Botanical exploration in the Barranco Añavingo during May
The Barranco Añavingo is at the top of the Güimar valley directly above the town of Arafo. It is not easy to get to, but once there the path is easy to follow up and back down the barranco, though it is rough and the brambles are rampant! The accessible part ends abruptly with a cliff which would be a waterfall when raining. So its a there and back walk, but worth the effort of reaching it. It is carved out of a steep slope forming the head of the valley, where there is often cloud lingering, and because of its unique environment it houses some interesting plants.
Due to the being on the edge of the cloud forest zone, there are a lot of trees of that zone, and there are also some endemics of the local area, including the delightful pink Scabious, (Pterocephalus dumetorum), which is common in the Güimar area. The flower is similar to the scabious in the National Park, which is the same genus, but the leaves are a soft green instead of grey.
The trees present include Maytenus canariensis, which was sporting ample fruits when we visited, Canary holly (Ilex canariensis), Palo Blanco (Picconia excelsa), Madrono (Arbutus canariensis) and Canary Laurel (Laurus novocanariensis). Unfortunately, because of the rampant bramble bushes, it is difficult to leave the path to get a closer look at all these plants.
The plant we had made a special effort to see, the knapweed relative, Cheirolophus metlecsicsii, was well into the barranco. It is very rare, and we only saw it in one place. A very small group on a rocky ledge surrounded by the rampant brambles. The only blessing being that they perhaps help to protect the rare plants from unscrupulous people, who might steal or destroy them.
Half-way up the barranco the path improves and then leads up some steps to a ledge below an overhang. This is apparently the site where a statue of a saint, I think it was Saint Anthony, stands. It is the subject of a local pilgrimage up the barranco. However, at the time we visited it had been removed for repair.
We continued up the barranco until the ‘waterfall’, a shady cliff covered with Tostonera (Adiantum reniforme), a fern with kidney-shaped leaves which loves damp shady banks and cliffs.
The walk we did reached the barranco by the shortest (and only) route that I know, though I am not sure if it is the easiest. It took us 3.5 hours and was approximately 6 km there and back, although the GPS may well have been inaccurate given the steep sides of the barranco.
The time taken was lengthened by the need to trim back brambles, as well as by my dallying while looking at plants!
Barranco del Infierno in May
Last year I visited the Barranco del Inferno in July, (see my blog from last year) and was surprised to see a few plants in flower despite the fact that it was dry after a dry winter. This year I visited in May, and if anything parts of the Barranco looked even drier than July last year, and there were fewer flowers even though it was earlier in the year.
The Sea Rosemary and the Hyssop-leaved Justicia were both in flower in May, as in July. They seem to flower much of the year. However, the Maple-leaved Mallow flowers were all over, though we had seen one still in flower last July.
One thing I enjoyed from going earlier in the year, was that we heard the frogs croaking in full voice. Running water, and ponds, are rare in Tenerife, and especially in south Tenerife, so we don’t often hear the frogs.
To walk from the entrance to the waterfall and back takes approximately 3 hours. The path is clear and well-maintained, but can be rough in places, so good footwear is still required. You are required to wear a hard hat (provided at the entrance) the whole of the visit. In the winter, especially, it is advisable to book in advance, and there is an entrance charge. For information about the Barranco and how to book, visit the website:
Chanajiga in May with lots of flowers and butterflies
My blog of 31st July, 2015, describes a walk from Chanajiga Recreation area high above Los Realejos in the Orotava valley. I love going there in the summer on a clear day to get the views and enjoy a shady walk. This year I went at the end of May when the flowers and insects were amazing. I was with my husband who is not a walker, but loves nature, so we just did a there and back walk on the lower track.
On arriving at the barbecue area there is a wide part of the track where we parked, and then continued on the same track for as long as we felt like, returning the same way. It was a delightful walk. The photos below are some of the delights we saw.
