In order to promote the volcanic reality of Tenerife as a tourist attraction, the “Tenerife, volcanoes of life” plan, started in 2009, has conducted actions such as the creation of themed territories related with volcanoes, the specific training on volcanic interpretation to businesspeople, receptionists, and tourist guides from the Infotén network or promotion of these resources. This programme is part of the Competitiveness Plan, “The Canary Islands, a volcanic experience”, which involves Tenerife, La Gomera, Lanzarote and Gran Canaria, as well as the central and regional governments and the hotel associations of the Canary Islands. In practice, the “Tenerife, volcanoes of life” initiative intends the tourist to have an authentic holiday experience. It wants the holidaymaker to enjoy dishes and wines impregnated with that volcanic character, to undertake activities such as diving – where they will be able to gaze at the seabed, which is of great geological value -, to walk footpaths where more can be learnt about lava flows or to take a para-gliding flight on which you can overfly volcanic cones and admire the most impressive geological formations in the Atlantic area.
The Island has been divided into five volcanic territories where the holidaymaker can appreciate how its character has moulded the personality of the inhabitants of the different areas of the Island, the type of crops, the building style and the use of water. Five volcanic territories to discover, which can be enjoyed in motorised vehicles on the themed routes, guided visits on foot or by mountain-bike. They are the following:
This covers the area from Garachico to Puerto de Santiago. This part of the Island was created some seven million years ago and is like an island within the island. Of special interest is the Teno landscape, where you can admire cliffs which are now several hundred metres inland after successive eruptions have created new areas of land. Some of the places of interest are the El Emigrante Viewing Point (Garachico), the La Ballena Viewing Point (Los Silos), the Pedregales Service Centre (Teno Country Park) or the Archipenque Viewing Point (Los Gigantes). Among the activities available in this area are diving, guided walking tours, para-gliding, bird-watching or whale-watching.
This volcanic territory, located between Puerto de la Cruz and Puertito de Güímar, is marked by the two great depressions which form the Orotava Valley and the Güímar Valley, created –according to the predominant theories – by the slippage of the materials accumulated in the construction of the Island. Places to visit include such locations as the Humboldt Viewing Point (La Orotava), the Mirador del Valle (Mount Teide National Park) and the La Crucita Viewing Point (Forest Crown). Among the activities to be enjoyed, apart from a visit to Mount Teide National Park itself, are visits to vineyards where you can taste wines marked by a profound volcanic character.
This territory is intended to show the most important historical eruptions that have taken place on the Island, some fifteen over the last one thousand years. The two most active axes for building Tenerife, the Pedro Gil Ridge and the Abeque Ridge are of particular interest. Among the places of interest are the viewing points of Los Volcanes and Ucanca (Mount Teide National Park), the Volcano of Boca Cangrejo (Forest Crown) or the Gardens of Montaña Tagoro. The recommended activities are hill-walking, a visit to the cone of Mount Teide using the cable car or a visit to a traditional gofio mill.
This territory makes it possible to get to know the most active volcanic area on the Island, the home of the most recent eruptions, including Chinyero from one hundred years ago. The Pino Gordo Viewing Point (Forest Crown), the Las Narices del Teide Viewing Point (Mount Teide National Park) or the Chirche Viewing Point (Santiago del Teide) are some of the most interesting points. As recommended activities, there are visits to agricultural cooperatives – where you can learn how the volcanic soil influences the produce of the land-, or the Cueva del Viento (Icod de los Vinos), which, at seventeen kilometres, is the longest volcanic tube in Europe.
In the southern part of the Island, the remains of great volcanic episodes can be seen such as volcanic edifices of thousands of years of age or real “fields of up to ninety volcanoes”, each one with its own shapes, colours and perturbations. The La Centinela Viewing Point (San Miguel de Abona), Montaña Chiñama (Granadilla de Abona), ITER (Technological Institute of Renewable Energies) or Hermano Pedro’s Cave (he was the first Canarian saint), are some of the most outstanding sites. And windsurfing, diving or boat trips are among the proposed activities.
Apart from the volcanic territories themselves, there are numerous cultural and religious expressions as well as those of many other sorts on the Island related to volcanoes, including:
– The Corpus Christi Carpets in La Orotava. Every June, this town is carpeted with flowers and coloured sand brought directly from Mount Teide.
– The Procession of the Saint in Santiago del Teide. A tradition which started in 1909 in which the local people symbolically bring out the image of Christ to intercede and hold back the eruption of the Chinyero Volcano, which threatened the town a century ago.
– Fuegos del Risco (Garachico). Held every five years in order to commemorate the volcanic eruption of 1706, balls of fire are hurled down the mountainside simulating the advance of the lava.
–Wines. The wines of Tenerife are a witness to the volcanic influence in the soil, with unique flavours and colours. These are the quality wines which William Shakespeare himself tasted and appreciated.
– Literature and popular culture. References to the volcanoes can be found in a multitude of works of literature. Some are particularly moving, like the endechas, anonymous songs of lament.
– Beaches. The origin and colour of Tenerife’s beaches are in direct relation with the volcanic materials which make up each of the areas of the Island. The beaches with lighter-coloured sand correspond to areas where explosive volcanoes predominate and are more usual in the south of the Island. In the north, on the other hand, the beaches and their sands are an exotic black.
–Crops. The landscape of the island’s crops does not escape from the volcanic reality either, with the result that the people of Tenerife take advantage of the steep mountainsides for growing their fruit and vegetables on what are known as bancales or agricultural terraces. What is more, the products offered by the volcanic soil are likewise influenced by this character as they are among the most fertile soils in the world thanks to the variety of the chemical composition.
– Water. Traditionally, water for drinking and irrigation has been obtained from galleries: underground shafts excavated horizontally in which the water filters through the lava from the surface, passing through volcanic soils which give the water exceptional properties.
–Stone and buildings. The building materials on the Island are also the product, in many cases, of its volcanic origin, as is the case of the “jable” stone, in the south of the Island. Also, “losa chasnera” (a kind of volcanic stone) was the economic sustenance of many island families as it was exported to the Americas, where it was used for many public and religious buildings.
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