Tag Archives: volcanos

Canary Islands, Tenerife

If La Palma was the prettiest and El Hierro was the youngest then Tenerife is the oldest inhabited island in the Canaries and has just under 1 million residents. We docked into Puerto de la Cruz.

Tourism (6 million a year) is the key industry for all the larger islands and as the climate is in the range of 22 to 27 degrees all year round it’s busiest season is northern hemisphere winter when other Europeans are looking to escape the cold in the shortest flight time possible. It is however a year round destination and in summer mainly has visitors from southern Spain trying to escape the 43 degree heat.

Bananas are the main produce but these days generally for local eating only. I remember eating Canary bananas as a child in the UK but due to an EU regulation it was decided that most bananas coming to Europe should be the larger (and far less tasty) ones from South America so while it is still the main crop it has dramatically reduced from its glory days. Now they can only be found in swanky delis.

As it’s all about the impact of the volcano on creating the Canary Islands, I opted to visit El Teide to check out the craters and volcanic scenery. El Teide is actually the highest mountain in Spain and 1200 feet above sea level.

This is the Ucanca Valley in what is the most visited national park in Europe where the original Planet of the Apes was filmed; not to mention 1000 years BC starring Raquel Welch and and the first Clash of the Titans. Most recently Sylvester Stallone just completed filming Rambo 5 (probably not on my list of must sees).
Many Canary pine trees here too and the multitude of pine needles on the forest floor are harvested to make bedding for the animals as they stay under cover rather than in the fields (too little land available for outdoor grazing, they prefer to use what they have to grow things and apparently manure plus pine needles equals a top brand of fertiliser for their land.

En route to El Teide National Park

Vegetation in the lava fields

Movie locations below

We then experienced the stunning effect of being well above the cloud level – beautiful and somewhat humbling.

The guide said you haven’t really been to Tenerife unless you are above the clouds and he was right.

I’ve decided to spend more time here in December so didn’t bother to go into town after this wonderful day. However this statue was by the marina and seemed a much friendlier dolphin than others I’ve met. Nicely blingy too plus can see our ship:)

Canary Islands, El Hierro

This is the smallest (only 6000 inhabitants) youngest and most westerly of the Canaries and the one with the most recent underwater volcanic eruption in 2011/2012 and it’s expected to grow further in size due to expected eruptions in the next 40 years.

There’s not a lot of action here but it is wild and rugged, scenic and very hilly (the locals don’t get out of breath though unlike us wimpy visitors). There is a significant impact of volcanism on the scenery and it feels “wild” in a good way. It also has amazing quality windy roads (positive impact of EU money) but fairly basic housing.

There are up to 30 micro climates on this island And we went through 20 of them – just wait five minutes and it changes.

We headed south from La Caleta Port to Valverde where we enjoyed some beautiful views from the mirador de las playas.

We then headed into the El Pinar forest – full of stunning Canary pines. These are a great natural resource for all the islands as they retain water and so ensure limited forest fire breakouts.

Final stop was the Geoparque – site of prior volcanic eruptions and also where the last big eruption happened just out to sea in 2011/12. People who lived in the area had to be evacuated due to toxic gases. Great museum showing video of what happened as rocks burst up into the surface of the ocean.

The two tunnel like openings are actually natural effect gas chambers caused by the lava when it hits a solid object and goes over the top of it.

A brief drive around the fishing village of La Restinga – world wide famous for its diving apparently but there is little else there to do.

Tourism in El Hierro averages 100 people a day so this is a place for those who like a rugged, scenic, peaceful, slow and alternative lifestyle eg. the island is trying to become self sustainable and a lot of people try to also live off the grid. Not really my thing but always good to experience something different. Gorgeous flora once again.

On the way back to the ship we passed this strange “rubbish” sculpture. It has all sorts of things buried inside it including two cars, a washing machine and tons of general plastic trash. It was commissioned by the local government to remind people about being self sustainable and to avoid waste by using renewable items where possible. Interesting