Roque Chinchado an Teide in the sunset
The Roques de Garcia are probably the most visited natural attraction on the Canarian Island of Tenerife. They can be easily reached by car or bus - so whole busloads of people will visit them. There is a parking lot nearby and you most certainly will find that crowded on any day you'll stay there. Great views of the Cañadas del Teide - the great plain of Llano de Ucanca - and of Pico Teide lure thousands of visitors. Each and every one of them will have taken the picture you see on top of this section: Roque Chinchado (a.k.a. God's finger) in front of mighty Pico Teide
, Spain's highest mountain.
However, turn a little aside and do the two hour loop trail which circles the Roques, and you'll soon find yourself alone within one of the most fascinating volcanic landscape that you can dream to encounter. The Cañadas del Teide are a huge volcanic crater which has been formed by the overlapping of two smaller craters - the Cañada del de la Grieta and the Cañada de Pedro Méndez. At the place where both craters overlapped the rocks were thrown into bizarre formations. You can readily understand why novelists of former times used the term: "the earth was tortured into forming these walls and spires". Just look at the signature pic: lava flowing from Cañada de la Grieta pushed up plates so that today they stand as vertical walls!
The round trail around the Roques de Garcia clearly shows the origin of the Roques. On the eastern side the plain of Cañada de la Grieta is higher by some 200m than Lllano de Ucanca on the eastern side. Some part of the Roques de Garcia are famous climbing locations: especially la Catedral which you can see on the overview picture (with Guajara in the background) on the right hand side has some 10 routes of different difficulties (up to 7+) reaching lengths of up to 200m (see climbing section).
Climbing on Tenerife
Roques de Garcia seen from the souuth-west
From afar the composition of the pyroclastic rock that you find anywhere in the Cañadas del Teide looks very lose and fragile but once you come close you'll find that it is just about perfect for climbing. Very solid with lots of pich grips and pockets. All over the Cañadas there are some 120 routes, most of them at the Roques de Garcia (90) and at Piedras Amarillas at the base of Guajara very close by. The most interesting seems to be La Catedral, a separate standing rock of 200m height with some 15 different routes (up to VII, A1)
For more info on rock climbing on Tenerife, please look at the two following link:
Roques de Garcia Skyline
As one of the major European vacation getaways Tenerife can be reached from all major European airports. From Spain there are regular flights from the rest of Europe you can book lots of charter flights. On Tenerife there are two international airports, one at Santa Cruz in the east, one at Los Abrigos in the south.
You can reach the Cañadas del Teide from all four directions. Just drive as far upwards as you can and you'll be there. From the south there is a road from the airport via Villaflor to the Cañadas, from the West you must head for Chio either from Playa de las Americas or from Santiago del Teide. The northern road starts from Puerto de la Cruz and the eastern ascent starts from the capital Santa Cruz del Tenerife and crosses the mountain range Cumbre Dorsal.
Alternatively you can take the bus either from Playa de las Americas (Line 342) or from Puerto de la Cruz (Line 348). Both buses depart at about 9:00 a.m., the return buses go around 4:00 p.m.
The trailhead for the Roques de Garcia is at the Mirador los Roques near the Parador hotel. There is a parking lot and the busses stop at both locations (mirador and hotel).
The Roques de Garcia are part of the "Parque Nacional del Teide" which is composed of a giant volcanic crater the "Cañadas del Teide" with 48km circumference. In fact the Cañadas were created by two craters which over the time (and due to erosion) blended into each other (see overview section). To the south and west the crater walls of the Cañadas del Teide are still standing. They form a number of distinctive summits, the highest of which is Guajara
at 2715m. The northern and most of the eastern crater walls have disappeared below the huge Pico Teide and Pico Viejo volcanoes.
Activities in the national park are limited as in every park. You are requested not to leave the trails - and from your own judgement - you shouldn't. The lava sometimes piles up to heights of 5 - 10m and makes orientation VERY difficult. Climbing is only allowed at the base of Guajara at the Piedras Amarillas and here at the Roques de Garcia (see Climbing section). Also, camping is not allowed in the park.
There are few but very beautiful flowers in the park. Please leave them in their place - some of them only blossom for a few hours each year. The whole park is VERY dry so any flora is severely limited. As for animals you'll see lots of the large Canarian lizards around the Roques de Garcia. Also you might encounter wild straying dogs. Take care with them - keep a stick or some stones at hand.
When To Climb
The Islas Canarias are an all year location - I spent two weeks around New Year on Gran Canaria and it was HOT! Still the Cañadas can be covered with snow - Teide and Pico Viejo will be covered first, later the Caldera mountains like Guajara. The huge Crater of the Cañadas , however, works like a frying pan and the Roques Garcia in it's centre almost always have good weather.
Of course you can find a lot of hotels, fincas and casas on the island which you can book from any travel office. The Cañadas del Teide are a natural park so there is no camping allowed. You might use the Parador Hotel which is supposed to be quite expensive, however. Better stay at one of the hotels at sea level and drive up by rental car or bus.
There are several sites on the web which give you information on the weather on Tenerife. However, they all show the weather for the coastal regions (Puerto de la Cruz) which significantly differs from the weather in the Cañadas del Teide which are 2000m of elevation higher. The following table shows data for Puerto de la Cruz on the coast.
|Avg. day temp.[°C / °F]||19 / 66||19 / 66||20 / 68||21 / 70||22 / 72||23 / 73||24 / 75||26 / 79||26 / 79||24 / 75||22 / 72||20 / 68|
|Avg. night temp.[°C / °F]||13 / 55||13 / 55||14 / 57||14 / 57||16 / 61||18 / 64||19 / 66||20 / 68||20 / 68||18 / 64||17 / 63||14 / 57|
|Water temp.[°C / °F]||19 / 66||19 / 66||19 / 66||19 / 66||20 / 68||20 / 68||22 / 72||23 / 73||22 / 72||22 / 72||21 / 70||20 / 68|
The Canarian Islands (as well as Madeira) are located in the trade wind zone. You almost always encounter northeastern winds which carry a lot of humid air. Being forced to climb to higher altitudes this moisture condenses into clouds. This in return means that most of the time the northeastern part of the islands is covered in clouds from altitudes of 1000m through 2000m.
The mountains themselves - being mostly of the same altitude -finally stop the clouds so that on their southeastern slopes the clouds "run out". In the case of Tenerife the Cañadas del Teide are so high that rarely ever you encounter fog or clouds. This on the other hand means that the whole area is very dry so be sure to bring your own water.
The southern part of Tenrife rarely gets any rain which is why most of the beaches have been established there. The best hikes on the Island are in the Cañadas or in the northwestern (Teno mountains) or eastern (Anaga Mountains) part.
Maps 'n' Books
Out of the Multitude of maps and books I have been using the following:
Kompass Map WK233
- Teneriffa, Tenerife
K.Wolfsperger, C. Ade
Rother Walking Guide
English - ISBN: 3-7633-4809-3
German - ISBN: 3-7633-4016-5