Savour the views and discover the beauty of the Teno Rural Park
I knew my plans to visit Teno would be an adventure but I never though my social dignity would be left literally hanging by a thread!
Picture the scene: we’ve pulled over at a wayside halt half way up a steep mountainside to spend a much-needed penny on route to one of Tenerife’s most isolated tourist destinations.
We wander curiously into the smallest ever cafe-cum-general store-cum bar.
It was like a scene from a scratchy black and white western movie: the five locals grouped round a circular, table-clothed table greeted us in solemn silence.
The owner, a large homely lady, pointed to my object of desire – a small green door set in an inside wall.
And, while the rest of my party admired the colourful display of delicate hand-knitted scarves, I trundled through the door and into the gloomy interior.
And here is the rub: once inside, there seemed to be no conceivable way out.
My scuffling and scratching at the door brought a ripple of laughter from my friends, then warm-hearted sniggers from the locals.
After what seemed an eternity, I managed to find a slim piece of twine which I pulled. Hey presto I returned, my dignity shaken but restored, to the laughing, smiling group.
I was greeted with a robust round of applause and cries of ‘Bravo.’
Over a cup of coffee, I muse there is something magne-tically curious about the insatiable British obsession with exploration … whatever it takes.
For example, my party were heading to Teno simply because none of us had ever ventured to this mysteriously enticing area of the island.
And it was in every sense an adventure because the TF-445 road to Punta de Teno had only recently reopened following strengthening work to the slopes and to help avoid falling stones.
The authorities have reassured travellers, saying the work will reduce the risk of falls from 70 per cent to 30 per cent and the road might only be closed four or five times a year in really bad weather.
The other big plus point is the draw of the Teno Rural Park, one of the most beautiful areas on the island to visit.
But it’s traditional isolation due to limited and difficult access makes the dawn start on the road journey all the more tantalising.
With its mountainous massif in the north-west of Tenerife, it is of great ecological value, both scenic and cultural, and includes examples of traditional island architecture.
We thrust onward, upward and almost sideways on roads at one point that seem to defy gravity, bolstered by the thought of seeing one of the peninsula’s most distinguished features: an old lighthouse on the island’s most westerly point.
Mind you, it’s not just your average lighthouse, you understand, because architect José Soler Sanz insisted it be built with stone from La Gomera despite its greater cost.
In 1978 an even taller tower, 20 metres (66 feet) high, was erected alongside it, and the older, still-standing structure can be visited today.
But we discovered it’s more than a little tricky to reach due to the terrain.
However, you’ll be rewarded with some truly spec-tacular panoramic views of the Gigantes Cliffs, dropping straight to the sea from a height of almost 600 metres.
And enroute the large, leafy forest vegetation are the home of many species of animals, such as, the Osprey; the rich birdlife that led to the area being declared a protected area for birds.
To reach Punta de Teno we followed the coast road that leaves from the centre of the town of Buenavista del Norte.
The isolation of this must-stop area still nurtures traditional ways of life. It’s also the case of Teno Alto or Masca, and its neighbour El Palmar, off glimpses of popular Canary architecture.
Buenavista itself is all about proud craftsmanship and traditional artisan crafts with outstanding wicker and reed basket-making.
It’s a traditional vein running through the area and included straw basket-making of El Palmar, palm and rush basket-making of Masca, the wood works for farming tools, lances, scissors for harvesting figs, and canes made in El Palmar and Teno Alto.
Great, original and unique gifts along with Canary knives and bone canes crafted in El Palmar.
Teno itself presents an gnarled volcanic massif that has weathered the forces of erosion, leaving behind the landscape of large coastal cliffs, levees and vents.
Lava from the last eruption flowed down old valleys and fossilised a number of cliffs, fanning out down the coast to form the so-called islas bajas, or low islands, such as Buenavista and Teno Bajo.
Today’s landscape is characterised by valleys and deep ravines which, as is the case with the Masca ravine, open out into dinky, secretive beaches.
The main entry points to the park are from the TF-436, which runs from Buenavista to Santiago del Teide, and the TF-445, which connects Buenavista with El Faro and Punta de Teno.
The park also crosses the TF-82, which runs from Icod de los Vinos to Armeñime, and links this town to the TF-1 Armeñime – Santa Cruz de Tenerife road.
And, because of the area’s altitude and location, Teno is an area of great biological diversity constituting an important sanctuary for a variety of threatened species, including laurisilva pigeons and native lizards.
If you’ve got the time, absorb Teno’s rich, natural and cultural heritage by driving along the park’s roads or a walk on any one of the numerous paths.
And yes, do what the Brits are famous for: exploring …
Enjoy panoramic views from the lookouts, discover the area’s hamlets, its cuisine, stay overnight in Albergue de Bolico, spend a day with the family in the Los Pedregales Recreational Area or purchase local goods in the El Palmar Farmer’s Market.
We pass interesting re-mains of the Canarian traditional architecture propelled onward by dramatic views of the peninsula, coast and, of course the famous ligh-thouse.
Then we are burrowing in and out of tunnels gouged through solid stone reas-suringly secured by huge steel nets.
And suddenly we are here: Jose Soler Sanz Lighthouse, one of the most important of the island’s seven historic coastal lighthouses inaugurated in 1897.
Forget the brooding headlands, forget the trickiness of the terrain. Just go.
Savour the views. The wildness. The oneness with the elements.
Spread your arms and hands skyward letting the winds trill through your outstretched fingers…
And don’t forget to make a mental note not to be caught short on your journey.