Punta de Teno botanical walk in May
The area around the Punta de Teno, also known as Teno Bajo, is a very special place botanically. It is also a bit difficult to get to as there are high cliffs on the north coast which blocked access to the low-lying land beyond, until tunnels were cut through the cliff. In July 2016 8 metres of the road in front of the cliffs collapsed suddenly into the sea, leaving 174 people, and their vehicles, trapped in Teno Bajo. The people were evacuated by helicopter, I’m not sure what happened to their cars! In January 2017 the repaired road was re-opened but with new rules. So now at weekends and holidays it is compulsory to take a bus to and from Teno Bajo. The buses run hourly from Buenavista del Norte and it costs just 1 Euro each way.
The advantage of a bus ride is that I can look out of the windows to see the plants on and at the base of the cliffs as we are driven past, and among those in flower in May when we went there was a rare knapweed relative endemic to Tenerife called in spanish Cabezón de El Fraile (the name of the cliff). Its latin name is Cheirolophus buchardii. The bus passed lots of them on the cliffs, but unfortunately I was unable to get a picture. On the cliffs also are dense clumps of the leafless spurge (Euphorbia aphylla), but again I’m sorry no picture.
We stayed on the bus right down to the beach near the lighthouse at the end of the road. We could have got off at an earlier bus stop if we had pressed the bell, but otherwise the bus does not stop. So we set off walking back towards the tunnel, wandering on the open scrubby coastal plain. There were plenty of flowers to be seen, some fairly common coastal species, such as the Cornical (Periploca laevigata), and Canary spurge (Euphorbia canariensis), and others less common such Dama (Parolinia intermedia) which is a Tenerife endemic which grows in abundance in relatively few areas.
There was a lot of Sea Lettuce (Astydamia latifolia) in a wide area, but the flowers of most were over, I just found one in flower under a Duraznillo (Cebollosia fruticosa).
Of the everlasting flowers (Limonium spp.), the pectinatum was absolutely in the right place, but the imbricatum was right next to the road, nearing the area of most human alteration, where the tomato growing area is. I rather think the imbricatum may have been planted.
As we passed the tomato plantation area, the coastal plain gradually disappears and the cliffs get closer to the coast. The slopes are covered with different plants from the plain, and hanging from the cliffs is the rare Tenerife endemic Tenerife Samphire (Vieraea laevigata) with its yellow daisy flowers.
We found we were at a bus stop, and decided we would return to Buenavista, so we hailed the bus. It had only been a brief visit and only a short stroll but had been a delight and I must make another visit next year in April or May to get a closer look, and better photos, of other exciting plants.
Masca Barranco in May
The Masca Barranco (Ravine/Gorge) is a very dramatic landscape with ever-changing views as you walk either up or down. It is also a very special place for plants, many of them rare. In addition it is a popular tourist destination and consequently is sometimes very overcrowded, which detracts from its landscape and ecological attractions. In May when we visited, it was still busy, but not at its busiest.
We decided to take the earliest boat from Los Gigantes and walk up the barranco from the beach. It was pleasantly quiet in the barranco until about half-way, when we started to meet large groups coming down.
We saw many unusual plants and flowers on the way up, the first exciting one was the Dorycnium eriophthalmum, a rare Canary endemic which is not found in many places. I have seen this in flower earlier in the spring so was not expecting flowers in May but was delighted to see just a fewAround this area we also saw Tenerife Samphire (Vieraea laevigata) hanging on many of the damp cliffs.
In the lower part of the barranco we saw the following in flower, though I did not get good pictures to share: Tenerife Lavender (Lavandula buchii), a grey-leaved species common in Teno, Polycarpaea carnosa on the cliff sides, Polycarpaea filifolia in secluded parts of the base of the barranco, Maple-leaved mallow (Lavatera acerifolia), and Palomera (Pericallis lanata) with its lovely purple daisy flowers. We also saw a couple of shrubs of Maytenus canariensis, but not in flower, as well as many other plants.
Around the middle of the climb up the barranco we met another exciting species in flower, Canary Knapweed (Cheirolophus canariensis). I had never seen this species in flower before so it was a real treat, especially as it appears the only wild population of this species is in Masca barranco. It was good to see that there were specimens over a wide area in this section, including up the cliffs either side.
