A long-distance project – 4th stage of the Tenerife GR-131
We actually did this stage of the GR-131 in February, but for various reasons I did not get around to blogging it at the time. For this stage we did not have to hire a bus for the group, as we could use the public buses, and private cars. We decided to drive up to the Parador hotel in Las Cañadas, and take the bus to El Portillo to start the walk. There is only one bus a day which leaves the Parador at around 11.00, so we could not start the walk very early.
The signage for the GR-131 in the Teide National Park was completely lacking when I was investigating the route for this project. The red and white signage stopped at El Portillo and gave no indication of the onward section. We had to ask a Park Ranger for directions as we were not sure if the route went along the top of the Caldera wall, or along the bottom. The park ranger told us it went along the bottom, using National Park paths 4 and then NP path 5 to get up the caldera wall to the Degollada de Guajara. However, by the time we walked this section there was limited red/white signage to indicate the ongoing route.
From the junction at El Portillo where the bus stop is, a path goes down behind a noticeboard onto a path which continues below the road, but roughly parallel with it, till it joins a track which leaves the road opposite the National Park Visitor Centre. This is NP path 4, and is a track all the way to the road beyond the Parador. So we turned left on the track and started our walk along it along the base of the caldera wall.
I am not a great fan of walking on tracks in Tenerife, as sometimes they are very rough underfoot, and often boring as they wind their way through countryside a footpath would go straight through. However, this track was mostly very easy to walk on, and it certainly wasn’t boring. The scenery unfolded new vistas with each step, with the views to Mt Teide changing from the north side to the south eastern, and the caldera wall providing a continuously changing panorama of rock types and colours. Not to mention the lava mounded up in some parts of Las Cañadas to the right of the track.
About half-way along the track I enjoyed watching a pair of Great Grey Shrikes darting around among the Mt Teide broom (Spartocytisus supranubius) plants. They are fairly common in the National Park and have a habit of returning to a prominent place such as the top of a bush, or rock, to look for prey. They then dart out to catch things and return to their perch. This makes it easier for an amateur like me to get a photo, even if a bit fuzzy due to the distance!
A bit further on there is an open level area below a pinnacle on the caldera wall with a scree slope beneath. At the foot of the scree slope are the remains of stone buildings where in the past shepherds sheltered in their summer stays in Las Cañadas. And up the scree slope in February the skeletons of the previous summer’s blooms of Teide Viper’s Bugloss (Echium wildpretii) were visible. Clearly this area is much favoured by this iconic Canary endemic plant with flower spikes up to 3m high in May/June.
Continuing on the track we came to the path junction with NP path 5 going left up the caldera wall. We did not take it this time, that will be done on the next stage of the GR-131. This time we continued along the track till the NP path 4 turned right towards the Parador.
The walk was 16.7km/10.4miles long, with 255m/837ft of ascent, mostly gentle climbs. It took me nearly 4 hours, though several of our fast walkers were considerably quicker. This was, of course, on a cool day with some snow lying under bushes, so in warmer conditions it could well take longer. In May and June, of course, the walk would be brightened by the floral displays from the local very specialised flora, but I was amazed how colourful and interesting it was even without the flowers.
Posted on May 20, 2012, in Teide National Park, Walks in Tenerife and tagged Cedro, Echium wildpretii, El Portillo, GR-131 Tenerife, Great Grey Shrike, Juniperus cedrus, Lanius excubitor koenigi, Las Canadas, Parador, Teide National Park, Teide Viper's Bugloss. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.