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Close to Africa but with European safety, and a continental variety of scenery in a small, convenient island, Jim Walker picks Tenerife for his toddler’s first family trip abroad…

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This is our first foreign holiday with our toddler, Libby, who is approaching two, after several UK breaks ranging from catastrophic upwards. So when it came to choosing where to go we were very wary. But wanting to instil our love of travel and the outdoors in Libby, our main question was how adventurous could we really be with a toddler?

Tenerife, and the other Canary Islands tend to conjure up images of ‘flop and drop’ budget holidays, and have therefore never been high on our bucket list. But having seen a number of unexpectedly stunning images from Tenerife, we decided it needed a closer look. When we did, rather than tacky seaside towns, we found a myriad of amazing activities, spectacular landscapes, the third highest volcano in the world and a variety of scenery we’d never imagined possible in a small island.


Above the clouds

It is day two of our trip and it’s just started to rain. We’ve carefully planned each day with an activity to ensure we have some structure around naps. Yesterday we visited Loro Parque, a superbly run wildlife park which kept Libby thoroughly entertained, and today we’re heading to Teide National Park to visit the epic looking Volcano that forms the jewel in the crown of Tenerife – Mount Teide.

With trepidation around the possibility of driving for two hours only to find we can’t see or do anything due to the weather, we decide it’s worth the risk and begin the huge 3,500m ascent from coast to peak. A few miles up the climb in an unfamiliar car on unfamiliar roads, in dense fog and rain, with a chattering toddler in the back, I’m wondering whether to abort. But moments later we hit the tree line and visibility improves. There is stunning, lush sub-tropical greenery all around us and the temperature gauge has gone up two or three degrees in the last hundred metres alone.

A mile more and we climb out of the clouds into stunning clear blue sky. Winding our way round another tight bend, the jaw-dropping beauty of Mount Teide, surrounded by a cotton wool bed of the clouds we’ve just climbed through comes into full view. It’s an absolute “Wow!” moment and one of many surprises this stunning island provides during our stay.

Tenerife is like visiting three continents: the national park is other-worldly and reminds you of Canyonlands in the US; the forested hills are more South American; and, of course, there is a European feel to the towns and cities.

Passing spectacular volcanic rock formations we reach the lift that will take us to the peak of the volcano, only to find Libby is too young for it due to the speed of the altitude gain!

Somewhat miffed, we head for a walk and find our own, smaller peak to conquer with the awe inspiring back-drop of the Teide National Park.

Our trip continues with days of stunning, gentle walks through the forests and a lovely coastal bike ride, accompanied by shrieks of enjoyment from Libby and repeated ‘more Dadda’ every time we pause for breath. Less enjoyable for me is the biscuit she puts down the back of my shorts as we are riding!

Looking back, our trip was a huge success. We managed to be adventurous without pushing things too far, and managed exciting activities while providing some memorable travel experiences for Libby along the way.

We have sung the praises of Tenerife to anyone who will listen since our return and the response is always one of surprise. It’s an incredible place we’re itching to get back to and explore more. Unfortunately we were ‘that family’ on the flight home. Libby was horrendous!

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