Q: What’s the difference between walking in the Anaga Mountains and going fifteen rounds with Rocky Balboa?
A: There isn’t one!
My favourite place for walking on Tenerife is in the Anaga Mountains. The Anagas occupy a large chunk of the north east of Tenerife and are characterised by ancient ravines, forests and tiny villages perched in places that no sane person would consider suitable for setting up home. This is a landscape which kicks ass and it’s absolutely beautiful.
La Gomera is known for its great walking, but for me the Anagas can match anything that Tenerife’s neighbour has to offer and raise it some. The fact that they are about as far away from Tenerife’s southern tourist resorts as you can get means that they’re not as popular with visitors as they deserve to be, but it does mean that when you explore them, you feel like you are witnessing a way of life on Tenerife which hasn’t changed for centuries.
This week Andy and I were exploring an old merchant’s trail for a series about walking on the island which we’re doing for Living Tenerife magazine. It wasn’t a long walk; only about 3.5 kilometres each way, but as the route twisted and turned from the Anaga’s spine down to a village, Taganana, near the coast and back again, it did involve a steep descent and a lung testing ascent. There is no such thing as easy walking in the Anagas; their very design makes you work your proverbial socks off to enjoy their treasures. On the way down we passed a German couple who were on the way back up. They weren’t that far from the village and from their dress they obviously weren’t strangers to serious walking, but both had flushed faces and were panting quite heavily.
After a lunch break in Taganana, a picturesque village which is a non-touristy version of Masca, we made our return along Calle Portugal and discovered why the Germans were already ‘done in’ before they’d even started. Calle Portugal is a joke of a street. It isn’t a street; it’s a vertical cliff which just happens to have houses on it. I’m sure the locals need ropes and crampons to get in their front doors. There was one car parked on the cobbles; boulders had been piled against its back wheel to stop it toppling over – no joke. By the time we reached the end of the street, passing a group of Sherpas setting up base camp on the way, we were fully paid up members of the ‘beetroot face’ club and some centenarian thief had nicked my left knee and replaced it with his aged, worn out one. And that, my friends, was 0.1 kilometres completed.
I love walking in the Anagas; it’s always an experience which stays with me for days afterwards…every time I walk down steps, stand up, bend down, move…