Posts Tagged ‘car hire Tenerife’

The road began to snake its way into the Guama Mountains and as the first sharp bend to the right approached, the car in front ground to a complete standstill, leaving us scrabbling to get into first gear before we stalled. Baffled by the need for the sudden halt as there was no other traffic on the road, we held our breath as the hire car rolled back to within uncomfortable distance of our bumper before the driver finally found the bite and resumed his excruciating journey, stuttering around hairpin bends as if he expected to drive off the cliff at any second and hitting a top speed of 2 kilometres per hour on the straight sections. Behind him, we barely got out of first gear until mercifully, he pulled off at the first viewpoint.

So dangerous and yet so safe.
Tenerife’s second most popular day trip destination it may be, but the vast majority of visitors who make it to the remote hamlet of Masca, do so by letting someone else do the driving. For those intrepid independents who hire a car on Tenerife and take the wheel themselves, the road to Masca is the island’s most notorious white knuckle drive, twisting and turning its way down the sheer side of a mountain in a series of gravity-defying switch backs.

Ironically, the road to Masca is actually one of the safest roads on Tenerife where accidents are a rarity, and that’s because everyone is driving so slowly that even if they make contact, there’s usually no more than a smudge on the bumper to show for it. But that’s not to say a plunge over the edge is beyond the realms of possibility, particularly given how badly some visitors drive this stretch of road.

The art of steering
In much of Europe, peoples’ daily commutes consist of road journeys that require very little in the way of steering wheel manipulation. From motorway lane changes to main road junctions, it’s a simple fact that many of us predominantly drive in straight lines. So, confronted with some of Tenerife’s narrow roads that zigzag their way up and down mountains, coupled with an unfamiliar car, your average driver has no notion of how to steer through the curves.

Having spent some time in the south west of the island yesterday, we had to detour to Buenavista del Norte on the way home to check out some details about one of our Island Walks and the quickest way to do that was via Masca. Unfortunately, we found ourselves behind this very nervous hire car driver. But he wasn’t the only dangerous element on the road yesterday, the way was littered with offending motorists.

Essential tips for driving the road to Masca

  • Don’t use passing bays as car parks – you’re putting other drivers at risk. All the way down the road we saw stopping places used as parking spots with people posing for photos and even eating their sandwiches while their cars occupied the only space where two vehicles could pass.
  • Follow the road markings which take you wide on left hand bends and hug the cliff on right hand bends, leaving space for oncoming vehicles to get past. The man we were stuck behind took every corner in the middle of the road, forcing oncoming traffic into the ditch or dangerously close to the edge.
  • If a viewpoint is full, you can’t stop there. We saw two cars yesterday with their rear ends stuck half way across the road because they’d squeezed into spaces too small for their vehicles.
  • Don’t arrive at 1pm and expect to get a parking spot. Masca is extremely popular, particularly between the hours of 11am and 3pm when the jeep safaris descend. It’s impossible to get a parking space anywhere nearer than El Palmar, and deciding to sit in your car in the middle of the little roundabout on the off chance that someone might be leaving soon is just plain silly – stop it.

Having said all of that, if you’re a confident driver, the road to Masca is a brilliant drive, provided you’re not unlucky enough to be behind the bloke in the hire car who, for all I know, may still be en route.

The road to Masca is part of the Hidden Depths  drive in Real Tenerife Island Drives.

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Memories of idyllic childhood holidays spent slowly driving along Cornish lanes the width of the car with skyscraper hedgerows laced with sweet scented honeysuckle. Dad’s expression in the driver’s mirror betrayed his hope that no other vehicle would be coming towards us while my brothers and me in the back seat excitedly hoped they would so we could scream conflicting directions to Dad as he reversed to the nearest passing point. Mum’s job was to read the cryptic directions from the leaflet she held in her hands; turn left at the Cornish pasty (which turned out to be the name of a cottage that was just crying out to be featured on clotted cream packaging) then take a right at the monkey puzzle…you get the picture.

