Tenerife: Volcano walking

"This is pumice," says our unfailingly energetic guide, Narya. "It's so light you can pick up a big boulder and look like the strongest person alive."

By Maria Pieri
Published 3 Feb 2015, 16:36 GMT, Updated 1 Jul 2021, 16:13 BST

She seems entirely at ease with her audience: a group of four young children and two adults. Smiling, she encourages the children to scavenge for pieces of the greyish-white stone that litters this volcanic landscape. We point out the difference between lava and pumice as they seek out bigger and bigger pieces, trying to find a boulder.

We're tackling one of the easier excursions suited to families, which will be part of the upcoming Tenerife Walking Festival (10-15 March). Targeting walkers from all over Europe, the festival has pulled together a range of coastal, volcanic and green walks along its 930-plus miles of paths, as well as a range of activities.

The weather, however, is not playing ball. Quite frankly, it's too hot; the hottest day for weeks, apparently, and we're only a third of the way round the rocky, volcanic coastal route of Malpaís Güímar, with two six-year-olds and two eight-year-olds in tow. We'd tailored this as a shorter walk — the full route taking in the Güímar Pyramids Ethnographic Park. Great: but not for us, today.

There was still more than enough to keep us occupied.

"This part of the island is only 10,000 years old," says Narya. The craggy black and brick-red lava contrasting against the emerald blue sea creates a vibrant background.

The green vegetation seems to be fighting it's way up through the rocks, coating this young, fertile landscape with hardy plants, grapes, trees and moss.

"Look, this is spurge," says Narya, pointing to a green hedge-like plant with small leaves. "This is the good type the locals used to chew, as if it was gum."

Narya takes her lead from the children's interests, intertwining her explanations with useful facts and tidbits of knowledge.

"Tenerife was created from the merging of volcanoes," she explains, unfurling a map to point out these fiery corners of the Canary Islands. Narya is passionate about Tenerife and works for Teno Activo, a local company that introduced sea kayaking to these rocky shores.

"We mostly work with locals," she says. "But we're finding more and more tourists are seeking us out. There are so many active ways to explore, from sea kayaking to cycling, hiking, swimming with dolphins and spotting whales. I just love it here."

Her enthusiasm is a winning trait. She's sparked the children's imagination with talk of exploding volcanoes and lava flow. But the heat has beaten us into a retreat, so Narya turns us back to the sea for a dip.

"Here's a boulder!" says one of the boys from the water smiling toothily. He is practically buckling under the weight of the rock as he tries to lift it above his head. It's clearly not pumice but, like Narya, you can't fault his enthusiasm.


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