Small Islands, Big Walk: The GR131 on Tenerife

This is the eighth blog covering my 900km+ crossing of the beautiful Canary Islands, off the West coast of Morocco. Please click the links to read about La Graciosa, Lanzarote, Fuerteventura (parts one and two) and Gran Canaria. I hope you’re enjoying following my adventure.

If you’ve been reading my blogs on the GR131 so far, it’s important you’re aware that on Tenerife I decided to do something different. I decided to base myself in one place and cover the route as a series of day walks. Why? Well, I wanted to see a bit more of the island than the areas flanked by the GR131 and I was also aware of the hugely intermittent weather that was forecast over the next week.

Logic suggests I should base myself in Puerto de la Cruz, a tourist area on the north of the island which is well connected by public transport to all sectors of the walk.I’m clearly not one for logic, as I chose to base myself in Santa Cruz, a city increasingly far away from the sections of trail I planned to cover. There was method in my madness – Santa Cruz was far less of a destination for tourists to the island and far more of a ‘locals’ city – considering how much I relished living in a local neighborhood in Las Palmas, I hoped for the same experience here. Needless to say, living in the spare room of a Spanish family who spoke no English and becoming a regular (and being made to feel incredibly welcome) at a local Spanish bar, the experience did not disappoint. Anyway, onto the walk… and what a walk it is!

Rather than give you an in-depth run down of every twist, turn, ascent or descent that I covered each day, I thought I’d provide a short summary of each section followed by loads of photos; because who doesn’t love photos? Enjoy.

Stage 1: La Esperanza to La Caldera.

A lengthy stage gets the GR131 underway, covering well over a third of the route on day one. This day was spent almost entirely in the Adelantado Forest, meaning views of Canary pine trees were almost the only thing on offer. With intermittent rain and poor visibility throughout the day, I’m not sure it would’ve made too much difference anyway. In all honestly, it was a nice walk, but there were very few highlights to shout home about; With a slight wrong turn after Casa del Agua, I ended up doing about 40 kilometers.

Stage 2: La Caldera to El Portillo.

It was another day spent within the pines and another day of drab weather, except today was complete with hundreds of meters of ascent. Starting at La Caldera (at about 1100m), the route climbed through pine forests and heather, which eventually subsided to be replaced by more high mountain vegetation such as Teide broom. I passed through a road tunnel at about 1700 meters and continued steeply uphill to arrive in El Portillo at almost 2000 meters. The visibility had not improved, but thankfully the weather would change for my return tomorrow.

Okay, so perhaps days one and two weren’t the most interesting days walking. Thankfully, that was all about to change.

Stage 3: El Portillo to Degollada de Guajara (Parador).

Returning to El Portillo at just below 2000m, today was an excellent day of walking through a unique sparsely vegetated volcanic landscape along the base of Circo de Las Canadas and taking in the immensity of Teide (when the cloud dropped and allowed for some incredible views). When I reached Degollada de Guajara I continued on to Parador in order to take in the Roques de Garcia. While the trail kept its distance from El Teide, it loomed large for the entire day.

Stage 4 & 5: Degollada de Guajara to Vilaflor (to Arona).

I decided to combine the last two sections of the walk into one mammoth section. This did mean that I spent part of the day running along the trail, but it was still probably my favourite section of trail on Tenerife. It was a steep ascent to Degollada de Guajara, but the excellent weather meant I had superb views over Teide, Montana Blanca, Pico Viejo and Las Canadas. Once I reached about 2,400 meters above sea level, I was rewarded with views across the south of the island. The rest of the day was descent – and with a scorching sun I was actually quite happy to descend below the cloud. It was back into the pine forests as I descended to the highest altitude town in the Canary Islands, Vilaflor. A nice little town with a very pretty center square, but I couldn’t stay long as I had another 15km or so to go – much of which I spent running, which explains the very few photos I took.

Overall, I loved the 95kms of the GR131 on Tenerife.

While very few views were offered during the many, many kilometers spent within the Canary Pine forests, it was the superb contrasts in landscapes that was the true spectacle. Dense forests gave away to the highest summits of all the Canary Islands and the two days spent walking in the shadow of El Teide were very enjoyable. I spent a few more days exploring Santa Cruz and the beautiful La Laguna before heading down to Los Cristianos and catching the ferry to my fifth (seventh) of the Canary Islands, La Gomera. Until next time.

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GR131 On Tenerife



3 Comments on “Small Islands, Big Walk: The GR131 on Tenerife

  1. Wow, great photos and what a brilliant experience. I have read a lot about this route but it’s awesome reading about your personal experience. Running part of the route would be incredible and sounds like you’ve managed to cram loads in in just a few days! Some really stunning vistas! Thanks for sharing


  2. Tenerife is a beautiful island and you have captured it well here. We spent some time in Santa Cruz last year and loved it. #WeekendWanderlust


  3. I think a lot of people think Tenerife is just a place for beach holidays but there are some fantastic places for hiking. Last time I was there I went hiking around Anaga and it’s beautiful


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