Tuesday, 28 September 2010

The Beautiful South

'The south of Tenerife is a barren wasteland once you get outside of Playa De Las Americas, you have to go to the north for decent scenery' Or so I am often told. A recent remark by a friend, similar to the above, started me thinking about this common perception of the landscape in the south of the island as barren and desert-like, unworthy of exploration and the only reason to visit the south is for the sun, sea and sand holidays normally associated with this area. Being a walker, my first visit to the island was filled with curiosity as I had been advised that, being a person who enjoys the outdoors, I wouldn't like a destination where all there was to do was sit in the sun all day on the beach or around the pool. Upon arrival, the first thing about the island that immediately caught my attention was the strange, mountainous landscape a few miles inland from the coast. Immediately I wanted to put my boots on and explore. While the coastal regions were very barren and volcanic, the mountain scenery looked more promising. Sure, it didn't have the 'chocolate box' greenery of somewhere like the Lake District in England but for me that was a bonus. This was something different, worthy of further investigation. I have always had a love of landscapes that some describe as 'bleak', often exclaiming 'Wow! look at that', while others are complaining that 'it's not very green, is it'. 'Bleak' isn't the right word to describe what I witnessed on my first visit, mysterious yes, exciting yes, barren maybe, but bleak no. Having purchased a couple of walking guidebooks so that I could get out into this wonderful countryside, I was disappointed to note that there were only a handful of walks in the south of the island. Having walked these routes and frequently been amazed by what I had seen , I began to wonder why these books seemed to largely avoid the south. Having noticed large quantities of walkers at the bus station in Los Cristianos heading into the hills, I thought it was a shame that there weren't more guidebooks offering more routes in this part the island, so I set about writing a guidebook detailing all of the walks I had found for myself. Over a number of years, during numerous visits, I have walked through the quiet, remote beauty of the Ifonche region, the wonderful pine forests of the Corona Forestal, in impressive barrancos such as the Barranco De Las Vegas and the Barranco Del Rey, to the top of mountain viewpoints and passes such as Montana Colorada and the Degollada De Ucanca, to the sadly deserted village of Las Fuentes and to the spectacular viewpoints of the Cauldron and the Mirador La Centinela. While I recognise the beauty and fantastic walking opportunities of areas such as the Anaga, Teno and the Orotava, not to mention the Las Canadas national park, I think it's a shame that the south is often dismissed as having nothing worth investigating when, in my opinion, nothing could be further from the truth.