Tenerife - spring flowers, wildlife and walking in the Canary Islands
A relaxed week of spring flowers, easy birding and country walks, exploring the dramatic landscapes and endemic wildlife of the island.
22nd – 29th February 2024
Single Room Supplement – £500
Return flight London Gatwick to Tenerife. Local transport as specified in itinerary. Seven nights accommodation, full board.
Refreshments. Gratuities. Travel insurance. Covid tests and associated costs.
Minimum 5, maximum 12.
Tenerife sits at the centre of the Canary Islands archipelago, the largest of the seven main islands sitting around 100km off the Moroccan coast. Together with the other Atlantic islands and the Moroccan coast, the Canary Islands form the Macaronesian eco-region, with its own endemic flora and fauna: from the famous Atlantic Canary, endemic lizards and butterflies to the many species of house leek, euphorbia, echium and Sonchus that we hope to find during our travels.
From our base in the northern town of La Orotava, our daily excursions will enable us to explore the various important habitats of the island, from the arid coastal areas, with endemic succulent plants and Berthelot’s Pipits making their parachuting display flight, to the misty laurel forests of the north of the island, where we will look for Laurel Pigeon, Bolle’s Pigeon and the lovely Canary Bellflower.
The island is dominated by the huge volcano of Mount Teide, Spain’s highest mountain at over 3,700 metres above sea level, and we will have two days to explore the Teide National Park, including taking the cable car up to the summit itself, from where we will have panoramic views out across the archipelago, while snow may still be on the ground at our feet. On the lower slopes of the mountain, we will look for the beautiful Tenerife Blue Chaffinch among the pine forests.
The seas around the Canary Islands are famously rich in marine life, and we will take a whale watching boat trip off the west coast of the island, where we hope to spend some time with the area’s resident Short-finned Pilot Whales.
Please note that holidays change, although sometimes only slightly, from year to year and previous trip reports may not reflect the planned itinerary, or other holiday details, for the current trip. Please ask us if you would like to know of any significant differences.
Day 1 A morning flight takes us to the volcanic island of Tenerife. Our first excursion will be not far from the airport, where we explore the arid coastal vegetation of Punta la Rasca: succulent Euphorbias dominate the vegetation, and we will look for the bizarre Ceropegia fulva and the lovely pink Sea Rosemary Camphylanthus salsoloides. Birds should include our first Berthelot’s Pipits, along with Southern Grey Shrike and Spectacled Warbler.
Day 2 We head to the eastern end of the island, and the misty laurel forests of the Anaga peninsula, as different a habitat from yesterday’s coastal ‘desert’ as can be. In the lush forests we will find colourful plants, including Canary Island Geranium Geranium reuteri, Canary Island Buttercup Ranunculus cortusifolius and Canary Bellflower Canarina canariensis, alongside interesting ferns. The laurel forests are home to Canary Island Chaffinch and Canary Island Chiffchaff, while we will look out for Laurel Pigeon from the various view points we encounter.
Day 3 An early start will see us heading west, to the port of Los Gigantes, beneath the high cliffs of the same name. From here, we will take a whale-watching boat trip with local experts, looking for pods of Short-finned Pilot Whales and Bottle-nosed Dolphins that are resident in the area. After our time out at sea, we head up into the hills, to the village of Erjos and take a short walk through the laurel forests: Bolle’s Pigeon will be at the top of our ’to find’ list this afternoon, as well as butterflies such as Canary Island Speckled Wood, Canary Island Red Admiral and Canary Island Cleopatra.
Day 4 We head back up to Erjos, for the longest walk of our holiday, a 6km walk, downhill all the way, to Los Silos (a drop of 1,000 meters), botanising all the way. We start amongst the laurel forest, where we hope to find two of the island’s orchids: the Three-fingered Orchid Habenaria tridactylites and Two-leaved Orchid Gennaria dipylla. We will then drop down through a gorge, home to endemic Echiums, Aeoniums and a single wild Dragon Tree, before we arrive in the village of Los Silos, ready for a refreshing drink in the village square before we head back to Orotavo.
Day 5 A free day, to relax, explore the town or visit the interesting botanic gardens in Orotavo or Puerto de la Cruz.
Day 6 We head up into the volcanic highlands of the island, for a full day exploring Teide National Park. We start with a walk through the pine forests, where we will look for Canary Islands Orchid amongst plenty of other interesting wild flowers, while listening out for African Blue Tit and Tenerife Goldcrest along the way. In the afternoon, we will take the cable car (optional) up to the summit of Mount Teide, Spain’s highest mountain with stunning views out across the archipelago. Afterwards, we visit another area of pine forest, where we hope to find Tenerife Blue Chaffinch and Atlantic Canary, before heading back down to our hotel.
Day 7 We head back up to Teide National Park for a second day, this time making a longer walk through the arid plains of Las Cañadas, at the foot of the caldera escarpment, where we hope to find more endemic plants, and (with luck) the Tenerife Green-striped White butterfly, found here and nowhere else.
Day 8 After breakfast, we return to airport and our flights home.
Please note that the itinerary may be changed to suit the weather or other practicalities at the discretion of the leaders.