There’s been one part of the north west coast of Tenerife that has whispered ‘come explore’ for years. We’ve driven passed the area on countless occasions, each time commenting on how good it would be to trek along paths through the forest of bananas, grand haciendas and half hidden churches.
And yet for nigh on seven years we ignored the call, usually because every time we passed we were en route to somewhere else. Just before Christmas we decided to rectify the situation.
The new tunnel has taken what traffic there was away from the little community at El Guincho near Garachico. The upside of this, for us anyway, was we were able to park wherever we wanted and we found a space right beside a purpose built cycle track that looked like a perfect starting point for exploration.
Cyclists might be disappointed by their path – it’s not very long – but as a walking highway it was perfect with views over one of Tenerife’s most eye-catching stretches of coastline. The terrain just below us stretching to the rugged coast included crumbling cottages with tiled roofs and beautifully restored mansions nestling amidst the bananas; it’s a very colonial scene and one that provides a glimpse into past times when agriculture and not tourism was king.
The cycle path is good for getting your bearings, but after it ends good natural navigational skills are essential because paths head off here, there and everywhere. Some lead to dead ends, some lead to ‘prohibido’ signs and some double back on themselves.
Initially we followed the road at the end of the cycle path but whilst it took us past an attractive old estate entrance (made less attractive by warnings that the dogs inside would kill) and a Blazing Saddles doorway to nowhere, it petered out and we retraced our steps to head along a less obvious path through the bananas.
Now we were immersed in the countryside we’d viewed from the road on so many occasions. Even though it was winter, oversized lizards scuttled to hide in the crevices in the low plantation walls lining the uneven path. Huge, sprawling bougainvillea bushes added splashes of vibrant colour to the mainly banana leaf green flora as the path meandered through a small ‘quiet as the grave’ hamlet before descending to a delightful little church and plaza dating from the 16th century where we paused to absorb the views.
From there the path continued to the El Patio rural hotel; a blinding white oasis built in 1565 which we’d only ever viewed with awe from afar. But up close, despite its immaculate appearance, we were disappointed. It had an air of secret exclusivity that we weren’t particularly sure we liked. Strange though it sounds, it just didn’t feel welcoming. Maybe if you were a guest it might seem different.
We quickly moved on and took a path that descended in the general direction of the coast, eventually emerging at the small secret cove of Playa de la Consolación – a sparkling gem whose azure waters demand a refreshing dip in summer months, but which seemed far less appealing after the cloud rolled in on a December day.
From the cove the only way is up via a near vertical ascent through the little hamlet of El Guincho, before emerging on the old main road right beside a bar that surely has the most intriguing name on Tenerife. Stopping there for lunch and a beer was an experience in itself which seemed a fittingly off the wall conclusion to a walk we’d wanted to try out for a long time.
The route through El Guincho’s plantations didn’t disappoint; there were lots of fascinating things to see and a couple of surprises – the ideal ingredients for our preferred walks, so we’ll be returning in the near future to map out in detail a new Tenerife Island Walks Route.