Tenerife is a great place to go hiking, however you enjoyment of a day out walking can be compromised by poor preparation. So here is some basic advice on how to make the most out of your day hiking in Tenerife.
Sensible footwear is essential, however heavy hiking boots are not. The predominantly warm and dry conditions mean that a pair of sturdy trainers or cross country running shoes will suffice and probably offer more comfort than a pair of hiking boots, (they’ll also be easier to pack in your suitcase). Still many people prefer to wear hiking boots because of the extra ankle support they offer and as the terrain can be rocky underfoot, this is something which ought to be considered.
Food and Drink
Whist its possible to engineer a hike between two villages and dine at your destination. More remote walks can leave you far from civilisation, so its important to pack enough food and water to last you for the day. Recommended foods should include a mixture of simple sugars and complex carbohydrates, there are a number of deli’s in the major tourist resorts who can provide you with a suitable packed lunch.
A word of warning, there are no permanent overland streams in Tenerife, so its vital that you carry enough water for your entire trip as there will be no opportunities to refill your canteen. The amount of water you require will vary depending on the time of year, ambient temperature and duration of your walk. For a 5+hour hike in Summer I would recommend at least 2-3 litres of water per person. Do not underestimate how much water you will drink, in Summer temperatures can soar into the 30’s and dehydration is real risk.
Maps & route planning
There are very few good maps available that show detailed walking routes in Tenerife. Both the Spanish Military and the Civilian Survey produce 1:50,000 and 1:25,000 maps of Tenerife but these are difficult to obtain and are not to the same standard as Ordnance Survey maps in the UK.
Tourist Maps are available for walkers, Freytag & Berndt offer a decent 1:75,000 map with walking routes highlighted, but it doesn’t show all the routes and the scale is a little small for detailed planning. Often its a good idea to use your map in conjunction with a guide book which details the walk or hire a local guide who is familiar with the route.
Make sure you take your map and/or guide book with you on your route, a compass is also useful, though in clear conditions there a lots of visible landmarks you can use for reference.
Tenerife is situated on the 28th parallel, meaning that in the height of summer the sun is less than 5 degrees from directly overhead. Even though the prevailing North-westerly winds cool the Canary Islands and make them generally pleasant, the sun can be fierce. High factor sun cream should be used and regularly re-applied throughout the day (SPF 25+), wearing a hat is also recommended.
This section cannot be overstated, the sun is by far the most likely cause of a ruined holiday in Tenerife, either through sunburn or sunstroke, so travel prepared for its effects.
Tenerife is ideal for the fair weather hiker, the island enjoys largely good weather with minimal rainfall, though mountain conditions can be unpredictable. Whilst sunny dry conditions predominate, cloud, rain and occasionally snow on the higher peaks can catch walkers unaware. Cloud tends to affect the mid-altitude routes and if you are walking in Las Cañadas National Park (2,000m+) its not uncommon to find yourself actually walking above the cloud layer. Rain is more prevalent in the North of island but tends to be limited to the winter months.
Please note that in Winter whilst it can be a comfortable 20 degrees at sea level, at the base of Teide in Las Cañadas, temperatures can be near freezing and even sub-zero if you plant to ascend the higher peaks.
First Aid & Emergencies
Its recommended that at least one member of a group carry a basic first aid kit. This should include a blister kit, plasters, bandages, adhesve tape, analgeisics (eg: paracetamol), anti-inflamatories (eg: ibuprofen), rehydration kits, a pair of scissors and a set of tweasers. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll need any of it, but it pays to be prepared for the worse.
One of the best things you can do is carry your mobile phone with you. Most of the island has good signal coverage, even in remote areas, this allows you the luxury of being able to call for help. The emergency services can be reached by dialling 112.
Above all else, have fun and enjoy yourself. 99.9% of waking in Tenerife is trouble free and if you are properly prepared then you maximise your chances of an enjoyable day out.