The Teno mountains in the north west of Tenerife
The most beautiful tour that one can make in Tenerife is without doubt a trip through the national park of Teide. Unfortunately, the second most beautiful tour is missed by many vacationers in Tenerife: it leads in the north west tip of the island from Santiago del Teide to Buenavista del Norte and/or across the Teno mountains.
This tour is a dream for rented car drivers. Indeed, also bus tours to the Teno mountains are offered; but these only lead from Buenavista del Norte up to Masca. The serpentine road between Masca and Santiago del Teide is not accessible for big travel buses. The are countless cutouts at the stretch, from which it is possible to see fantastic and unforgettable views to the cliffy rock faces of the Teno mountains.
The Macizo de Teno
Tenerife as we know it today as being an island, consisted more than 2 millions of years ago on three little islands, from which one was the Teno mountains of today. Thus, during a trip to the Teno mountains one takes to the oldest part of the island that is approximately 10 millions years old. This lava mountain is characterized by its cliffy and precipitous rock faces that go up to 1000 m, and its deep canyons.
Due to these extreme ground formations, the Teno mountains are a completely inhospitable living space for human beings. Not until a few hundred years ago, several farmers started to populate this part of the island and to use agriculturally some little lowlands. Up to the year 1991, the little villages were practically completely isolated from the outer world. On herder and field paths, one got to the civilized world of the island by making a big effort. Im the year 1991, the road from Santiago del Teide to Masca was finished.
Also today, the few farmers live in the Teno mountains as in the medieval times. In this part of the island, the tourism is only represented by transit and hiking tourists.
From Santiago del Teide to Masca
Let us start the tour in Santiago del Teide located at a height of 900 metres, from which to roads lead to the Teno mountains. The main road leads in north east direction to Garachico. But much more beautiful and atractive is the adventuresome serpentine road through Masca to Buenavista del Norte.
From Santiago del Teide a little curvy road leads first up to a height of more than 1300 m in order to cross the southern slope of the Teno mountains. From there, there is an impressive view to the south west of the island and of course to the Teide. Behind the pass one is confrontated for the first time with the fascinating world of the Teno mountainst: the cliffy rocks faces and the canyons are visible from above. Additionally, one sees how the little road on which one will have to drive for the next half hour, loops alongside the rock faces.
The road to Masca is very narrow and extremely curvy. In each curve, one has to pay attention to the traffic coming from the opposite side. Fortunately, at this bit of the road there are no buses driving. There are numerous lay-bys with view points, one is more beautiful than the other one. Driving merchants sell snacks and beverages on several parking places.
Masca - the most beautiful place of Tenerife
Although there are only few kilometres from Santiago del Teide to Masca, one needs an hour for this short stretch, as on one hand, one can only slowly get ahead and on the other hand, it is always to be stopped in order to gaze at the fascinating place. The place Masca itself consists on several little districts in a height of 600 - 800 m. Before in the year 1991 the road to Masca on which we just travelled on was finished, Masca was practically completely isolated from the outer world.
Today, Masca is named as the most beautiful village of Tenerife. Thousands of visitors find daily their way to Masca. But the majority of them come from the north and not from Santiago del Teide. Why is Masca considered to be the most beautiful village of the island? The place is idyllically situated on a rock spur. Underneath, the famous Masca canyon is situated (Barranco de Masca). Despite of the many daily visitors the place has kept its original character and condition.
The local people invite the visitors to a free trial of their self cultivated oranges and tangerines, of course by hoping to sell some of the fruits. There are two restaurants in Masca where one can relax a little before the trip. During the tour through the Teno mountains, one should either arrive in the very early morning or in the very late evening to Masca. During the day, the pictorial place appears not to be original and attractive any more due to the many visitors.
From Masca to Buenavista del Norte
While one rather felt lonely during the first part of the stretch from Santiago del Teide to Masca, on the second part of the stretch to Buenavista del Norte one is exposed to the mass tourism. On this section, the road is a little wider, so that also travel buses can find their way through the Teno mountains.
Although this part of the route is approximately 3 times longer than the first part, one also needs approximately one hour, as it is possible to drive faster and the last kilometres up to Buenavista are rather monotonous. On the first kilometres to Masca one has to stopp at one or two lay-bys without fail, as the views are simply much too fascinating. At clear days, even the island La Palma is visible poking out of the sea behind the rocks of the Teno mountains.
Finally, one arrives at the place that counts approximately 5.000 inhabitants, Buenavista del Norte, that invited its visitors to have a little intermediate stop. After some hours driving on the curvy road through the Teno mountains, everybody is glad to have a refreshing beverage or a cup of good coffee.
Those who are lucky can continue driving from Buenavista del Norte to the north west tip of the island. At the Punta del Teno there are two lighthouses beside each other. If the weather is clear, the view to La Palma can be enjoyed, otherwise, only the slopes of the Teno mountains can be viewed from below. Why does one need luck in order to get to the north west extreme of the island? The road is dangerous, as it is threatened by rockfalls and landslips. This is why it is oftenly locked. Sometimes, a minimum rainfall is enough for this road to be locked.
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Copyright: Patrick Wagner, www.tourist-guide.biz