As the barranco widened the views extended, and included a vista of Canary palms growing naturally on a slope up towards the village. They are the dominant tree in the thermophile (warm-loving) woodland in this area. In this open upper area most of the plants had finished flowering by May, especially in this dry year.
Finally there is a steep slope to climb to reach the village. On a warm day in May, in the full sun, it is a fairly draining experience, and a refreshing drink in one of the bars is very welcome, before we found our taxi we had ordered for our return to Los Gigantes.
The walk took us around 3.5 hours, walking up.
Montana Blanca hike in May
I have not written a blog for a while due to upheavals at home during refurbishment of our flat. It resulted in my access to my computer and Wifi internet being impossible of extremely restricted, and since returning home there’s been lots to do! So now I have a bit of spare time I am going to upload some lovely nature experiences I had during May and June.
On 24th May, 2017, two friends and I were planning a walk from El Portillo in the Teide National Park, to La Forteleza to see the red tajinastes and a rare Tenerife endemic cistus in flower. Unfortunately we did not realise that on that day all paths, except one, in the National Park were closed due to hunting for mouflon – an ancient sheep ancestor introduced to the island for hunting. These animals now pose a serious threat to the rare and endangered endemic plants which grow in the National Park and the surrounding mountain areas. These plants evolved in an environment which did not have large herbivores, and therefore have little defence to them. The hunting now being done is to reduce the numbers and maybe eradicate them.
So when we arrived at the visitor centre at El Portillo we discovered we would not be able to do the walk we planned. Instead we had a look at the visitor centre’s botanic garden which contains many of the rare local species in it. Here we saw the Red Tajinaste (Echium wildpretii) and the rare cistus (Cistus osbeckifolius) in flower, as well as others. I have never seen the Teide helianthemum (Helianthemum juliae) before, and it was making a great show, with all its lovely yellow flowers facing the sun. I think the flowers are short-lived as only 5 days later I visited the botanic garden again and all but a few of the helianthemum flowers were over.
Then we resigned ourselves to walking on the only path still open to the public on that day, Montaña Blanca. This path serves the most frequently used (and shortest) route to the top of Mt Teide. There is limited parking at the start of the path, on the road between the base of the cable car and El Portillo, but we were lucky to get one as someone just pulled out in front of us. They had probably come down from the Teide summit where many from the Refugio go up to see the dawn.
I had previously only walked the path to Montaña Blanca when going up or down Mt Teide in the winter, and had thought the landscape rather boring and exposed, so I was not looking forward to the walk. However, the day was pleasantly sunny with a gentle breeze, and not too hot for walking so we started upwards. The landscape is mainly of pumice spewed out by the Montaña Blanca. But there are some local plants that like the pumice environment. It seems that the National Park has not only been controlling the mouflon to benefit these plants but also has been developping a programme over a number of years, of propagating several species and repopulating the area with them. As a consequence we had an interesting walk with many of these plants in flower.
The pumice track continued uphill winding around towards Teide. One fork to the right confused us for a short while, till we realised we should have gone left, otherwise it was easy walking till we got to a path junction at the foot of the steep slope of Teide. Here the path to the summit begins a zig-zag section. There is a path to the left to the top of Mtna Blanca which is where we went, and had a gorgeous panaramic view of the caldera while we ate our lunch.
After lunch we retraced our steps back to the road, enjoying the views again from the opposite perspective.
The there and back walk involved approximately 400m of climbing on a very gentle slope with good paths. It was approximately 10.6 km / 6.6 miles long and took us about 3 – 3.5 hours.
Circular walk from Villa de Arico through El Rio
This is a walk using the Camino Real, (Royal Road) the main road commissioned by the Spanish crown following conquest, and now a signposted footpath, on the first half. On reaching El Rio the route takes us up a steep hill till we reach another signposted footpath leading back to Villa de Arico. On both footpaths the views are panoramic, and the scenery varied with some very scenic barrancos to cross.
The photos were taken on February 4th, 2017, and it is a good route to walk in the winter as the vegetation is greener, and often the views clearer. The route has little shade, so it’s not so good in the summer.
