Category Archives: Botanical interest

Botanical exploration in the Barranco Añavingo during May

A view up the barranco before it narrows dramatically

The Barranco Añavingo is at the top of the Güimar valley directly above the town of Arafo.  It is not easy to get to, but once  there the path is easy to follow up and back down the barranco, though it is rough and the brambles are rampant! The accessible part ends abruptly with a cliff which would be a waterfall when raining.  So its a there and back walk, but worth the effort of reaching it.  It is carved out of a steep slope forming the head of the valley, where there is often cloud lingering, and because of its unique environment it houses some interesting plants.

Madama (Allagopappus dichotomus)

Due to the being on the edge of the cloud forest zone, there are a lot of trees of that zone, and there are also some endemics of the local area, including the delightful pink Scabious, (Pterocephalus dumetorum), which is common in the Güimar area.  The flower is similar to the scabious in the National Park, which is the same genus, but the leaves are a soft green instead of grey.

Rosalito salvaje, a pink Scabious (Pterocephalus dumetorum).

The trees present include Maytenus canariensis, which was sporting ample fruits when we visited, Canary holly (Ilex canariensis), Palo Blanco (Picconia excelsa), Madrono (Arbutus canariensis) and Canary Laurel (Laurus novocanariensis).  Unfortunately, because of the rampant bramble bushes, it is difficult to leave the path to get a closer look at all these plants.

Maytenus canariensis, with fruit. A relatively rare small tree typical of the transition zone from thermophile forest to cloud forest.

The plant we had made a special effort to see, the knapweed relative, Cheirolophus metlecsicsii, was well into the barranco.  It is very rare, and we only saw it in one place.  A very small group on a rocky ledge surrounded by the rampant brambles.  The only blessing being that they perhaps help to protect the rare plants from unscrupulous people, who might steal or destroy them.

 

The rare knapweed relative Cheirolophus metlecsicsii, a Tenerife endemic. Not a good picture due to the distance from which it was taken.

Half-way up the barranco the path improves and then leads up some steps to a ledge below an overhang.  This is apparently the site where a statue of a saint, I think it was Saint Anthony, stands.  It is the subject of a local pilgrimage up the barranco.  However, at the time we visited it had been removed for repair.

A view higher up the barranco, with Shrubby burnet near the path

We continued up the barranco until the ‘waterfall’, a shady cliff covered with  Tostonera (Adiantum reniforme), a fern with kidney-shaped leaves which loves damp shady banks and cliffs.

The walk we did reached the barranco by the shortest (and only) route that I know, though I am not sure if it is the easiest. It took us 3.5 hours and was approximately 6 km there and back, although the GPS may well have been inaccurate given the steep sides of the barranco.

 

 

 

Shrubby burnet (Bencomia caudata)

The time taken was lengthened by the need to trim back brambles, as well as by my dallying while looking at plants!

Pimpinella dendrotragium, a canary endemic of the umbellifera family

Barranco del Infierno in May

Last year I visited the Barranco del Inferno in July, (see my blog from last year) and was surprised to see a few plants in flower despite the fact that it was dry after a dry winter.  This year I visited in May, and if anything parts of the Barranco looked even drier than July last year, and there were fewer flowers even though it was earlier in the year.

Allagopappus dichotomus is another Canary endemic of the Compositae family (Daisy)

The Sea Rosemary and the Hyssop-leaved Justicia were both in flower in May, as in July.   They seem to flower much of the year. However, the Maple-leaved Mallow flowers were all over, though we had seen one still in flower last July.

 

 

Tree Bindweed – Guaydil in spanish – (Convolvulus floridus), another Canary endemic, is a lovely shrub especially when in flower.

One thing I enjoyed from going earlier in the year, was that we heard the frogs croaking in full voice.  Running water, and ponds, are rare in Tenerife, and especially in south Tenerife, so we don’t often hear the frogs.

 

In the narrow part of the Barranco, leading up to the waterfall, the views are dramatic. Canary Willow trees can be seen in the base where it is wet.

To walk from the entrance to the waterfall and back takes approximately 3 hours.  The path is clear and well-maintained, but can be rough in places, so good footwear is still required.  You are required to wear a hard hat (provided at the entrance) the whole of the visit.  In the winter, especially, it is advisable to book in advance, and there is an entrance charge.  For information about the Barranco and how to book, visit the website:

http://www.barrancodelinfierno.es

Dorycnium eriophthalmum, is a rare, threatened, Canary Endemic.

 

Chanajiga in May with lots of flowers and butterflies

A view from the track as we were returning to the start.

My blog of 31st July, 2015, describes a walk from Chanajiga Recreation area high above Los Realejos in the Orotava valley. I love going there in the summer on a clear day to get the views and enjoy a shady walk. This year I went at the end of May when the flowers and insects were amazing. I was with my husband who is not a walker, but loves nature, so we just did a there and back walk on the lower track.

Canary Strawberry Tree (Arbutus canariensis) an endemic tree, showing its characteristic smooth red bark

On arriving at the barbecue area there is a wide part of the track where we parked, and then continued on the same track for as long as we felt like, returning the same way. It was a delightful walk. The photos below are some of the delights we saw.

Atlantic Islands Buttercup (Ranunculus cortusifolius) still in flower at the end of May

Large-leaved St John’s Wort (Hypericum grandifolium)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Small White Butterfly (Pieris rapae) on Canary Geranium flowers (Geranium reuteri

Spoon-leaved houseleek (Aeonium spathulatum) growing on the cliff at the side of the track

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Hummingbird Hawk-moth or Bee Moth (Macroglossum stellatarum) feeding on Vipers Bugloss (Echium vulgare) Sorry the picture not clear! They don’t stay still! I saw several around this time in May, including in the National Park at the El Portillo botanic garden.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pericallis cruenta – a relative of Cineraria

 

 

Canary houseleek (Aeonium canariense) on the rocky cliffs above the track

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Canary Red Admiral butterfly (Vanessa vulcania) on Echium strictum

 

Cardinal butterfly (Argynnis pandora) on Pitch plant flower (Psoralea bituminosa)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Punta de Teno botanical walk in May

A large clump of Canary spurge (Euphorbia canariensis) with other xerophytic (dry-loving) shrubs

The flowers of the common shrub Cornical (Periploca laevigata)

The area around the Punta de Teno, also known as Teno Bajo, is a very special place botanically. It is also a bit difficult to get to as there are high cliffs on the north coast which blocked access to the low-lying land beyond, until tunnels were cut through the cliff. In July 2016 8 metres of the road in front of the cliffs collapsed suddenly into the sea, leaving 174 people, and their vehicles, trapped in Teno Bajo. The people were evacuated by helicopter, I’m not sure what happened to their cars! In January 2017 the repaired road was re-opened but with new rules. So now at weekends and holidays it is compulsory to take a bus to and from Teno Bajo. The buses run hourly from Buenavista del Norte and it costs just 1 Euro each way.

Espino de mar (Sea spine) (Lycium intricatum), a prickly shrub, has beautiful but tiny flowers

The advantage of a bus ride is that I can look out of the windows to see the plants on and at the base of the cliffs as we are driven past, and among those in flower in May when we went there was a rare knapweed relative endemic to Tenerife called in spanish Cabezón de El Fraile (the name of the cliff). Its latin name is Cheirolophus buchardii. The bus passed lots of them on the cliffs, but unfortunately I was unable to get a picture. On the cliffs also are dense clumps of the leafless spurge (Euphorbia aphylla), but again I’m sorry no picture.

Another prickly bush, Aulaga (Launeae arborescent) belongs to the lettuce family

We stayed on the bus right down to the beach near the lighthouse at the end of the road. We could have got off at an earlier bus stop if we had pressed the bell, but otherwise the bus does not stop. So we set off walking back towards the tunnel, wandering on the open scrubby coastal plain. There were plenty of flowers to be seen, some fairly common coastal species, such as the Cornical (Periploca laevigata), and Canary spurge (Euphorbia canariensis), and others less common such Dama (Parolinia intermedia) which is a Tenerife endemic which grows in abundance in relatively few areas.

Sea everlasting (Limonium pectinatum)

There was a lot of Sea Lettuce (Astydamia latifolia) in a wide area, but the flowers of most were over, I just found one in flower under a Duraznillo (Cebollosia fruticosa).

Sea Lettuce (Astydamia latifolia)

Of the everlasting flowers (Limonium spp.), the pectinatum was absolutely in the right place, but the imbricatum was right next to the road, nearing the area of most human alteration, where the tomato growing area is.  I rather think the imbricatum may have been planted.

 

Everlasting flower (Limonium imbricatum)

As we passed the tomato plantation area, the coastal plain gradually disappears and the cliffs get closer to the coast. The slopes are covered with different plants from the plain, and hanging from the cliffs is the rare Tenerife endemic Tenerife Samphire (Vieraea laevigata) with its yellow daisy flowers.

The cliffs closing in on the road towards the tunnel

We found we were at a bus stop, and decided we would return to Buenavista, so we hailed the bus.  It had only been a brief visit and only a short stroll but had been a delight and I must make another visit next year in April or May to get a closer look, and better photos, of other exciting plants.

Masca Barranco in May

A narrow gap near the bottom of the barranco

Canary Willow (Salix canariensis) and Canary Palm (Phoenix canariensis) in the base of the barranco

The Masca Barranco (Ravine/Gorge) is a very dramatic landscape with ever-changing views as you walk either up or down. It is also a very special place for plants, many of them rare. In addition it is a popular tourist destination and consequently is sometimes very overcrowded, which detracts from its landscape and ecological attractions. In May when we visited, it was still busy, but not at its busiest.

