Can you imagine getting to the top of El Teide being disabled? How about going downhill from Chio to Garachico being vision impaired?
Desire to better yourself, self-assurance and team work are some of the things we learned from the NGO Project U-Turn when they visited Tenerife. Project U-Turn is a Belgian NGO that organizes adventure trips for handicapped people and their relatives. They try to stimulate self-assurance, team work and cooperation because every day means a little victory that requires physical and mental commitment. Participants go beyond self-imposed limits, become aware of their abilities and discover what they are able to achieve.
Human beings are amazing and each of the last participants who have come to Tenerife this year has confirmed that. Besides, those people have taught us a very important lesson – Where there’s a will there’s a way and barriers can be overcome. Every trip is exciting but, if you also challenge yourself, it becomes an adventure.
What made that trip so attractive to people with physical disabilities? What made them come back to the Island one more year? An adventure that began when they first arrived in Tenerife, which we believe helped them give their lives a new course.
Day 1. Once in Tenerife, and right after the first meal that was offered by the town council of Arico in El Poris, this adventure began with a walk up to the old road that reaches Arico el Nuevo. From there, along the Camino Real, they got to the Day Training Centre, the premises also provided by the local town council, where the participants spent the night.
Day 2. From Arico to El Contador, 8km uphill. What was they key to succeed in this hike? Participants helped each other to overcome the different obstacles. Once in El Contador, tents lent by the Boy Scouts of Tenerife were set up.
Day 3. After riding a mini bus to the intersection with the dirt road that leads to Vilaflor, the hikers headed towards the village and crossed the Barranco del Rio through a very narrow trail, which made them descend in line and carry the chairs. This took more than two hours! Finally, the participants slept in an open area by the old stone house in Los Llanitos.
Day 4. From Los Llanitos to the hostel in Vilaflor, lodging offered by the town council.
Day 5. Again on a minibus, and thanks to the courtesy of Gaiatours, the adventures visited El Teide National Park. Once there, they rode the gondola to the plateau where trail that leads to the peak starts. During this final assault to the top, the participants had to help each other and for the very last twenty meters some of them were even carried on someone else’s shoulders. It was an amazing triumph! The descent took place with the people’s applauses to the participants and for many the experience became very emotional.
At the end of the day, everybody returned to the pine forests of Chio where they spent the night.
Day 6. Along the Montaña Cascajo dirt road, gone passed the Chinyero volcano and after reaching the trail that leads to Arenas Negras, the hikers continued the trip to Garachico. This was a very difficult downhill journey for them due to the constant steepness of the terrain. Of course, accompanying people helped a lot, showing their will and their spirit of overcoming.
Once in Garachico, the town council welcomed the participants. After drinking some water they swam and refreshed themselves to symbolize the end of the odyssey. Pride for such an achievement overcame them all. They had been able to cross the Island from South to North in only six days. The crowd on the beach joined the euphoria with applauses. The atmosphere became very emotional.
That night, the participants had to sleep in Los Pedregales. It was a tough night but all of them could showed a smile on their face.
Day 7. The group was driven to Los Gigantes where the staff of Teno Activo took them for a whale watching tour. One particular moment, when the engine of the boat was turned off in order to let the participants, and especially a blind man who was also hearing impaired, hear the sounds that whales make, was really exciting. The boy smiled. The experience was really heart-warming.
After a kayak tour along the cliffs of Los Gigantes, all adventurers were taken to the El Atajo holiday cottage in Chio, which was provided by the town council of Guia de Isora.
Day 8. Finally, two more magnificent days were spent at the San Blas Reserva Medioambiental hotel, in San Miguel, where the participants could enjoy the fantastic facilities and the kindness of its staff.
Tourism of Tenerife wants to thank Teleferico, Exotur, GaiaTours, Medio Ambiente, Cruz Roja, Montaña para Todos, Hospitén Sur, El Teide National Park, Teno Activo, Boy Scouts, Thomas Cook flights department, San Blas Reserva Medioambiental hotel, and the city councils of Arico, Vilaflor, Garachico, Buenavista y Guía de Isora, their help, their kindness and their involvement with the belgian NGO U-Turn. Thanks to all of them the impossible could be made possible.
At the same time, Tourism of Tenerife wants to extend the invitation of U-Turn to all the handicapped people who would like to join them next year for more group activities. For further information, please contact U-Turn at the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tenerife is the perfect place to welcome every tourist because we have a place for everyone in the Island; because it has always been a place for rest or activities, for all who have needed them; because the Island always has something new to offer regardless if you are disabled or not. Tenerife invites you all to come and awaits you with arms wide open.