We started the walk from near the roundabout on the TF-28, where the road up from the south motorway TF-1, joins it. Continuing along the TF-28 through the town, past various bars, shops and a bank, we continued walking on the road until we saw a fingerpost sign for the footpath on the left-hand side. The initial descent onto the path is quite steep, but we then reached a lovely cobbled bit of path, setting off to cross the barranco streambed and up the other side to join a minor road for a short distance.
The minor road, and the yellow/white waymarks took us up to the TF-28 where we walked in front of a couple of houses, then, by a yellow/white marked post up onto a gravel path at the edge of the road for a few yards to a gate, inside of which the path descended sharply again to cross a barranco and up again. A short stretch along the back of some houses brought us to a minor road heading down to the left which we followed and took the right fork shortly afterwards. This led us straight onto a long stretch of Camino Real in the countryside away from houses and the main road. In places it was in very good repair, including good cobbled parts, other places it was rougher, and in the barrancos there were cobbled paths with chunks missing through erosion, but all easily passed with care.
As we approached a farm, which used to have a goat herd which grazed the land we had just walked across, we reached a tarmac minor road which we followed into the centre of El Rio. On reaching a crossroads we turned right, passing a small shop on our right, crossed the main road by the church and continued uphill past it on a tarmac road. After a sharp bend a path up to the right with metal railings took us onto a shortcut of cobbled road past the village’s ‘Lavaderos’ – public washing places – and joined the tarmac again higher up. We continued walking until we reached a footpath going right with a fingerpost pointing the way back to Villa de Arico.
The path was clear but not well signed, just a few cairns occasionally to help you, with a few deviations for crossing barrancos but trending generally straight across the landscape. The difficult part is when you reach a minor tarmac road crossing the path, you go right a few yards and then left at a signpost, still on tarmac through another barranco, then between some houses out onto another minor road and then straight on at a junction with a dead end sign, and continue on when it becomes a dirt track.
When you come to a place where there are some ugly recent earthworks, you will find the path to the right, squeezed against a tall fence. Take care down the slope into this last barranco as some of the loose rocks and earth have fallen on the path. At the streambed go right to reach the path up again which will take you to the top edge of Villa de Arico, where you walk straight down to the church and beyond to get back to the start.
The walk was 11.8km/ 7.75 miles approx, and takes approx 3.5-4hrs. There is approx 500m of accumulated climbing, but mostly in small ups and downs.
The Barranco del Infierno, Adeje, in summer
I have not visited the Barranco del Infierno for several years because much of that time it has been closed to the public, but it is now open again. The paths have been considerably improved, although they are still rough in places and do need good suitable shoes or boots. Numbers are now limited to 300 people per day and this makes it much more comfortable to walk. This means you need to book your visit in advance, which is easy on the website. I was able to book in July the day before, but I suspect at busy times of year it will be necessary to book much further in advance. The website is: http://www.barrancodelinfierno.es/en/
July is not the best time of year to visit the Barranco because much of the vegetation is shutting down for the summer, losing leaves, and so on. In fact I was not expecting to see many flowers at all, or to see much water in the waterfall and stream, but in both cases I was pleasantly surprised. So it was still an enjoyable and interesting experience. We did make a fairly early start, though, at 9.30 and finished our visit when Adeje’s church clock was striking 12.00. It was already getting quite hot in the sun in the barranco, so we were pleased to finish early.
The Barranco is an amazing landscape. It starts at the top of Calle Molinos, a very steep street right at the top edge of the old town of Adeje. There is an entrance office where you buy or show your tickets, and an area where a briefing is given about the rules of entry, and where helmets are provided for visitors to wear. After that you make your way into the Barranco along the well-defined path, which you are not allowed to leave. The path is both the way in and the return route, so as the day goes on returning visitors meet incoming visitors, and in places the path is so narrow, that one or other has to give way. The fact that entering visitors are in time batches, and the total numbers are limited, means this is not such a problem as it would be with uncontrolled numbers.