We decided to take the earliest boat from Los Gigantes and walk up the barranco from the beach. It was pleasantly quiet in the barranco until about half-way, when we started to meet large groups coming down.

 

Dorycnium eriophthalmum, a rare Canary endemic.

We saw many unusual plants and flowers on the way up, the first exciting one was the Dorycnium eriophthalmum, a rare Canary endemic which is not found in many places. I have seen this in flower earlier in the spring so was not expecting flowers in May but was delighted to see just a fewAround this area we also saw Tenerife Samphire (Vieraea laevigata) hanging on many of the damp cliffs.

 

 

 

Tenerife samphire (Vieraea laevigata) hanging on a shady cliff

In the lower part of the barranco we saw the following in flower, though I did not get good pictures to share: Tenerife Lavender (Lavandula buchii), a grey-leaved species common in Teno, Polycarpaea carnosa on the cliff sides, Polycarpaea filifolia in secluded parts of the base of the barranco, Maple-leaved mallow (Lavatera acerifolia), and Palomera (Pericallis lanata) with its lovely purple daisy flowers. We also saw a couple of shrubs of Maytenus canariensis, but not in flower, as well as many other plants.

A flatfish area of rock raised high above the barranco bottom crowned by a Dragon tree (Dracaena drago) surrounded by Euphorbias

Around the middle of the climb up the barranco we met another exciting species in flower, Canary Knapweed (Cheirolophus canariensis). I had never seen this species in flower before so it was a real treat, especially as it appears the only wild population of this species is in Masca barranco. It was good to see that there were specimens over a wide area in this section, including up the cliffs either side.

Canary Knapweed (Cheirolophus canariensis)

 

Queen’s crown (Gonospermum fruticosum)

As the barranco widened the views extended, and included a vista of Canary palms growing naturally on a slope up towards the village. They are the dominant tree in the thermophile (warm-loving) woodland in this area. In this open upper area most of the plants had finished flowering by May, especially in this dry year.

Finally there is a steep slope to climb to reach the village. On a warm day in May, in the full sun, it is a fairly draining experience, and a refreshing drink in one of the bars is very welcome, before we found our taxi we had ordered for our return to Los Gigantes.

 

 

 

A slope covered with Canary Palms (Phoenix canariensis)

The walk took us around 3.5 hours, walking up.

Montana Blanca hike in May

I have not written a blog for a while due to upheavals at home during refurbishment of our flat.  It resulted in my access to my computer and Wifi internet being impossible of extremely restricted, and since returning home there’s been lots to do!  So now I have a bit of spare time I am going to upload some lovely nature experiences I had during May and June.

The rare endemic Teide helianthemum (Helianthemum juliae) flowering in the El Portilla visitor centre garden

Cistus osbeckifolius a rare Tenerife endemic growing in the El Portillo visitor centre garden

On 24th May, 2017, two friends and I were planning a walk from El Portillo in the Teide National Park, to La Forteleza to see the red tajinastes and a rare Tenerife endemic cistus in flower. Unfortunately we did not realise that on that day all paths, except one, in the National Park were closed due to hunting for mouflon – an ancient sheep ancestor introduced to the island for hunting. These animals now pose a serious threat to the rare and endangered endemic plants which grow in the National Park and the surrounding mountain areas. These plants evolved in an environment which did not have large herbivores, and therefore have little defence to them. The hunting now being done is to reduce the numbers and maybe eradicate them.

Shrubby scabious (Pterocephalus lasiospermus) is a Canary endemic which grows widely in the high mountain area of Tenerife

Teide Margarite (Argyranthemum teneriffae) a Tenerife endemic beside the path up to Mtna Blanca

So when we arrived at the visitor centre at El Portillo we discovered we would not be able to do the walk we planned. Instead we had a look at the visitor centre’s botanic garden which contains many of the rare local species in it. Here we saw the Red Tajinaste (Echium wildpretii) and the rare cistus (Cistus osbeckifolius) in flower, as well as others. I have never seen the Teide helianthemum (Helianthemum juliae) before, and it was making a great show, with all its lovely yellow flowers facing the sun. I think the flowers are short-lived as only 5 days later I visited the botanic garden again and all but a few of the helianthemum flowers were over.

Night-scented campion (Silene nocteolens), another endemic, which is being repopulated in the pumice areas near Mtna Blanca.

Mountain Wallflower (Erysimum scoparium) in the open pumicy landscape

Then we resigned ourselves to walking on the only path still open to the public on that day, Montaña Blanca. This path serves the most frequently used (and shortest) route to the top of Mt Teide. There is limited parking at the start of the path, on the road between the base of the cable car and El Portillo, but we were lucky to get one as someone just pulled out in front of us. They had probably come down from the Teide summit where many from the Refugio go up to see the dawn.

Mt Teide Broom (Spartocytisus supranubius) (white flowers), surrounded by Tenerife flixweed (Descurainia gonzalezi)

Blue tajinaste (Echium auberianum) beside our path. Some of Teide’s eggs (large blocks of lava) in the background.

I had previously only walked the path to Montaña Blanca when going up or down Mt Teide in the winter, and had thought the landscape rather boring and exposed, so I was not looking forward to the walk. However, the day was pleasantly sunny with a gentle breeze, and not too hot for walking so we started upwards. The landscape is mainly of pumice spewed out by the Montaña Blanca. But there are some local plants that like the pumice environment. It seems that the National Park has not only been controlling the mouflon to benefit these plants but also has been developping a programme over a number of years, of propagating several species and repopulating the area with them. As a consequence we had an interesting walk with many of these plants in flower.

Blue Tajinaste in front of Tenerife flixweed and a pink form of Mt Teide Broom behind Mtna Blanca

More Teide’s eggs, and a view to the long rocky ridge called La Fortaleza, which we had planned to walk to.

The pumice track continued uphill winding around towards Teide. One fork to the right confused us for a short while, till we realised we should have gone left, otherwise it was easy walking till we got to a path junction at the foot of the steep slope of Teide. Here the path to the summit begins a zig-zag section. There is a path to the left to the top of Mtna Blanca which is where we went, and had a gorgeous panaramic view of the caldera while we ate our lunch.

 

 

After lunch we retraced our steps back to the road, enjoying the views again from the opposite perspective.

Tenerife Flixweed beside the pumice track

The there and back walk involved approximately 400m of climbing on a very gentle slope with good paths. It was approximately 10.6 km / 6.6 miles long and took us about 3 – 3.5 hours.

The Barranco del Infierno, Adeje, in summer

'Sea Rosemary' - Romero marino (Campylanthus salsoloides) was still in flower in July - it flowers over a very long period

‘Sea Rosemary’ – Romero marino (Campylanthus salsoloides) was still in flower in July – it flowers over a very long period

The view to Adeje from the first part of the walk

The view to Adeje from the first part of the walk

I have not visited the Barranco del Infierno for several years because much of that time it has been closed to the public, but it is now open again. The paths have been considerably improved, although they are still rough in places and do need good suitable shoes or boots. Numbers are now limited to 300 people per day and this makes it much more comfortable to walk. This means you need to book your visit in advance, which is easy on the website. I was able to book in July the day before, but I suspect at busy times of year it will be necessary to book much further in advance. The website is: http://www.barrancodelinfierno.es/en/

Mignonette - a local endemic species of it - (Reseda scoria)

Mignonette – a local endemic species of it – (Reseda scoparia)

Maple-leaved Lavatera (Lavatera acerifolia)

Maple-leaved Lavatera (Lavatera acerifolia)

July is not the best time of year to visit the Barranco because much of the vegetation is shutting down for the summer, losing leaves, and so on. In fact I was not expecting to see many flowers at all, or to see much water in the waterfall and stream, but in both cases I was pleasantly surprised. So it was still an enjoyable and interesting experience. We did make a fairly early start, though, at 9.30 and finished our visit when Adeje’s church clock was striking 12.00. It was already getting quite hot in the sun in the barranco, so we were pleased to finish early.

 

Tolpis crassiscula - a very local endemic - was in flower up the cliffs in lots of places

Little Teno Lettuce – Lechugilla de Teno -(Tolpis crassiscula) – a very local endemic – was in flower up the cliffs in lots of places

Flowing stream and pool - a rare sight in south Tenerife

Flowing stream and pool – a rare sight in south Tenerife

The Barranco is an amazing landscape. It starts at the top of Calle Molinos, a very steep street right at the top edge of the old town of Adeje. There is an entrance office where you buy or show your tickets, and an area where a briefing is given about the rules of entry, and where helmets are provided for visitors to wear. After that you make your way into the Barranco along the well-defined path, which you are not allowed to leave. The path is both the way in and the return route, so as the day goes on returning visitors meet incoming visitors, and in places the path is so narrow, that one or other has to give way. The fact that entering visitors are in time batches, and the total numbers are limited, means this is not such a problem as it would be with uncontrolled numbers.

Part of the waterfall at the end of the walk - it is so high it's difficult to photograph all of it.

Part of the waterfall at the end of the walk – it is so high it’s difficult to photograph all of it.

A view on the way out of the narrow gorge part of the Barranco

A view on the way out of the narrow gorge part of the Barranco

At the start of the path the barranco is wide and there is view across it to the flat-topped Roque del Conde. As you walk further into the barranco it narrows, until it becomes a very narrow gorge, and finally ends with a 200m sheer cliff down which the water falls, down into a small pool which then flows out into a stream with various rock worn pools on the way. In the first, open, part of the barranco has an ecosystem dominated by Euphorbias, like most of the coastal areas. The middle part contains a thermophile ecosystem with a greater variety of plants, many of them requiring a moister atmosphere than the first part. In this part are examples of typical plants such as the Almaciga (Pistacia atlantica) ,Tree Bindweed – Guaydil (Convolvulus floridus), Maple-leaved Lavatera (Lavatera acerifolia) and Ceballosia (Ceballosia fruticosa). All of these, except a few Lavatera, had already flowered and so I was unable to get pictures. The other abundant plants that were in flower in this area were the Balo (Plocama pendula) and the Mataprieta (Justicia hyssopifolia) both of which are Canary endemics.

A fine specimen of the rare local endemic 'Cliff cabbage' - Col de risk - (Crambe scaberrima)

A fine specimen of the rare local endemic ‘Cliff cabbage’ – Col de risk – (Crambe scaberrima)

Returning through the wider part of the Barranco

Returning through the wider part of the Barranco

The remaining part, the gorge, contains little on the ground between the sheer walls apart from the stream, the path, various Canary Willow trees (Salix canariensis) and Sweet Chestnut trees (Castanea sativa), and brambles. The only really interesting plants were water plants and the local endemic plant, Lechugilla del Teno (where it also grows) (Tolpis crassiscula), which is listed in the Red Book as vulnerable. I was pleased to see a large number of these growing and flowering beside the path and up the cliffs.

Hyssop-leaved Justicia (Justicia hyssopifolia) flower

Hyssop-leaved Justicia (Justicia hyssopifolia) flower

Camino real route from Guia de Isora to Arguayo and return via Chiguergue

Madama (Allagopappus dichotomus) is a Canary endemic plant which is fairly common in the area

Madama (Allagopappus dichotomus) is a Canary endemic plant which is fairly common in the area

I have lived in Guia de Isora area for 11 years, and walked a great many different footpaths in the area, but have long wanted to walk a part of the south Camino Real (Royal Road) from Guia to Chio. However, I did not know where the Camino Real went after Chio and was delighted to see the route from Guia de Isora as far as Santiago del Teide posted in Wikiloc.com by user ‘tinijoma’. So I planned a walk which followed the Camino Real as far as Arguayo and returned by other footpaths, already known to us, slightly higher up.

The delicate Canary endemic shrub known locally as Duraznilla (Ceballosia fruticose)

The delicate Canary endemic shrub known locally as Duraznilla (Ceballosia fruticose)

 

The Camino Real is part of a network of ‘royal roads’ which were directed by the king to be built by the landowners who had been given large areas of land as rewards for participating in the conquest of the island. They were the motorways of the day, linking all the main settlements with wide cobbled paths, enabling communication and trade.

The Camino Real gives some interesting views of the new part of the TF-1 road below.

The Camino Real gives some interesting views of the new part of the TF-1 road below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I walked this route on May 25th with two friends but had not got around to doing a blog about it till now, but wanted to share it as it was an interesting walk both culturally and botanically.

The church in Chio which the route passes

The church in Chio which the route passes

A lot of the botanical interest was that it was the flowering time of the Tenerife endemic Giant Houseleeks – Bejeques in spanish – (Aeonium urbicum ssp meridionale). These plants are short-lived perennials which produce a rosette of succulent leaves on a thick stalk, and may survive several years before producing a large head of flowers and then dying. They grow on the recent lava flows, and other rocky areas, where few other plants are able to survive. Some years there are relatively few in flower, but this year there are huge numbers. Jeff Ollerton, an environmental scientist who does research in Tenerife believes the years when there are a lot in flower occur after a dry winter, and is doing a study to test this hypothesis.

The Camino Real starting the ascent to Arguayo with Tenerife Birds Foot Trefoil (Lotus campylocladus) and marguerites (Argyranthemum spp) along the route

The Camino Real starting the ascent to Arguayo with Tenerife Birds Foot Trefoil (Lotus campylocladus) and marguerites (Argyranthemum spp) along the route

We started our walk from the end of the Avenida de la Constitucion, which is a dead end road on which the Health Centre (Centro de Salud) and a couple of schools are found. My friends call it the ‘road to nowhere’! So it is easy to park towards the far end! We started by heading downhill on a track which appeared at first to be a private drive, not far from the end of the road. However, the track continues beyond the house it passes on a bend and continues down to the TF-82 main road between Guia de Isora and Chio.

This specimen of the Giant Houseleek (Aeonium urbicum ssp meridionale) is a particularly strong pink colour

This specimen of the Giant Houseleek (Aeonium urbicum ssp meridionale) beside the path is a particularly strong pink colour

On reaching the road I realised that instead of crossing it onto another track below the road we had to turn right and walk along the road for some 100m before turning off left onto the Camino Real, which was a single lane tarmac road at first, changing later to dirt track, and later still, a footpath. If you are not happy walking along a fairly busy road (though not so busy as it was before the opening of the new road TF-1) for this distance you could start the walk up in Chiguergue and avoid it, though this would shorten the walk also.

The Canary endemic medicinal plant called Poleo locally (Bystropogon origanifolius)

The Canary endemic medicinal plant called Poleo locally (Bystropogon origanifolius)

The Camino Real follows a route below the old TF-82 road and above the new part of the TF-1 road between Guia de Isora and Chio, with some good views down to the new road. Then it climbs steeply up to the village of Chio with huge cobble stones, but not always in place, so this stretch was a bit rough underfoot. Then we walked through the village passing the church on our left and continuing roughly straight on till we left the other side of the village. Then the route grew closer to the new road, ending up at the top of the embankment of the slip road off the road to the Chio junction, finally crossing the TF-82 at a diagonal as it goes down to cross the TF-1.

On the malpais (rough aa lava flow) the Giant Houseleeks were making a great show

On the malpais (rough aa lava flow) the Giant Houseleeks were making a great show

Then the ascent towards Arguayo began, climbing over malpais, joining the TF-375 road to Arguayo (now quite quiet, with the new road and tunnel), crossing it, and crossing back onto a track past some houses, and joining tarmac as we reached and crossed the TF-375 road again to leave the Camino Real and start our return.

Dicheranthus plocamoides, a Canary endemic known locally as 'Pata de Gallina' - Hen's foot.

Dicheranthus plocamoides, a Canary endemic known locally as ‘Pata de Gallina’ – Hen’s foot.

We did not go into the village of Arguayo, where you can find shops and bars if you want some food or drink, and could go to visit the pottery museum where you can watch demonstrations of traditional local pottery making. Instead we turned right and walked down in front of the cemetry and took the next track on the left. We followed this track, and the path that continued where the track stopped, through to Chio, taking care on the downhill slope into the village.

Some fine specimens of Lesser white Bugloss (Echium aculeatum) another Canary endemic

Some fine specimens of Lesser white Bugloss (Echium aculeatum) another Canary endemic

Arriving at the TF-82 where it goes through the top of Chio, we turned left and walked along the main road for some hundreds of yards till nearly at the end of the village, just before the pharmacy, we turned left up an initially steep narrow road past Chio’s cemetery.  We continued along the narrow road, tarmac at first, then track, then cobbled footpath, until we reached more tarmac just before the village of Chiguergue.

We reached the junction with another small tarmac road, went right and continued on the same road through the top of the village and out the other side. Note that if you want refreshments in Chiguergue you need to go to the bottom of the village. The narrow tarmac road continues towards Aripe through countryside with odd farmhouses. Immediately under a high wall of one of these houses we took a path which wound its way past a vineyard and other fields down to the road where we parked. This path is not well marked and difficult to describe so you need the GPS track to find it easily.

A shrub of Retama (Retama raetem) with its lovely scent, beside the path on the way down to Chio

A shrub of Retama (Retama raetam) with its lovely scent, beside the path on the way down to Chio

The GPS track of our walk can be found at the link below:

http://www.wikiloc.com/wikiloc/view.do?id=13445979

The route is 14.59km / 9.1 ml long with 510m /1675ft of ascent and descent and took 3 of us 4.5 hours to complete.

A nature walk in the dramatic Barranco de Badajoz, Guimar

Looking up the barranco as it narrows.

Looking up the barranco as it narrows.

I have wanted to visit the Barranco de Badajoz for a long time as I was aware of its historical interest and biodiversity. However I always thought it was a rather short walk for my energetic walking friends, and too difficult underfoot for my less active friends. However, I was proved wrong on both counts when I finally visited it on Saturday, 19th March.

Approaching the canal bridge across the barranco after which the path becomes very rough

Approaching the canal bridge across the barranco after which the path becomes very rough

The Barranco de Badajoz is known historically for being the last stronghold of the resisting guanche population after the spanish invasion. However, I was interested more in the wide range of interesting and endemic plants that grow there. Usually such a barranco would be extremely difficult to walk up, due to large boulders, etc, but this was not the case until the last 100m or so before the end point where the barranco becomes almost vertical some hundreds of metres high.

The lush greenery where a side ravine joins the main barranco.

The lush greenery where a side ravine joins the main barranco.

 

The path up the barranco is a driveable (4×4) track for a great part of the way, and then becomes an easy sand/gravel path until you reach a decaying and unused concrete water channel bridge overhead just below the Galeria Izana. Only then does the path deteriorate to a rubbly scramble through bramble bushes till you reach a very narrow gorge, only a couple of metres at its narrowest, where the cascade chain begins.

The final end to the trail, the narrow gorge through which the water gushes after a near vertical fall of 2-300m.

The final end to the trail, the narrow gorge through which the water gushes after a near vertical fall of 2-300m.

 

We began our walk from near the church in the village of San Juan in the Guimar valley where there are a number of parking places and a nice friendly little bar for our end of walk drinks. However, if we had wanted to shorten the walk further we could have driven a further kilometre to park on the side of the barranco itself, or even further than that.

A rare Canary endemic broom Teline osyroides

A rare Canary endemic broom Teline osyroides

 

On entering the barranco it is fairly wide, with small farms either side on the slopes. Gradually as you walk up the barranco sides close in and get steeper and the farms get fewer and then disappear. Half way up the barranco is a concrete and cobbled ramp which takes you past a gallery entrance on the left and through a narrow gorge on a bend in the barranco. Afterwards the barranco widens again but from this point on, the richness of the plant life and the breathtaking scenery are amazing.

Flowers and leaves of Atlantic Island Buckthorn - Sanguino - (Rhamnus glandulosa)

Flowers and leaves of Atlantic Island Buckthorn – Sanguino – (Rhamnus glandulosa)

Immediately after the gorge there is a group of evergreen small trees including Atlantic Islands buckthorn – Sanguino in spanish -(Rhamnus glandulosa), Spiny Buckthorn – Espinero – (Rhamnus crenulata), Canary maytenus – Peralillo – (Maytenus canariensis), and mixed in with them some Wild Olive (Olea europea). Also luxuriant growth of shrubs and climbers such as Shrubby Burnet – (Bencomia caudata), Forest Bindweed – Corregüelón de monte – (Convolvulus canariensis) and Madder – Azaigo de risco (Rubia peregrina ssp agostinhoi).

Canary Maytenus (Maytenus canariensis) and its fruits

Canary Maytenus (Maytenus canariensis) and its fruits

At the sides of the path and tracks can be found Pinnate Rue (Ruta pinnata), False sages (Sideritis oroteneriffae), Viper’s Buglosses of two species (Echium virescens) and (Echium strictum), an endemic broom (Teline osyroides) and Canary St Johns Wort (Hypericum canariensis) among many other things.

Rough-leaved bugloss (Echium strictum) in a mass of vegetation - another Canary endemic

Rough-leaved bugloss (Echium strictum) in a mass of vegetation – another Canary endemic

 

 

 

 

 

On the steep slopes are forests of ferns, lots of native sow thistles (Sonchus sp.), native Cinerarias (Pericallis sp.) and so much more. Even in the luxuriant brambles near the end of the trail an endemic of the stinging nettle family can be found (Urtica morifolia).

Pinnate Rue - Ruta pinnata - a Canary endemic.

Pinnate Rue – Ruta pinnata – a Canary endemic.

The walk took us 3.5 hours at a leisurely pace with plenty of time to look at the plants. We walked 8.5 km / just over 5 miles and climbed approximately 310m on a gentle incline. As mentioned above, starting the walk 1km further on, and finishing a little sooner could have reduced the distance by 2-3 km, and, as it is a there and back walk one can walk as little or as much as desired. However, I do recommend going past the concrete and cobble ramp and through the gorge to see the best biodiversity.

The flowers of Shrubby Burnet (Bencomia caudata), a Macronesian (Atlantic islands) endemic

The flowers of Shrubby Burnet (Bencomia caudata), a Macronesian (Atlantic islands) endemic

You can find various walks to the Barranco de Badajoz on the wikiloc.com site to help you get to the beginning.  Clearly the higher reaches of the barranco with high vertical cliffs does not lend itself to accurate GPS tracks.

Vicia cirrhosa - an annual vetch which scrambles over other shrubs is another Canary endemic

Vicia cirrhosa – an annual vetch which scrambles over other shrubs is another Canary endemic

Exploring the PR-TF 71 signposted path from Las Lajas Recreation park above Vilaflor

PR-TF 71 (1 of 12)

A signpost where the path crosses a track

PR-TF 71 (2 of 12)

The path skirts Montana Colorada with fine views, and in the foreground Tenerife Birds Foot Trefoil (Lotus campylocladus)

About a year ago this newly signposted path was opened between Adeje and the Las Lajas Recreation park (BBQ area/picnic spot). We have walked previously the route up from Adeje, and the stretch between Taucho and Casas de Teresme, but not discovered before where the path went above that. So on Wednesday 3rd February, we decided to walk down from Las Lajas to explore it.

