A long-distance project – 4th stage of the Tenerife GR-131

Setting off from El Portillo with Mt Teide in the distance

The view to Mt Teide from the track about 30 mins from the start

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.

A Great Grey Shrike (Lanius excubitor koenigi) on a dead bush of Mt Teide broom

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.

Cedros up the caldera wall, (Juniperus cedrus), the high mountain species of juniper endemic to the Macronesian islands

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.

The track approaching the area with the shepherds’ huts and the Teide Viper’s Bugloss. Note the beautiful cloud formations

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. 

Teide Viper’s Bugloss (Echium wildpretii) photographed near El Portillo in June of a previous year


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.

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 20, 2012, in Teide National Park, Walks in Tenerife and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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