A challenging walk from the Parador to Villa de Arico

Looking across to Mt Teide from near the top of Mt Pasajiron

Teide wallflower (Erysimum scoparium) outside the Parador

This walk involves starting in Las Cañadas at the Parador hotel at 2100m/6895ft altitude, climbing up to the caldera rim and over Mt Pasajiron at 2529m/8305ft and then descending over 1800m/5910ft to Villa de Arico. It was about 23.5km and took 2 people 6.75hours. So if you are not up to this kind of strenuous walk do not attempt it, especially as most of the way you are nowhere near a road or habitation. The other main difficulty with this walk is that it is linear and that neither end is particularly easy to access by bus. So, having told you all the disadvantages, now let me tell you that it is an excellent walk, with varied landscapes, exceptional views, and good clear, well signed paths with good walking surfaces. We both thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

We caught the 342 bus from Los Cristianos to the Parador, which meant we were not able to start walking till 10.45.  When we arrived there was a biting cold wind, and it was cloudy, so it felt very cold.   We had a brief look at the signboard at the turning circle by the Parador for this walk, the PR-TF-86.  As soon as we were ready we set off at a good pace to try to get warm.  We were familiar with the first part of the walk, on National Park path 4 across to the track and then left along the track for 3 km, so we walked fast.  At times we were sheltered from the wind and it felt a lot warmer.

Plant of Sideritis eriocephalus near Mt Pasajiron

After 45 minutes of hard walking we reached the turning right off the track onto path 5 to climb the caldera wall to the Degollada de Guajara.  The path zig-zags up the slope and took us about 25 minutes to climb.  As we climbed some snowflakes started to drift in the wind.  We looked across at Mt Teide nearly covered in dark cloud, and wondered what we were doing!  Just before we reached the top we put on all our layers as we knew on the ridge the biting wind would be at its worst.  Then we immediately turned left to begin the climb of Mt Pasajiron.  By now, fortunately, the sun was trying to break through the cloud on our side of the caldera, and the cloud was beginning to lift from Mt Teide over the other side, so it was looking brighter.

We had walked this bit of the walk only once before, four years ago when the path was much less defined than now, and we got lost just after passing the top of Mt Pasajiron.  This time it was a relief to see the well-defined and easy to walk path zig-zagging down from the peak and up the other side of a valley.  The relief, and the fact that, in the valley out of the wind, the sun made us feel more relaxed, gave me a little time to look around at the plants.  Up there near the edge of the caldera rim is a very special selection of plants, survivors of freezing winds and blazing sun.  Of course, barely anything was in flower because it was a bit early anyway, and because of the very dry winter, but I could see there were some rare plants, including the very local endemic false sage, Sideritis eriocephalus, and the Teide knapweed, Cheirolophus teydea.  In addition, on a very exposed high point of the next rocky outcrop, a fine specimen of the Cedro, Juniperus cedrus, the juniper of the high mountains.

A good example of a Cedro tree (Juniperus cedrus) the high mountain form of juniper on an exposed ridge

Having climbed out of that valley we started to look for the junction of paths where we knew we had to leave the National Park path 8 and turn right, and downhill to go to Arico.  We reached the junction one hour and three-quarters after starting walking.  Although there was no signpost, it was well marked, with the yellow/white livery of the PR-TF-86, showing both the way to go, and crosses showing where not to go.  We started down the hill till we crossed an old track and found a spot in the sun and out of the wind to have our lunch.  We were enjoying wide views to each side and downhill, but only so far, as a cloud was gathering at a lower level, in the pine forest zone.

The view downhill to the cloud in the pine forest.

We continued downhill towards the pine forest we could see ahead.  We passed through an area where there were a lot of flakes of obsidian in the path and the land around.  The landscape dominated by the Mt Teide Broom (Spartocytisus supranubius) gradually gave way to pine trees, and we even saw a few white flowers among the Escobón (Chamaecytisus proliferus) in the understory.  Some of the pine trees were very large and clearly ancient, and under a group of these were some old shelters or corrals for animals.  We continued down as the cloud began to restrict our views, but it was not uncomfortably thick.

At an altitude of about 1900m the path crossed a dry riverbed immediately above a dramatic canyon.  Around the edge of the canyon were more Cedros (Juniperus cedrus).  By now we had passed a number of junctions of paths going left and right, arousing our interest about where they went, but we continued on down following the yellow/white paint markers.  A bit lower down the path re-crossed the riverbed, this time at a point where the far wall was a near vertical smooth face of rock.

Looking into the canyon

Soon after this we started to come into contact with signs of civilization in the form of a well-used driveable track which we crossed and re-crossed several times from then on.  Now the path junctions had signposts, as we were nearing the small settlement and barbecue park at El Contador.  As the path zig-zagged down a steep slope under pines, I saw the first flowers for several miles, a Tenerife Bird’s Foot Trefoil (Lotus campylocladus).  We had passed thousands of bushes of Pine Forest Cistus (Cistus symphytifolius) which should have had signs of flowers, but were all shrivelled and dry.

Tenerife Bird’s Foot Trefoil (Lotus campylocladus)

We had now reached the paths we knew from walks in the area of the Parque El Contador, so the route was now familiar.  We crossed the dirt track for the last time and came down onto a ridge above El Contador.  We were now below the cloud, and feeling a bit warmer.  Descending to the level of El Contador, we crossed the narrow tarmac access road and started the final bit of descent, gradually coming out of the pine forest, through open country and finally down to farmland.  We took the detour left (not signposted, but with yellow/white markers) which passes along a scenic section of the Barranco de los Andenitos.  Then rejoining the path down a ridge we continued to the junction where there is a choice of paths to Ortiz.  We chose the left one, along the ridge.  The right one goes down into the streambed of the same very scenic through a section popular with rock-climbers.

Our scenic detour down a section of the Brco de los Andenitos

Reaching the road bridge on the edge of the village of Ortiz we found the signpost to Villa de Arico, which had previously been there, removed.  The footpath was blocked by rows of rocks daubed with paint slogans such as ‘stop’ and ‘privado’.  I had read about a problem with one particular landowner hereabouts, but we pressed on along the left bank of the barranco from the bridge, negotiating all the obstacles.  It was clear many other walkers had done the same, and eventually the path became unobstructed again.  However, easy walking was not to last long, soon we started a steep zig-zag section descending a rocky ridge.  The path was very rough and required a lot of attention to avoid accidents when we were already tired, so we were glad when the path left the ridge, crossed the barranco, climbed up the other side and joined the tarmac road entering Villa de Arico.

We arrived at the main road just 15 minutes late for the bus we had hoped to catch.  Thinking we could catch the next one 2 hours later, we had a very pleasant meal in a bar.  Unfortunately the expected bus did not come.  Meanwhile we could have caught a bus down to Poris de Abona on the coast and caught the express motorway bus back to Los Cristianos.  That would have been quicker than what we actually did which was to take a taxi to Granadilla and a slow bus to Los Cristianos from there.  I don’t think our minds were working very well after all the exertion, but we did get home eventually!

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 May 2, 2012, in South Tenerife, Walks in Tenerife and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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