A delightful shady walk from Chanajiga picnic area in the Orotava valley

A section of the path climbing through the forest

A section of the path climbing through the forest

July has been very hot here in Tenerife, but the temperatures have gone down to pleasanter levels this week so we did this walk last Wednesday, 28th July. The forecast was good for the Orotava valley, with full sun and no cloud predicted. This is important for the upper Orotava valley as Chanajiga picnic area is in the cloud forest zone at the foot of the steep forested slope of the valley and is frequently in the cloud and although we wanted a walk in the shade of the forest, we preferred not to be in the cloud which takes away the chances of views and can also be quite disorientating.

A view of the top of the Orotava valley through a gap in the trees

A view of the top of the Orotava valley through a gap in the trees

We approached the Orotava valley on the north motorway – TF-5 – and went through some rain, so were wondering if it was the right day, but then saw sunshine ahead so continued up the Orotava valley. As we neared Chanajiga there was light cloud, but when we got there we were just above the cloud, in lovely sunshine. We left the main road through the Orotava valley at the junction in Camino de Chasna, signposted Benijos and Palo Blanco. After passing through Benijos we came to a turning left with a signpost to Chanajiga. From there on the road is very rural and we even came across a goatherd with a small flock of goats grazing the sides of the road.

Sticky Broom (Adenocarpus foliosus) along the track on the ridge

Sticky Broom (Adenocarpus foliosus) along the track on the ridge. A Canary endemic

When we arrived at Chanajiga I discovered I did not have the GPS track we had intended to follow on my GPS. I thought I had loaded it but did not check it before leaving the house. So we decided to do a bit of exploring and we might find the route intended, or part of it, or not as the case may be. We started off scrambling up an exceedingly steep unofficial path, which I am not recommending, till we got to a track, where we turned left and walked a little way till we saw a very well defined path crossing the track diagonally, and decided to go up that.

A Canary Blue butterfly (Cyclyrius webbianus) resting on my hand

A Canary Blue butterfly (Cyclyrius webbianus) resting on my hand

The path was going up a very steep hill, but with zig-zags it was not excessively steep to climb. There was shade from pines above the path and at intervals views through them to the mountains at the top of the Orotava valley, and the sea of cloud beneath. The day felt warm for the climb and we were glad of a gentle breeze through the trees.

A flower of the Pine forest Cistus (Cistus symphytifolius) in the shrubby vegetation on the ridge

A flower of the Pine forest Cistus (Cistus symphytifolius) in the shrubby vegetation on the ridge

Very suddenly the path came out on a wide dusty track, so we found we had reached the top of the steep side of the valley. At this point the footpath continued to the left, starting parallel to the track, but probably diverging from it – to be explored another time! We joined the track, and, after a lunch break, walked steeply downhill on the track. The track had very mixed vegetation either side, of the type found on the edge of the laurel forest with Fayas (Myrica faya) and Madrono (Arbutus canariensis), and lots of different flowering shrubs such as Sticky Broom (Adenocarpus foliosus), Pine forest Cistus (Cistus symphytifolius), Shrubby Burnet (Bencomia caudata), Shrubby scabious (Pterocephalus lasiospermus) along with Tenerife Birds-foot Trefoil (Lotus campylocladus). The flowers and sunshine on the edge of the forest attracted many butterflies including Canary Blues (Cyclyrius webbianus), Bath Whites (Pontia daplidice) and Clouded Yellows (Colias crocea).

Daphne (Daphne gnidium) by the track

Daphne (Daphne gnidium) by the track

We descended on the track from around 1600m to just below 1350m where we came to a track crossroads and decided to turn right. The track we were now on was the same track we had reached first reached near the beginning of the walk, but nearly 2 km to the north. It was a delightful shady walk, roughly level with cliffs to the right where the track had been carved out of the hillside.

Shrubby scabious (Pterocephalus lasiospermus)

Shrubby scabious (Pterocephalus lasiospermus) A Canary endemic

Beside the track, on the rocks, were shrubby plants with flowers, including Cardo de Cristo (Carlina salicifolia) or Willow-leaved carline thistle, and Cruzadilla (Hypericum reflexum) or Reflexed St Johns Wort. At the base of the rocks Wild Marjoram (Oreganum vulgare) and Lesser Calamint (Calamintha nepeta) were flowering.

Cruzadilla (Hypericum reflexum) or Reflexed St Johns Wort. A canarian endemic

Cruzadilla (Hypericum reflexum) or Reflexed St Johns Wort. A canarian endemic

 

We got to the path junction where we had turned uphill earlier, and this time we went down on the path the other side of the track. This was a gentle descent, which after a while crossed a barranco and passed some buildings of the Galeria de la Zarza. Continuing on we joined a track and turned downhill. A hundred metres or so on we saw a cairn on the left of the track and a well used footpath going downhill. However, it was badly eroded by rain and bicycle use, with loose stones on a very steep slope, so we decided to continue on the track. The path would probably be OK to climb, but it looked somewhat dangerous going down. Soon the track reached a T-junction and we turned left to return to Chanajiga.

 

The level shady track

The level shady track

Because our initial ascent was not recommended, I have edited the GPS track to start and finish the walk on the same path. The walk should still only take about 3.5 hours. The GPS track can be found here: http://www.wikiloc.com/wikiloc/spatialArtifacts.do?event=setCurrentSpatialArtifact&id=10339097

The path we made our final descent on.  I have edited the GPS track to use this same path for the initial climb also

The path we made our final descent on. I have edited the GPS track to use this same path for the initial climb also

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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 July 31, 2015, in Botanical interest, North Tenerife, Walks in Tenerife and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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