Information about the Isle
Those who are not interested in the touristic details should click here.
Time difference: one hour behind the time in France.
Details: Tenerife is a mountainous island whose Teyde Peak culminates at a height of 3718
m. There is little rain in the south, the north and the
west being much more humid. Unfortunately this is where you will
find the most beautiful landscapes and the endemic birds. As we stayed
there from 16 to 27 February 2013, at a time when temperatures may
still be rather low, especially in the mountains, we had opted for a
stay in the south, at the Paradise Park Hotel
in Los Cristianos. This proved a good choice as far as the
weather was concerned but because of that we drove over 1800 km on an island
which, after all, is only 90 km from north to south and 50 from east to
Traffic: Except in the
west, there is a very busy highway along the coast and a beautiful
ridge road winds through a gorgeous landscape in its centre.
Elsewhere, roads may be very narrow and winding and sometimes even
dangerous in certain places. Some of them are closed in case of
rain because of the high risk of falling rocks. The local people
do not drive especially fast but they will park on your back bumper if
you drive slowly to find your way. We rented a car with Hertz,
which I collected with a tank filled to a quarter and had to return
with the same amount of fuel. Obviously, this is impossible and I
felt I had been fleeced, like all tourists. I also had to queue up
at the airport desk for quite a long time, both when I collected and
returned the car.
There are two major sites; the Erjos
Reserve in the west of the isle, north of Santiago del Teide, and las
Lajas, in the centre, north-west of Vilaflor. You can try to
find the endemic pigeons in the north, near the Las
Mercedes mountains or near Erjos but parking your car on the roadside
will be difficult and some laurel forests have been burnt down, which
makes them of little interest.
Erjos Reserve (Photo Danielle Joannès)
16 February 2013. After collecting our
car, my GPS brought me directly to the hotel which we found was pleasant
on the whole, the staff being very helpful. The tap water is
supposed to be fit to drink but you are warned it may cause bowel
trouble so we immediately bought a huge bottle of mineral water in a
near-by supermarket for the next day.
17 February 2013.
As soon as I got up I heard a Canary Island Chiffchaff
whose hammered song is different from that of the Common Chiffchaff
We drove westwards along the southern coast, from Playa de las Américas
to the cliffs of Los Gigantes. They tower several hundred metres
above the sea and are very impressive but it is difficult to
approach them, just like every other site on this coast and this
part of the island was too built-up to my taste. The road leading to
Santiago del Teide winding amid the pricklypears is much more pleasant
but again parking on the side is very difficult. We had lunch
under a bunch of eucalyptus trees and I saw an African Blue Tit
displaying its dark blue cap and a few Island Canaries
We finally reached the Parque Rural de Teno -
Charca de Erjos and from the top of the road I spotted a few unused
gravel-pits partly filled with water and surrounded with bushes.
To get there, park your car near a road-side café in the direction of
Erjos when you come from the south. Walk to the bend a bit
further down and you will find a path to go down there. I must
admit I was a bit disappointed by the small number of birds I found
there. We then took a very winding and sometimes steep road to
Garachico. There were a few Yellow-legged Gulls
nesting on a huge rocky island in front of this nice little town. There
is a charming village square surrounded with balconies made of finely
crafted wood and you can have a good look at the marvelous white tower
of the church of Santa Ana. We spent some time
watching the convent and the Franciscan church of Nuestra Señora de Los
Angeles and then went to a shaded little park where we saw Canary Island Chiffchaffs
and other more common birds.
The church of Santa Ana in Garachico (Photo Danielle Joannès)
We went back to the hotel, driving along a small road in the area
of Masca and regretted we were not able to stop very often because the road was so steep and narrow. The ragged
mountains were very beautiful and we were lucky to have a good look at
at a Common Raven
landed close to a small hotel. We drove on in the middle of
agaves and pricklypears growing in the lava fields which reminded us of
what we had seen on the Big Island in Hawaii.
Near Masca (Photo Danielle Joannès)
18 February 2013.
The sky was overcast but we nevertheless
decided to visit the mountains in the centre of the island. We
first stopped at the Canino Hotel, which is a hotel ... for dogs.
You will find it on the main road, just after Arona. This is an
interesting spot, probably because there is a dam close by. I came across a Barbary Partridge
and a Grey Heron
. Once in Vilaflor,
the wind was blowing and it was rather chilly but it was worth stopping
there to have a look at the two beautiful churches of the
village: Santo Hermano de San Jose Betancur and San Pedro.
