It’s Almond Blossom time

Travel 1By Colin Kirby

BRISTLING and buzzing, the heavily-laden, almond-blossom trees held equal attraction for the bees, regardless of their white or pink petals.

Yes, almond-blossom season is here again, and Santiago del Teide is ablaze with hundreds of trees in full bloom, beside the stark, volcanic landscape, formed by the last big Tenerife eruption in 1909 from Chinyero.

Nature can destroy, but it also creates, and, in recent years, summer-fire outbreaks have added their own scorched scars to the large fir trees which share the walk from Santiago del Teide town to Arguayo.

Along the route, new life is sprouting constantly. And if that’s a bit of a miracle, it’s not the only one in this area. I joined one of several groups for an early-morning start to my annual treat, as the launch day of Almendro En Flor set off from the church plaza.

The walk is backed by food and cultural promotions until February 19th, and the blossom will be at its best until then at least.

The sun was spreading down the peaks at 8.30am as back-pack walkers gathered in the plaza outside Santiago del Teide Town Hall.

There are four routes to explore, and I had already chosen my usual route, the longest, as we set out in a group of 20 with our guide, Juan Antonio,

Those who follow in future weeks will be pleased to know that routes are marked on boards in the plaza. And the nearby tourist

information office can offer advice in several languages.

The paths are well-trodden, well-trimmed and sign-posted at decision points. Yet all this help can barely prepare walkers for the sheer beauty, as they swap access road for rough track from just behind the plaza.

It was a crisp, clear morning, and the clear-blue sky made the blossom stand out even more, the slightly-moist plants and leaves adding to the fresh feel.

As the path climbed, we could see the rising road to Masca behind us, and hear the melodic chimes of the hour from the church clock.

A reservoir was one of the first breather stops, and its well-stocked state was a reminder that rain and all other weather variants are always possible. So it’s wise to pack a few alternative layers of clothing, along with water, snacks, mobile, etc.

Nature was tempting my camera at every turn, and some cascades of blossom were just calling out to be snapped. And, besides the full, open blooms, there were plenty of young buds lining up for the next starring role.

As well the staff picking the almonds for the thriving food market, they perform regular maintenance work on the trees and shrubs. And a friendly wave from a busy worker was a reassuring sight.

A large clearing, around 90 minutes in, offered a history lesson. The Calvario de los Baldios marks the point where the 1909 lava flow stopped, when the statue of the virgin was placed in its path.

A couple of shrines commemorate this “miracle”, providing a little food for thought before we entered the solidified lava field.

The undulating route through the large boulders, carved and fragmented by the elements, is quite rough and angular underfoot, and sturdy footwear is your best friend here.

Pine forests in the distance grow out of the volcanic soil, and, beyond them, a snow-streaked Mount Teide adds its own noble touch.

Dropping down into the protected Special Nature Reserve, the pine trees close in and the floor is covered in green needles, cones and dry brush, all helping to test the most nimble of feet.

The Arguayo route almost circles back to its start near the end, and, looking across, I could see Santiago del Teide like a model.

Beyond that, the low cloud at sea made it seem as though the island of La Gomera was floating in the air.

Nature provides some stunning resting places to enjoy a water-and-snack break, and it’s never long before more almond blossom screams out for pride of place in your photo collection.

The descent into Arguayo is a slow, zig-zag path, with shifting small stones … not a place to drop your guard. But reaching the village just over five hours from the start filled me with a huge sense of satisfaction.

A taxi to close the circle back to Santiago del Teide is the best and cheapest option, speeding you towards some excellent examples of the almond’s versatility.

During the promotion of the walk, bars and restaurants in Santiago del Teide are offering tapas and main meals, featuring the almond.

The free tourist-information leaflet lists each venue with its special menu, and even the supermarkets are selling almond sweets and sauces.

The leaflets are in several languages and widely available around the town.

The free Chinyero visitors’ centre, at the lower end of Santiago del Teide, is also taking part in the promotion, featuring special exhibitions until 19th February, as well as its permanent guide to the area’s history of the area: the 1909 eruption, and a wider look at how volcanoes work.

Opening times are from 9am-2.30 pm, and, if you can make time, the Almond Walk is a must!



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