If someone recommended a holiday to Tenerife as a destination that will give you memories forever you may be forgiven for thinking quite the opposite. Rather unfairly seen as a loutish beer fuelled ‘fly and flop’ destination, Tenerife offer’s far more than cheap booze, fry ups and football shirts. Quite apart from the incredible scenery of the island that can be (and should be) explored on one of the many popular walking trails, the largest of the Canary Islands offers some once in a lifetime experiences, most of which are responsible for bringing a more adventurous crowd to the island.
Carnaval Tenerife: The second most internationally known carnaval is truely a sight to be seen
Have you ever wanted to get over to Rio de Janeiro for the Rio carnival? It’s definitely on the travel bucket list of many holidaymakers; however you can have the Rio experience much closer to home in the UK if you plan a holiday to Tenerife in February. The ‘Carnaval Tenerife’ comes second only to the Rio carnival for grandeur, flare and outlandish nature, and this is reflected by the number of tourists that flock to Santa Cruz de Tenerife every year to see the festivities. It’s a real extravaganza that you can’t help but be caught up in. Originally the festival was a precursor to the daunting period of lent, the event being a generous celebration of food and drink as way of preparation for the Catholics to take on the 46 days of fasting ahead. Nowadays though, the carnival is more a fiesta of flashy parades, intricate and sometimes comical outfits and wacky events. It’s a fantastic experience which is easy to get involved in just turn up in fancy dress and get carried away with the party. Although it’s a month long celebration the ‘main event’ takes place on the 17th of February.
Whales, Whales, Dolphins
Next up for Tenerife is the opportunity to see whales out in the wild. Usually to go whale spotting on holiday, places like South Africa are thought of as the destinations to head to. But the waters around the southern coast of Tenerife and stretch between the island of La Gomera are home to over 500 pilot whales as well as an abundance of bottlenose dolphins, both of which can be seen year round, which means you are almost guaranteed to see some of these entertaining animals. However the whale spotting doesn’t stop at the one species, because the waters in the area are clean and warm; large numbers of other whale species can be seen. There is a great chance you’ll see the impressively large sperm whale and rare beaked whales. The whale watching trips on offer have a great emphasis on conservation and education, and are coordinated in an ethical manner so as not to harm the whales habitat. To get on one of the tours the Nostramo Group based in Puerto Colon offer fantastic 3 and 4 hour guided tours with boats that have underwater viewing ports.
Scale A Volcano
If you like adventure, Tenerife’s Mount Teide National park will give you no end of exciting activities to try. But one that stands out as a truly memorable experience is the chance to scale the summit of Spain’s tallest mountain, Mount Teide. What makes this a once in a lifetime opportunity is the fact that it’s actually a volcano which you can climb to the summit and peer into the volcanic crater. You can if you wish take a cable car up most of the way, and then scale the remaining distance to the summit. Once you’re at the top you will be greeted by unforgettable views across the island and the Canary archipelago. To make this even more of a magical experience attach yourself to one of the tours that climb the summit to get you there at sunrise. You will approach the summit just before dawn giving you the bonus of climbing under one of the starriest skies you’ll ever see. Then simply sit back and take in the breath taking view of the sun rising and the wonderful colours it casts over the dawn sky. You do need a permit to climb to the summit, which can be obtained at the national park office and if you want to do the sunrise summit climb, arrange a night at the Refugio de Altavista on the slopes leading up to the summit.
So if you’re considering a break in early 2012 and you want warmth and memorable experiences don’t discount Tenerife as a destination to offer all that and more.