 1909 but in 2012 there was also a fire that ripped through the forest so it adds to the drama of the landscape and the other worldly atmosphere of the hike. The smell is beautiful bar that of the lava flows which do still have a peculiar sulphur whiff and a feeling of being on Mars as some of the lava stones are red and so in fact is the hue of the volcano. We met a good few people doing this walk but everyone was going in the opposite direction! It's circular but come on, the guide books say to go our way.
|Us and Chinyero|
Oh my goodness, this is one of those bucket list adventures that you simply must do, if it's possible. The landscape around El Tiede is mesmerising and the view of the volcano took my breath away, it's the 3rd highest in the world. Even the drive to and from the area is other-wordly, I imagine it will stay in my memory forever. It was hard to capture it in photographs as it changed so much mile after mile, so I'll leave it at one panorama with the Volcano in it.
|El Tiede Volcano with many different coloured deposits and the ridge of the caldera.|
It's 27 Euros to get the cable car to the top of the volcano but I believe it was totally worth it, the ride up was fun in itself. Neither of us have never before stood so far above the clouds and had such vistas stretch out before us. It was cold and there was snow, it being -4 and 55km/h when we were there. But you just can't wipe the inane grin off your face and we even got the giggles. The paths were really good but the tiredness had hit me a bit and I think I had mild altitude sickness, so I was wobbly for a tiny bit.
|1. The extra bit up to the 'cooking pot' 2. Recycling is important even up here! 3. The view from the cable car (the shadow) and the caldera.|
|panorama of the caldera from the viewing point at the cable car station|
Only a few people get to right up to see into the volcano and you have to pay extra and have organised a license beforehand. Believe me, I had seen enough to blow my wee mind! We were the cable car last down but one and the only sad thing was the shop was closed - I so needed a souvenir.
To finish the day we had grand driving tour of the national park and north coast back to Garrachico for a late dinner and then home for the last evening, exhausted. The last day was spent driving all the way back to the airport sucking in every sight from the road that we could, sadly it doesn't take long to end up back in resort hell with millions of horrid apartments, water parks and clubs. Give me rural any day...
|El Tiede waves goodbye from above the clouds as we fly homeward.|
Next - back to the allotment!