Category Archives: Teide National Park
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This walk would not be enjoyable if you chose the wrong day, but on a warm sunny day with clear views, and only light wind, it is a real pleasure and very easy. So check the weather forecast before you go. I did it as a linear walk from the Roque de Mal Abrigo to the Mirador Chipique. However, I am not going to write about that as the middle bit was certainly not easy. I am just going to write about the first 2.5 km, and suggest doing it as a there and back walk.
The Roque de Mal Abrigo (which literally means Bad Overcoat Rock) is at about km 34.8 on the TF-24 road which runs from La Esperanza to El Portillo. It is in the Teide National Park, which encompasses this strip of ridge as well as its main area in the caldera. You will find there are several places you can park off the road near to the start of the path.
The path goes towards the east, passing between bushes of Retama del Teide (Spartocytisus supranubius), Shrubby Scabious (Pterocephalus lasiospermus) and Tenerife Flixweed (Descourainia bourgaeana). There is a fork in the path early on, with signposts, take the right fork which continues roughly level, not downhill. There are fine views to Teide, and down the Orotava valley, and even the island of La Palma, clouds permitting.
The path climbs gently over a red-coloured gravelly rise, Montaña Yegua Blanca, and then descends the other side to meet the road. You will have walked 1.29 km and climbed gently about 60m. If you want you can retrace your steps from here, or arrange a car to pick you up. Otherwise you can go across the road and continue for a further 1.2 km with a short climb of about 30m before returning. This will get you to the top of Montaña la Negrita to enjoy the fine views down the ridge, and down to the coast of the Güimar valley and across to the island of Gran Canaria if it is not blocked by cloud or haze.
The path does continue on down from the top of Montaña la Negrita and is well defined and easily negotiated by adventurous and well-equipped walkers. It is, however, a steep descent requiring excellent footwear, surefootedness and, preferably, two sticks to negotiate safely. There is then a rise to Montaña Colorado followed by an equally steep, though longer, descent to the road at La Crucita (around km 30). I am therefore not recommending it as an easy walk!
The recommended walk to the top of Montaña la Negrita and back is just over 5 km / 3.25 miles, with around 100 m / 325 ft of ascent and descent. It took my friends and I 1 hr and 40 minutes to do it.
This is to let all my readers know, to hurry up to the National Park in the next 2-3 weeks to enjoy the festival of flowers there at the moment. Yes the Teide Viper’s Bugloss, or Tajinastes rojos, (Echium wildpretii) are out already, even though it’s earlier than usual. There is also a fantastic display of Mountain wallflowers, Alhelí, (Erysimum scoparium), and Teide catmint, Tonática, (Nepeta teydea) on the slopes around Boca de Tauce which were affected by the forest fire in 2012. I have never seen such a profusion of colourful flowers in that area as there is this year.
And for those of you who are not great walkers, or who have friends who are not, this short walk will get you up close to the plants without walking very far, or on very rough surfaces, but far enough from the road to be able to enjoy it.
My friends and I parked at the Mirador which is between Km 3 and Km 4 on the road from Chio to Boca de Tauce, the TF-38. It is the mirador which looks up at the Narices del Teide (Teide’s nostrils) on Pico Viejo. From the parking area we crossed the road and took a path which runs behind the crash barrier for a few yards and then turns away. It heads first in a northerly direction and then wanders through the lava towards the west and finally ends up heading south and eventually joins a track at the foot of the caldera wall. This path is on lava and is mostly comprised of small lava pebbles, so not the most comfortable walking surface. If the roughness of the path bothers you, instead of taking the path from directly opposite the parking at the Mirador, walk down the road towards Boca de Tauce (roughly south) for about 300m till you see a track on the right, which you take. Walk towards the caldera wall and there you meet where the path joins the track.
