Tenerife 2009

We went to Tenerife in the Canary Islands for our summer holidays (14-21 August).

Tenerife satellite map

Tenerife is dominated by a volcano (El Teide) which stands at 3,718m and is the third highest volcano in the world (see NASA satellite image above). It last erupted 100 years ago. The volcanic landscape and desert-like habitats of Tenerife reminded me a little of the Galapagos. Interestingly, Darwin was moored of Tenerife on his famous journey aboard the Beagle, but was quarantined on board because of a cholera outbreak in England. Darwin had been inspired to visit El Teide after reading Alexander von Humboldt ‘s account of his ascent of the volcano. In his diary on 6 January 1832, Darwin wrote

'Every thing has a beautiful appearance: the colours are so rich & soft. — The peak or sugar loaf has just shown itself above the clouds. — It towers in the sky twice as high as I should have dreamed of looking for it. — A dense bank of clouds entirely separates the snowy top from its rugged base. — It is now about 11 oclock and I must have another gaze at this long wished for object of my ambition. — Oh misery, misery — we were just preparing to drop our anchor within ½ a mile of Santa Cruz when a boat came alongside bringing with it our death-warrant. — The consul declared we must perform a rigorous quarantine of twelve days. — Those who have never experienced it can scarcely conceive what a gloom it cast on every one: Matters were soon decided by the Captain ordering all sail to be set & make a course for the Cape Verd Islands.— And we have left perhaps one of the most interesting places in the world, just at the moment when we were near enough for every object to create, without satisfying, our utmost curiosity'.

We stayed above Playa de la Arena near Los Gigantes on the west coast. The resort is south of the main mountain range, and hence is sunny being in the rain shadow of the predominant north-easterly winds. It has a Blue Flag black sand beach, and is close to the towering sea cliffs of Los Gigantes, from where whale-watching trips depart daily. The area is quiet from a Tenerife perspective, but still rather more urbanised than I expected, making local birdwatching difficult. Nevertheless, it turned out to be an ideal spot for a family holiday and a welcome break from the third consecutive washout of a summer in Britain.

Los Gigantes

Playa de la Arena

I took my repaired 1D Mark III, the 5D, a 400mm f5.6 lens, a 17-40 mm and a 180mm macro lens. The 1D Mark III is proving to be an excellent camera. The combination of cameras and lenses proved ideal and relatively lightweight. Useful books were del Rey's 'Where to Watch Birds in Tenerife (Turquesa Publicaciones 2000) and Ashmole & Ashmole's 'Natural History Excursions in Tenerife' Kidston Mill Press 1989).

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