An exciting new walk in the reserve of the Barranco del Infierno near Ifonche, Tenerife

I did this walk last Saturday, 30th May, and was so excited by this newly rehabilitated path, I had to share it. The path goes beneath cliffs on the edge of the special reserve of the Barranco del Infierno, Adeje. It passes through a very scenic landscape, rich in botanical variety, and cultural interest, and in addition has some great views down to the coast.

Canary foxglove (Isoplexis canariensis) in flower beneath the first cliff

Canary foxglove (Isoplexis canariensis) in flower beneath the first cliff

 

The white post in the track after passing the threshing circle. Continue down the track

 

The first part of the walk I have known about for some time and always enjoy its botanical richness, but the second part, beneath a range of cliffs in a semi circle, was a complete revelation. I found the route on Wikiloc and thought it sounded worth exploring, and it certainly was.

 

The route starts at the Bar El Dornajo at the end of the village of Ifonche.  I actually parked just beyond the bar where there is space for a few cars, and started out on the path by the signboard on the bend, continuing till the path was crossed by a track, and turning left there.

Shrubby burnet (Bencomia caudata) growing beneath the first cliff

Shrubby burnet (Bencomia caudata) growing beneath the first cliff

The path beneath the first cliff.

The path beneath the first cliff.The route started at the Bar El Dornajo at the end of the village of Ifonche.

The track passes a finca perched on the edge of the spectacular Barranco de las Fuentes, and just beyond it is a threshing floor where you can enjoy the view into the barranco. Continue on the track beyond this, passing a white pillar,  and keeping on the track for about 100 m till you see a small green and white sign on the right with ‘Parque natural especial’ on it.  At this point the track forks into two paths.  The left one, and most obvious, goes slightly uphill to a viewpoint.  The right one, which you take, is less obvious because it immediately heads downwards.  This is a path I know and love, going down the side of the barranco and passing beneath an impressive cliff. The area is very rich botanically and I have always enjoyed it, even though the path is a bit rough.

After a while the path comes out on an open col between two rocky crags, the soil is bare and a pale pinkish cream and composed of pumice. Here there is a junction. The path that goes straight on goes to Adeje, but it is very rough, and has some narrow places which would upset anyone troubled by vertigo. Up to now that was the only path I knew from this place, but now the newly cleared path goes left here.

The cairn at the start of the newly cleared path

The cairn at the start of the newly cleared path

Very soon after beginning the new path, a diversion to the left leads up to a cave known as the Cave of the Donkey. A short climb up allows one to see the shallow cave, and then I returned to the path.

The path beneath the cliffs

The path beneath the cliffs

Not much further on is a more substantial cave called La Cueva de la Estancia (The cave of the Stay/Farm) which would seem to indicating it was used as a dwelling. This was the childhood home of a large family – 11 children I think- with 2 0r 3 of them still surviving, in their 80s, in 2014.

 

 

Part of La Cueva de la Estancia

Part of La Cueva de la Estancia

Continuing, the path dips downhill towards a  a shady bend in the path with lots of plants, including a large Canary willow tree, and a profusion of shrubs. There is a lot of bracken in the dip at the bend, which obscures the path a bit as some steps take you up again. High above the path here, an old water channel passes and along that are lots of Shrubby Plantains (Plantago arborescens) a macronesian endemic which, although it is common in North Tenerife, isn’t found in many places in the south and west of Tenerife. Soon the path passes two more caves, La Cueva de Regocijo (The cave of rejoicing), which enjoys a great view to the coast, and La Cueva Negra (The black cave), a small cave with a trickle of water coming out of the cliff nearby. Then the path reaches La Fuente el Chorrillo, a spring the like of which I have not seen before in Tenerife as it was not just dribbling water, but a steady small stream of water was trickling out of the base of the basalt cliff.

The view from La Cueva del Regocijo

The view from La Cueva del Regocijo

Around the spring there are water-loving plants including Mint (Mentha longifolia) Mentha longifolia) and where the water flows into a trough, watercress grows.

Long-leaved mint (Mentha longifolia) growing in a damp crevice on the cliff above the spring

Long-leaved mint (Mentha longifolia) growing in a damp crevice on the cliff above the spring

The water then trickles down a channel into a tank, and on down the hill.

 

 

 

 

Continuous trickles of water out of the cliff at La Fuente el Chorrillo

Continuous trickles of water out of the cliff at La Fuente el Chorrillo

Continuing along the path the next cave is called La Cueva de las Goteras (The dripping cave). It had some damp places on the ceiling with maidenhair ferns growing. In the front of the cave were some Canary bellflower plants (Canarina canariensis), another plant that is not very frequent in the south of Tenerife. They flower early in the spring around Feb-Mar.

Shortly after this cave the path goes through a shady patch with several large shrubs with leathery pale green leaves.  These are Moralitos (Rhombus integrifolius), a Tenerife endemic I am particularly fond of as there was one near my previous home in Acojeja, and it took me 2 years to finally identify it!

 

 

After the valley with the Moralitos the path climbs steeply to go around the end of the cliff, and join a track which finally joins a minor tarmac road.

 

The signpost where the path joined the minor tarmac road

The signpost where the path joined the minor tarmac road

Although the part of the walk which was most special for me was over, there was more to see.  I turned right and followed the tarmac road to the end, then joining the red/white way marked path GR131, till I reached a large threshing floor in another col.  This was a part of the walk I knew, and I went left with the wooden signposts (leaving the GR131) to cross the Barranco del Rey. This is a crossing I am familiar with, but recently a path has been cleared and signposted to the Fuente las Pilas down the barranco from the crossing. It is only a few hundred metres down, but I never suspected that it was there.

The signpost to the Fuente Las Pilas in the Barranco del Rey

The signpost to the Fuente Las Pilas in the Barranco del Rey, with the basalt cliff from the base of which the spring comes

 

The spring was a delightful sight with a substantial trickle of water emerging from the base of the basalt cliff. The path makers had planted a little garden around the spring.  It is a beautiful and tranquil spot.

La Fuente las Pilas with maidenhair ferns and watercress enjoying the damp conditions

La Fuente las Pilas with maidenhair ferns and watercress enjoying the damp conditions

This was the end of the newly renovated path and I made my way back to Bar El Dornajo by a short route I knew, though it is not the best path.

 

La Piedra de descanso (The Resting stone) near La Fuente las Pilas (The Spring of Basins, or Stacks)

La Piedra de descanso (The Resting stone) near La Fuente las Pilas (The Spring of Basins, or Stacks)

The walk I did was less than 9km and took 3.5 hours, with a couple of diversions.  It was not particularly strenuous, with little ups and downs adding up to around 350m. It is highly recommended to those interested in plants, especially in the spring, as it is rich in variety. However, it is not a route for those who have trouble with vertigo as there are frequently steep slopes to one side.

Edited 27th February, 2016

I recently did this walk again, but added a short bit at the beginning to lengthen it.  The link below gives this initial extension as well as a pleasant path back to the beginning without walking much on tarmac.

http://www.wikiloc.com/wikiloc/spatialArtifacts.do?event=setCurrentSpatialArtifact&id=12401150

This is a description of the return route from the Fuente de las Pilas

From the Fuente de las Pilas, walk back along the barranco and on the path to the signpost still at the bottom of the barranco, where there is a junction with the path you arrived on.  Join this path, going up the opposite side of the barranco.   At the top there is a building near a threshing floor and beyond that there is a well worn track used to access the Refugio as well as other houses in that area.  Do not go as far as this track, just before you get to that track another track goes left, running parallel to it just off the top of the ridge.  Walk along this track for about 200 yards until you see a small path going gently down the side of the barranco to the left. Follow this path down to the streambed and when you arrive at it look ahead directly in the line that you descended and you will see, a few yards down the barranco, a path sloping up in the same direction.  At the top it turns left and then right and then becomes a track, passes a few farms and houses, before joining a minor country road and arriving back at the crossroads by the Bar El Dornajo.