The Church of San Pedro in Vilaflor (Photo Danielle Joannès)
We then drove up in the direction of El Teide and finally reached the picnic site of Las
Lajas. This is probably the place where I saw the greatest number of birds. I found Common Raven
, Island Canary
, Great-Spotted Woodpecker
(Canarian subspecies) and above all Teyde Finch
and African Blue Tit
The latter two species can be seen very easily if you take a little
walk in the pine forest. It is a very pleasant place, especially
at a time when there are not yet too many tourists.
Island Canary and Teyde Finch
We then turned back and drove to the southern coast. Near San Miguel, I saw about twenty migrating Plain Swifts
, about ten Island Canaries
and two Berthelot's Pipits
We had a drink at the Mirador de la Centinela and spent some time
watching the plain below and reached the seaside at Las Galletas where
we enjoyed the warm weather (25°C) and drove on to the Montaña
Roja. I had hoped to see a few waders at the seaside but I only
spotted nudists and I hardly dared to use my binoculars. The Berthelot's Pipit
is very easy to find in the bare vegetation growing before the beach.
The Montaña Roja (Photo Danielle Joannès)
19 February 2013.
of taking the motorway, we decided to take road TF 28 going in the same
direction along the hillside. As a matter of fact it was a poor
idea because the landscape is the same and we lost a lot of time along
that winding road. We saw very few birds and when we arrived at
to have a look at some pyramids built in the 19th century, we thought
the fee was much too high, except if you decide to spent the whole day
there. In the information centre you will learn how the Norwegian
Heyerdahl tried to prove that dauntless navigators may have set sail
from the Canary Islands to cross the Atlantic Ocean even before
Christopher Columbus did so. He also had his own theory about the
construction of those pyramids. We then chose to take the summit
road going through Arafo and the site of the Mirador de la
Montaña Colorada which is a good spot to observe migrating Plain Swifts
Unfortunately, it was a bit early in the year for that and the road to
the west was closed because of the bad weather. Our thermometer
indicated 5°C, it was foggy and the wet road was covered with branches,
pine needles and shreds of eucalyptus bark. We headed south in order to
find some sun in the village of Candelaria. It is a pleasant
seaside resort and there is a nice square in front of a beautiful
basilica. The statues of nine Guanche chiefs stand in line along
the seaside promenade and inside the church there is a picture of the
Black Virgin, nice wall paintings and the blue and gold altar is a pure
work of art.
The Guanches in Candelaria (Photo Danielle Joannès)
The basilica in Candelaria (Photo Danielle Joannès)
We stopped over in Puertito de Güímar where I saw a few Spanish Sparrows
in the palm trees by the sea, 2 Ruddy Turnstones
and 4 Whimbrels
20 February 2013.
The weather being overcast in the mountains we decided not to try our
luck again as we had done the day before and we stayed along the coast
to visit Los Cristianos and we found exactly what he had expected to
see in a seaside resort. Sand beaches, a few shops but also a
very pleasant park. I saw several Spanish Sparrows and Canary Island Chiffchaffs, 2 Grey Wagtails and 2 Rose-ringed Parakeets.
From the beach we noted that the isle of Gomera was covered with
clouds. In the afternoon we returned to the Montaña Roja going
through El Médano. We came across a few, apparently wild Rock Pigeons in the cliffs, a Whimbrel
trying to hide away but we were rather disappointed by the small number
of birds there. In the steppe around the red mountain there were
a few Berthelot's Pipits, as usual.
21 February 2013.
We took the road leading to the Teide Peak because the weather was fine
at last and we were longing to see this picturesque road. After a short
pause at the Mirador de Chirche and its nice garden full of
pricklypears, we went on to Boca de Tauce. This road was built
between 1941 and 1943 by Republican prisoners but nothing reminds
anybody of how much they suffered there. The countryside looked
gloomy when we reached the firs a'a
fields and we climbed up the slopes of a small volcano called Sámara
before we reached Las Narices del Teide from which we had a beautiful
view of the Pico Viejo.
Pico Viejo (Photo Danielle Joannès)
The blue sky was cloudless, the earth black and reddish and we
soon saw the Teide Peak towering on the left over the plain of Llano de
Teide Peak (Photo Danielle Joannès)
You can see the peak from almost anywhere in the island and even
if we were high up in the mountains its cone still looked
impressive. The whole natural park is deservedly classified as a
World Heritage site by UNESCO and there is a cable-car a few kms after
Los Roques for those who want to go right up to the summit. We
stopped at a place called Los Azulejos to admire the greyish-blue rocks
along the road.
