Driving on Tenerife – Dealing with Tenerife’s Winding Roads

Posted: April 19, 2010 in Spain, Tenerife, Travel
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Recently we went on Tenerife’s version of a white knuckle ride a.k.a the road to Masca. Actually now I don’t think of it as a white knuckle ride at all, I think of it as one of the most amazing drives I’ve ever experienced anywhere. Coming across the brow of the hill at the Cherfe mirador is one of Tenerife’s ‘must do’ experiences. As the road twists and turns in tight loops downwards through an ancient landscape the views are epic to say the least. This is a high definition landscape.

A Serious Case of the Bends

However, quite a number of people are put off by the idea of driving on such a road – in fact I regularly read stories about people being nervous about driving on Tenerife’s roads in general, especially the ones through the hills. There’s really no need. I love driving on Tenerife’s roads (well apart from the motorway which just bores me) – it feels like real driving. Twisting roads which demand your full attention and inclines on switchbacks which have you going through the gears like Colin Montgomerie (no relation – different spelling). And therein possibly lays the issue. A lot of driving in Britain now can almost be done on autopilot; there are numerous occasions I arrived home in Stockport at the end of the working day without remembering driving all the way from Salford Quays.
A friend recently compared driving on Tenerife to driving between Manchester and Liverpool.
‘I think I only had to make about two turns in the whole journey,” he commented.

A couple of years ago I watched another friend play eenie meenie mo with the gears as he struggled to pick the right one. His driving in Britain was mainly town and motorway. Tenerife’s multitudinous corners and tight turns were an unfamiliar novelty.

Driving up from Puerto de la Cruz to Mount Teide last Monday we encountered a few people who were clearly similar. They’d floor the pedal to the metal on the straights (not that there are many) but when they reached a corner (of which there are lots) they’d nearly come to a complete stop to negotiate it. It’s quite a common occurrence; some people have a problem with left handed corners, some with right and some both. I think this is as a result of being used to mainly town driving. Having driven in the highlands of Scotland, Devon and Cornwall and the Brecon Beacons I personally don’t think that there’s a great deal of difference between driving in those places and driving on Tenerife – in fact I can still remember one corner in Wales where I had to do a three point turn to get around it.

So what I’m saying is that stories regarding the difficulty of driving on Tenerife’s roads can be a bit overplayed. In reality the older roads through the hills are usually quiet and you’re more likely to encounter locals driving ridiculously slowly (it’s mostly older guys on these roads who aren’t in a hurry to go anywhere) than speed freaks. If you enjoy driving, you should find them a joy – once you get to grips with driving on the right.

Admittedly though the Masca is a bit different; a bit special. I can recall exactly what I said the first time I came over that brow at Cherfe. It was “Oh shit!”

  1. Dennis Markham says:

    Can’t imagine why anyone would want to drive from Manchester to Liverpool, its full of scousers who support Liverpool FC

  2. martin says:

    Ah, but your picture hints at the true nightmare tat awaits when driving the road to Masca from Santiago del Teide.

    The bus!

    More specifically, meeting an oncoming bus.

    This happened to me last Christmas. On a straight stretch of the road no less. I thoughth I would have to drive my car into the concreted gully to make room but there were some large boulders there. The bus driver saw those and waved to me to stop. I did. He took charge of making it past me and all I had to do in the end was to fold in my wing mirror.

    My very first drive to Masca was on a (full sized) tour bus but it came the other direction from Bonavista del Norte. There was only one switchback that required him to go back and forward until he made the turn. Mind you, that was the one with the sheer drop to the sea. Afterwards, I figured that if a bus driver could take a bus up and down that road, I could manage a small car.

    • dragojac says:

      LOL. Sounds very familiar. I remember a number of occasions when bus drivers had to ‘guide’ me round tight corners during my early days here. I have nothing but the utmost respect for the bus drivers on Tenerife. I reckon they’re the best drivers on the island – okay I realise that leaves a Grand Canyon sized opening for the obvious reply 🙂

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