An Exploration of new paths above Igueste, Candelaria

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A view over the village of Igueste, as we walked up from it.

In the summer, when our group does not have many walkers in Tenerife, we like to do some explorations to discover new routes the group might like.  So this last Saturday three of us explored an area above Igueste in Candelaria. We got a GPS track from Wikiloc.com which showed some footpaths we had not tried, so we used this to explore the area.  We parked as high as we could in the village of Igueste, in an area which appears to be called Las Jimenez.

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The verode plants (Kleinia nerifolia) all over the island are just coming into flower.

We set off up the tarmac road which curved upwards above the village. At the top of the steep slope it became a dirt track and we continued to follow this for 10 more minutes (approx 0.65km) until we came to a junction with a track going up to the left which we took. The track soon ran out at two entrances to a finca but a well-cobbled path continued upwards. It was easy to follow and to climb on, although it was steep. We passed a junction with another path going to the right (another exploration for another day!) and continued upwards until we had nearly reached a water channel or ‘canal’. A cairn marked the junction to another path going left. This was well walked, but a much narrower path than the first one. It wound its way around a couple of small barrancos and after about a kilometer, 20 minutes of walking, we reached a crossing of paths and turned right, uphill again.

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A colourful bug (Graphosuma semipunctata) on an immature seedhead of common fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)

Before we did the uphill turn we went straight on for a few yards as the path led to the edge of a barranco and had a great view back down to the village of Igueste. Then we joined the uphill path, which was well marked from now on with blobs of white paint. It was largely on rocks, well rounded, so nice to walk on, but with large crystals in them, so they are easy to get a grip on. The steep climb meant we needed stops to catch our breath, but the views to the coast, and across to the ridge at the eastern edge of the Guimar valley, were terrific.

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A beautiful grasshopper (probably Callitamus plebeius) we saw on the rocks in the path.

At this time of year there are not many flowers to be seen, especially on an exposed south-facing slope such as we were climbing. I have pictures of all the ones we did see, but, of course, the lack of flowers makes me notice other things, and this time a colourful bug on the fennel near the beginning of the walk, and a beautiful grasshopper on the rocks in the path caught my eye.

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Looking back down the first path uphill which we followed, and the view along the coast.

The GPS trail we were following, which I show below, indicated that the path to the cave, Cueva Unchico, was ‘nearly lost and overgrown’ and when we got to where we needed to turn we realised how true it was. The path could barely be seen except for a line of trampled vegetation where people had previously walked. This became more and more indistinct as we progressed, and we made a decision to follow the advice in a comment on the trail written by user javiersanp that we could avoid this bit if we went on up to the Pista de Fayal and came down another path. In the preparation for the walk I had printed out a map of the route on a topographic map, and also a section of OpenStreetMap which javiersanp recommended, but unfortunately I had left these at home!! Consequently we did not know how far up the track, Pista de Fayal, was, or exactly where the other path went down.

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One of the few plants that were flowering, Feathery sow-thistle, or Balillo, (Atalanthus pinnatus), a Canary endemic

It turned out the track was another kilometer up the path, involving a further 190m of climbing, and when we got there we wasted time looking for the path down and did not find it. So we went back down the path we had come up, and decided to attempt to follow the GPS trail across to the cave.  In fact the distance is only about 300m, and Tino Acoran, the user who uploaded the trail, walked it in 9 minutes.  It took us a bit longer, but we got there, and found the cave, right on the edge of the barranco.

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The cave, Cueva Unchico, which we arrived at after crossing the overgrown section.

The cave had all the appearance of having been previously lived in, perhaps in Guanche (Tenerife aborigines from before the Spanish conquest) times. However, I do not know its history. It had a great view down the barranco to Igueste and the coast, but the mouth of the cave is very hard to see when you look up.

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The view down to the highest fincas above Igueste, and across the Barranco de Araca to the mountains of the ridge.

From the cave there was a path down, following the edge of the barranco. It was quite hard to see, so we were glad to have the GPS track to follow. It was also fairly treacherous to descend as there were a lot of pine needles on top of rocks, which can be a dangerous combination. So we took our time, paying attention to where we placed our feet. Eventually the path came to a col where there was a fork. The left fork takes you up the mountain ahead, Mt Arguama, but we took the right fork to descend the side of the barranco back to Igueste.

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One of the better sections of the path descending the side of the barranco towards the end of our walk.

The path down was very narrow and steep with loose stones, especially near the bottom. I would certainly not lead a group down this path, and would think seriously about leading one up it! However, the views were terrific, and we wanted to get back, so we pressed on taking a great deal of care.

At the bottom of the slope a farm track led us to the tarmac minor road which is the Camino de los Márgenes. Continuing downhill we approached the village until we saw a short cut to the left (also tarmaced) which took us back to where we left the car.

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‘Queen’s crown’ (Gonospermum fruticosum) is normally a spring-flowering plant, but this one was flowering beneath the wall of a finca, near the end of our walk, so was probably getting some water.

I would not recommend anyone to try to do this walk without a GPS, loaded with the track below. The description above, like most others in this blog, is just to entertain, and maybe prepare walkers for what they might experience. It is not adequate as directions to find all the paths. In my book ‘Tenerife Nature Walks’ the walk descriptions are much more detailed, and there are maps, and the paths are all well defined.

Below is the GPS trail we were following. It starts from Barranco Hondo, but if you start at Igueste you save about 3km, and 40 minutes. If we had not diverted up to the track and wasted all that time the walk would have taken us 4 hrs and been about 7.7km/4.8 miles, but the climb is over 700m/2300ft, so it is quite strenuous. I would also recommend doing the circle the other way around, to avoid coming down the worst path.

http://www.wikiloc.com/wikiloc/view.do?id=2770961

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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 September 2, 2013, in South Tenerife, Walks in Tenerife and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I’ve followed a path from Igueste de Candelaria which arrives at Las Lagunetas and after crossing the Carretera Dorsal, you can walk right down to La Victoria. If done in the winter you can go from hot, hot, to freezing and back to hot again with the climb up and down.

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