Los Azulejos (Photo Danielle Joannès)
A little farther up many tourists usually stop to have a look at huge rocks called Los Roques de García
and are also attracted by the tourist shops close by.
Los Roques de García (Photo Danielle Joannès)
We saw Berthelot's Pipits
when we stopped here and there and not far from a restaurant in the
area of Arenas Negras, in a Canary Island Pine forest, I saw a few North-African Blue Tits
. If you stop there, you will have a nice view of the Teide cone from the terrace on your left but if you are looking for Island Canaries
it is better to sit on the front terrace, on your right. We then
drove on and turned right shortly after the Visitors Centre and
followed the summit road as far as the astronomical
observatories. There were yet a few snow patches along the road
sides and were were at an elevation of 2386 m, above the clouds
which, as usual, covered the north-west of the isle. Soon after,
we drove down to the coast and near Siete Lomas, I saw 2 Barbary Partridges
crossing the road in front of the car. In spite of that, I once
more thought that there were few birds on that isle.
The area near Siete Lomas (Photo Danielle Joannès)
22 February 2013.
We decided to visit the northern coast of Tenerife and to do so chose
to take the motor way to Santa Cruz, the capital city. It was
longer in terms of distance but much quicker to go to Puerto de la
Cruz, which we wanted to visit. Of course, this meant we would have to drive in
congested areas, which we found unpleasant after the gorgeous
countryside we had seen the day before. Just before the city we
saw impressive cliffs where I spotted a few apparently wild Rock Pigeons
and a bit farther along the road a Rose-ringed Parakeet
. We liked to watch the big waves crashing into the harbour
but soon went into the historic part of this pleasant town
spent some time looking at the beautiful woodwork of many
balconies. There are also two charming churches which are worth a
visit, especially Nuestra Señora de la Peña de Francia (end of the
17th century). In the gardens of Taoro, I spotted a few Island Canaries
and, not too far away, several Spanish Sparrows
We then drove on westwards and stopped at the Cepsa petrol station in
the area of San Juan de la Rambla, near the Barranco de Ruiz, just
after Longuera. I had noted that from the parking area, I could
have a nice view to the cliffs of the mountains above the road, covered
with a nice laurel forest. I was looking for Laurel Pigeon
and did actually see one parading in flight. It was very dark and
easy to identify because of its tail bordered with white.
We only stopped at Garachico for a very short time because we
didn't want to drive on the small mountain roads at night and I also
wanted to make a second visit to the Erjos reserve. Once again I
didn't see many birds there. Only a few Canary Island Chiffchaffs
but I was pleased to come across a Teyde Finch
which is usually found at much higher elevations. When we reached
the hotel we had almost driven all around the isle.
Canary Island Chiffchaff
23 February 2013.
As the weather was beautiful, we took the ridge road and stopped the car under the pine trees at Las Lajas. We saw North African Blue Tits
and Teyde Finches
but in small numbers. It was a pleasure to cross the Ucanca plain
again and we spent some time in the Visitors Centre of El
Portillo. It is rather small but interesting and they play a nice
film which explains the history of the isle. Once in the north,
we drove down to La Orotava but were unable to see anything while
crossing the laurel forests because of the thick fog. The small
town nevertheless was very pleasant to visit, especially the church of
San Agustin built in the 18th century and that of Nuestra
Señora de la
The Church of San Agustin at La Orotova (Photo Danielle Joannès)
After we had bought a few things at the Casa de los Balcones, a
tourist shop filling two 17th century houses adorned with magnificent
wooden balconies overlooking a pleasant patio, we ordered nice warm
chocolate drinks but had some trouble finishing off a few stodgy churros.
The Casa de los Balcones at La Orotava (Photo Danielle Joannès)
The weather was threatening so we chose to return to our hotel but
before arriving there we parked the car near the cliffs of Punta
de Abona where we saw a derelict church and the ruins of a village
built in 1943 which used to host lepers. From the lighthouse, I
saw a few Berthelot's Pipits
and a Cory's Shearwater
off the cliffs.
24 February 2013.
As it was Sunday we decided to go and visit the capital city, Santa
Cruz. Of course most shops would be closed but there would also
be far less traffic in this city counting as many as 400, 000
inhabitants if you include the neighbouring city of La
Laguna. One of the most famous sites there is the beautiful
auditorium created by Calatrava.
This modern building is shaped like the sail of a ship and you can't but
marvel at this masterpiece of architecture.
