Day 2 |
Apr 19, 2010

Canary Islands, Tenerife, Santa Cruz

By Hans-Peter Reinthaler, Biologist

Co-ordinates: 28°28´N; 16°14´W

Weather: cloudy in the afternoon sunny

As it was already announced the day before, the Prince Albert II stayed in the port of Santa Cruz on the 19th, still waiting for guests to join us. For the guests who arrived yesterday, we offered two full-day excursions exploring Tenerife Island. One trip was going up to the Teide National Park and the other to the northwest part of the island.

I went on the second excursion together with 17 guests and my colleague Olga Stavrakis, our historian. We left the pier around half past eight. The weather was cloudy and the outside temperature was 15 degrees. After leaving the port area, our bus driver, Gloria, took the highway to Puerto de la Cruz, passing by the old capital of Tenerife, La Laguna. Our local tour guide, Judith, told our guests in a very informative style the history of the Canary Islands and the island of Tenerife.

About 45 minutes after the start we reached the Alexander v. Humboldt outlook over the Orotava Valley. The most interesting thing to see was the old center of Orotava and when you turned around the remains of caves that were once the living sites of the Guamanches, the indigenous people of Tenerife. Really nothing is left from the beautiful vegetation that Humboldt described on his voyage to South America. Most of the valley is now occupied by modern houses and in between one can sometimes find banana plantations or vineyards.

After this short photo stop, the excursion led us to the city of Puerto de la Cruz where we visited the Orchid Garden, which is famous for its 600-year-old Dragon Tree and for the famous personalities who spent time there either as house guests or as guests at the numerous garden parties. Amongst the famous house guests were William Wild and Marianne North. Party guests included, for example, Sir Richard Burton, Agatha Christie and Alexander v. Humboldt. During our visit to the garden, our guests were served coffee, tea and cookies.

Leaving Puerto de la Cruz, we were driving along the north coast passing some little towns and mainly banana plantations. Around 11.00, the bus reached Garachico, our next stop on the way to the Teno region. Garachico was in the former main port of Tenerife and as a result of this, the town prospered in this time. Still you can see in the lovely town center the wellness of these days long ago. A short walk through the center gave our guests the impression of an old Spanish colonial town.

From here on, the road was winding up into the Teno Mountains, which one can clearly see were of old volcanic origin. Saucer plants (Aeonium sp.), Milkweeds (Euphorbia sp.), Brooms (Chamaecytisus sp., Retama sp.) and sometimes Tree Heather (Erica arborea) were growing along the road. Some 180° road turns later we reached the village of Masca, a tiny little concentration of houses on the steep slopes of the Teno Mountains. Our guests had 30 minutes to explore the village. The local guide and I were positioning ourselves in the upper part of the town and Olga went down with some guests to the lower part. Although Masca is a very nice little village, it is the dramatic scenery of the surrounding landscape that makes it worthwhile place to visit.

Heading out of Masca in the direction of Santiago del Teide, the road became really adventurous. Our skilled driver had to reverse several times to bring the bus around the sharp turns of the winding road. Some 45 minutes later we arrived at our lunch stop, a nice restaurant at a site called outlook of Garachico. From this restaurant, the view down to the village of Garachico, which we visited in the morning of the excursion, was just stunning and as stunning as the view was the meal that the restaurant served. It was plain Canarian cuisine, but very tasty.

On the way back to Santa Cruz, we had a short stop at Icod de Vinos where our guests could admire the oldest Canary Dragon Tree on the Canary Islands. The tree is estimated to be over 750 years old and it was reported by the first Spanish Conqueror who reached the island in the 15th century. Nowadays, it’s a national symbol and, like all Dragon trees on the islands, protected by law.

Back on board the Prince Albert II, our guests had really no time to rest, because at 17.30 they were required to attend the general emergency drill and at 19.00 the Captain’s Welcome Cocktail Party was held in The Theatre. After such an outstanding excursion day, our guests enjoyed the excellent dinner in The Restaurant with beautiful views back to Tenerife Island in the setting sun.