Tenerife’s Teide National Park

Text: Geoff Tompkinson • Photography: Geoff Tompkinson

Tenerife, the largest of the Spanish Canary Islands, lies some 200 miles off the coast of northwest Africa in the Atlantic Ocean. It has become synonymous with endless apartments, timeshares, restaurants, and all-day cheap booze. This, combined with full English breakfasts for a few euros and tacky tourist attractions, does not at first glance suggest it would make a great destination for motorcycling.

However, there’s another side to this enigmatic winter getaway in the sun, and it is simply wonderful. Tenerife is dominated by the currently dormant volcano, Mount Teide. At just over 12,000 feet high, Teide is the tallest peak in any Spanish-controlled territory and the third highest volcanic structure in the world. The volcano erupted as recently as 1909. Tenerife is truly a sleeping dragon.

Living in the Austrian Alps, we are normally drowned in snow over the European winter months, so we like to take a week or two away somewhere we can still ride. This time, we decided to explore a route taking us from west to east along the otherworldly scenery on this sleeping dragon’s spine.

The Masca Roller Coaster
Our route starts in the village of Masca on the northwestern tip of the island. This tiny village is swamped with tourists every day. They come to see the beautiful mountain village, once used as a pirate hideout, and until relatively recently only accessible by donkey or hiking. Like so many places that develop such fame, the scale of tourism completely outmatches the location’s resources.

The road to and from Masca is a narrow, tightly winding, single-lane snake of good tarmac with low, whitewashed stone-block side walls. The occasional passing points are scarcely adequate for cars, let alone the numerous coaches that attempt to traverse this route. You need to get there early in the day, or much, much later in the afternoon. 

Having said that, if you get there at the right time, the Masca road is a wonderful technical roller coaster, winding through and over a series of verdant mountain ridges. Spectacular views are all around, not least of the road itself—clinging and winding along the cliff faces of the majestic Macizo de Teno.

We start our ride early in the morning and are rewarded with unimpeded passage along this twisting road. The famous Masca road is actually not very long and our rented BMWs have scarcely warmed up before the fun is over. After passing through the town of Santiago del Teide and the coastal TF-1 road, we find ourselves on the TF-38, starting the long climb up to the Teide National Park and the sleeping dragon itself. All road names in Tenerife begin with TF.

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