The auditorium in Santa Cruz (Photo Danielle Joannès)
The seaside rocks close by are covered with the portraits of
musicians and singers painted by art students. The churches of
Santa Cruz, just like anywhere else on the island, are particularly
interesting especially Nuestra Señora de la
Concepción and that of San Francisco de Asís which is a masterpiece of
baroque art. We then took a stroll in the Parque García
Sanabria, which is what most people do there on a Sunday. The
atmosphere was very pleasant, and you will find nice trees and statues
there. You're bound to find the Rose-ringed Parakeet
in the palm trees.
We went for a walk in the city but avoided the market which was far
too crowed for us and then drove to the beach of Las Teresitas near San
Andrés which was made of sand brought from the Sahara and which was full
of tourists enjoying the sun and the sea. We drove on as far as
Igueste but were somewhat disappointed, all the more so as we couldn't
find a place to park. The road from San Andrés to El Bailadero in
the north is gorgeous and winds through a laurel forest where I looked
for endemic pigeons but as usual, it was impossible to park on the road
side. We should probably have spent more time there but we
didn't. We followed the ridge road instead and stopped here and
there at various miradors
, then took the motorway heading for Los
Cristianos. Before arriving at the hotel we stopped
at Abades where I spotted 3 Cory's Shearwaters
and many Berthelot's Pipits
Anaga, near El Bailadero (Photo Danielle Joannès)
25 February 2013.
Once again we left
Los Cristianos and crossed the island on the ridge road leading to the
Teide Peak. We stopped near the Hotel Canino just after Arona and
I came across 2 Barbary Partridges
which seemed to be frequent guests there. I saw another
individual at the edge of a pine forest, near Vilaflor, at some
distance to the north. Of course, we also stopped at Las Lajas
where I saw about ten Teyde Finches
, 4 North African Blue Tits
, 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers
and Island Canaries
Great Spotted Woodpecker
We crossed the Ucanca plain hardly stopping anywhere and quickly
reached La Orotava without the slightest trace of fog that time and I
observed a few Plain Swifts
at Valle de Guerra.
We were on the north coast then and went as far as Punta del Hidalgo. At the seaside, I saw a Little Egret
, a Ruddy Turnstone
, a Common Sandpiper
and many Yellow-legged Gulls
but nothing else so we came back to Punta de Abona, on the south-east
coast. If you want to go to the lighthouse, you will have to
drive in the direction of El Poris and turn on your right before the
village. There were several Berthelot's Pipits
in this yet unbuilt part of the coast and I counted up to 24 Cory's Shearwaters
flying above the waves.
Punta Abona (Photo Danielle Joannès)
We followed the coast to go back to the
hotel and noted how ugly it had become because of the banana
plantations. They grow in greenhouses covered with something like
gunny and it looks terrible.
26 February 2013.
We wanted to go to the north coast again and thus went through the Erjos reserve where I found a few Common Coots, Canary Island Chiffchaffs, Island Canaries, one North African Blue Tit and two Song Thrushes. I also heard a few Stripeless Tree Frogs while a Common Kestrel and a Common Buzzard were circling above the village. We drove on to Garachico where several Yellow-legged Gulls and 2 Great Cormorants
were perched on the big rocky island facing the promenade. We visited the
convent of San Francisco, did some shopping, then went west towards
Buena Vista del
Norte. We would have liked to take the road to Punta del Teno but
the numerous signs warning us of the heavy risks of falling rocks acted
as so many dampers on us, all the more so as we had omitted to pay for
the damage waiver when we rented the car at the airport. We
decided to play it safe and watched the cliffs from the the road.
We saw a Common Raven, a few Blackcaps and returned to the Erjos reserve to have a cup of coffee at the roadside restaurant. We then moved on towards San
Jose de los
Llanos and took a dust road to La Montañeta. There, we took a very
pleasant walk in a forest of laurel and Canarian Pine
trees. For once, there were several places to park on the
sides. We had found that road by chance and regretted we no
longer had enough time to go on driving a little farther.
27 February 2013. It rained on the last day and I saw a Little Egret and 3 Plain Swifts
from the window of my hotel room. When I arrived at the airport I
was furious because the employees of the Hertz car rental company could
not find the document proving I had paid a €500 deposit when I
collected the car. We argued for quite a long time and I was
finally given my contract and a ticket testifying I had indeed paid
the required sum. The problem was solved later on, once I was
back in France, but I could have done without that extra
complication. When we arrived in France, just after midnight, the
temperature was only 2°C.
List of birds: