Exploring Arico’s Scenic Barrancos

Looking across the barranco between La Cisnera and Villa de Arico towards the path on the other side

Looking across the barranco between La Cisnera and Villa de Arico towards the path on the other side

Spring is now here in Tenerife. Although it has been quite cold for the Canary Islands recently, the heavy rain we had in December is now showing in the delightful greenery in the countryside.

Palomera (Pericallis lanata) hanging from a rock in the first barranco.

Palomera (Pericallis lanata) hanging from a rock in the first barranco.

The spring flowers start on the coast, of course, which is why I have posted some coastal species recently. They flower as soon as there has been sufficient rain. Then the flowers on the lower slopes of the island start to come out, then in the pine woods, and finally in the laurel forests and the high mountain areas like the National park. So when I say spring is here, perhaps I need to clarify where! The spring flowers are now out especially in the lower slopes and middle altitudes, or medianas as they are called locally, which is where most of the older towns and villages are situated, and the majority of the farming is done.

Hollow-leaved Asphodel (Asphodelus fistulosus), a smaller species than the commonest one, but still quite widespread

Hollow-leaved Asphodel (Asphodelus fistulosus), a smaller species than the commonest one, but still quite widespread

This walk is a long and arduous one, but I think it was a good time of year to do it, as the main interest was to see the scenic barrancos and enjoy the fantastic views. With everything so green after the rain, and the flowers coming out, it was very enjoyable, even if tiring.

Marguerite (Argyranthemum frutescens)

Marguerite (Argyranthemum frutescens)

The majority of the walk is on minor country roads (tarmac single track) or dirt tracks, but we encountered virtually no traffic, so it did not spoil our outing. Two barranco crossings were on footpaths, one at the start of the walk, between La Cisnera and Villa de Arico, and the other at the highest point. Both were good footpaths. There was also a possible third crossing of a barranco on a footpath which we saw, but did not take.

Escobón (Chaemacytisus proliferus), a Canarian endemic shrub which is very widespread as it is excellent goat fodder

Escobón (Chaemacytisus proliferus), a Canarian endemic shrub which is very widespread as it is excellent goat fodder

We started the walk from La Cisnera, a couple of kilometers to the west of Villa de Arico on the TF-28. There are, according to my map three roads up into the village, and you could start from any of them, but we drove up the first, and took the left fork, and, about half a kilometer from the main road there was a wide bit of road where we could park without being a nuisance, so we walked from there.

Tree houseleek (Aeonium holochrysum) a canarian endemic which is a delight at this time of year. This specimen was actually in a garden

Tree houseleek (Aeonium holochrysum) a canarian endemic which is a delight at this time of year. This specimen was actually in a garden

We walked on up the hill, passing a number of houses, till we came to a junction. On the right was a minor road with a ‘no through road’ sign and a sign saying ‘Fuente Blanca’. We turned right here. After passing some farm entrances, the road ended, but a footpath continued, down into a barranco. There were flowers on the rocks beside the path, and all around. The barranco was very green, and we could see the footpath opposite, climbing the other side.  The path then led us to the top of the town of Villa de Arico, on a minor road which leads to the Recreation area El Contador, where we turned left. (You could, of course, start the walk from here if you preferred).

The pink flowers are Dodder (Cuscuta approximata), a parasitic flowering plant.

The pink flowers are Dodder (Cuscuta approximata), a parasitic flowering plant.

We followed this road up for nearly a kilometer till we came to a minor road going to the left, which we took. We then stayed on this tarmaced road for several kilometers, climbing all the time, but we didn’t see a single vehicle.  At one point we took a shortcut, up an extremely steep old footpath which appeared to take off a hairpin bend. However, after starting well, the path petered out but we found our way back to the tarmac.