 

Unfortunately because there is no road access between La Quinta (Taucho) and Las Lajas, we had to start by walking down and end by walking up, which is not what we usually like doing. However, the weather was clear and sunny and the route so delightful, with beautiful views, and lovely spring flowers, that it was worth the effort.

PR-TF 71 (3 of 12)

A lovely view to Roque Imoque and Roque de los Brezos near Ifonche, through pines and a carpet of yellow Tenerife Birds Foot Trefoil, a Tenerife endemic.

The walk starts from the BBQ park at the end of the straight entrance track where a signpost with the yellow and white livery points right. About a 50 to 100m from the signpost there is a footpath going to the left with no signage or paint markers to indicate which way the route goes. We stayed with the track and that turned out to be the correct decision.

PR-TF 71 (5 of 12)

Mountain Figwort (Scrophularia glabrata), a Canary endemic, next to one of the yellow/white paint markers

PR-TF 71 (6 of 12)

Pine forest Cistus (Cistus symphytifolius), a Canary endemic

 

We walked down the track as it zig-zagged down the slope, for 2.9km till we came to a yellow/white fingerpost pointing to the right onto a path. This was where the scenic part of the route really began. The little path, marked by cairns and occasional yellow/white paintmarks led down to the edge of a barranco and followed it uphill to a crossing point. In this area of pine forest we started to see lots of blue chaffinches. On this less frequented path they were not too shy, though I did not have time to stop and get photos.

PR-TF 71 (7 of 12)

Another view to Roque del Conde with the pretty pink Mallow leaved bindweed (Convolvulus althaeoides) in the foreground

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A gentle climb again, walking through pine woods, brought us to another barranco crossing. After this we started to get fine views down to the Ifonche area, with the pyramid shaped mountain called Roque Imoque standing out. The flat-topped (slightly sloping) Roque de Conde could also be seen. Then the path went downhill, past a small block building to cross a track running behind a round topped red mountain called Montana Colorado. Later we crossed the same track again and found ourselves walking along the flank of the mountain with even better views. It was from this point, on the side of the mountain that we looked down and saw 3 mouflon, running away through the trees below. Mouflon are wild primitive sheep native to European mountain areas. However, they were introduced to Tenerife and are a threat to the endangered plant species that grow here, especially in the Teide National park. Consequently they are being hunted to keep numbers under control. Since the hunting has become serious, in the last few years, I have seen more mouflon than before, probably because groups have been disturbed. It also may be that we have been exploring more areas remote from roads, where fewer walkers reach! As we continued the view was different, looking to the right of Mt Teresme down to El Cedro, a remote farming area at about 1300m, Tijoco Alto and down to Callao Salvaje on the coast. The track we were following then went into thicker forest with lush undergrowth predominantly of Pine Forest Cistus (Cistus symphytifolius) and Escobon (Chaemacytisus proliferus). All this undergrowth has regrown since the 2012 fire which devastated this area of pine forest. It is remarkable to see how resilient to fire the Canary pine (Pinus canariensis) is. Some of the trees were burned so badly they lost all their branches and foliage, but they now have green shoots growing out of the nodes at intervals all up the trunk and are again flourishing.

The path through the pine woods shortly after leaving the track

The path through the pine woods shortly after leaving the track

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The track took us to an open area with abandoned fields below us, where the track was next to a large red pipe, which we found good to sit on for lunch! This had brought us to the point we had walked to from below on another occasion. On hindsight we should have turned around and gone back the way we came. It would have been quicker and shorter than the way we decided to go. Even then the walk would have been 4.5 hours or a bit more, with about 650m of climbing. However, we normally walk in circles and the only other path up that I knew in the area was the track which we had started out on. I knew the way to it from where we were, but wasted some 25mins trying to do a shortcut which did not work out and we had to retrace our steps. (I have deleted this from the GPS track below.) However, the route did involve losing more height continuing down the yellow/white marked trail nearly to the Casas de Teresme and turning left on a bend just in sight of the next yellow/white signpost, onto a track descending into a barranco.

The track took us to the Galeria del Rosario which is in a deep cleft surrounded by cliffs. My walking group calls it the ‘Hot water gallery’ because they say the water in the channel by the building is warm. It is a beautiful spot. Crossing the streambed we joined a path zig-zagging up a steep slope, criss-crossing the large red water pipe several times on the way. At the top of the path we joined a stony track and continued up it to a junction of tracks where we turned left, uphill. From here on, the track is quite easy walking, it’s just a long slog of zig zags up the slope until we saw the signpost where we left the track earlier, then we continued up the way we came down, all the way to the BBQ park. We had actually walked nearly 20km, with 883m of climbing, and it took us 5 hours 45mins including the shortcut which went wrong. However, without that excursion it should take 5hrs 20m and be only 17.09km, with slightly less climbing.