The Canary Islands: September 2008 Tenerife and Fuerteventura
Introduction and General Information
I visited the Canary Islands with Helen, at the beginning of September 2008. We flew from East Midlands airport to Tenerife South airport on 5 September, returning to EMA on 20 September with Thomas Cook Airlines. The holiday was booked as a package deal with Thomas Cook through Ilkeston Co-op Travel. The cost of the package was £360 each. We booked a separate flight to Fuerteventura with edreams on the internet which cost approximately £170 and car hire was around £190 for an mini class vehicle (Daewoo Matiz and two Toyota Yaris) booked through Holiday Autos with Hertz Car Rental. We needed to book three cars as we travelled to Fuerteventura in the middle of the holiday.
We booked an apartment on Fuerteventura via the internet which cost £51 for two people for three nights, staying at Nuevo Horizonte close to Caleta de Fustes just south of the airport on Fuerteventura.
The main flights were night flights which saved us around £100, whilst the flight over to Fuerteventura left Tenerife North Airport at 10 in the morning and the return flight to Tenerife was at 11:20. The flight was approximately 50 minutes in duration.
The apartments in Tenerife were situated on the outskirts of Los Cristianos. The Los Alisios apartments despite some critical reviews on the internet were clean, spacious and comfortable. The rooms were cleaned 5 times per week and as far as I could see the pool was cleaned daily. The hotel staff were extremely friendly and helpful and quickly sorted out the only problem we encountered during the holiday.
When we arrived at around 2:30 in the morning after a long day there was a loud heavy drinking party going on in the room next to us, which carried on until 7 o clock in the morning. After complaining to the reception staff and the Thomas Cook rep, I insisted that we were moved. The following night we moved to a another room that was much quieter. We heard very little noise from the spanish rebellers after the complaint and the hotel staff assured us that they had been dealt with by the security guard.
The apartment at La Parimide on Fuerteventura was smaller and slightly less inviting, but apart from a small amount of rust around the edge of the bath, was still adequate as a base for three nights. Our room was right next to the bar but it was closed at around 11 o clock making for a peaceful nights sleep.
Nuevo Horizonte comprised of only apartments and a couple of bar/restaurants.
The essential reading we took on our trip was "A Birdwatchers Guide to the Canary Islands" by Tony Clark and David Collins (C&C), "Where to Watch Birds in Tenerife" by Eduardo Garcia del Rey and the Helm Field Guide; "Birds of the Atlantic Islands". The two site guides were very useful albeit somewhat outdated but proved helpful with some additional updated information gleaned from trip reports on the internet. During this report I will refer to site information given in these books with updates from trip reports or from personal experience.|
I also took two maps; "AA Island Map series for Tenerife and Fuerteventura" which were detailed enough for finding the best birding sites.
At this point I should mention that driving in Tenerife can be disconcerting due to the poor road signs. I found using the map better than purely following the road signs. The road numbering has been updated since the site guides were written, so I will attempt to note road number changes using the latest numbering for the roads. Please take care when driving around trafiic islands on the the Canaries as the Spanish seem to prefer only using the outside lane around most traffic islands which nearly all have two lanes. Therefore, a significant amount of chopping and cutting in occurs on the traffic islands.
The exchange rate at the time of our trip was the worst known, at 1.18 euros to the pound, making entertainment a little more expensive than anticipated but we managed to eat out every night eating two courses most nights, somtimes three with drinks included. Most restaurants charged around 6 to 10 ueros for a decent mian course and 2.5 euros for a pint of lager. However, some of the bars near the sea front charged less for a pint (una Jarra large beer) at around 1.5 euros.
The best restuarant we found by far was El Padrinos not far from our apartments in Los Cristianos. This was an Italian restaurant, serving excellent quality food in large portions, somtimes even too much for me. However, due to the fantastic quality of the food I was forced to eat every last morsel each time we paid a vist.
El Padrinos was closed on Tuesdays. forcing us to eat elsewhere. For more information on El Padrinos click here.
Day 1: (September 6)
Southern Tenerife searching out endemics close to our base: Embalse de Ciguana, Golf del Sur, Amarilla Golf, Las Galletas and Los Cristianos Port.