At the bend in the track where the path joins, you start to see the flowers. Initially some Escobon plants (Chaemacytisus proliferus) with white broom-like flowers, a canary endemic widely used for animal fodder. Continuing further, past a rocky part of the caldera wall, the slope opens out on the right and the Tajinastes begin, accompanied by Mountain wallflowers. Continue on the track, past an open sandy area which is underlain by ‘ropey’ lava, and continue up a slight slope on the track to another area on the right with lots of Tajinastes, mixed with Mountain wallflowers, Teide catmint and Mountain figwort (Scrophularia glabrata). On the left are also some bright yellow Sticky Broom flowers or Codeso del monte, (Adenocarpus viscosus) making a contrasting colour.
You could then turn around and retrace your steps, but if you fancy a longer walk, continue up the track to a bend, where a signposted footpath goes to the left. If you follow that footpath along the foot of the caldera wall, and for one section, on the lava, you will see more flowers, including a whole slope covered in Teide catmint with a haze of deep purple up the slope. You will arrive at the National Park information post near to Boca de Tauce in the building called Casa Juan Evora. You can then either return the same way, or walk back on the road (not really recommended). Of course, if you planned in advance you could organise one car at each end.
The walk my friends and I did was just over 6 km (both there and back) and we took 2.5 hours. It could have been considerably less, but we were stopping a lot, looking at the flowers and taking photos. If you extend the walk to Boca de Tauce as suggested the walk in both directions will add up to between 8.5 and 10 km depending whether you take the path or track at the beginning and end.
Enjoy the floral spectacle!
On Wednesday, 25th March my friends and I did this walk which is mainly Walk 31 in the book, except we did not go to the top of Guajara, and, instead of walking down to Vilaflor, we turned right half-way down, to walk up the Ucanca valley back to the Parador.
The route we took uphill back to the Parador is shown on the map for Walk 31, as an alternative route, in purple.
We turned right at the path junction for the lunar landscape walk, using a small path marked with a cross. This little path, as we had expected, took us through the woods roughly on the contour to meet the Ucanca valley path, and by so doing we saved ourselves walking further down to the main path junction, and then having to walk up again.
At this time of year, especially as it has been both dry and cold this winter and spring, there are not yet many flowers. In fact the only ones I saw were the Mountain shrubby plantain (Plantago webbii), some Tenerife birds-foot trefoil (Lotus campylocladus) in the pine forest above the Lunar landscape, and some Teide marguerite (Argyranthemum teneriffae), on the way back down to the Parador.
However, later in the spring and summer this route, especially through the Ucanca valley, has plentiful flowers, including, in May and early June, many of the huge red-flowered Teide Viper’s Bugloss known in spanish as Tajinaste rojo, (Echium wildpretii).
So Wednesday’s walk was just a feast of dramatic landscapes, shown at their best because we had glorious sunshine and blue skies all day, despite much of the rest of the island, lower down, having a cloudy day!
The mountains were just enhanced by a light sprinkling of snow they received in the last week.
The walk took us 5hrs 20mins, was 15.3 km long and involved 880m of climbing, unfortunately mainly in the second half, but although it was lovely sunshine, it was not hot, and there was a pleasantly cooling breeze too. In summer you might find it takes longer, and be sure to take plenty of water. There is one place where you can get water, but it is not guaranteed to be of drinking water quality, though if you were short it would probably be worth the risk!
A GPS track of the walk can be viewed on maps, and downloaded from the following link:
Apart from the walk I did on August 8th, 2012 (see the gallery of photos posted on this blog then), I have not walked in the area of the Barranco de Tágara since the devastating fire there nearly a year ago. However, I had been interested in doing so while the forest is more open than before, as my friends and I believed there were paths there we did not know, and finding and exploring them would be easier. So yesterday we went to search out new paths.
We set out from the Mirador de Chio, or Narices del Teide, near km3 on the TF-38 from Boca de Tauce to Chio and walked a little way up the road towards Boca de Tauce and turned right onto a track heading across the malpais (aa lava flow) towards the caldera wall. On the caldera wall I spotted the La Palma groundsel (Senecio palmensis) hanging from a cleft in the cliff. It is an endemic of La Palma, but also of Tenerife. In the malpais were clumps of Shrubby scabious (Pterocephalus lasiospermus), now in full flower.
