This is a fabulous drive that is perfect for anyone staying in the tourist resorts in the south of the island. I’d recommend allowing at least half a day to enjoy the route, it could easily be extended to a full day out if you take advantage of the possible stops along the way.
Apart from a view of the magnificent El Teide, we were also keen to spot the Tajinaste rojo which were just coming into flower in mid May.
After a short section on the TF-1 we took exit 72 onto the TF-28 where we started our ascent. If you fancy a camel ride, look out for the Camel Park coming up on your right, that offers 20-30 minute rides, as well as a farm with animals and café.
As you approach La Camella, look out for the turning onto the TF-51 to Arona where you can enjoy a fabulous set of switchbacks offering a taste of what’s to come, as well as views down to the coast, through the cloud. Sadly there isn’t anywhere to pull over safely to capture these views, so we made do with committing them to memory.
We were almost at the historic town of Vilaflor de Chasna, which is generally shortened to Vilaflor, despite it’s original name being Chasna. The full name is believed to have stuck after the Spanish Captain of the conquistadores, Pedro de Bracamonte exclaimed “Vi la flor de Chasna” when he caught sight of a beautiful Guanche woman. We seized an opportunity to pull over at the side of the road to gaze across the barranco at the town, when I spotted our first example of the Tajinaste rojo growing at the side of the road!
The Tajinaste rojo is part of the Echium family, this stunning red flower can grow up to 3 metres in height and can be found growing on the Cañadas del Teide in the spring. This emblematic plant of Tenerife was once under threat from extinction, so grazing was prohibited to save the species, which has since recovered and is out of danger. The flowers are very important to honey production in this area, these tall and distinct blooms are a favourite for the local bees.
It’s worth taking a break for a wander around the cobbled streets of Vilaflor, where you can find some lovely examples of traditional Canarian architecture. Look out for the San Pedro Apóstol church in the centre of the town and casa-palacio Los Soler (better known as the Casa del Marqués) situated in front of the church. Plus La Casa Inglesa on Plaza de San Pedro by the three cypress trees.
Exit Vilaflor on via the TF-21, we stopped again within a short distance to visit the Pino Gordo, which after the drago tree in Icod de los Vinos, is the second most popular tree in Tenerife. This Canarian pine tree is believed to be between 700-800 years old, it stands at a height of 42 metres and takes at least 9 people to stand holding hands, around the trunk circumference of 12 metres. Nearby is the Pino de las dos Pernadas, if you want to see two more examples of the local pine tree.
We were now climbing up through thick forest, the road surface was fantastic, so smooth it really added to the pleasure of the drive. We passed warnings for ice & fire, then suddenly, as if by magic, we reached 2000 metres and the cloud disappeared. The trees started to thin, we had entered the Teide National Park.
Just before the junction with the TF-38 there are 2 places to stop and admire the view. The first is the Etnographic Museum Juan Évora which has information about the shepherds of Las Cañadas, and the second a small parking area at the crossroads of Boca Tauce.
It was a stunning day up here, not a cloud in the sky, with fabulous visibility we could even pick out the Teleferico del Teide cable cars in the distance. The park was in bloom, we had spotted more examples of the Tajinaste Rojo on the climb and the yellow broom offered a gorgeous contrast to the volcanic landscape.
The TF-38 was so straight after the twisty climb up the TF-21, slicing a smooth ribbon through the rough lava flow. If you missed the earlier viewpoints, or want to catch some more, there’s the Mirador de Chio and Mirador de Sámara in this area.
There are 37 trails available to hikers within the Teide National Park, so you have plenty of opportunity to park up and stretch your legs on this drive!
Before long the pine trees started and we began our descent into the cloud again. If you need a comfort stop for food or drink, there’s 3 restaurants within proximity, we decided to visit the Mirador de Chirche, however this one is closed on Saturdays.
At Chío we picked up the TF-82 and TF-454 to drop down into Los Gigantes. We’d left the pine trees behind us, now we were surrounded by banana plantations.
There’s a lovely view point of the magnificent cliffs of Los Gigantes as you approach the harbour town, called El Mirador Archipenque, with parking just before and after if you can find a space.
Lunch was a guacadog from the craft beer festival which was taking place in Plaza Buganvilla. We allowed ourselves a single beer as we still had to drive back to the resort. It was a pretty tough decision which one to go for when there were 9 different breweries on offer including Tacoa, Tierra de Perros, Vagamundo, Chutney, Fiera, Jeito, Larrancadilla, Viva and Agüita.
It was a short 30 minutes drive back along the coast via the TF-47, this provided a fascinating contrast having old Tenerife and the banana plantations on one side and the ultra modern 5* hotels on the other.
This is a stunning drive and I’d encourage you to hire a car to escape the tourist resorts and discover the natural beauty of Tenerife. We covered 115 km on this route, it’s best enjoyed without any time constraints, so that you can stop at the many points of interest along the way.