Tenerife Heatwave, Hiking in High Temperatures

In typical UK weather fashion, the schools break up for summer and the sun disappears. Time to start surfing the web for cheap flights to Tenerife, particularly as the island is currently experiencing a spate of heat waves with temperatures topping 34ºC in many parts.

Glorious it may be, but it’s also exhausting if you’re planning to go walking while the thermometer mercury’s playing ‘reach for the stars’. Having hiked in temperatures in excess of 40 ºC (in our defence, it wasn’t that hot when we set off), we’ve learned a thing or two about how best to enjoy the heat safely.

The first thing to be aware of is the weather phenomenon on Tenerife known as calima. Calima is a hot, dry wind which comes in off the Sahara hiking temperatures up by 6 to 10 degrees virtually overnight and bringing with it a fine cloud of sand.
Sometimes difficult to detect at coastal levels, particularly in the eastern and southern resorts which tend to be the worst affected areas, look up towards the interior of the island and you’ll notice a yellow haze and poor visibility which, together with the high temperatures, usually denotes the presence of calima.
When calima sets in, usually for three or four days at a time, it’s best not to go hiking in upper levels or to exert yourself too much as the fine sand can affect breathing. Stay close to the coast and stick to strolling mode.

Outside of calima, summer temperatures can still reach the upper 30ºC mark and on rare occasions, over 40ºC, particularly at high altitudes where the sun’s rays are more concentrated. If you’re considering hiking in Teide National Park to enjoy its magnificent, extra-terrestrial landscapes, you’ll find very little shade and intense heat so heed these essential safety tips:

  • Apply high factor sun screen before setting out and re-apply to sensitive areas such as neck and face at regular intervals.
  • Wear a hat – you’re only a few degrees above the Tropic of Cancer and the sun is high.
  • Wear lightweight cotton or cotton/Polyester blend clothing.
  • Take a minimum of 1½ litres of water per person and rehydrate regularly.
  • Pack a lip balm in the rucksack and apply regularly – the atmosphere in the crater is on the dry side of desert whatever time of year it is.
  • Take your time and don’t over-exert yourself.

Later this week I’ll advise on some of our shadier walking routes which are ideal for hot weather hiking.

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