Valleys, Vines and Volcanoes & El Hierro - The Last Outpost

A customer review

Thanks for a great, well organised holiday to Tenerife and El Hierro which we enjoyed enormously. I’d like to provide a few items of feedback that I hope will be useful and enable you to improve the notes for the trip.

We arrived in Tenerife even later than planned due to flight delay and so were driving in the dark. We had some difficulty following the instructions to find La Laguna Gran Hotel. Firstly, the instructions say “Follow this R to reach a J where cars join from the L, you need to move into the L lane at this point to almost immediately turn L under a bridge….”. Unfortunately, this instruction was so long compared to the driving time that we had turned right before I had chance to check that the left lane was clear of merging traffic. Secondly, the instructions say “When you arrive at the TJ at the corner of the square, turn R towards a car park, and then immediately L, keeping the car park to your R.”. We drove round the one-way system 4 times trying to match this to the layout of the car park. The eventual solution was to turn second left through the middle of the car park to arrive at the hotel. Interestingly the exit instructions mention driving through the middle of the car park.

The weather was terrible the first day so we just drove through Anaga. I also had time to work out how many page 5s there were in the manual and to unravel the mystery of the location of the Orotava section and references. I remember last time having difficulty with finding text sections and next time will bring dividers or stick on tabs if nothing is provided by Inntravel.

The drive from La Laguna to Vilaflor was great, although by now we were wanting to walk. On arrival at Villalba we therefore walked the first hour of the wine route before turning round to return for our evening meal. On our full day in Vilaflor we did the complete Paisaje Lunar walk which we found rewarding but quite taxing as a first walk of the season. We thoroughly enjoyed the spa and pool facilities after this. Our room had a small balcony facing North East and with the altitude and temperature we were unable to dry our costumes satisfactorily.

Next day we moved onto Garachico. This was an excellent drive through pines then harsh lava fields before passing agricultural villages and the final dramatic descent to Garachico and the lovely Quinta Roja. By this point we did however find that the lack of any drying space in our room meant that we were low on clean clothes. This would not have mattered on a single weeks holiday but drying facilities were important to us.

We enjoyed Garachico with the exception of the desperate hunt each night for a suitable restaurant that was open. We are both mainly vegetarian with the occasional tolerance for fish and eggs and Sally doesn’t eat any dairy products from cows. On the Monday we decided to try La Cofradia del Mar II and have some local fish as we were on the coast. They were closed and having come out without our notes it took much walking before we ended up in Canada Garachico Espacio Gastronomico. Here we found the cuisine was creative and unusual but unfortunately even the salad incorporated a bacon vinaigrette and there was a very limited range of suitable dishes. On our return from the following day’s walk we stopped by La Cofradia del Mar II to check that it was open. While it was open before 6 it was then closed by 7:30 when we returned to eat. We then walked on to Pizzeria Rugantino but found no evidence that this had ever opened on a Tuesday. The notice appeared to us to say open Friday, Saturday and Festival Sundays. We eventually ended up in La Perla which was very popular and served a hearty fish supper with much hospitality. On Wednesday we went to Restaurante Candelaria La Cocinera which we had seen when visiting the ‘supermarket’. This did have some limited vegetarian options and was pleasant although the service was slow, on the way we passed La Perla which was closed that evening.

We walked the Los Silos circuit on our first day in Garachico. This was an excellent walk with a good summary description with the delightful addition of much birdsong. I would have been happier with a walking map rather than a road map on this route, particularly as the Inntravel description of the map does not appear to agree with the route. We did feel that the penultimate time marker on this route was incorrect and needs checking. We arrived at 14km/6hrs 10 mins 10 minutes early yet at 15.3km/6hrs 35mins we were 20 minutes late. While we were tired and not hurrying because we thought we were nearly back we were surprised to be early at the first point and could not see being able to descend that quickly even when fresh.

For our final walk on Tenerife we chose Walk 11: Around the Santiago del Teide Valley. This was a varied circular walk of which the road map gave very little indication of the profile. The painted waymarks are in the process of being re coloured so there were very few green marks to be found and we encountered difficulties in locating street names in Valle de Arriba and Las Manchas. We had problems locating the start of the path (possibly due to development and resurfacing I thought Calle El Reventon went on up to the left) and we came out by a football pitch rather than a calvario in Las Manchas. We did find this a rewarding walk although the endless lava fields were hot, desolate and very rough. The fringes, where the lava and vegetation met were fascinating as were the places where older successive flows met with their different types of plant colonisation over time.

All too soon it was time to make our way to the airport and fly to El Hierro. The flight and transfer went smoothly and we were pleased to find we had a balcony where we could sun ourselves and dry some washing. We did not arrive early enough to walk all the way to Pozo de Las Calcosas but walked halfway down and back.

For our full walk we enjoyed the Valverde to Mocanal walk. This was a very windy day but the air was quite clear so we had views of La Gomera, Tenerife and La Palma. It was interesting to witness the reverence for La Garoe. It is always good to be able to walk door to door and the transfer from Mocanal to Frontera proved to be an excellent example of this. Being able to see our destination from the Mirador de la Pena was a little deceptive but the long route through the upland farmland of Meseta de Nisdafe was an interesting contrast to the spectacular descent from the Mirador de Jinama.

The Los Verodes apartments were ideal for us. We were able to visit the supermarket and with a large jar of lentils and fresh local vegetables we were able to prepare the best evening meals of our Canarian trip. There was also a laundry room with drying space, although we did not have time to make full use of this.

The following day we just walked down to the pools at La Maceta and had a pleasant swim and snorkel.

From Frontera to Pozo de la Salud was again a great walk from door to door. There was some cloud and mist at the top but this kept the temperature at a reasonable level during the ascent. Balneario Pozo de la Salud was a little strange. There is no lift and the stairs are at the opposite end of the building from reception. No help with our bags was offered at reception although a waitress helped me on the third trip with the last bag. Our room was on the first floor facing the pool rather than the sea and we did not have any drying space.

We chose the El Sabinar circuit for our walk and found this rewarding if a little challenging. We caught the 9 am bus and were hoping to buy extra water in Sabinosa but found the shop closed on Tuesday 21st January and Sabinosa was deserted. We therefore diverted to the water pipe at the end of the previous approach into Sabinosa. We disagree with the timing to the Mirador de Sabinosa. We took 90 minutes rather than the hour stated and even the descent took us 75 minutes when a light rain had dampened some of the path. The gnarled Sabinars were fascinating survivors of the harsh climate and twisting winds.

We had a slight delay with the pickup for the transfer to La Llania. After waiting for 10 minutes beyond the pickup time I decided to look around outside the hotel. Inexplicably I found our taxi waiting at the bus stop well out of sight of the hotel entrance. In spite of the driver being aware that he was transferring our bags he was then either reluctant or did not understand my wish for him to drive to reception to pick the bags up.

The drive through the rugged volcanic badlands and pine forests was interesting and reminiscent of Tenerife. It looked like the extensive pine forests would present wonderful walking opportunities in addition to the landscapes we had walked through. We were pleased to get out of the car and start our final walk. The mirador, the mossy trees and Hoya de Fireba were all excellent. We found the final barren rock descent rather taxing after such a long descent. There was no obvious route through the terrain and the surface was very uneven.

It was very pleasant to arrive at the Parador where we were able to relax before leaving the following day. The transfer and flight went smoothly and our onward flight left from Tenerife North to La Palma.

Mr P Thring, 9 January 2020

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