The hike to Mil Ventanas de Güimar is without a doubt one of the most unique and amazing hikes I have done in Tenerife, or anywhere in the world really.
With its dark dark tunnels, narrow paths, steep vertigo-inducing drop-offs, incredible views, and unbelievable history it has everything a true adventurer may desire. It is, quite simply, a must-do for any avid hiker.
Las Ventanas de Güimar at a Glance
|8-16 km. I describe a 10 km variation
|Moderate, decent fitness is needed
|Somewhat, but only if you are being careless or reckless
|When to go
|On a dray sunny day, avoid slippery conditions
|Massive cliffs, old water tunnels
What is Mil Ventanas de Güimar
Mil Ventanas the Güimar is a name of a hiking route near the town of Güimar in Tenerife. The trail follows a network of tunnels carved in the face of a cliff surrounding a deep mountain valley.
What makes this hike so amazing are the numerous holes in the walls of the tunnels that offer spectacular views of the valley below.
These “windows” gave the beautiful hike its name – translated from Spanish “Mil Ventanas the Güimar” means “A Thousand Windows of Guimar”.
The tunnels were originally built as a water canal to carry the water from high in the mountains. The windows were created to provide natural illumination and help the workers dispose of the rubble created by excavation.
It was all manual labor, a massive undertaking that does say a lot about the hardships the people of Tenerife had to go through to procure fresh water back in the day.
What I find extremely fascinating is that despite all these efforts the tunnels were never used for their intended purpose and now stand as a monument to immensely hard work done in vain.
Who is Ventanas de Güimar for
As amazing as this walk is, Ventanas de Güimar is not for everybody.
I wouldn’t recommend it to people who suffer from claustrophobia or extreme fear of heights. Also, keep in mind that this is not an official trail and is not maintained. To put it simply, if you do this hike, you do it at your own risk.
I also want to make it very clear that a real danger of serious injury or death exists on this trail. There are sections where the path follows narrow cliff edges with a near-vertical drop to the side. Losing one’s balance here could be fatal.
Landslides and falling rocks are also a constant threat. While I personally never felt uneasy and do believe that for any reasonably fit person the risk is minimal, only you can make that call. If you decide to do it, wait for good weather, wear good shoes and be very careful.
Having said that, for confident hikers who love to explore places off the beaten path and enjoy unique and amazing scenery, Ventanas de Güimar is simply a must-do. It is truly spectacular and there’s probably nothing quite like it anywhere else in the world.
How to get there
To get to Ventanas de Güimar you would need a car. There are two ways to do the hike – from the south to the north or in reverse. The direction you choose doesn’t matter much, but most people start from the south and that is my recommendation as well.
The southern parking lot is closer to the caves. Hiking from here also allows you to skip the longest (almost a kilometer long) tunnel at the end. When starting from the north though, that tunnel will be the first one you encounter.
Driving to the southern parking lot can be a little tricky. The road is paved, but very narrow and steep. Don’t rush, slow and steady wins the race here. The goal is to reach the point where the road turns into the dirt road – you’ll know you’re there when you see a cellular tower to your right.
If you’re going with a larger group and have multiple cars, you might consider leaving one vehicle at the northern entrance, then driving back to the southern one and starting the ascend there. This way there will be a car waiting for you at the end of the trail.
Personally, I think it’s a bit of an overkill, but the option is there should you want it. From what I can tell, it’s easier to simply hike from the south and turn back before the last passage. You’ll spend less time and won’t miss any of the good sights.
Start of the hike
The early section of the hike as you leave the parking lot is actually the hardest one. It’s a brutal 15-minute ascent to the top of the hill that will instantly get you sweating and puffing.
Luckily, the path evens out after that and is mostly level for the rest of the journey. Soon after reaching the top, you’ll come across a fork in the road. The path to the right will lead you to Ventanas de Güimar.
The next section is all about following the collapsed waterway to the first tunnel. The difficult thing about this part of the trail is excessive vegetation that sometimes makes it hard to move forward.
The canal itself is also in pretty bad shape. Many of the stone blocks are severely damaged and some have collapsed entirely.
There is always a way around though, so take your time to find it. And don’t forget to enjoy the sweeping views of the coast down below. Just don’t fall off the cliff!
