Scale a volcano, discover a lost village, and hike through eerie lava landscapes on the small-but-spectacular island of Tenerife
Tenerife is full of surprises. Yes, it is known for winter sun and relaxing holidays. But, even better, it is a superb walking destination. Here are our pick of the hikes. You can book all of these walks as part of Tenerife Walking Festival, 29 March-2 April 2016.
Night hike through Roques de Garcia
Route: Around Roques de Garcia, followed by stargazing Distance: 3.5 km. Hike duration: 3 hours Stargazing time: 1.5 hours Total duration (inc. transfers): 7 hours
Suitable for hikers of all abilities and fitness levels, the striking landscape of Roques de Garcia is one of the island's most popular walking spots. Observe the different formations created by lava flows, peer at the towers of twisted rock, and marvel at the striking rustic colours in the late afternoon light.
This walk is perfect if you're curious about the eerie natural beauty of Teide National Park. At first the landscape seems barren, but you'll encounter the hardiest flora and fauna: from white broom and broomrape bushes to birds and beetles.
This area has very little light pollution, so lie back for some unforgettable star gazing at the end of the hike.
Again, a hike that is not too taxing, but promises spectacular views. On the 7.9km walk from Faldas del Teide to Parador de Turismo, you'll stroll through lava landscapes, the air scented with wild flowers. During springtime, the path is also dotted with beehives, in which white broom honey – a local delicacy – is produced.
At the end of the day, you'll take the cable car to La Rambleta at the base of the volcanic cone, resting a mere 163 metres below the summit of the Teide volcano. On a clear day, you'll enjoy sweeping views out to sea and over the neighbouring islands.
This hike will take you along the island's most recent volcanic areas, and is a very easy trail with only gradual descents.
The trail leads you over the black sands of Arenas Negras to the site of the Chinyero volcano, which last erupted in 1909. Life has only just started to emerge from the ashes, so you'll see a very young landscape before you.
The final destination will be Garachino – a village that was completely destroyed by the 1709 eruption of Arenas Negras. The village has since been rebuilt, but you will still see traces of lava flow – a reminder of its devastating history.
Before the roads were built on the island, the Camino de Chasna was its most important route – linking the north and south. It's now a part of the E7 European long-distance path, which runs through Spain, Andorra, France, Italy, Slovenia and Hungary.
The route is not demanding, and there are plenty of opportunities to rest, take pictures and take in the scenery. The walk finishes in peaceful Vilaflor which at 1,400m is Spain's highest village. Wander around the orange and lemon trees, and breathe in the aroma of the surrounding pine.
Route: Montaña Samara, plus a tour of the Astrophysics Institute of the Canary Islands Distance: 5.1 km Hike duration: Approx. 3 hours Guided tour of Izana Observatory: 1.5 hours Total duration (inc. transfers): 10 hours
This route is fairly flat, but there are some steep tracks along the way. Walk along a pathway of volcanic slag and lapilli – the remnant material of volcanic eruptions – and be on the lookout for black lizards and birds such as kestrels, whitethroats and pipits.
The hike ends with a guided tour of the Observatory of Izana. The quality of the air here and the clarity of the sky makes it the perfect location to study the sun, which is why it's home to one of Europe's best solar telescopes.
Perfect for families, this hike covers a part of the E7 route along a forest path to La Orotava. From here, it will take you to La Caldera – a volcanic crater that's been turned into a recreational area. On the weekend, people of all ages come here to socialise and it's also a popular barbecue spot.
The route is botanically rich and offers plenty to see and explore along the way, making it very suitable for children.
Route: Montaña Blanca – Peak of Teide, with overnight stay in Altavista refuge Distance: 18.8 km Hike duration: 4 hours to refuge; 2 hours to the peak; 4 hours descent Total duration (inc. transfers): Depart at 3pm; Return at 2pm next day
The most popular trail in the National Park is also, undoubtedly, the hardest. Teide is the focal point of the entire region, and climbing its 3,718 metres is tiring work. With steep slopes and extreme and unpredictable weather conditions, you will need plenty of determination and puff to get to the top...
By the end of the first day, you will have climbed past big round rocks of pumice stone called (rather dauntingly) the 'balls of Teide', and witnessed the blooming of delicate flowers in harsh terrain. You will then arrive at the Altavista refuge, where you'll stay the night. An early start the following morning ensures that you arrive at the top in time for the sunrise, which also brings with it breathtaking views.