Roque del Conde is one of the most recognisable landmarks in the south of Tenerife, this majestic mountain with its seemingly table-top summit looms large over the resorts of Los Cristianos and Playa de las Americas. Rising to 1,005 metres, Roque del Conde is taller than every mountain in England and just 80 metres short of Mt Snowdon. However, its a very walkable route which can be completed in as little as 2 hours 15 minutes (typically 3 hours) and the summit offers unrivalled 360 degree panoramic views of the south of the island.
The footpath to ascend Roque del Conde, leaves from the village of Vento, a suburb of Arona and is clearly sign-posted from the main road. At this point we are about 600 metres above sea-level so for those of you shuddering at the prospect of a 1000 metre summit, relax, there is less than half of the mountain still to climb.
The footpath winds out away from the village towards the mountain, descending steeply into Barranco del Rey, a deep gorge which cuts through the southern side of the island, before climbing back up onto the plateau. If that didn’t you breathing heavily, then the next part as we pass an old ruin and begin our accent for real certainly will.
Purists may feel a little irritated by the cobbled stone footpath we follow, after all, we’re hill walkers, we don’t mind a footpath, but paving, even cobbles, really aren’t in keeping with the spirit of the wilderness. That is of course until we realise the footpath isn’t there for our benefit. The terracing and milling circles that we pass, together with the ruined building are all evidence of agriculture and the footpath was built and laid by the local farmers who in years gone by intensively farmed every square metre of available land. Keep this in mind for when you reach the summit because you are in for a surprise.
The path now climbs steeply up to the saddle of the mountain, from where we get our first taste of the views. This is a good spot to pause for a drink, snack and to take some photographs, but the real views await us on the summit, so we press on. The path gets steeper and a little trickier as we near the summit, there’s no more cobbled paving, that ran out before we reached the saddle, but it is in no-way dangerous and feels very safe. The views of the south coast below us just get better and better with every step we take.
With a final push we arrive on the top of the mountain. And as I said, you are in for a surprise. The first surprise is the shear scale of the top, its the size of a couple of football pitches. From the south coast Roque del Conde looks flat-toped, but the reality is that this is an illusion, the summit slopes gently and the highest point is actually on the north-east side. The top is terraced, yes it was actually farmed! And the rough footpath we just followed was used by farmers to tend the wheat growing on the summit.
The true summit of the mountain is located towards the north-face ad is marked by a concrete cairn with a metal pole sticking out it. Not picturesque, but of course we’re not here for a cairn, we’re here for the views which can only be described as breath-taking. On a clear day you can see 4 other islands from the summit, La Gomera, El Hierro and La Palma to the west and to the east Gran Canaria can be seen peaking out behind Roque de Jama. Then of course, there is the south coast of Tenerife, from our vantage point we can see from El Medano to Los Gigantes as well as looking down on the geographic features such as Montaña de Guaza, Caldera del Rey and the spectacular Barranco del Rey. And there is no better place to view the Mountains of Tenerife than from the top of Roque del Conde. We have excellent views of Roque del Imoque, Ifonche, the Pine Forests and the peaks of Las Cañadas as well as Mount Teide, all of which appear to be magnified before your eyes.
Walking Route: Roque del Conde
Distance: 6km (3.75 miles approx)
Ascent/Descent: 400 metres (1300 feet)