The track bends around to the left and on the bend below the cliff was a clump of the endemic Tenerife campion (Silene nocteolens). There were quite a few specimens in the area, mostly beneath rocks or rocky cliffs.
We made our way to the fire vigilance watch-tower at the back of Mt Cedro, the focus of a popular walk for our walking group – before the fire, of course. From there we took a path that was renovated not so long ago, heading downhill. It is now well defined, unlike when I first tried to follow it, upwards, before it was renovated! However, we had not gone very far down it when we came across a group of cairns, and some white paint spots, drawing our attention to a path going left which we had never seen before. We had a little discussion and decided to follow it.
The path headed left along the head of the Barranco de Tágara, with fine views down into it, from directions I had never seen before. It was not the best path ever, but was easy to follow with plenty of cairns and white paint spots. Having crossed the barranco head it headed downhill, getting steeper, and was a bit loose underfoot here. The last couple of hundred yards the cairns and markings disappeared, but we could see a track ahead and just made our way down to it. We found ourselves on a bend in the track where the path from Boca de Tauce to Guia de Isora, the PR-TF 70 passes very close, at point 7 in Walk 9 of the book ‘Tenerife Nature Walks’. This is where that path intersects a path shortcut, which we took, and this resulted in us ending up at point 12A of that walk.
We were now in the Barranco de Tágara itself, beneath its mighty cliffs and surrounded by trees with deeply charred bark and branches, but amazingly mostly still alive. It is a testament to the resilience of the Canary Pine (Pinus canariensis) that it can survive even such an intense fire as was concentrated in that Barranco last July. A few giant trees which had fallen due to the fire, and which last August we saw still burning, had, of course, died, but the vast majority are sprouting new green shoots up the trunks, giving hope for the future. Meanwhile it still looks a little bare on the ground, although there clearly had been a good showing of Teide marguerites (Argyranthemum teneriffae) this spring, now mostly over. Other ground flora is regenerating rapidly, including Teide wallflowers (Erysimum scoparium) and Pine forest cistus (Cistus symphytifolius), so next spring should have a great show in the Barranco.
We followed the yellow/white marked PR TF-70 through the Barranco and found the path had been cleared of obstacles such as fallen trees, rocks, etc, which we had encountered last August. There were some rough bits, especially crossing a near vertical streambed, just after passing the Galeria (water mine), but it was all walkable.
However, as we left the barranco and turned the corner, we found a burnt tree across the path at head-height – easily ducked under – and soon afterwards a huge burnt tree still lying across the path at the point the path from the firetower joins the PR TF-70. It was easily skirted around, but I was surprised it had not been trimmed so the path was clear.
We continued to follow the PR TF-70 path, crossing the Barranco Peguerias, where you still have to go a little way down the streambed to get up to the path on the other side. Out of that barranco the path rises gently till it reaches the crest of a ridge where a signpost points the PR TF-70 downhill. This was where we left that path, as we wanted to explore a path going up the ridge. I had thought it likely this was a minor path, although looking down from above we had been able to see it clearly. It turned out to be a well-constructed proper path with steps in places, and rain-gutters too, so it was a pleasure to walk.
As expected, the path joined another path I have walked only once or twice, which crosses the Barranco Peguerias higher up than the PR TF-70. However, we did not turn right at that point to cross that barranco, but went left to cross the Barranco del Cedro, zig-zagging up the far side till we reached the track which accesses the Galeria Salto Gutierrez. The track was a bit overgrown and had some large rockfalls across it, showing it had not had vehicles along it for a long time. As we went along it we discovered why – Charaquete – had washed the track away, though we were able to cross on foot without much trouble.