When we moved to North Tenerife and began traversing forest roads and mountain villages, we wanted other visitors to the island to find this hidden, ‘real’ Tenerife too, and it was then that we had the idea of writing Real Tenerife Island Drives. We didn’t just want to give people directions, they could buy a map for that, we wanted them to enjoy the whole experience of exploring the island. So we designed routes that wove through off the beaten track parts of the island, including snippets of information we’d discovered along the way such as how a place got its name, if it had an unusual fiesta and its place in Tenerife’s short but colourful history. Then we added places to stop for a view or a leg stretch and nice little places to stop for lunch or a picnic along the route.

Never having had any experience of self publishing, we drove, wrote, photographed, designed and did the layout for Island Drives, sharing one desktop pc between us. It was a journey of triumphs and disappointments but it was a labour of love. When we finally despatched it to the printers and arranged its distribution, we had just 3 weeks in which to build and launch a website on which to sell it.

We sat in front of that steam-powered pc and began to build a website without any knowledge, training, prior experience and most importantly without WordPress. All our waking hours were spent grappling with page design and layout, trying to understand Meta data, diagrams, parent and child pages and basic HTML.

The word ‘divorce’ was uttered on many an occasion and we laughed and cried our way to finally hitting that ‘publish’ button. Neither before nor since have I felt such elation and such a sense of achievement. We were delirious with joy and promptly got drunk! Of course, what we didn’t realise at that time was that we launched our site into cyber obscurity…but that’s another story.

Over 2500 worldwide sales later, this month Real Tenerife Island Drives has taken another giant leap forward into the 21st century and has just been published on Kindle. It hasn’t been quite the same torturous experience that its original creation was, but nor has it been without its hair pulling, screaming out loud moments and the mere mention of the term ‘Table of Contents’ can still bring on a sweat.

But at last I can say: Real Tenerife Island Drives – now available on Kindle. YAY!

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A new survey conducted in May by Confused.com has come up with some rather surprising statistics for what Brits get up to in their cars. Apparently, of the 2000 motorists surveyed, 47% of Southwest drivers admitted to having sex in their car, hotly pursued by the South East (44%) and Scotland (43%).

It’s not entirely clear from the report in RealTravel.magazine whether the sex is happening at the same time as the driving but a quote from one of the Confused.com people which refers to “the distraction element some drivers are exposing themselves to when multi tasking”, would certainly suggest that this is the case (personally, I would have chosen a different phrase there if I’d been their spokesperson).

Other in-car entertainment options to come out of the survey are eating (75% of respondents) and sleeping (50%), though whether the sleeping comes after the sex is unclear and what exactly is being referred to by ‘eating’ is somewhere I’m not prepared to go.
Apparently 33% of the Welsh have been dumped by their partners whilst behind the wheel, presumably because they fell asleep while having sex and got crumbs all over the seat…the mind boggles!

All I can say is, British drivers must be very bored with the scenery on their doorsteps and really ought to get out more.
I can whole heartedly recommend picking up a copy of Island Drives, renting a car on Tenerife and taking to the Tinerfeño roads where you’ll be far too busy gawping at the scenery to indulge in auto-intimacy, or at least, not whilst the vehicle is actually in motion.

And if you can have sex whilst simultaneously driving down the mountain into Masca, you’re either having bad sex or else you’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!

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I’ve been updating the prices in our independent guide to car hire in order to take into account the reduced value of Sterling against the Euro and I’ve discovered a few surprises.

Some car hire firms have actually increased the Euro price quoted on their websites; an interesting marketing strategy. Most are unchanged which means the cost to British hirers has effectively increased.

But some have made significant reductions so that if you’re coming from Britain and want to hire a car while you’re in Tenerife, there’s no difference to the price you’ll pay now than the price you would have paid six months ago, despite the falling value of the pound. Which is very good news indeed.

However, the really good news is reserved for anyone travelling from the US to Tenerife and wanting to hire a car. With the reduction in prices, combined with the strength of the Dollar against the Euro, there are some fantastic bargains to be had. For example, you can now hire a car for a week from as little as US$109, and that’s with a company who gets consistently good feedback on its service.

We’ve done all the work for you; all you have to do is compare and decide.

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