Hiking the Camino de Candelaria de la Orotava

Hike essentials
Location Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain
Distance / ↑ ascent 19 km / ↑ 1700 m (hard)
Hiking time 9 hours
Map Here
Following story from November ’16

Candelaria is an old pilgrimage site south of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. It’s actually one of the principal pilgrim destinations in Spain. Even though it welcomes pilgrims all year round, the main pilgrim procession comes over every year on the night of 14th August. Who knows what’s gonna happen in August and because I don’t like crowded trails, why not to give it a shot in November? Above all, let’s try to walk it in the opposite direction. Me & Anna started to walk from Arafo, about an hour walk from Candelaria, before sunrise. I just love when the sun is not up yet but you know it’s gonna be there soon and you’re already doing what you love – walking.

Arafo is a lovely Spanish town with crooked houses and cheap bars filled with locals long before the sunrise. From there the trail goes straight up and continues along the road until its end. The road is so steep that it’s hard to imagine driving on it. After the road ends, you continue on a nicely visible track into a pine forest. Tenerife’s pine forests are an important source of water for the island. If it rains here, it’s mainly in the upper parts of the forest. That’s why you can meet so many concrete water channels here with pure water rushing down to water people’s veggie patches. If you are lucky enough, you can find a good leak or a hole in a channel where you can resupply your water bottle. Even if it’s not officially drinking water, I’ve been drinking it for a few weeks without any trouble except for permanently tangled hair. My girlfriend says this is due to not using a hairbrush but I’m not sure and I’ll let you decide.

Pine forest

After a while you’ll be meeting less and less pines and more and more chestnut trees. Yes, you can pick the chestnuts and roast them later. The track continues on the right of the old black Volcano de Arafo. There are quite a few signs saying Prohibido el paso [No trespassing] which look quite funny on the background of nothing else than black volcanic dust. Oh, how people are funny with their ownership games!

Volcano de Arafo

Once you get above the volcano, you join a regular road for a while and slowly continue along a small ravine to another pine forest. The views from there become more and more magnificent and if you have a really clear day, you can see as far as Fuertevertuna (literally “Strong fortune”), which is together with Lanzarote, one of the Canaries’ two desert islands.

View towards the south; glimpse of Gran Canaria can be seen above the clouds

After the pine forest you need to cross a short open part which can get really hot in summer. On the sharp ridge you’ll find a fancy road going all the way from Los Christianos to Mt Teide. We continued by going down towards Aguamansa. At first, the track descends quite gradually but after a while it becomes quite steep. On the way you can meet a few ruins which look completely human made, but no, nobody came up here to build 3 metre thick walls just for the pure fun of building stuff. When we reached Aguamansa, it put us back into reality. After all these gorgeous canyons, green forests and funny shaped rocks you come to a place full of cars and people queued for their beers and burgers from seasonal caravans. We don’t really want to stay and rather continue towards La Orotava.

Small ravine, typical for the volcanic part

The local forest is really green and it’s hard to believe that on the other side of the mountain where we started, pretty much nothing but cacti grow. This is because the rain clouds almost always come from the north, get stuck in the mountains and release their water on the northern side. And because rain is life, it’s much greener here and it reminds us of New Zealand.

Green forest on the northern side

When we reach Cruz de Chasna, we decide to take a bus from here. We get the feeling that there is no point in continuing to walk beside the road to La Orotava. What I like about local buses is that they can take you everywhere for a good price. What I don’t like is that I always get carsick, even though I’ve never been carsick before coming here. Well, the local serpentine roads can truly determine whether you’re a carsick guy or not.

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