Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Best of Tenerife
I’m back in Libreville after my productive week in the Canary Islands. I had an extra day there after the meetings ended, because there were no flights to Libreville on weekends, so I rented a car and drove up to El Tiede National Park at the center of the island. Driving up from the ocean I passed through arid countryside full of cactuses, dotted by villages bursting with bougainvillea and palms. Higher up there’s a pine forest, and eventually the road gets above the tree line, as well as the clouds! It reminded me a bit of Haleakala in Hawaii. The park is a series of volcanoes with craters in between, lots of sagebrush and other endemic plants. I think the last volcanic eruption was in 1785. It is a gorgeous place- sheer rock spires shooting straight up and backdrops of clouds, ocean and neighboring islands. I hiked around the park and saw a few bird species, then drove back down and headed to a remote part of the coast.
I stopped by Los Gigantes, enormous sea cliffs, then drove to Masca, a town perched on a pinnacle inside the cliffs. The road to Masca is a single-track road of endless hairpin turns, with sports car drivers flying at you around blind corners. Halfway down I wondered what I’d gotten myself into, but the spectacular views kept pushing me on. Again I was reminded of Hawaii, but this time of the Na Pali coast. The villages definitely have a Mediterranean feeling though. After winding my way all the way back to the top and back down the other side, the sun was setting over the ocean. Definitely a great way to end the trip. The appropriately named Los Gigantes
The precarious road to Masca

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