Hiking adventure - hidden gems of Tenerife South
Tenerife South is the most popular part of the island among the tourists and I'd say 90% island visitors stay there. The main reason is the weather and infrastructure with thousands restaurants, bars, cafeterias, hundreds hotels and a the best beaches on the island. Most of the activities and tours you can join in this part of Tenerife.
Surprisingly, the South of the island is not very well discovered by tourists. I don't talk about those swimming pool seals that never leave resort, but even people who want to see the island going mostly to the Teide and Masca, some are to La Laguna, Santa Cruz and Anaga and... THEY ARE MISSING SOUTH by itself!
I'd say there are a lot of interesting places in Tenerife South and it requires you just basic hiking abilities to discover it. One of the simplest and easiest one is hiking to Mt. Guaza from Los Cristianos, another one is the area between Palm Mar and Las Galletas called Malpais de La Rasca and the other one is Barranco de Infierno. Let's go to a photo journey to discover all these place and you decide if it's better to stick by the pool or enjoy the real beauty of this island.
If you go to the end of Los Cristianos you will see about a hundred metres high cliff. Just hike up, then walk across the flat land till you see Palm Mar town down and then turn left to start hiking to the peak of Guaza Mount.
On the way on the top of the cliff called also Palm Mar wall you will enjoy beautiful views of La Gomera island, boats and fish farms in the ocean. With a bit of luck you can also observe lot of dolphins jumping around the fish farms. To see the dolphins you must be on the top over the fish farms between 10:00 and 11:30 AM - this times dolphins almost always gathering there for a late breakfast :)
Looking back you can see your start point - Los Cristianos. It's interesting town and interesting fact is that all touristic infrastructure and generally fast Tenerife South development started from Los Cristianos. All that thanks to a few Swedish families that bought land there and built first hotels in the 60th of last century. Before it was a deserted area just with a few houses and abandoned gum factory.
Hiking higher and higher you will see three peaks of Mt. Guaza and a wast ocean on the way down. Here starts harder part of the road, climbing up and up all the time.
Reaching the peak of Mt. Guaza you will see there a lot of antennas that belong to different companies and institutions - it because the Mount Guaza is the highest point nearby Los Cristianos accessible by even unpaved but road.
From the peak you will enjoy endless panoramic view including Roque del Conde. This one of the first three volcanoes that appeared up from the ocean eight million years ago and started to form Tenerife island as it is now.
After enjoying incredible breath stopping panoramic views you start to descend back to the top of Palm Mar Wall cliff and the path down also offer amazing view on the neighbouring La Gomera island.
La Gomera island is the closest one to Tenerife and it is known for its pre-historic jungle covering a good third of the island and also, because the Christopher Columbus - he started his trip from La Gomera when discovered America.
Looking back you can say good bye to the Guaza Mount and descend to the edge of the Palm Mar Wall - you will see a fish farms in the ocean and sometimes even dolphins playing around. Here you have to turn left and walk along the cliff until you see down the Palm Mar town. There are a few paths to descend from the cliff to the town. Just choose the one you feel comfortable with.
From the top of the cliff you can see not just Palm Mar, but also the next part of your hiking trip, if you wish to explore more of the nature of Tenerife South - deserted area called Malpais de La Rasca (Bad Land of Rasca). This is nature reserve now, but it's free to enter and walk there. You may also stop in Palm Mar to relax a bit and have a drink of a cup of coffee in one of local bars, restaurants and cafeterias. It's a quite small town without hotels at all - there are mainly locals and independent travelers living.
Leaving Palm Mar you will see a beautiful view of Tenerife South and here you must turn back from the path by sea toward the big mount that you will see nearby - that's the other point of interest. The mount called Montana Grande (Big Mount) is the coastal volcano and there are 2 ways to climb up - from the left hand side and more easy from the right hand side. I suggest to find the path on the right - it's longer, but more interesting.
Walking toward the Montana Grande volcano you will pass a touching pet cemetery.
Later on you will pass by the rests of a plantation building. In the past in this area locals were growing grapes and bananas, taking water from the underground natural water reservoir. On the way you can also see the rests of a hundred years old rests of channels built to irrigate the plantation. Unfortunately water in the reservoir once a time finished and the plantation dead.
After the plantation dead the area slowly return to it's natural condition, extremely dry and dominated by different types of cactuses.
The only animals living in the nature reserve Malpais de La Rasca are lizards and small Canarian rabbits.
Approaching the Montana Grande volcano from the right hand side you are slowly going up through the volcanic deserted area with a beautiful views on smaller volcanoes.
You will finally arrive to the farm buildings - most of buildings are abandoned, but some of them are inhabited by farmers growing potatoes. Here you turn left to start climbing to the peak of Montana Grande.
The path up is relatively easy and enjoyable. It will take about 20 minutes to hike up and as higher are you walking as more and more panoramic views are opening for your eyes.
On the peak of Montana Grande volcano you will find a geographical sign crowning the top of the mount. From here you have a perfect views on all the sides and it is also nice photographic point.
A lot of endemic plants growing around - these small trees and bushes can survive in this extremely dry climate and for some of the unique source of water is the water in the air coming from a big waves crashing on the rocky shore of the ocean.
After stop on the peak you take your way back straight to the ocean passing strange plants that are sometimes really colourful especially winter and spring season.
The shore of Malpais de La Rasca offer a lot of small tidal pools where you can refresh safely without jumping to the open sea. Usually water in these tidal pools is much warmer than in the ocean. Especially if it was high tide in the morning, so sun heat the pools along the day till the next high tide.
If you have decided to take a bath in a tidal pool, please, be careful, because all these pools are inhabited by sea urchins and it will be very painful if you step on one of them. I recommend you simply watch where you step - water is extremely clean so you see these black creatures easily.
Another inhabitant of the tidal pools is a crab - there are 2 kinds of them, bigger red crabs that love to live right in the pools and numerous smaller black crabs that usually stick on the rocks right by the border with open water.
After you relaxed by a tidal pool look on the left and walk toward the big lighthouse - this is fully automatic modern lighthouse helping ships to navigate waters of Tenerife South day and night. You continue your way on a path along the sea to the lighthouse and on the way close to lighthouse you will see very small sand beach.
After passing lighthouse you continue walking the same direction and you slowly leaving the beautiful Malpais de La Rasca. Approaching banana plantation just turn your head back and say good bye to this natural reserve.
You will walk along the banana plantation covered with nets to protect banana trees from the sun and keep more humid air inside. Finally almost at the end of the plantation you can step on the Punta de Salema - southernmost point of Tenerife. From here you can see your final destination - Las Galletas town.
Las Galletas town with its nice marina is a nice place to relax and have a meal in one of the restaurants by the sea or on the town centre. From here you can easily return back to your hotel in Los Cristianos, Costa Adeje or Las Americas by public bus or simply taking a cab at a taxi stop.
As you can see it doesn't cost nothing, if you are brave enough and you will have a beautiful day discovering the nature of true Tenerife at its southern part. If you are a kind of adventurer, it is definitely better option than just stick on a touristy beach or by the hotel swimming pool.