Archive for February 8th, 2009
A nut among the almonds

Blimey, I experienced the four seasons today in Tenerife, no not Vivaldi’s masterpiece,the pop group or the pizza, just the weather on the Ruta del Almendra (the almond blossom walk) from Santiago del Teide to Arquayo. Howling winds, drizzle laced with ice, strong sunshine, low clouds and even a rainbow, graced my footsteps, but nature had plenty more still to show me.

Almond blossom

This is the time of year when the many almond trees in Tenerife burst into colour, with boughs full of white and pink petals, and each year the Santiago del Teide council, up on the west coast, arrange a mass walk along the route that cuts through the volcanic lava field created by the last eruption on the island. It was at Chinyero in November 1909, so this is a particularly important year to view its legacy.

Setting off early from Los Cristianos on the 473 bus to Los Gigantes, I changed to the 325 Puerto de la Cruz bus and just hit the Santiago del Teide plaza before 9am. Well I was half prepared, several layers kept my top half fairly warm but my exposed legs confirmed the rapid drop in temperature from the coast and though I was not sure where the wind was coming from, I had a damm good idea where it was going. The 120 walkers were soon checked in and we set off in groups, to the left and behind the town hall and onto the rough track leading down to the main road.

Almond walk

Peeling off at the Valle de Ariba turn, the wind blew strongly across as the small stream trickled by the path and the tall army of pine trees marched up the hillside ahead of us. There was moisture in the air and the odd fleck of ice as we made a right turn just beyond the church and headed upwards. The path was a mix of mud and large stone intrusions, a bit of a test for us all,but as we rose, a faint rainbow hung over the fields as the sun started to push through the clouds. The almond trees were now appearing in the fields around us, the blossom wasn’t as dense as it would normally be, thanks to the recent high winds and storms on the high ground, but the beauty was clear to see.

Almond walk

The recent heavy rain wasn’t all bad news. As we came over the brow of another hill, there was Mount Teide in the distance, wearing its white winter gown, the snow dazzling in the sun and contrasted by the dark green of the pine trees. After a suitable rest stop in a large clearing, we entered the lava field, just as the cloud condensed around us. The path became narrower and strewn with larger stones as we peered through the fluffy haze to see the rolling green hills either side of the lava.

Mount Teide

Emerging onto the pine flanked earth track, the cloud dissolved away and the sun became a strong and welcome companion. Teide was clear again and seemed to change a little with each step, sometimes more intense and sometimes softened as cloud brushed past it. The end was in sight now as we started a sharp descent, zig zagging our way down the hillside towards Arquayo. The shifting shingle made it a slow and careful drop, well after coming so far, it would be a pity to bottom surf through the final section.

Almond walk

Taking the final steps from the route and onto the main road of Arquayo we headed for the cultural centre where the guides had more information for us on the history of the area, and we were served up a nice spread in the sports hall. The whole walk took 5 hours, though it seemed to speed by, and was an excellent way to enjoy another special corner of Tenerife.

My thanks to Santiago del Teide council for the invite, they are running walks throughout the year, more details on their website or . In the meantime, I will scan the maps for my next trek.

The council coach shipped us back to Santiago del Teide where I caught the 460 Icod to Las Americas bus, if you make your own way to this all year round route, check which buses dont run at weekends, they are few and far between.Â