April 9, 2013

Walking on the Moon in Tenerife: a Guide to Paisaje Lunar

The landscape near Vilaflor in the south of Tenerife has been named Paisaje Lunar, due to its resemblance to the moon. Hiking in the area is a unique experience due to the contrast between the pine forest and fascinating rock formations.

A walk giving you a comprehensive look at all the main features will take around four hours and is a great way to pass a morning or afternoon while on holidays to Tenerife with Cosmos.

Route One

There are two possible starting points for the walk, with the first dependent on hikers getting up early enough to secure a parking spot at the TF66 milestone not far from Vilaflor. For the first hour, a wide path will guide you through the forest until you reach a crossroads and you should take a left turn and a marked trail goes uphill.

As you gain height you will notice that fantastic views of the mountains surrounding the area become visible, making the extra exertion worth it. A useful feature of this walk is that white and yellow markers have been positioned throughout in order to prevent visitors from getting lost.

The path will start to narrow as you approach Guajara mountain and here the scent of pine trees starts to leave and the impressive lunar landscape stretches out in front of you. The pumice stone has been eroded by the elements creating natural sculptures, which are accentuated by the blue sky.

Eventually you will reach a viewpoint, where you can sit and admire the best that nature has to offer. This is also a great place to have a picnic, before heading back on the return route. Continuing to follow the markers, you will go past ruined houses until you reach the same broad path you set out on and finally your vehicle.

Route Two

Instead of vying for a parking space at the TF66 milestone, walkers can set off directly from Vilaflor, where parking is easier, with spaces outside the church and in various other locations. Set off to the right of the church and keep going past the green reservoir towards the forest, ascending gradually.

After around an hour you will reach the same crossroads that is described in the first route. From here you can do the same walk to the viewpoint, but remember which way to take on the return journey otherwise you will not make it back to your car.

Preserving this Beautiful Place

As well as helping walkers to complete their route without getting lost, the markers along the side of the paths mean there is no reason to veer off and walk across other areas. This helps to protect the natural countryside, especially the forest floor, and enable plants to grow. In the spring there are beautiful wild flowers throughout the forest section of the route. Visitors are also reminded to take home any litter with them.

Additional Attractions

The historic town of Vilaflor is a lovely place to explore in itself and is the highest community of any size on the island, at 1,450 metres above sea level. Although it is not well established as a destination for tourists, the other half of the day could be spent looking around. La Iglesia de San Pedro, a medieval-style church built in honour of St Peter is particularly interesting.

The area is also home to a number of vineyards, due to the mountainous terrain, so stopping to sample some local Canarian wine is another option. Red, white and rose grapes are all grown in the region.

Photo Credit: Leo-setä