While visiting the sunshine island in the Canaries: Tenerife, we were treated to a new experience of Tours by Locals. This company allows the traveller to see a different side to the usual tourist trail by going off the beaten popular track and become a local.
We were greeted by Darío at our hotel, we had already built up a lovely rapport with Darío through contact before our excursion to customise our day with him to get the best out of the 8hrs. Darío drove us around the Island in an amazing air-conditioned Mercedes people carrier with more room than we could have ever needed, but it came in handy for the souvenirs we brought on our lovely day out.
First stop was about 30 minutes away from the hotel, anticipation built as Darío explained about the vegetation, wildlife and information we did not know about the island, although we had visited Tenerife many times before. The vehicle pulled over to the Arquayo Shrine which you would have never known was there, by the side of the road. We climbed with the help of Darío to the top, the climb was worth it when looking back to see the spectacular sights of Tenerife South. The area is rich in vegetation including Opuntia, commonly called prickly pear and conifers and wildlife like geckos and wild birds. After taking lots of photos, we entered the cool vehicle again to head on to another destination.
As we drove along Darío continued to tell us interesting facts about the Island and its history. The next stop was Santiago Del Teide to see a historical church: Iglesia de San Fernando Rey, that was the sight of a miracle for the local people when there was a huge eruption of the famous Mount Teide in 1909. The people prayed for three days to stop the lava from engulfing the town and church using the Red Cross of Saint James from inside the church. This typical style church on the Island with bell tower and clock has been deemed a special church for redemption by the Vatican and the locals are very proud of this fact, the letter from the Pope is displayed in the church for all to see.
Then onto The Lomo Molino Viewpoint, a spectacular viewing area that is located in the municipality of El Tanque. From the Mirador de Lomo Molino you have incredible views of the coastline of the island, also on clear days it is possible to enjoy Teide and the neighbouring island of La Palma. Here we had a most welcome coffee and sat to enjoy the views, while still learning from Darío and his infinite knowledge of not only Tenerife but also astronomy. You may know the Island of Tenerife is famous for stargazing and we will certainly be going back with Darío to see the stars on our return to Tenerife.
Popping back into the vehicle we arrived at Garachico the prettiest and unluckiest town in Tenerife, with a history of unlucky events including fire, lava and flooding. Despite these disasters there is an unusual fort and natural sea water pools formed out of cooled lava, no wonder the town’s motto is ‘Glorious in Adversity’. Every five years the town comes together to mark the occasion of the eruption of Mount Teide and the lava flow by throwing down bales of burning straw to represent the burning lava.
Then we drove along the coast to stop at Restaurante Paso Del Teide in La Orotava, here we were treated with local dining on some of the finest local produce and tasing new flavours and smells including homemade Tenerife wine – this was very refreshing, cold, pleasant and palatable. We tried Gofio, a foodstuff which, over history, has become a symbol of Canarian culture. It is a type of flour made from toasted cereals, mainly corn (known as millo on the Islands) or wheat, we have never had this before and this was thanks to being with Darío and going to new places off the beaten track.
After a scrumptious lunch it was on to the Teide National Park located in the centre of the island of Tenerife, is the largest and oldest of the four national parks on the Canary Islands. Here you can see the wonders of the past eruptions, craters and lava flows. It really is like taking a step back in time and astonishing to see the different levels and layers of rocks and lava. This is a must see with the amazing and awe-inspiring landscape. We were lucky to see three Islands: El Hierro, La Palma and La Gomera as we descended Teide, even Darío said this was a rarity and was a breath-taking sight to see through the clouds.
Our trip finished with Vilaflor the highest village in Tenerife. It nestles in the mountains just south of Teide, pine forests surround the historic little town with flower lined streets and a friendly personality. You may not know the first hotel on the Island is located here! The local mineral water is also said to have healing effects. Souvenirs can be found at the local artist market, here you can purchase embroideries, lace, carved wood artefacts and wines of the area. The final view we got to see on our way back to our hotel was the fourth Canarian Islands, Gran Canaria, we were truly honoured to be able to see all four Islands on our day out with Darío.
Tours by Locals is a different way to experience a popular tourist destination with the sights, smells and sounds of a local. Darío is a wonderful tour guide who gave us a glorious history and made the day out a fun-filled adventure. If you book with Tours by Locals, you will not be disappointed and you will have your own personal guide to view the Island in a different way. Darío made the tour and we highly recommend his skills and knowledge and we will be stargazing with him on our return to Tenerife.