At the start of the path the barranco is wide and there is view across it to the flat-topped Roque del Conde. As you walk further into the barranco it narrows, until it becomes a very narrow gorge, and finally ends with a 200m sheer cliff down which the water falls, down into a small pool which then flows out into a stream with various rock worn pools on the way. In the first, open, part of the barranco has an ecosystem dominated by Euphorbias, like most of the coastal areas. The middle part contains a thermophile ecosystem with a greater variety of plants, many of them requiring a moister atmosphere than the first part. In this part are examples of typical plants such as the Almaciga (Pistacia atlantica) ,Tree Bindweed – Guaydil (Convolvulus floridus), Maple-leaved Lavatera (Lavatera acerifolia) and Ceballosia (Ceballosia fruticosa). All of these, except a few Lavatera, had already flowered and so I was unable to get pictures. The other abundant plants that were in flower in this area were the Balo (Plocama pendula) and the Mataprieta (Justicia hyssopifolia) both of which are Canary endemics.
The remaining part, the gorge, contains little on the ground between the sheer walls apart from the stream, the path, various Canary Willow trees (Salix canariensis) and Sweet Chestnut trees (Castanea sativa), and brambles. The only really interesting plants were water plants and the local endemic plant, Lechugilla del Teno (where it also grows) (Tolpis crassiscula), which is listed in the Red Book as vulnerable. I was pleased to see a large number of these growing and flowering beside the path and up the cliffs.
An easy walk on the dorsal ridge to enjoy the views and the flowers
This walk would not be enjoyable if you chose the wrong day, but on a warm sunny day with clear views, and only light wind, it is a real pleasure and very easy. So check the weather forecast before you go. I did it as a linear walk from the Roque de Mal Abrigo to the Mirador Chipique. However, I am not going to write about that as the middle bit was certainly not easy. I am just going to write about the first 2.5 km, and suggest doing it as a there and back walk.
The Roque de Mal Abrigo (which literally means Bad Overcoat Rock) is at about km 34.8 on the TF-24 road which runs from La Esperanza to El Portillo. It is in the Teide National Park, which encompasses this strip of ridge as well as its main area in the caldera. You will find there are several places you can park off the road near to the start of the path.
The path goes towards the east, passing between bushes of Retama del Teide (Spartocytisus supranubius), Shrubby Scabious (Pterocephalus lasiospermus) and Tenerife Flixweed (Descourainia bourgaeana). There is a fork in the path early on, with signposts, take the right fork which continues roughly level, not downhill. There are fine views to Teide, and down the Orotava valley, and even the island of La Palma, clouds permitting.
The path climbs gently over a red-coloured gravelly rise, Montaña Yegua Blanca, and then descends the other side to meet the road. You will have walked 1.29 km and climbed gently about 60m. If you want you can retrace your steps from here, or arrange a car to pick you up. Otherwise you can go across the road and continue for a further 1.2 km with a short climb of about 30m before returning. This will get you to the top of Montaña la Negrita to enjoy the fine views down the ridge, and down to the coast of the Güimar valley and across to the island of Gran Canaria if it is not blocked by cloud or haze.
The path does continue on down from the top of Montaña la Negrita and is well defined and easily negotiated by adventurous and well-equipped walkers. It is, however, a steep descent requiring excellent footwear, surefootedness and, preferably, two sticks to negotiate safely. There is then a rise to Montaña Colorado followed by an equally steep, though longer, descent to the road at La Crucita (around km 30). I am therefore not recommending it as an easy walk!
The recommended walk to the top of Montaña la Negrita and back is just over 5 km / 3.25 miles, with around 100 m / 325 ft of ascent and descent. It took my friends and I 1 hr and 40 minutes to do it.
Camino real route from Guia de Isora to Arguayo and return via Chiguergue
I have lived in Guia de Isora area for 11 years, and walked a great many different footpaths in the area, but have long wanted to walk a part of the south Camino Real (Royal Road) from Guia to Chio. However, I did not know where the Camino Real went after Chio and was delighted to see the route from Guia de Isora as far as Santiago del Teide posted in Wikiloc.com by user ‘tinijoma’. So I planned a walk which followed the Camino Real as far as Arguayo and returned by other footpaths, already known to us, slightly higher up.