As stunning as the views below are, the next sight is even more impressive. An excavator lying upside down on the path! How insane is that?
I can’t even begin to imagine how it got there but it makes for a very cool photo. It also perfectly marks the entrance to the first tunnel located right behind it.
Into the Tunnels!
The first two tunnels have no windows and are completely dark, so have the flashlight ready. That’s where you’ll feel the most claustrophobic on the entire trail.
The main thing to watch out for is the low ceilings. Unless you’re 5 feet tall, you’ll be bending over a lot and are almost guaranteed to hit the walls at some point. And trust me, hitting the head here is really going to hurt.
I highly recommend bringing a helmet if you have one (no kidding!) or at least some sort of a hat to protect the head.
You won’t see any windows until the end of the second tunnel, but from there on they will become increasingly frequent.
As more light begins to enter the passages through the holes, the walk starts to feel more enjoyable, less claustrophobic, and significantly easier to navigate. Time to grab that camera and start snapping images!
A thousand windows of Guimar
Continue navigating the tunnels one by one. The most impressive part of the trail is at the end of the seventh tunnel.
Here, you emerge to a stunning view of the deep valley surrounded from three sides by the massive stonewalls pierced by the tunnel windows. A truly stunning sight, and the Windows of Guimar at their very best!
It is hard to describe with words (and next to impossible to convey with photos) how immense this place is. It is absolutely massive and huge.
I tried to have my brother stand in one of the windows on the opposite side to try and show the scale of it, but that didn’t help much. You just have to witness it yourself to fully understand it.
The images completely fail to show how small and insignificant you feel standing there and looking at the valley floor far below.
When you’re there, try throwing a rock into the abyss and counting the seconds till you hear it hit the ground. It’s going to take a while!
Take a moment here to simply enjoy the beauty of the place before continuing. If you’re doing a round trip, this is actually a perfect spot to call it a day and head back.
At this point, you’ve pretty much done the hike. There are still another two tunnels ahead but they are nowhere near as impressive and can easily be skipped. You have seen the best Ventanas de Güimar has to offer.
What to bring to Ventanas de Güimar
Ventanas de Güimar is a fairly short (we did it in under three hours) and simple hike. You really don’t need much for it and most of the things are more or less optional anyway. For convenience, though, here is a list of items you might find useful.
- good hiking shoes
- a flashlight (one in the phone would work too)
- a hat (or, ideally, a helmet)
- drinking water
- a snack or a beer
- a camera with a wide lens
- a tripod
Essential Photography tips
Ventanas de Güimar is without a doubt a cool place to capture some images and a good thing about it is that it doesn’t require lots of gear. A camera with a wide zoom lens is pretty much all you need.
Having a tripod definitely helps but is by no means essential. There is generally enough light coming through the windows to get away with a hand-held image at a lower aperture and with a slightly increased ISO.
Even though I had a tripod with me, most of the images in this article were shot hand-held. The tripod was simply too cumbersome to set up each and every time and the photos still look decent.
Gear aside, I think the best shots are in the tunnels rather than when shooting from the windows. The outside valley is immense and impressive, but it is hard to properly convey that in photos.
On the other hand, in the tunnels you can play around with light and shadow, leading lines and composition, and introduce people in the photos.
For me though, Ventanas de Güimar is all about the experience and not the photos. It is one of those places where I think you can totally leave the camera at home and just allow yourself to be immersed in the beauty of the place. A smartphone camera will be enough.
I really enjoyed hiking Mil Ventanas de Güimar in Tenerife and if you’re anything like me and love to explore new and mysterious places, I think you would too. It is absolutely mind-blowing.
Definitely consider doing it if you would like to discover more of Tenerife than just the beaches and see something that most tourists will never witness. I’m sure you will love it. Just remember to stay safe and have fun!
If you liked this article, share it with your friends and on social media. Also, be sure to check out some of my other content about Tenerife and beyond:
- Top 7 locations for landscape photography on Tenerife
- Three locations for wave photography on Tenerife
- Mallorca Best Photo Spots and How to Plan A Trip
- Hike to Lake Seealpsee in Allgäu
- A Stunning Sunrise at Laguna Torre – El Chaltén Best Hikes
And as always, feel free to leave the comments or questions down below. I’ll make sure to get back to you. Happy shooting!