El Guincho means the Osprey but is a village by the sea in Tenerife
From Tenerife pyramids down to rocky shores
There is a road leading from the one going into San Marcos that goes all the way through banana plantations to the village of El Guincho, which in Spanish means the Osprey. Indeed, in times gone by these magnificent birds used to live there.
The road to El Guincho is called Camino de la Suerte, the "Path of Luck", and it is aptly named because anyone taking it will see some interesting sights including two pyramids. The first of these is surrounded by bananas and stands on what is clearly a farm devoted to the cultivation of these fruit. Further along the road is a second very dilapidated pyramid construction on some abandoned farmland. Perhaps not as impressive as the first one but of interest all the same.
The debate continues as to whether pyramids such as these were made by the Guanches, who were the original Tenerife islanders, or were simply "piles of stones" cleared away by farmers in the 19th century.
El Guincho photos
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Mixed vegetable and fruit crops near El Guincho
The farms along this road show well why Tenerife is far friendlier to wildlife because the monoculture that is sweeping the world with disastrous results for the environment is not practised here.
The area is alive with animals: blue-cheeked male Tenerife lizards sun themselves on the walls and rustle in the dry leaves, bees buzz as they look for nectar, large blue Emperor Dragonflies patrol the air and Blackbirds sing in the bushes and trees.
One farm has lettuce, onions, maize, cabbage, grapes, papaya and bananas all growing on the same plot of land. Another farmer grows maize interspersed between his banana plants. This is what I mean about the farming here - it is natural.
Ducks get to live the old-fashioned way with a large pond outside where they can swim around and feed or rest on the banks and sun themselves. It is a real pleasure seeing farms like this are still in operation.
Right next to where the second pyramid stands there is a very big house that was for sale at the very reasonable price of just €128,000. If I had that sort of money I'd be tempted!
I suppose the price is low because of its location on the outskirts of a village in farmland in the northwest of Tenerife. You need a car if you live here and an income from somewhere. Imagine living on a road with its own pyramids though!
There are some really smart modern houses further along and also some huge farms with big driveways into them and warning signs to beware of guard dogs.
In complete contrast there is some weed-covered waste ground where flocks of finches feed. A very enigmatic doorway to nowhere stands at the side of the road here.
Is it all that is left of some building, and if so what happened to the rest of it? It is in good condition and doesn't look like it is all that is left of a derelict building.
It always makes me think of science fiction films and TV series like Dr Who. Could it be a portal to another world?
The road then forks into a side-road that turns off and continues upwards towards Icod or carries on in the direction of El Guincho as it gives way to a track for cyclists. This is fine for pedestrians like me though as well as any cyclists and I enjoy the great views it gives over the banana plantations and down to the sea below.
On the other side and above, is the road from Icod de los Vinos to Garachico, Los Silos and Buenavista del Norte. These towns make up a good part of the northwestern section of Tenerife known as the Isla Baja ("Low Island").
The Teno mountains tower above the coast and are a unique part of this area, much of which is very unspoiled and some parts are difficult to get to because they are either so high or so remote. The Isla Baja is often called "Tenerife's best-kept secret," and rightly so!
For visitors to the island though El Guincho makes an ideal place to stay and from which to explore the surrounding towns and countryside. The El Patio hotel is situated here, overlooking the sea and surrounded by banana plantations - as rural as you could ever want!
The El Patio has been awarded protected status by the local authorities due to its historical heritage and rural nature.
26 rooms are available. They each have a terrace, a bathroom, and come with a safe for your valuables and heating for when you might need it in the autumn and winter months.
The dining-room of Hotel El Patio looks out over the sea from right in the middle of a banana plantation, and this is where you can have your breakfast or dinner.
There is a swimming pool for residents of the hotel as well as a sauna and jacuzzi. Hotel El Patio even has its own small private beach.
El Guincho itself is a small Spanish village with two bars, no shops, a bus stop and some houses. It is right next to Garachico though, which is only 1 km away if you need to do shopping. Buenavista is some 10km away and Icod de los Vinos is just a few kilometres in the other direction. Two bus services run on this route.
El Guincho offers some great views down over the cliffs to the turquoise sea and foaming waves below.
There is a small islet or "roque," and it is easy to imagine ospreys soaring in the skies overhead, even if they have gone from the location and sea gulls are all that is left today.
I wonder if anyone has thought of reintroducing Ospreys? I know this has been done successfully in the UK so why not Tenerife? I can but dream!
Map of El Guincho
© 2010 Steve Andrews
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