The Camino Real is part of a network of ‘royal roads’ which were directed by the king to be built by the landowners who had been given large areas of land as rewards for participating in the conquest of the island. They were the motorways of the day, linking all the main settlements with wide cobbled paths, enabling communication and trade.
I walked this route on May 25th with two friends but had not got around to doing a blog about it till now, but wanted to share it as it was an interesting walk both culturally and botanically.
A lot of the botanical interest was that it was the flowering time of the Tenerife endemic Giant Houseleeks – Bejeques in spanish – (Aeonium urbicum ssp meridionale). These plants are short-lived perennials which produce a rosette of succulent leaves on a thick stalk, and may survive several years before producing a large head of flowers and then dying. They grow on the recent lava flows, and other rocky areas, where few other plants are able to survive. Some years there are relatively few in flower, but this year there are huge numbers. Jeff Ollerton, an environmental scientist who does research in Tenerife believes the years when there are a lot in flower occur after a dry winter, and is doing a study to test this hypothesis.
We started our walk from the end of the Avenida de la Constitucion, which is a dead end road on which the Health Centre (Centro de Salud) and a couple of schools are found. My friends call it the ‘road to nowhere’! So it is easy to park towards the far end! We started by heading downhill on a track which appeared at first to be a private drive, not far from the end of the road. However, the track continues beyond the house it passes on a bend and continues down to the TF-82 main road between Guia de Isora and Chio.
On reaching the road I realised that instead of crossing it onto another track below the road we had to turn right and walk along the road for some 100m before turning off left onto the Camino Real, which was a single lane tarmac road at first, changing later to dirt track, and later still, a footpath. If you are not happy walking along a fairly busy road (though not so busy as it was before the opening of the new road TF-1) for this distance you could start the walk up in Chiguergue and avoid it, though this would shorten the walk also.
The Camino Real follows a route below the old TF-82 road and above the new part of the TF-1 road between Guia de Isora and Chio, with some good views down to the new road. Then it climbs steeply up to the village of Chio with huge cobble stones, but not always in place, so this stretch was a bit rough underfoot. Then we walked through the village passing the church on our left and continuing roughly straight on till we left the other side of the village. Then the route grew closer to the new road, ending up at the top of the embankment of the slip road off the road to the Chio junction, finally crossing the TF-82 at a diagonal as it goes down to cross the TF-1.
Then the ascent towards Arguayo began, climbing over malpais, joining the TF-375 road to Arguayo (now quite quiet, with the new road and tunnel), crossing it, and crossing back onto a track past some houses, and joining tarmac as we reached and crossed the TF-375 road again to leave the Camino Real and start our return.
We did not go into the village of Arguayo, where you can find shops and bars if you want some food or drink, and could go to visit the pottery museum where you can watch demonstrations of traditional local pottery making. Instead we turned right and walked down in front of the cemetry and took the next track on the left. We followed this track, and the path that continued where the track stopped, through to Chio, taking care on the downhill slope into the village.
Arriving at the TF-82 where it goes through the top of Chio, we turned left and walked along the main road for some hundreds of yards till nearly at the end of the village, just before the pharmacy, we turned left up an initially steep narrow road past Chio’s cemetery. We continued along the narrow road, tarmac at first, then track, then cobbled footpath, until we reached more tarmac just before the village of Chiguergue.
We reached the junction with another small tarmac road, went right and continued on the same road through the top of the village and out the other side. Note that if you want refreshments in Chiguergue you need to go to the bottom of the village. The narrow tarmac road continues towards Aripe through countryside with odd farmhouses. Immediately under a high wall of one of these houses we took a path which wound its way past a vineyard and other fields down to the road where we parked. This path is not well marked and difficult to describe so you need the GPS track to find it easily.
The GPS track of our walk can be found at the link below:
The route is 14.59km / 9.1 ml long with 510m /1675ft of ascent and descent and took 3 of us 4.5 hours to complete.