Edited again 19th July, 2017

This walk is still a great delight, for its biodiversity and views.  I have taken out the references to large white paint arrows as these have now all but disappeared, and edited the description of the approach to the path.  Below is a picture of the start of the downward path next to the Reserva Natural Especial sign:

The green and white protected area sign by the start of the downward path

Advertisements

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 June 2, 2014, in Botanical interest, West Tenerife and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Wonderful walk. I’ve done it several times and ti’s really exciting. And thanks to the initiative of a great woman, Carmen Dolores (https://www.facebook.com/carmendolores.gonzalezfrancisco).
    And beautiful this post, thank you very much.

  2. Dear Sally,

    We did this walk a year ago, and were delighted by it. However, you conclude by saying “this was the end of the newly renovated
    path and I made my way back to Bar El Dornajo by a short route I knew,
    though it is not the best path.” We were disappointed not to find this route. We had to walk back down the road, down the curved dip and back
    up again to the bar. So could you please describe it in more detail? We intend to repeat the walk over the weekend of 5/6 March
    when we shall be at Vilaflor for a couple of nights before flying back
    home to Dorset on Monday. We are both in our seventies, and
    still enjoy taking a five or six mile hike, at botanical pace, but have
    difficulty managing a lot of unnecessary road tramping!

    With grateful thanks for introducing us to the Ifonche area, and for
    the many other ideas in your book, which we have now bought. Incidentally, we have stayed a few times in the hills above Candelaria, so we are probably among the few
    English people who already know the Malpais de Guimar and the La Mesa
    route. Did you ever do the Los Brezos circuit in the same region?

    With best wishes,
    (Mrs) Bobby Knowles.

    • Please see the revision I have added to the original blog, where I have described the return route which has improved since 2014. I have also put a link to a GPS trail of the route, including an extra bit at the beginning (which can be ignored) to make it a bit longer.
      Thank you for your kind remarks, I am glad you have enjoyed this walk and others from the book.
      Sally

    • Thank you for your prompt response which will be very helpful

  3. Edward Knowles

    Hello Sally

    We have just spent a week in Tenerife with the intention of seeing the flora in bloom in the Canadas. Usually we only see it in seed when we visit in November or February to avoid the English winters. We of course saw the splendid Tajinaste rojo, but fewer than we expected, probably due to the dry spring. Generally the Canadas were less floriferous than we had hoped for. We did however make a special effort to look for the Teide violet and were delighted to find several plants still in flower.

    In February 2016 we walked the path described in para 5 of Walk 11 in your Tenerife walks book, from Ifonche, along the side of the barranco, and the continuation described in a separate blog which we very much enjoyed. We followed the same cliff path last week and were excited to find three stands of the Canary Foxglove along it, which we have not seen previously. The short round pillar you refer to, as marking where the cliff path starts to the right, is actually some 400 metres beyond the threshing floor. The white painted arrows are now very faded and inconspicuous, but somebody has built a couple of small cairns. The white painted pillar is the one immediately next to the threshing floor.

    What do you think about the closure of so many of the National Park paths for the mouflon control/hunting on three days a week now, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays? Combined with the closure of several major paths for “obras” to improve disabled access, and the closure until very recently of the Visitor Centre and loos at El Portillo, it was very difficult to work out a time to do the wonderful walks for which we had specifically come to Tenerife! Is there any point in protesting?

    Thanks for all your tips. We do subscribe to your blog.
    With best wishes,
    Edward and Bobby Knowles

  1. Pingback: (50) Ifonche-Fuente de las Pilas Circular (Adeje) – Tenerife Sur: Under 10 km

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: