I've just returned from a couple of weeks in La Palma, intending to do a bit of walking there. Firstly, it was too hot. Paddy Dillon was right about that, it is too hot in July. All this talk of perpetual spring in the Canary Isles is a bit off the mark. The north east of the island was in cloud most of the time though, so it was a bit cooler there. There was even some rain up around Barlovento.
Something that really put me off the place though was this; white tissues almost everywhere. Secured under rocks, thrown, half buried, the sides of the trails were literally strewn with them. Part of what I like about walking is a wilderness experience and this constant reminder of humans (and their less endearing traits) was the last thing I wanted. It's also pretty unsightly and, obviously, pretty foul, because you can imagine what the tissues have been used for.
I was dissapointed! Now I'm feeling sorry for myself, because it was my only holiday this year...
Anyone else had a Canary Islands tissue issue?
They do say... "some like it hot"... but there are limits!
I've visited the Canary Islands between the months of October and May, but I really do suffer when it gets too hot, so my preferred months are now limited to December to February. Of course, I only ever go there to walk, not to lie on beaches, and I generally head for the highest, wildest places, and keep as far away from the resorts as possible. Fortunately, La Palma has plenty of high and wild places, and hardly any resorts.
I have seen plenty of discarded tissues in some places, but from what you say, it might be worse in the summer months. From my experience, 'tissue trails' tend to be the most popular trails, presumably followed by people with limited capacities for 'holding it in'. Caves alongside some trails stink of pee, and it's usually easy to determine if that's because of people using them as toilets, or because of goats using them for shelter.
In the Caldera de Taburiente, which is a national park in a massive hole in the middle of the island, they are very strict about camping and littering. You have to apply for a permit to camp, and although it's free, numbers are limited, and you only get access to toilets, water and a visitor centre full of interesting information. One of the rangers was particularly keen to share his thoughts with me, just before a busy week was expected. He said that a lot of Germans and Spanish people camped in the Caldera. He said that he didn't particularly like the Germans, but admired the fact that they always cleaned up and took all their rubbish away with them. He always enjoyed great times chatting to the Spanish, but was dismayed when they often left the campsite strewn with rubbish, and continued to discard litter as they walked out of the Caldera.
Incidentally... anyone thinking of visiting the Caldera and camping there needs to be careful what food they take with them. Stoves of all types are BANNED. One spark would set the whole national park ablaze, and this has happened in the past. So... choose ready-to-eat food... and try and keep well away from the rangers base when they're doing their own cooking... because whatever they're having smells delicious!
Hello Paddy. I didn't actually buy your book until after I'd booked my flights, so by the time I read your advice on the heat it was too late. The thermometer in my hire car was regularly reading 38. I tried to start early, 7 ish, but as soon as the sun hit it was extremely hot.
I didn't realise there was such a thing as a "tissue trail", although I did walk up Viejo on Tenerife from Boca Sauce (a brutal trail in the heat, absolutlely NO shade AT ALL) and there were no tissues there.
On the subject of fires, there was a forest fire during my visit.
It was on the hillside above Los Llanos on La Palma. It started last Monday. It was quite impressive, I wondered if the whole island might go up, but they managed to put in out in three days.
The trail up Pico Viejo on Tenerife doesn't get too many visitors, and I guess most of the people who climb it are a bit more environmentally aware than the people who go on the more popular trails. True enough, there's NO shade at that altitude, starting at over 2000m and climbing to over 3000m, and with no clouds in the sky it's just intense high-altitude sunlight!
Seriously... as a WALKING destination, the Canary Islands are for the winter months!
Forest fires are quite common around the Canary Islands. I hardly ever see a Canary pine tree that doesn't have a scorched trunk. In fact, those trees seem to get burnt several times during their life-span, but they nearly always manage to regenerate. However, one of the last Canary pine trees I got a good look at wasn't so fortunate. On Gran Canaria a few months back I was dismayed to find the enormous Pino de Pilancones had been felled and chopped into enormous chunks. It had been burnt once too many times and finally given up the ghost. It won't be forgotten in a hurry, because someone has planted a substantial iron memorial in its memory!
Well Mick, I'd really advise taking something to make shade with, especially if you're going above the tree line on Tenerife. It's also surprisingly windless up there. I suppose winds are quite localised.
I really wished I had a lightweight umbrella to walk with (a parasol I suppose) but I also wished I'd taken a big square of lightweight tent fabric and some cord so I could rig up a temporary shady spot with walking poles and rocks to hold the cords down. It really is relentlessly hot up there. We (two of us) were out for 8 hours going up and down Pico Viejo and we got throught 8 litres of water (which wasn't enough; we rationed it from halfway and did the last hour without any). Being really hot and tired, and not being able to escape the sun for ten minutes for a rest, is pretty rough.
I suppose approaching the task like an Arab is probably the best bet; Baggy clothes, portable shade, lots of water, don't travel in the heat of the day.
Also, according to my not very enlightened calculations, tenerife is 66 minutes west of greenwich. The sun is overhead at greenwich (in british summer time) at 1pm, to it's overhead in tenerife at 2pm roughly (tenerife is on the same time zone as the UK at the moment). Worth knowing, because it means the heat of midday lasts until 4/5pm, which can catch you out. It caught me out, when it was still blistering at 4pm. I just didn't think of it until later.
It's always interesting to see what the locals do with things like sunshine and shade. In Britain, park benches are nearly always in the open, where they catch the maximum amount of sun. Fair enough, I suppose, when for the past few weeks they haven't caught any sunlight at all! Contrast that with places like the Canary Islands, where local people sit on benches on the shady side of buildings, or beneath trees with dense foliage. Of course, that doesn't stop the sun-starved northern Europeans lying on the beach in the middle of the day, literally frying themselves to death in their own chip fat!
I take portable shade with me. For the past few years I've been a fan of umbrellas. I started with a Go-Lite brolly, silver-coloured, to keep off the rain and the sun. Unfortunately they're 'traditional' shaped brollies, so they're not much use in windy conditions. So, I've graduated to Senz brollies, which are stable in the wind, and still keep off the rain. As for colour, I'm sticking with silver, so that I can reflect as much light and heat as possible when I'm in hot and sunny parts of the world. Believe me... having a little pool of shade around you can make an unbearably hot day reasonably tolerable.
I have a hat
But seriously yeah i`ll take a small tarp and some paracord to make a shelter with. Thanks
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