Back to the Volcano – The Roques de Garcia   6 comments

After a trip down the M1 and a night in the worlds smallest and hottest family hotel room at Luton Airport we were whisked away by Ryanair, back to Tenerife for the Xmas holidays. No time spent at home after leaving our weekend in the Dales. It was Britain when we arrived, cloudy and hacking it down with rain. We immediately felt at home. A short drive (via an unscheduled tour of some of the other coastal resorts) had us in our temporary home for a couple of weeks. Shopping and then a meal with some cheap cider set us on the right path after a long journey.

Our flat was excellent with another west facing view to admire the sunsets. Get used to these, there are a lot of sunset photos coming in future posts



Our first day was a little cloudy but still warm so we chilled with a stroll down and along the coast into Los Gigantes. Via some more unscheduled routes and clambers under fences and down unfinished roads (I still have the scars on my shin to prove it). Cloudy it may have been but it was still warm and pleasant and nice way to get into the swing of things



One day of leisure is enough though. Sun a blue skies returned and we were off out. Time for some walks in the clean fresh air of the caldera at 2200m. We were headed for the Roques de Garcia, one of the classic sights of Tenerife. This is La Catedral


And this is the most famous monolith Roque Chinchado or “Gods Finger”. I remember this one distinctly from my visit as kid but strangely nothing else about this area (other than the towering El Teide)


There are several large and distinctly different shaped and hued rocks and under the clear light at this altitude they are majestic. Unsurprisingly its a very popular spot and thronged with tourists. Luckily your average British/German/Japanese/Chinese tourist loses the use of their legs if they stray more than 100 feet from the tour bus so a short walk and you have peace and tranquility in this lunar landscape



There is a superb 3 mile hike that circles the rocks and whilst it looks hot and arid, its in fact pretty cool at this height so the walk is easy. The sheer variety of shapes and colours is amazing



Taking you back to the classroom for a minute there are generally two types of lava. Where the lava moves very slowly it forms large angular blocks and is called Aa. You see it all over Tenerife. Where it flows quickly like a river (like on any Volcano disaster movie you’ve ever seen) it forms smoother curves and looks a little like coiled rope. This stuff is called Pahoehoe and this area has some decent examples as below. When it flows downhill the outer layer cools and hardens and allows the inside, still insulated to run within and leave behind lava caves. There are some examples near here but they are off limits now although we did see a few small holes under the surface when we walked over one these flows. Fascinating stuff




In the photo below you can see where this lava has poured through the gap in the rocks


This one looked like swiss cheese


The variety of textures and colours makes you realise just what a jumbled and complex chemical mass of molten rock makes up lava. Its incredible to realise that Tenerife is effectively new. Just igneous volcanic rock recently ejected from the earth’s mantle


The walk takes you down and past El Catedral, a monstrous isolated rock, popular with rock climbers



Its a wonderful walk and one of the highlights of Tenerife well worth the effort to explore and lose the crowds. After a stroll what you need is a hearty picnic in the forest. This one is our favourite on the island, spread across a huge area, just sunny enough to be warm as its still at 1800m and chilly. The picnic was enlivened by several woodpeckers drumming on the trees right above our head


After lunch we had time for another walk, this time to the top of an old volcano called Samara. You can actually wander through the crater. Not much to see other than bare rock but its the idea that’s intriguing. Most of this landscape is only a few hundred years old. Whilst Tenerife is currently in a quiet spell (no eruptions since 1909) it does have regular small earthquakes of the size we occasionally get in the UK but never worry about. You see small white marker posts everywhere which I assume is to do with monitoring what’s going on. The Daily Express even saw fit to deem these tiny quakes worthy of news a few months ago claiming that Tenerife was on the verge of catastrophe. Technically I suppose it is as a spit of bubbling rock could spew out anywhere, any time. However a few quakes of less than 2 on the richter scale hardly qualifies for panic. For comparison on the odd occasion we get a quake in the UK that shakes a few roof tiles loose its normally around 3 on the scale which is logarithmic (3 is 10x stronger than 2 and so forth). I was hoping to feel the ground rumble at some point but it never did


Back to the walk and the views from the top are as good as anything on the island


This is a zoom shot of the Sombrero, one of the peaks on the caldera rim



I love the fact that you can sit at some serious height and always see the ocean far below



There is a pretty decent short walk that weaves through the dwarf trees and around some of the smaller cones. It still astounds me that anything grows here as there is no topsoil to speak of, just lava and dust


I love this photo for the contrast between the dark lava, the green trees and the blue sky with the line of clouds below you



We had to cut the walk short as it was getting late and there was a hint of showers in the air


A superb day out. The walks up here are just stupendous and a far cry from the common image of Tenerife. More to come

6 responses to “Back to the Volcano – The Roques de Garcia

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  1. Sorry to hear that the earth didn’t move for you whilst you were on Tenerife. (:
    Stunning photos. Looks amazing. Again.


  2. Always wanted to go there. Maybe someday… Great post and photos. Looks a lovely holiday destination to escape our miserable soggy winter.


    Blue Sky Scotland
    • There is a huge range of walks on the island and most of them stunning. Lots of Tenerife is a bit bland and ugly but huge parts of it are stunning and unspolit. We love it there and its the perfect antitode to dreary skies and the excesses of Xmas. Lots more to come


  3. Perfect timing to be away from the cold and snow in the UK.
    Having walked on the lower slopes of Etna, on our recent trip, I fully appreciate your photos and comments about the terrain. Gat start to your holiday.


    • Its hard to imagine spending the Xmas break under grey skies and in cold weather now, we’ve been well and truly spoiled! The volcanic scenery has a real fascination for me especially up high where the air is so clear and the views so wide reaching


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