A dramatic walk in Anaga

The view down the valley to Igueste shortly after commencing the climb on the footpath

On Friday of last week I walked with two others a dramatic route in Anaga. It was a walk we had seen on Wikiloc contributed by user Davidz1000 but thought it unsuitable for summer walking due to its length and the long climb without shade. So now the weather has cooled, we thought it would be a good time to try, as the weather forecast said there was 0% chance of rain. Anaga can have a lot of cloud and rain even when the rest of Tenerife is sunny and dry, and if the cloud had been low we would not have been able to enjoy the exceptional views.

We decided to take the bus from Santa Cruz to Igueste de San Andres to start the walk.  That was a dramatic ride to start with.  The road goes through San Andres and then up a dry cliff and in and out of headlands and inlets, overlooking a couple of isolated small beaches.  Hanging out of the cliff in places was sea rosemary in flower (Campylanthus salsoloides), though I was unable to get a photo from the bus and did not see any after getting off the bus.

Broussonet's sage (Salvia broussonetii) across a small barranco on the edge of Igueste

From Igueste we set off up the barranco, and right from the start we had yellow and white paint markers to guide us.  The first 2 km was up a tarmac country road, but, while I am not a fan of walking on tarmac, it was a quiet road with farms growing exotic fruits either side, so it was quite pleasant.  I was also thrilled to see my first flower of Broussonet’s sage (Salvia broussonetii) even though it was past its best, and across a small barranco so I could not get close-up.

 

At the end of the 2km the yellow/white markers guided us up a steep concrete track to the footpath that left the track on a bend.  A rusty old sign pointed the way to Casillas.   From here on, until the summit road, we walked on a good well-defined, easy to follow, footpath with signs where needed.  The vegetation as we went up was of the thermophile (warm-loving) zone mixed with the xerophytic (dry plant) type.  There were lots of verodes (Kleinia nerifolia), and canary spurge (Euphorbia canariensis), bitter spurge (Euphorbia lamarckii),  cornical (Periploca laevigata).  The thermophile element was represented by, among other things, wild jasmine (Jasminum odoratissimum), wild olive (Olea europaea), almacigo (Pistachia atlantica), mosquera (Globularia salicina) and a lonely drago tree (Dracaena draco).

A view of the hamlet of Casillas on the ridge

The path reached a ridge and turned to the right.  A path went left to pass near the Drago tree, but our, marked, path went on up.  At one point it passed close to a rocky, fern-covered wall which shaded a small valley full of shrubs (and a few brambles!), a haven for birds by the sound of it.  Finally we reached the top of the ridge with a dyke running through it.  We could see the view on the other side, with a valley very different from the one we had come up.  On the far side the valley looked dry and barren, but on the slope below us, which clearly caught the prevailing winds, there were green shrubs of canary holly (Ilex canariensis) and tree heaths (Erica arborea).  And the top of the valley, which we were later to walk through, was deep green laurel forest.

Canary smilax (Smilax canariensis) beside the road near La Ensillada.

Shortly after arriving on the ridge, we reached the tiny hamlet of Casillas.  Perched precariously on the ridge are about eight tiny cottages and a couple of cave houses.  Most are in ruins but three have been recently repaired and appear to be still used, probably as weekend retreats, with television aerials!  The path from here on is shaded by shrubs and trees, and it is clear that water seeps out over a rock a bit further on, near to yet another house which is inhabited, with a cultivated field next to it.  Not much further on the path passes close to a rushing stream falling over a waterfall, and continues into thick laurel forest until coming out on the road to Chamorga.

Tree pellitory (Gesnouinia arborea)

Turning left along the road, we began to make our way along the main ridge of the Anaga peninsula by alternating using the road and the old paths.  The paths were largely of packed clay under laurel woods, and were very slippery.  Fortunately we seemed mainly to be climbing on the paths, or going level, as going down could well have resulted in some muddy bottoms!   The most noticeable plant along the paths was the fern with huge leaves (Woodwardia radicans).

On the road sections there were more flowering plants, including Canary smilax (Smilax canariensis), Canary foxglove (Isoplexus canariensis), Canary geranium (Geranium reuteri) and Tree pellitory (Gesnouinia arborea), all of them Canary endemics linked to the laurel forests.

Eventually we reached the start of our path down to San Andres.  There was an old signpost at the start, but that was all.  The path was good, though steep, while under the laurel forest cover, but as we got into the open after the forest the path became more overgrown.

The view down to San Andres from the edge of the laurel forest

On the edge of the forest I had the pleasure of seeing the rare endemic plant Canary nightshade (Solanum vespertilio).  It was only the second time I had seen it.  This time it was not in flower, but I did notice something I had not noticed before, that it has some pretty viscous-looking prickles on the stem.  Near it there was also a shrub of white bugloss (Echium leucophaeum) in flower, there were lots of other plants of it around, but not in flower.

 

In places it was really difficult to get past patches of brambles, and in some places the path was very narrow due to land slippage on the steep slope.  In other places it was difficult to tell if we were still on the path.  So this section of the walk was slow due to the conditions underfoot.

White bugloss (Echium leucophaeum), an endemic plant of the Anaga region

As we neared signs of civilization the path became better, in one part well used by a herd of goats.  Other sections were tracks of concrete, or earth, with more sections of footpath, till we skirted a sports centre on the edge of the village of San Andres and came onto a road which took us to the coast road in front of the village.

 

The walk was 18.9 km long with about 900m of ascent (and descent) and took us six hours 45 minutes to complete, but it was well worth it.

You will find a GPS track, map and more photos (by the user Davidz1000) at the following link:

 

http://www.wikiloc.com/wikiloc/view.do?id=251224

 

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About Sally Whymark

When I retired and moved out to Tenerife a few years ago, one of the things I really wanted to do was go walking in the mountains. The scenery is very dramatic, and varied. The views are amazing. The native birds and butterflies and other fauna are remarkable. But the flowers - they're just stunning. Little did I know how this would fire up my interest in plants. While living in England, I had always had an interest in flowers and plants, indeed I ran a plant nursery with my husband for many years, but had not spent a great deal of time pursuing botany. But when walking in Tenerife, I noticed all the unfamiliar shapes of the local flowers, and longed to find out more about them. There are literally hundreds of species endemic to just Tenerife (or even just one part of it), the Canary Islands, or Macronesia (the Atlantic Islands, including Madeira, Canaries and Azores). They are so exciting, and so many of them are really showy as well. So I have started this blog to share with you my excitement at all the great sights I see when walking in Tenerife. I hope you'll enjoy it - and want to come here and experience it for yourself.

Posted on October 30, 2011, in Anaga, Walks in Tenerife and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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