A tour of Tenerife, in the footsteps of Perseus

With everything from black sandy beaches and impressive cliffs, to volcanic terrain, monumental cities and avant-garde architecture, it is no wonder that Tenerife is home to so many film locations.

In 2011 alone, more than one hundred film crews chose the Canary Islands as their main shooting location. Every few square miles the landscape transforms itself, making it such a wonderul natural setting to recreate different corners of the world. One moment you feel like you're in the historic town of La Havana in Cuba, and just a few minutes later, as if you're immersed in a tropical rain forest, or the most cosmopolitan of cities. 


The latest film shot on the island is Wrath of the Titans, which scours the island through the eyes of Perseus, the lead character. According to Greek mythology, he was born a God but raised a man. He decided to lead a dangerous mission against Hades, the vindictive god of the underworld, before he could overthrow Zeus and turn planet Earth into hell. On his journey he spent a night in a mountain hut at the summit of Teide National Park, watching whales off the coast of the island. 

To tour the island, start from Spain’s highest peak, 12,198ft above sea level at Teide National Park, home to species that can´t be found anywhere else in the world, like the Teide violet or the endemic Tajinaste flower. The Ucanca Valley begins at the foot of this hill, and due to its distinctive landscape, a lot of shooting took place in this spot.

You can reach the National Park both from the north – starting at San Cristobal de la Laguna – as well as from the south –leaving Granadillo or Chio. If you start from the north, a visit to the university’s campus, declared a World Heritage Site, is a definite must.

The TF-24 motorway runs through the village of Esperanza. If you pass by on the weekend or a Spanish holiday, visit the market and take some of their delicious, fresh products with you. A short drive later you will run into two of the best views on the island: Ortuño and Chipeque. They are both at high altitudes and feature spectacular cloud formations in the early morning. There is one particular scene in the film, shot nearby, where Perseus and a group of warriors abandon Argos in search of the Stygian Witches. That shot captures magnificently this particular phenomenon in all its splendour.

As you leave the Izaña Observatory behind, with its array of modern telescopes that allow for a peek at the sun and the stars, the visitors’ centre, El Portillo, makes its appearance. Here you'll find all sorts of information on the National Park as well as a small museum on the geology, flora and fauna of the nature reserve. Thanks to the pristine skies and the peculiarities of the island's climate, this area is the favourite spot for lovers of astronomy to observe the stars. Companies such as Teideastro, Astroamigos and Pateatusmontes will help you to discover the Andromeda and Casiopeia or the Perseus and Pegasus constellations.

Following the TF-21 road towards Teide, you can admire the striking moon-like lands formed by the diverse lava outflows in the area. Observing this landscape, it is easy to feel like someone living during the era of the Gods. It is in this area, in the San Jose mines, past the Mostaza Mountain, that you have to take a walk where Perseus and the warriors fought off the giant scorpions.

Continuing along the road, you come across the cable car which drops passengers off 656ft from the peak. Permission is needed to climb all the way to the top, but for those who want to feel like the Gods in the Clash of the Titans and witness the sunrise from the summit, nothing comes close to spending the night at the Altavista shelter.

A little further along is a precious state-run hotel and Roques de García. A mere 15 to 20 minute trek behind this and across the Siete Cañadas footpath leads you to the Cañada de Capricho, the natural scenery where the warriors set up camp after the battle against the giant scorpions. After a light snack at the hotel's restaurant, you can take a walk around the Roques de García and appreciate the sensational images of Llano de Ucanca, which, together with the Cañada, have a special appeal for lovers of mountain climbing and hiking.

At the intersection between the TF-21 and the TF-38, admire the Pico Viejo lava outflows and an imposing view of the Teide in the background; a landscape befitting the ‘forbidden worlds’ where Perseus and the group of warriors battle against monstrous demons and beasts.

Further on is the pine forest of Chío, centre of the battle between the film’s protagonist and the monster Calibos, where you can enjoy the Parque Natural de la Corono Forestal. From there you can head towards the spectacular cliffs of the Giants, where in addition to admiring the views, you can swim in the mouth of the Masca ravine, as well as a boat or sight-seeing outing. Taking the TF-375 through Arguayo, the pottery centre Cha-Domitila, Santiago del Teide or the rural house in Masca is another option. And thirdly, you could think about heading towards Saint John’s beach where they shot various scenes with the sea in the horizon. This is fantastic for trying the local fish, and of course, going for a swim in the ocean.