Teno Country Park is located in the north-west of the island of Tenerife and covers part of the municipalities of Buenavista del Norte, Los Silos, El Tanque and Santiago del Teide. Spanning 8,063.3 hectares (almost 200,000 acres), this is one of Tenerife's most beautiful nature areas and has preserved much of its ecological, scenic and cultural wealth, largely thanks to its isolated position. Once you set eyes on the area's complicated topography, you will find it incredible to think that people used to live there. The variety of its landscapes has it all, from magnificent cliffs, valleys, islands and laurel forests to wonderful pieces of traditional architecture.
How to get there:
By guagua (bus): From Buenavista or Santiago del Teide, line 355.
By car: From Buenavista along the TF-436 Buenavista-Santiago del Teide road, and along the TF-445 Buenavista-Faro/Punta de Teno road. From Armeñime along the TF-82 Icod de los Vinos-Armeñime road.
What to see:
The highlands, which are caressed by the trade winds (affording the Island its wonderful climate) are covered by an ecosystem known as the monteverde (macaronesian heathland and laurel forests). If you journey up to Monte del Agua, you will be walking amidst beeches, Canary Island laurel, small-leaved holly bushes and strawberry trees. This abundance of lush vegetation contrasts sharply with the south side of the Park, where the greenery is completely different, to the point that it feels like a whole new world despite being just a few hundred yards away. Here, the most significant plant species are broom bushes and euphorbia. On the north-facing slopes, the scenery changes once again to reveal stunning palms and magical dragon trees. On the Punta de Teno headland you will discover some of the largest and best-kept examples of euphorbia and Canary Island spurge plants on the Island, which stand out for their sheer abundance and the size of certain specimens. A good way of proving their size is to stand beside one and take a picture, which also makes a great souvenir.
But Teno is not just about its spectacular landscapes; it is also a treasure in terms of biological diversity. This is a key refuge for certain endangered species, such as the laurel pigeon, the spotted lizard, the crow, the Masca limonium, the amargosa and the corazoncillo de Masca, to name just a few. The presence of species such as the osprey (the rarest bird of prey on the Island) has led this to be declared a Special Bird Protection Area. Take your time to admire their majestic flight and honed hunting techniques – a true gift of nature.
Teno Country Park houses several village areas. The hamlets of El Palmar, Teno Alto, Las Lagunetas, Las Portelas, Los Carrizales, Masca and Erjos, for instance, rely largely on farming and livestock, mostly for their own consumption.
Around these hamlets you will find old ovens that were used for baking tiles or bread, as well as communal threshing floors and shelters that are typically used for livestock in farming areas such as Teno Alto.
The headland of Punta de Teno is the western-most point on the Island, surrounded by huge cliffs and a series of dikes and rocky peaks. Here, you will notice the striking contrast between the deep ravines that open out onto small beaches and the vast valleys that define the areas of Isla Baja and Teno Bajo. This natural area is home to significant biological diversity and shelters a number of endangered and native species.
A small, well-preserved lighthouse stands on the edge. This is where you will get the best views of the dizzying cliffs of Los Gigantes that drop into the sea from heights of up to 600 m (1,970 ft). You might also witness a fairytale sunset that will captivate the hearts of the most romantic onlookers. If you would like to see some stunning landscapes from the mountains, visit the town of Masca, one of Tenerife's most singular corners.
What to do:
Getting here is an experience in itself as you will see spectacular scenery all along the way. Once you get here, you mustn't leave before you've gone hiking, kayaking, paddle surfing, diving or mountain biking.
There are over 100 kilometres of approved trails to take you deep into the heart of nature. Tenerife's deepest ravines can be found here, where the first inhabitants of Masca built their houses in-between towering rock walls. This picturesque spot houses one of the finest examples of traditional Canarian architecture. Up until just a few decades ago, it was almost entirely isolated from the rest of the Island due to communication difficulties, which means it is exceptionally well-preserved.
The Los Pedregales Visitor Centre focuses its work on studying, preserving and promoting the Park's assets and is definitely worth visiting. It welcomes tourists seeking individual information about the network of trails and other sites in the Park, and organises educational activities in schools, subject to availability and advance booking.
Los Pedregales Visitor Centre
Finca Los Pedregales s/n. El Palmar, 38480. Buenavista del Norte.
Tel. 0034 922447974
Opening hours: Monday to Friday from 9.30 am to 2 pm.
Teno also has a lodge known as Albergue de Bolico where you can spend a few days in the peace and quiet of this wonderful part of the Island. It is equipped with everything you might need and also contains information about the nearby trails, local products and craftsmanship.
Albergue de Bolico
Finca de Bolico (in the area of Las Portelas). Buenavista del Norte.
Tel. 0034 922127334
Website: Albergue de Bolico
And if you're hoping to get even more out of your stay in the area, treat your taste buds to a visit to the Farmers Market in El Palmar, where you will experience Teno's agricultural significance and wealth. This includes some of the Island's exclusive varieties of potatoes, unique cheeses, wines, local saffron, a wide variety of fruits and locally-sourced honey.
El Palmar Farmers Market
Finca Los Pedregales s/n. El Palmar, 38480. Buenavista del Norte.
Tel. 0034 922 44 79 74 / 70
Opening hours: Sundays from 9.30 am to 1.30 pm.
If you really want to get to know Teno Country Park, mingle with the locals and allow their hospitality to win you over. This is a great opportunity to sample the local produce by trying some of the area's rich dishes in one of its restaurants.
Depending on the time of year, Teno might surprise you with its amazing festivities. Celebrations linked to the end of the harvest season take place in September and October in the various hamlets. The festive events in El Palmar are particularly noteworthy because of their historic and cultural relevance, especially the dance known as Las Libreas, where three couples of dancers parade the streets under the watchful eye of the devil and the deviless to the sound of Tajaraste music.
What to take:
It is important to be well-prepared depending on the plans you have in mind (visiting hamlets and villages, touring by car, hiking, etc.). If you decide to head out on foot, we recommend you carry your mobile phone with you in case of an emergency, sun cream, a hat, a coat and a raincoat just in case the weather suddenly turns (which is often the case in this area), as well as water and food to keep you going and suitable footwear.
It is very important to plan the times of your outings to make sure you are back by 6 pm in winter and 8.30 pm in summer. Make sure you don't stray from the paths and trails or you could get lost.
If instead you decide to explore the coast, don't forget your swimsuit. If you have booked a tour that includes a boat trip, you might need sea sickness tablets.
Remember to take a small first aid kit with you containing the essentials for cleaning up wounds, tending to a bump or a sprain and easing the symptoms of indisposition. If you need any personal medication, don't forget to have it with you!
Check the weather forecast the day before you head out to make sure it will be good enough to be outdoors.
Let your friends or family know what you will be doing so somebody knows where to find you if anything happens.
Never go out hiking on your own.