Arafo to Arenas Volcano

A view of the Arenas Volcano

I apologise for the long interval since the last posting on the blog.  I have been away, visiting family, and haven’t been walking in Tenerife.  I am now back, and have walked on 3 of the first 4 days back, so my muscles are getting back into trim, despite some complaints!

This is a walk from Arafo in the Guimar valley up to the volcano which erupted in 1705, delivering lava which covered 47 square kilometres, and lots of fire-fountaining of molten lava, resulting in the ‘sand’ and volcanic bombs in the vicinity of the cone.  It is a route with great views and passing through different landscapes in the one walk.

The route we followed up is part of the popular pilgrimage path from the Orotava valley to Candelaria, so it was a very clear route, although not signposted or waymarked.

The view to the eastern edge of the Guimar valley from just below the volcano

I parked the car quite near the centre of Arafo, thinking that it would not be possible to park higher up.  However, it did add a lot of very steep walking, both up and down, and, as we were to discover, there was parking for the odd car nearer the start of the paths.  However, the walk through the farmland above the town, with its neat and productive fincas was a very pleasant one.  I always enjoy seeing what crops are grown locally and there were lots of vines, fruit trees and onions, in addition to the ubiquitous potatoes.

We walked straight up the street from the church, passing some restored old public laundry places, just below an old water mill for grinding gofio.  Continuing straight up we were passing a finca when the owner asked us if we were walking to the volcano.  When we said yes, he pointed out we should have turned left a little lower down as we were on the road that ended in the Barranco Añavingo.  So we retraced our steps and went up the road indicated till we got to a right-angled bend where the road went to the left.  A track straight ahead was marked ‘sin salida’ (no exit), but this was our path.  A couple of hundred yards further up, just before a gate,  we turned right off the driveable track onto a footpath, still continuing steeply up.

A section of the Camino de Candelaria through the pine forest

At first the path was badly eroded, then there were parts well cobbled, and finally arriving in pine woodland, the path continued upwards in zig-zags on a more pleasant pine-needle covered surface.  This continued for some distance passing some fine old pine trees, till we arrived at a more open area with sweet chestnut trees and low shrubs.  A notice stated that the finca was private, clearly the sweet chestnut trees had been very productive last year, judging from the shucks piled up outside the old farmhouse which we passed in front of not long after.

A tree-like specimen of Escobon (Chaemaecytisus proliferus)

From there on the landscape was open black ‘sand’ or lapilli, which was a bit difficult to climb on, but we continued up with the volcano on our left.  To our right was a barranco, and beyond that, pine forest.  To the right of the track, the border of the barranco had quite a variety of wild plants in flower including Flixweed (Descurainia millefolia),  Sticky broom (Adenocarpus foliosus), Tenerife vipers bugloss (Echium virescens), False sage (Sideritis sp.), Marguerites (Argyranthemum gracile), Tree houseleeks (Aeonium arboreum), and Escobon (Chaemaecytisus proliferus).

Teide knapweek (Cheirolophus teydis) growing in the volcanic rubble

Continuing on we followed a GPS trail from Wikiloc contributed by ‘llanodelmoro’.  This was fine, though not easy, with a GPS and an intrepid spirit, but, as there was no footpath most of this part, I would not recommend it to less intrepid or less well-equipped walkers (just turn round and walk back down to the old farmhouse the way you came up).  So we followed the GPS trail around the south side of the volcano, between it and the cliff-like side of Pico Cho Marcial.  In one dip there were a lot of Teide knapweed (Cheirolophus teydis) growing.  It was a very dramatic landscape, but slow going, and we were glad to get back to the old farmhouse after crossing the black ‘sand’ plain above it.

At the old farmhouse, instead of going left back the way we came, we went down the right-hand track which wound its way across a lot of the lava from the volcano.  It was a gentler descent than it would have been the way we came up.  After passing a house by a canal, the track turned more steeply downhill and soon there were patches of tarmac, and then it became a properly tarmaced minor road.  We could have continued this road down further and turned left lower down, but we chose to take part of another route put on Wikiloc by ‘llanodelmoro’, going left on a track crossing the lava again.  This was a pleasant walk until the track ended, now in pine woods on the far side of the lava.  We then had to go down a footpath which was OK at first but soon became very steep, stony and eroded, so we were glad this stretch was not too far before we again joined a tarmac country road.

The mystery white-flowered Cistus seen by the road through the lava

On the section of road through the lava I saw a Cistus plant like the pink Pine Forest cistus (Cistus symphytifolius), (and growing next to one) but with white flowers.  I was not sure what it was – perhaps a white sport of the Cistus symphytifolius.  If any reader knows what it is, I would be very interested.

Having reached the tarmac, and with Arafo clearly in view below, we walked down the road, although it was a different one from the one we came up.  Half-way down we turned left to join the previous one just above the gofio mill and get back to the town.

The walk totalled 15km with 990m of climbing and descent and took approximately 6 hours.  Parking higher up could cut at least an hour off this, and up to 250m of the climb.

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 April 22, 2012, in South Tenerife, Walks in Tenerife and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Cistus monspeliensis is my suggestion regards Christer Slotte mail

    • I am familiar with Cistus monspeliensis, which is a white flower, but much smaller. The leaves too are different. This shrub caught my attention because it was not like Cistus monspeliensis – much larger shrub, larger leaves and larger flowers. As I said in the blog it was very similar in size, and leaves and habit to the Cistus symphytifolius, but white, instead of pink.
      Thanks for your comment.

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