We’d hoped the weather would be similar to the other islands in late February, but it was a lot cooler and cloudier than we expected (and had packed in our hand luggage-only for!) in the North, where the island’s highest peak and beautiful National Park with running trails lie.
We arrived in Vilaflor – a small village in the centre of the island, surrounded by pine forests and close to Mount Teide – around lunchtime on Monday and checked into our little budget hotel before exploring a little, unpacking and choosing a local restaurant for dinner, raring to go for the next day.
On our first full day we chose to run along the GR131 trail to Paisaje Lunar – a natural rock formation that looks bizarrely moon-like – to explore the terrain and get a feel for the trails around us.
The route took us out of the village on the road for a short time before we quickly found signs for the GR131 European long distance trail – the infamous red and white painted stripes on walls, posts and rocks along its way – and headed uphill.
We followed the main G131 trail for a few kilometres, hiking the tough ascents and running the flats and descents between the tall pine trees and on hard rocky terrain, before choosing a smaller trail marked towards Paisaje Lunar 3.5 km away. The trail wound around dry riverbeds and although we passed a few hikers on route, it was quiet and peaceful, with very little wildlife or birds to spot either. Isolated.
We reached the top of a large crater, the clouds on our tails, mist seeping in between the trees, and looked across to the lunar landscape we’d hoped to find – incredible sculpted rocks, rich with detail and precision, carved by nature and the elements. The cloud was creeping in though and soon the lunar-like rocks would be hidden from view behind a thick white cape, so we moved on, taking the GR131 trail back to make a loop from where we had started.
When the trails crossed we took the dirt track road back towards Vilaflor, with a cafe stop in mind for a coffee and sweet treat. The road zigzagged down to meet a busier tarmac road and with few sharp turns we were back in the village, at the top looking down on the colourful houses below and enjoying a strong coffee at Cafe Le Paz.
Our first full day on the island spent exploring and we spent the rest of the afternoon planning running routes for the following days, so check back in soon to read more!