Emerging onto the TF21 road that connects La Orotava to Teide National Park, we cross and walk a few metres to where our drops down from the road. But as we approach, a forest fire truck emerged from the path we were about to take sending thick clouds of red dust into the air. Covering mouths and noses, we waited for the fire truck to emerge onto the road and for the dust to die down before continuing on our way.
Up until 2012 , this hillside was as heavily forested as the one we’ve just emerged from but hurricane force winds hit this side of the island badly that year, snapping the trunks of pine trees as if they were spent matches. Where once there was only forest to be seen, now the whole coast has been opened up and you can see all the way from La Quinta to Punta Brava. All credit to the Cabildo (Island Government) who have turned adversity to advantage and have constructed a shiny new mirador (viewpoint) here to make the most of the panorama.
As we make our way along the path, we notice a plume of smoke billowing ahead. With bated breath we continue, turn a corner and see flames dancing along the dry scrubland above us as a group of fire fighters train hoses onto them. On the road above the fire we can see our dust-raising fire truck.
At the height of summer, forest wildfires are a constant threat as drought, tinder-dry shrubland and hot winds create treacherous conditions. The fire fighters of Tenerife, and indeed all of The Canary Islands, are on constant alert during the summer and quell fires like this one all the time. Luckily for us, today was no exception and the fire was quickly brought under control and we were able to continue on our walk.
The Guanche Way
The Los Órganos walk which leads from the picnic zone of La Caldera, high above the valley floor to skirt an abyssal barranco above the sea of clouds, has long been one of our favourite walks. For years, every time we’ve gone back to La Caldera to re-walk our routes there, we’ve noticed other trails running off in different directions and mused that we really ought to check one or two of them out. A couple of weeks ago we finally stopped talking and started walking, and in the process, have discovered a new walk which gives Los Órganos a run for its money in terms of scenery and with the added bonus of a much gentler ascent through the forest.
Leading off in the opposite direction from the busy-with-walkers, Highway One (as we call it) pista that fronts the Los Órganos route, this former camino real known as the Guanche Way was almost entirely devoid of other walkers so we felt that we had the forest to ourselves.
Once we’d crossed the TF21 and skirted the panoramic hillside, we once again entered the pine forest and joined the old camino real that links the former Chasna, now Vilaflor, with the Anaga Mountains. A peaceful trail that winds through the woods at the cusp of the Teide National Park, leads to a pretty little oasis at a shrine which provides the perfect spot for enjoying a tranquil packed lunch overlooking the ocean before continuing to Aguamansa and back to La Caldera.
It may have taken us a long time to discover the Guanche Way, but it won’t take us long until we’re back to walk it again.
The Guanche Way is 15km (9 miles), takes 4 hours 45 minutes and has now been added to our Northern Exposure, self-guided walking directions available to buy online: