Monday, 23 April 2012


15th-21st April

The Barranco de Masca

Kathryn and I spent the week in Tenerife, for a combination of lava-tube-caving, snorkelling and walking. When you get away from the resorts and built up areas it's a spectacularly scenic place, and is well worth a visit.
Our first attempt at finding a lava tube (Cueva de San Marcos) ended in frustration as we spent a couple of hours trudging around looking for an entrance that was hidden somewhere on an inaccessibly steep hillside. Somewhat deterred from looking for lava tubes, we spent the next day doing the impressive Barranco de Masca canyon walk and snorkelling from the beach at the end.

The following day, the whether looked a bit questionable, so we dedicated some more time to searching for lava tubes. This time we had more success as, under the somewhat questioning gaze of some locals, we found the entrance to Cueva de Candelaria, which is right next to a housing estate. We dropped straight into a large trunk passage which we followed in both directions for a few hundred metres until the floor met the ceiling. Everything was slightly alien compared to the smooth limestone we were used to seeing underground, and we could clearly make out old lava flows which had solidified. The main lesson we learnt was that crawling on old lava was exceptionally painful and not at all good for your clothing.

Kathryn climbs a lava waterfall
Funny shaped passage in Cueva Candelaria

Bouyed by our success we then went to look at Cueva del Viento's upper entrance (the lower part being a showcave) which we also found pretty easily. Another huge, steeply sloping, passage led off in both directions again. Upslope led, past a gate into the showcave, to a choke where daylight was just about visible. I spotted a large spider's eggsac dangling ominously from the ceiling next to me. Turning my head, I then realised there were dozens of the things everywhere with angry looking parents crawling across the ceiling. It was as if we'd walked into a scene from Alien; I swear some of the sacs were pulsating. Beating a hasty retreat (possibly instigated by me not Kathryn...) we headed downslope through more impressive passage until it choked.

An eggsac
Kathryn in Cueva del viento

The next day, after another canyon walk, we went snorkelling and saw a turtle, possibly called Donatello. That's a fairly major life ambition ticked off, so I can pretty much die happy now!

Donatello. Or possibly Donatella; I don't know how to tell.

After spending a day on the slopes of El Teide, the stunning 3700m high volcano that dominates Tenerife's skyline (or at least it would were it not for the thick layer of cloud at 1000m that kept the sun off the north side of the island much of the time), our final day was spent near Güîmar, and almost classes as caving. We'd heard about a walk that could be done, along the path of an old disused water course which skirts round the sides of an impossibly steep valley. The water channel, a bit under 1m wide, starts high up on some level ground, before heading along the contour whilst the sides of the valley plunge precipitously away below (and above). This meant that we spent several kilometres walking along essentially a very narrow ledge that you really didn't want to fall off. At various points, the sides of the valley turned into cliffly spurs, so tunnels had been dug through the cliffs, with occasional windows through to the valley below.
Kathryn looking through a window in one of the tunnels

The black spots are the windows

After 3 hours of trying not to fall off Tenerife, we were all out of adrenaline so with a few hours to spare before our flight home we drove back to the beach to see Dontello the turtle, but alas he didn't grace us with his presence this time.

I'd recommend Tenerfie. If you're prepared to make an effort to drive around a fair bit and look into where to go, then off the beaten track there are some fantastic sights to see! More photos here.

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