When winter lingers, I like to book an early get-away; a sunny silver lining to combat those January blues. Usually i’m drawn to a place for culture, or more importantly, the food but my only real desire for this break was to bask in glorious sunshine – I live in the North of England, it’s been a while! The Canary Islands were an obvious choice – being close and hot all year round – but party paradise Tenerife has never really appealed to me. Well, that was until I read a trusty lonely planet review, painting a picture of long tropical forest walks, an abundance of modern art and creaky old colonial towns and boy, oh boy were they right! Here’s what we got up to..
Hiring a car was a great way to get around the island, I would definitely recommend it. The weather fluctuates dramatically from place to place so having the option to check a weather app and hit the road really helped us make the most of our week. Fortunately for us, we took the wrong road on day one, just past the Capital, Santa Cruz and stumbled across a small town called Las Teresitas, home to the islands best kept secret – a Caribbean-esque beach. Complete with white sand, imported from the Sahara and a view of the Anaga mountains, it’s a little spot of paradise and a million miles from the hectic beaches of the south.
Mediterranean festivities are notorious for being wild and wonderful affairs and the carnival celebrations in Santa Cruz didn’t disappoint. We arrived for the penultimate day; Burial of the Sardine. Yep, you read that right… apparently it’s a symbolical burial of the past, in the hope that society will be reborn – and mourn that fish we did! The parade parodied a funeral procession, dancing through streets, lined with women and cross-dressing men of all ages. Outfits included; widows, nuns and various members of the church, most of which incorporated questionably large phallic objects, basically penis’ galore. The whole night was eccentric, ludicrous and impossibly refreshing!
The drive through the mountains towards Tiedi National Park is spellbinding; above the clouds, with a view of the ocean and quaint villages, imbedded into the twists and turns of the landscape. Every corner is a new photo opportunity and fear not as there’s plenty of stop points – which we took advantage of at almost every opportunity. In fact, I met this adorable little fella at one – the goat that is, not the Shepherd.
Rambelta is Teidi’s cable car ascending point – some 3,555 meters high. It’s a stomach flipping experience but damn, is it worth it! Whether to simply marvel at the landscape or take advantage of the hiking routes, you must add this to your holiday list. The hikes cater to everyone from novice – along the base of the national park – to regular weekend rambler but a permit is required to climb the summit.
The cable cars run between 09:00 to 16:00 and costs €27 per adult.
Something to note: The cable cars are weather dependent, often being too windy to run, so it may be wise to check the weather beforehand.
As a child I thought Free Willy was THE greatest film ever and I was going to grow up to become a whale trainer. Fast forward 20 years and the closest I’ve come to swimming with whales, was the time my mum bought me an inflatable orca, when I was 8 on a family holiday. Tragic, I know but to this day I’m fascinated by them, so when I heard about the orcas at Loro Parque, I was there in a shot. The park itself is very impressive with all enclosures built to look like the animals’ natural habitat, penguin island in particular; an iceberg surrounded by crystal clear water, complete with regular snow showers. We paid a little extra to take the tour, consisting of a tour guide and backstage access to the gorilla house and orca ocean, among other areas. Seaworld and parks alike receive huge amounts of backlash and anyone that’s watched the documentary movie Blackfish (if you haven’t, I urge you to) will have heard the controversy around Loro Parque and it’s treatment of the whales. Having listened to the guide and their contradictory corporate script, I do feel hypocritical for visiting but I imagine it’s an ethical dilemma faced by many animal lovers.
We spent our final morning out at sea whale watching, which was amazing! Within 15 minutes we’d spotted dolphins in the distance and shortly after a family of pilot whales began swimming right next to the boat. Following for around 45 minutes, we were able to get some beautiful photos (minus my finger, sorry) but above all, seeing them in their natural environment felt really special.
The Freebird morning trip cost €45 per adult for 3 hours. They provide sandwiches and unlimited drinks.