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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Around the spring there are water-loving plants including Mint (Mentha longifolia) Mentha longifolia) and where the water flows into a trough, watercress grows.
The water then trickles down a channel into a tank, and on down the hill.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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:
Posted on June 2, 2014, in Botanical interest, West Tenerife and tagged Adeje, Bar El Dornajo, Bencomia caudata, botany, Canarina canariensis, Canary foxglove, Crambe scaberrima, endemic plants, Fuente el Chorrillo, Fuente las Pilas, Hypericum grandifolium, Hypericum reflexum, Ifonche, Isoplexis canariensis, La Cueva de Estancia, La Cueva de las Goteras, La Cueva de Regocijo, La Cueva la burra, Maidenhair fern, Mentha longifolia, Reserva natural especial Barranco del infierno, Rhamnus integrifolia, senderismo, Shrubby buckthorn, Shrubby burnet, walking, Watercress. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.