Thursday 22 January 2015

Sometimes you just don't need to hire a car on holiday

Earlier this month I was on holiday at an all inclusive hotel at Los Abrigos on the south coast of Tenerife. With hotels transfers from the airport included and visits to a local golf course a few minutes walk why hire a car.

We wanted to visit Mount Teide which is the  third highest volcano on a volcanic ocean island in the world.

Researching visits on line, visitor's comments were not too complimentary about taking a big bus tour. One person that they had returned a few days later after hiring a car.

I was not too keen on hiring a car for the day. First of all there were hire cars parked in the local village from one the car hire companies that have a very bad reputation in Spain and Portugal. "Your excess insurance is not acceptable and you pay for a full tank of fuel and bring it back empty +". We could have arranged car hire via the hotel reception, but who is to say you might not end up with one of these "bad reputation" companies. There were four of us going and possibly I could have been the driver.

From what we did see of the roads and drivers in Tenerife during the stay would not have been a problem. They wear their seatbelts and say that the local police are very hot on this subject, drivers stop at pedestrian crossings and the road surfaces are a lot better than back in the Home Counties in England. They might have volcanos, but certainly don't have pot holes!

Consulting the hotel's reception they told me about Jeep Safaris lasting all day or half a day and with vehicles and guides accommodating nine passengers. Sounded ideal, sure car hire would have been cheaper, but then you would have needed to arrange independent car hire excess waiver insurance (much cheaper usually than through the car hire company) and of course could have easily had a situation of returning a car nearly full of fuel.

This other way meant the driver would not know where to go, so you can enjoy the trip fully.

A Land Rover Defender arrived just after 8.15 in the morning and seven of us got in and set off with a resident Englishman driving. We had all brought warm winter clothing too as we were leaving the mild climate of 22 degrees for something a LOT colder.

We thought that was that up to the Teide National Park and begin the tour. We suddenly pulled into a shopping centre car park behind Playa de las Américas. Here we were asked to leave the vehicle as the driver had more collections to make. Land Rover Defenders came from the Tamarán Jeep Safari organisation that also included a couple of Japanese 4X4 but no Jeeps.

We were divided up into those taking the full day trip, half day trips and language for driver / guide. A while later we were setting off again with a Scottish guide in another Land Rover Defender (all seven us who were from the same hotel in fact.) We were told we must take turns in the front, centre seats and back as this was a trip for all and everyone paid the same price.

On the way to the park we made a couple of stops to learn more about the area and to buy coffee if that was what you needed. We were never alone as there was always a convoy of Land Rover Defenders.

The entire trip was very worthwhile, you gained knowledge about the volcanic history, saw a fair amount of the countryside and passed through several typical Tenerife villages and towns. All in al very good value at €43 a head.

What about car hire then for such a trip. You can visit the top of the volcano via the Teide Cable Car, however the cost is €26 per person and according to our guide you need to be there very early in the morning to avoid long queues. Around 9.30 is the latest, so if you are really interested in this visit hiring a car must be a must.

You also need good visibility. The early January Saturday morning we were there the sun was out it looked perfect. Apparently you can get a lot of clouds blocking the views up there.

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