Perched high above our hotel in San Eugenio is the enticingly close peak of Roque de Conde. Its flat, sloped, terraced top is visible from most places on the SW coast of Tenerife, and from the moment we arrived, I knew that I wanted to stand on the peak. I had already flown above it in my paraglider the previous year (and was somewhat regretting leaving my wing at home this time), but there is something about reaching a peak under muscle power that always sounds appealing to me.
One afternoon of our holiday, Rob was off in the car on his own adventure, so I suddenly felt motivated to climb up to the top of Conde. I threw the normal hiking gear in my backpack and was quickly off, knowing that I only had 5 hours of daylight left and not sure how long I would need to make it up there and back.
After a few streets to get out of town, I then found a long paved road leading between two banana plantations up to a water treatment plant. From there the trail got rougher, switchbacking through cactus and scrub brush with Conde dominating the sky above me. Far below, a half moon of beaches and boardwalks lined the edge of the island.
It was late afternoon in the warm sun, and each step I took sent small lizards scurrying away from sunning themselves on the hot rocks. I worried about snakes for a second as I crashed pasted cactus and grass...then reminded myself that there were no snakes on this island. Is that why I love Tenerife so much? Signs started appearing on the deserted trail for hunting dogs. I couldn't really decide what they meant, but wondered if such dogs were dangerous. Was this trail even open to the public? I wasn't sure. I followed a tiny water canal with some trickling water which appeared to disappear into a tunnel up ahead. Uh-oh. Flashlight? Check. Luckily the walking trail diverted over the ridge instead of through a dark tunnel. More dog signs. I picked up a rock and carried it as I climbed up, figuring I wouldn't go down easily if required to defend myself! (We later saw so many of these "dog" signs that they literally became meaningless...plus we never saw even one dog.)
But presently without this assurance, I carried the rock in my hand all the way until I reached the town of Arona. There the tourist trail up to Conde actually started. It was 4 pm by then, so I still wasn't sure if I would make it back to the hotel by dark (carrying a flashlight and a rock back through the "dog" section seemed a little nerve-racking). So I hurried up the trail as fast as I was able, and suprised myself by reaching the summit 35 minutes later (the book called for almost 2 hours!).
The summit was really nice, with terraced grasses and beautiful views. I took some time to enjoy the cooling breezes at the top now that I had some time in hand. And wondered what ever possessed some past farmer to make the treck up to the summit every day for years to build terraces? It's not like there is any water source up here, aside from infrequent rainfall.
It was a speedy descent back the way I came, running back the rocky "dog" path and finally back onto tarmac. I felt strong, and was running well, enjoying the quick trails and deepening colors of the late afternoon sunchine. The sun set just as I arrived back at the hotel!
Distance: Roughly 13 miles, 4 hrs 30 min, and 3000 feet of elevation gain (and loss) from the beach.
This walk started from a hotel in San Eugenio Alto and then included walk #36 from the Tenerife Rother Walking Guide (2000)