Day 2: (September 7)
North Tenerife with Pigeons being the main attraction: Chanajiga, Punta de Teno, Teno Alto and Garachica Rock.
Day 3: (September 8)
The heights of Central Tenerife with Chaffinch and Blue Tit of the Blue and African varieties being sought after: Las Lajas picnic sight and El Teide.
Day 4: (September 9)
More of Southern Tenerife checking out Guaza Mountain early in the morning in the vain hope of Trumpeter Finch plus Guargacho reservoirs, El Fraile and Punta de la Rasca, El Medano, Golf del Sur, Ten Bel and finally Amarilla Golf reservoir.
Day 5: (September 10)
Out to sea with a ferry trip to La Gomera. However, the wrong ferry. We booked the Garajonay express before realising that you are not allowed on deck. This impeded the sea bird watching slightly.
Day 6: (September 11)
A break from the birding with a visit to Loro Park in the north at Puerto de la Cruz, then back to birding with trips to Punta del Hidalgo on the coast and Los Rodeos Airport.
Day 7: (September 12)
Halfway through the holiday we had a much needed walk up the Barrance del Infierno (Hells Gorge) just outside the old village of Adeje.
Day 8 : (September 13)
A break from the hustle of overcrowded Tenerife to the slightly more secluded areas of Central Fuerteventua. A visit to Los Molinos reservoir and the plains around Los Negrines at La Oliva, the ancient capital of Fuerteventura.
Day 9: (September 14)
Day break at El Cotillo on the west coast searching for the elusive Cream Coloured Courser, followed by a trip inland to La Oliva for Fuerteventura Chat, then onto the heights around Las Penitas reservoir (dry of course) for more birding and the views.
Day 10: (September 15)
An early morning trip down south to the plains of Costa Calma (Las Canadas) still on the search for Cream Coloured Courser and Black Bellied Sandgrouse. On the return journey we Stopped at Rosa de Catalina Garcia reservoir, the Salinas del Carmen (now a museum of the salt pans) and the Barrance de Torre (a contradiction in terms, a protected area but with a huge quarry ripping out the middle of the barranco).
Day 11: (September 16)
Back to Tenerife and a northward bound trip to Erjos Ponds which were, you guessed, dried up.
Day 12: (September 17)
Another ferry trip to La Gomera. This time on the correct ferry. We booked the more expensive Naviera Armas ferry which is much larger and slower than the Garajonay ferry and you are allowed on deck. However, it returns earlier than the Garajonay ferry so neither are really perfect for sea watchng.
Day 13: (September 18)
Due to my hunger for some more interesting sea watching if there is such a thing (sorry sea watching fans) we booked a morning 3 hour whale watching trip out of Los Cristianos on the Lady Shelley Catamaran. Good for whales but not much else.
In the afternoon we headed north to Chanajiga with the intention of finding pigeons. The plans were scuppered by the weather. We weren't going to see much in the mist and rain up north so decided to try and find some reservoirs containing water. Los Realejos reservoir and La Tabona reservoirs were visited and much to my surprise both contained water.
Day 14: (September 19)
A short trip to Amarilla Golf in the morning before returning the hire car, which was apparently still sat outside the hotel 4 days after we arrived home. The afternoon was spent sleeping on a bench on the sea front at Los Christianos followed by our final meal at El Padrinos before heading off to the airport and home.
I've grouped the sites dependant on geographical location on the two islands visited, either northern, central or southern areas. Simply click on the north, centre or south of the maps below for site information.
For a complete trip list of birds, butterflies, dragonflies and mammals click here.
To sum up the birding holiday in the Canary Isles. Do not expect to see large numbers of birds or obtain a great trip list of species. The endemics are fairly easy to find and a week split between Tenerife and Fuerteventura would probably be sufficient to find them all.
Tenerife is pretty hectic with a lot of building work going off whilst Fuerteventura is much quieter and more leisurely.
The holiday was enjoyable and we saw all the birds we wanted to see.
Thus if you want a huge trip list with loads of exicitng birds give the Canaries a miss. However, if you fancy a relaxing holiday with some birding and sight seeing this vacation would probably suite you down to the ground.
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