Talking with a friend about people’s perception of what to expect in the North v South of Tenerife, it made me think how many times have I read that other old favourite … “The north of Tenerife is lush and green while the south is a barren desert”. Having visited several deserts, the Sahara, Kuwait, Death Valley and Thar, most people have no idea what barren is.
For anyone who has not been to the island this type of statement while not untrue is misleading. However, it is backed up by those who make the common mistake of thinking that the strip of land they see either side of the TF1 as they take the bus from the airport is all there is until you get into the tourist resorts.
Admittedly, the north of the island does appeal to those seeking a “green and pleasant land” its beauty is reminiscent of many places in the UK, in some ways better as it is unsullied by modern industrial life. It is stuffed to the brim with gardens and parks, even the Hotel Tigaiga has spectacular sub-tropical gardens where a guide is happy to give you a FREE plant tour. But don’t make the other mistake of thinking all this greenery must be due to the amount of rain the north receives. Many forget that a lot of the moisture comes from the Trade Winds that produce a build up of cloud on the north of the island. Where the clouds hit the slopes, the high level of humidity ‘waters’ the farms and sub-tropical vegetation.
Whilst the south is affected less, we still get our fair share of moisture. Our tiny island has so many different faces, packed into a small geographical area – as Shakespeare said, a “precious stone set in a silver sea”. This diversity of both landscape and weather is what makes Tenerife unique. The south may not have the chocolate box greenery of the north but during the winter months, it is anything but barren and desert-like. I’m not aware of any botanical gardens in the south; instead, our cultivated plants are in abundance throughout the resorts. Every roundabout and roadside edge is planted and kept immaculate.
To me, the word desert conjures images of arid wastelands and outside of the resorts, we have lots of wastelands, noticeable when summer temperatures rise and following no rain for weeks on end. However, at this time of the year as I walk along the terraces on the rough land (we call it a park as Chayofa is a bit posh!) a transformation takes place. The wasteland is breathtakingly beautiful in a rugged sort of way. Wild garlic and showy lantana suddenly emerge from beneath the cactus and the mixture of grass and weed give the impression of lush green meadows.