A view across the Barranco de los Naranjos to a row of beehives on the other side

A view across the Barranco de los Naranjos to a row of beehives on the other side

Further on, and just before the tarmac finished, we saw a cairn on our left, and a footpath leading to and apparently crossing the nearby barranco. My map did not show the footpath crossing the barranco, but did show one on the other side, going up to re-join our track after passing the fields we could see on the opposite side of the barranco.  We decided to stick with the track and did not take this path, but when we came to the bend where my map indicated the footpath coming out, there was another cairn, so I think the map was probably right.  I never trust spanish maps for footpaths, most are not marked on the maps, and some that are marked are not there! If we had taken this path, and it was as expected, it would be a shortcut.

By the time we got to the place where our track crossed the barranco, higher up, we were at the edge of the pine forest, but there was still a lot of climbing uphill to be done. The track became rougher and rougher, and steeper too. We missed a turning to the left indicated by the GPS track we were following and continued straight on up.  When I realised we were near a junction of tracks and took the left there downhill till we joined the GPS trail again. The track we missed did look fairly indistinct when we saw the other end.  On track again, we were approaching a barranco crossing. The track deteriorated as it descended, and became a path at the foot of a cliff, then wandered through some rocks and up a steep slope to a fairly level, and easy walking footpath leading out of the barranco again.

In the pine forest there were few flowers yet, except for these - Romulea grandiscapa

In the pine forest there were few flowers yet, except for these – Romulea grandiscapa

The footpath passed the remains of various old structures which I believe were shelters used by shepherds in the past. They are circular or semi-circular    dry-stone structures, protecting from the wind, but open at the top. Maybe they were covered in the past, with brushwood or other thatch, or the shepherds brought cloth to drape over them to give themselves shade and shelter.

The well-defined path continued down a slope, and then in an arc near some abandoned terraces, where it again became a track, although not a well-used one.  Gradually the track improved as we walked down and was joined on the right by another well-used track.  As we went down the track, I looked for the remains of old footpaths.  Often tracks and minor roads replace old footpaths, but take long detours where the footpaths go straight up steep slopes. I did spot one, very obvious, shortcut which proved OK, but missed another which was probably good too. In the process of looking for these, I did not notice that we had missed a turning of the GPS track we were supposed to be following. That track, which was put on Wikiloc by ‘Rutas de Tenerife’ must have taken a footpath to the right (as there is no track junction where it left on any of my maps). That footpath then joins a track which goes down to the western part of La Cisnera village. We had walked some way past the turning when I realised but, as we had started in the eastern part of the village, and I could see a direct route on my map to where we wanted to go, we continued.

As we started our descent, the track passed this scenic cliff

As we started our descent, the track passed this scenic cliff

The dirt track became a tarmaced minor road and not long after we turned a sharp left onto a concrete road. The concrete road continued to the left for only a short while before turning downhill again, reaching a fork lower down. We took the right fork and a bit lower down the left fork which brought us down past our ‘Fuente Blanca’ turning to continue on down to where we started.

The walk was 21km / 13.13m with 983m /3228ft of ascent. It took us 5hrs 50m. A GPS track of our route can be found at the following link:

http://www.wikiloc.com/wikiloc/view.do?id=6053373

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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 February 11, 2014, in Botanical interest, South Tenerife, Walks in Tenerife and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I spend a week in Arona last year. The euphorb scrub land made a real impression on me. Like a spaghetti western landscape bursting with life. Loved it.

    • Sorry I made a mistake in the title – that blog was about Arico’s barrancos. But your comment applies to them the same, both are in the south with similar vegetation. By the way I loved your blog. I am an OU graduate and studied ecology too. The difference in the vegetation here compared with Britain and mainland Europe really reawakened my botanical interest, and all the endemic species are so remarkable. Good luck with your studies and future career.

      • It’s funny I hasn’t been at all interested in Tenerife’s flora before I went. I’m so set on learning about British flowers I didn’t see how it would benefit me but actually it was such a treat seeing all this different, exotic stuff! And some familiar things too. I came back more enthused 🙂

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