It’s hard to describe to someone who hasn’t experienced it, just what an incredible scent the pine forests of Tenerife have. Every time I head up into the upper La Orotava valley to hike around La Caldera, I’m assailed anew by the perfume of the pines and I wish there was some way that I could bottle it. Every morning I’d gently open the top, breathe in the scent and send my endorphins into overdrive.
And when I’m not inhaling pine in the forests, I’m gawping at a sea of clouds, listening to the birdsong, sticking my nose into a patch of wild broom, running my hands up and down the silken trunk of a eucalyptus tree or stroking the swathes of lichen that hang from the boughs of the pines.
Experiencing the full joy of hiking on Tenerife is only open to those of us who are lucky enough to have all five senses and full mobility and it’s not something that comes naturally. I must have been on dozens of walks when I first discovered hiking before I began to notice what was around me and it wasn’t until I was accompanied by a plant enthusiast friend that I began to really investigate my surroundings.
Well now the Tenerife Cabildo (Island Government) have opened the island’s first sensory footpaths or Sendero de Los Sentidos at Llano de Los Loros, Cruz Del Carmen in the Anaga Mountains. Three different trails have been constructed ranging in length from just 340 metres to 1272 metres. The shortest of these has been completely adapted for use by people with mobility or sensory restrictions. Along the length of the walk are sensory boards with smell, touch and sight elements describing the biodiversity of the environment around them. There are tables showing the flora, fauna and geological make-up of the surroundings and there are viewing platforms and pergolas where you can either gaze at a view or just stop and listen to the birds and smell the laurel forest.
This is an innovative project by Tenerife Cabildo and I hope it will be the first of many projects that provide the opportunity for everyone, regardless of age and ability, to access and enjoy the stunning beauty of rural Tenerife.
Now if somebody could just put some funding into bottling that forest scent…