Dramatic walk past Los Organos de Orotava and the Camino de Joco

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Walking down the Camino de Candelaria from La Crucita

WARNING: (posted 3.12.2015)  The path along the top of the Organos walk (Walk 33 in the book) is closed between points 7 and 12 as there has been a small landslide near to point 10, which is dangerous. The remainder of the path is passable, although it has always needed caution in places. So you can enter from either side to see the fantastic scenery and botanical diversity.

We did this walk in the north of Tenerife last Wednesday because the weather was nearly perfect for it, with nearly clear skies and no cloud between the crest and the coast, as there so often is.  We had wanted to do it ever since doing stage 2 of the GR131 in December 2011, when we were unable to see one of the most scenic bits of the path due to low cloud and rain.  This time we walked in the opposite direction, and took in the top of the Los Organos path as well as the Camino de Joco (part of the GR131) for a really exciting walk.

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A pair of dykes (geological sheet intrusions of magma) crossing the path and traverse the hillside

We started the walk from the ridge road from El Portillo to La Esperanza ( TF-24) at La Crucita, which is near km 30.  There is a small viewpoint parking place there, where the Camino de Candelaria, a traditional pilgrimage path from the Orotava valley, crosses the crest of the ridge to plunge down the other side to Arafo and Candelaria.  We went down the pilgrim path on the north side towards the Orotava valley, enjoying fine views to Teide across the valley as we went down in zig-zags.

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Another dyke beside the path during the descent

On the way down we passed two dykes crossing the path, and later on one beside the path, both vertical sheets of magma intruded into the local rock during violent volcanic activity in the past.  Now, though, they punctuate the hillside, helping stop erosion.

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Canarian shrubby plantain (Plantago arborescens)

After about an hour of walking down (about 4.7km/2.9ml) we reached a junction of paths with signposts of yellow and white livery.  We had joined the Los Organos circular walk.  We went right and started an up and down section of path across the cliffs.  This is a very interesting area botanically, but unfortunately it is a bit early for much to be in flower yet – in a couple of months it will be at its best.   However, we did see some Canarian shrubby plantain (Plantago arborescens) in flower fairly soon after the path junction.

Soon afterwards we started seeing Shrubby Burnet (Bencomia caudata) plants by the path, and they continued to feature for much of the way across this section.  They are distinctive plants with large pinnate leaves, even though they did not have their tassel-like flowers or seeds yet.

Shrubby burnet (Bencomia caudata) beside the path

Shrubby burnet (Bencomia caudata) beside the path

We then passed one of the most dramatic points of the walk where the path goes around a  vertical pillar of rock, behind a very stout fence.  There are great views from this point. Also in this area, which is less shaded by pine trees, there are lots of interesting plants, but none were in flower yet.  Soon after the viewpoint, though, was a good example of a Canary guelder rose (Viburnum rigidum), not in flower, but with mature fruits and some flower buds at the same time.

Approaching the viewpoint around the vertical pillar

Approaching the viewpoint around the vertical pillar

Soon afterwards the path curved in an out to cross a couple of ravines which were almost vertical, but full of interesting plants due to the increased moisture around them.  One of them had Canary strawberry trees (Arbutus canariensis) up one side.

Canary guelder rose (Viburnum rigidum)

Canary guelder rose (Viburnum rigidum)

Then a zig-zag path took us up the far side of a large barranco, on to a level path which then went around a corner to a path junction.  We reached this point after 2hrs 45mins. Here the path met the GR 131 with its red markings, and the yellow and white path we had been following went downhill with the GR 131, but we went right, uphill, with the GR 131. A red notice announces this as a dangerous section, but hardly more that the previous section of path.

One of the almost vertical ravines the path passes. This one with Canary strawberry trees on the right of it.

One of the almost vertical ravines the path passes. This one with Canary strawberry trees on the right of it.

The path climbed quite a lot under trees, finally reaching a point next to a pinnacle of rock on the left and a vertical cliff on the right where the path started dramatically plunging downwards in steep zig-zags, and, after a few metres of relatively level ground zig-zagged upwards on steep stone steps opposite.  After negotiating this switchback the view opens out to reveal the path curving around another large ravine, with stout fencing protecting the  walkers at dangerous points.  On the other side of this ravine was a viewpoint with a signboard pointing out the places in the Orotava valley that you can see from this point.

A view of the zig-zag stone staircase up the far side of the 'switchback'

A view of the zig-zag stone staircase up the far side of the ‘switchback’

After the viewpoint, and passing a short stretch where there was a warning of possible landslips we arrived at the end of the ‘dangerous’ stretch, and a track.  Crossing the track and staying with the GR131 we began a descent into the woods until the path levelled out parallel with but slightly above a track.  Eventually the path did descend onto the track, but only for a few metres around a corner, before climbing up away from the track again.  When we joined the track a third time, we turned right, leaving the GR 131, to climb with the track for about 1.5km/1ml to reach the main road again near km24.  We had previously parked a car there, at the entrance to the track which had a sign naming it as Pista (i.e. track) Risco Atravesado.

The path approaching the final viewpoint

The path approaching the final viewpoint

The walk was a linear walk, requiring a car to be parked at each end (or other transport arrangements for pickup).  The distance on the road between the two points is only around 6 km, so the arrangement of the vehicles does not take too long.  The walk itself was 13.3 km/8.3 miles, and involved 644m of climbing and a greater descent.  It took us 4.25 hours, but we did walk quite fast.

A GPS downloadable track for this walk can be found at:

http://www.wikiloc.com/wikiloc/view.do?id=4025188

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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 January 20, 2013, in North Tenerife and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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