Walking Above the Clouds on Tenerife

You’ve got your heart set on stepping out into the sunshine and making tracks for the great Tenerife countryside to explore virgin forests and breathe in sweeping vistas that will make your heart soar and your head spin with their beauty. Then you walk out the front door of your hotel/apartment/house to find heavy, grey clouds dissecting the hillside.

As far as walking on Tenerife is concerned the day is ruined…except it isn’t. This is Tenerife and on Tenerife most of the time the sun is shining somewhere. A cloud filled sky may just present an opportunity for walkers to experience a vista that still sends a shiver down my spine and makes be almost believe that I’m standing with the gods – and that is the mar de nubes; the sea of clouds.

When thick clouds hang just below the thousand metre mark, the chances are that any walking above that height will be under blue skies of such intensity that when you show friends photographs they’ll swear you’ve ‘tweaked’ the colours with Photoshop. The clouds can act like a portal between one world and another such is the extremes of the land that lies above and below them.

The Montaña Guajara walk (part of our Hiking Highs routes), where the photograph below was taken, is an invigorating walk in many ways. Not only do you get to see epic views of Mount Teide and Teide National Park, you may be rewarded with special views such as this that provoke a sense of standing on top of the world.

My favourite route for experiencing the mar de nubes from above is the Los Órganos route in the La Orotava Valley (Northern Exposure routes). Sometimes the clouds sit just below the La Caldera car park and it feels that you could reach down and grab a handful of the cotton wool stuff the spreads outwards to infinity and beyond just below your feet. But more often than not the chances are that, on cloudy days, La Caldera is in the middle of it and you’re accompanied at the beginning of the walk by wispy, misty fingers tracking you through the forest like curious spirits. Walking through cool damp clouds might not sound particularly inviting but I love the diversity it offers, and the cloud weaving its way through the pines is hypnotic. But the real pay off is to emerge triumphantly from this Hades-esque landscape into a bright new world.

Stepping out of the clouds to stand above them is an experience that will etch itself for ever on your cerebral memory stick. Try it and I guarantee that the letters W-O-W will make an unstoppable escape bid from your mouth. It is simply one of those unique Tenerife walking experiences.

How To Identify When Conditions are Right
This can be quite tricky if you don’t know Tenerife’s weather patterns too well. One thing is easy to gauge. Look towards Mount Teide; if the cloud is above the summit, forget it. Nowhere on Tenerife is likely to be sunny when that happens and the only way to get above the clouds is on a plane.

The best way to judge it is to look for the 1000 metre mark on the hillside. If you’re in Puerto de la Cruz in the north, that’s about where the small village of Aguamansa lies. If it’s obscured by cloud the chances are you might be in luck.
If you can see any hints of blue at all through the cloud you’re definitely in luck; that means it isn’t too thick and the 600 metre ascent on the Los Órganos walk should take you well clear of its misty grasp and into the magical kingdom that exists above the clouds.

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