After that barranco we started looking for the path to go back up to where we started. However, we walked right past it as it was badly eroded, and the cairns had fallen. Fortunately the track did a hairpin bend and crossed the path again, where we did see the cairns for the path and started following it up. At first it was very steep, and with the erosion of the path, needed a lot of effort and concentration in placing of feet, but higher up it was less steep and was easier walking, till we reached the malpais. In the malpais it was harder to see the path, and the cairns, but they were there and guided us to a new bit of National Park path, very clearly delineated, on which we went left.
The National Park path clearly replaced the previous path I had on which I crossed the malpais several years ago, and it wound its way to the road right opposite the Mirador where we had parked. We had seen the signboard for the path when we started, but had not seen the path, which went to the right from the signboard behind the crash barrier.
The route took us around 6 hours, was 15.4km long and involved 622m of climbing.
Scenic walk from the Parador hotel in Las Cañadas del Teide to Vilaflor passing the Sombrero de Chasna
On Wednesday last week I walked with a group of 11 others from the Parador in Las Canadas del Teide down to Vilaflor. We could have gone a number of different ways but this time we walked up to the Degollada de Ucanca, following the national park path 31, then turning right on the ridge around the caldera till we reached the Sombrero de Chasna and descending with that to our left down the ridge to Vilaflor. The weather forecast was not perfect so we went prepared for all weathers and were pleasantly surprised to find the sun shining in the National Park. It stayed warm and sunny all the way until we passed the Sombrero when we entered the cloud. Thereafter we were in cloud the rest of the way. The sunny weather enabled me to get some good photos, it makes such a difference.
We arrived at the Parador in the Teide bus at just before 11.00 and at that time there was still frost in the shade in the National Park. However, the air temperature felt warm in the sunshine, and we soon got ourselves warm with the initial climb up the side of the caldera, which took us about 50 minutes. Turning right we began the stretch on the ridge, still enjoying the fine views of Teide and the caldera, although not down in the other direction. On the ridge we saw several plants of La Palma groundsel (Senecio palmensis) with the remains of flowers on them, but they were the only flowers we saw.
The walk along the ridge involves two places where a little rock scrambling is needed due to a sudden change of level. Both are well signed with paint arrows and cairns so it is easy to see where to go, and they are easy to manage for the non-rock-climbing walker with normal agility. At times on the ridge the path weaves in and out of Mt Teide broom (Spartocytisus supranubius) bushes, and in some places it is difficult to see where the path goes, but you soon join up with the path again, as long as you stay on the ridge.
Having negotiated the second of the two rock scrambles we enjoyed a lunch break still in the sunshine, with nice sun-warmed rocks to sit on. Then we started the descent to the western side of the Sombrero de Chasna, following the path that goes down that way past an iconic rock pile which is a great landmark. Soon after that we took the left hand path at a fork and continued down that path for quite a way. We were now in the cloud which robbed us of the views down to the south of the island. After about 15 minutes of walking from the fork we reached a point on the path where a line of cairns could be seen going off to the left of the path. We turned off the path to follow the cairns, thus joining the path we walked up in September – described in my blog of September 17th. We had better weather then to enjoy the views!
There was no real visible path at first because the slope was covered with loose rocks, but following the cairns down the slope a faint path at the bottom turned to the left to cross a small barranco, then continuing on the other side to cross another small barranco and up the other side to join an old water channel with a galvanized metal water pipe inside it. We were, more or less, to follow this down to the crossing of the main road, the TF-21 from Boca de Tauce in Las Canadas to Vilaflor, at km 63. At times cairns guided us to the right or left of the pipe to avoid the steep slopes the pipe went straight down.
We crossed the main road when we reached it and walked a few yards down it till we turned down a path to the right used by mountain bikers, with a steep slope down from the road. We followed that path downhill and then turning to the left, passing below the road till we got to a path going to the right which took us all the way down to Vilaflor. We arrived at the football field near the Hotel Villalba and continued straight on down a very steep tarmac road to the main road and across that down another steep street to the main street of the town and went right to where we had parked our cars to go back to the coast.
The walk was about 13 km / 8.1ml long, with about 430m of accumulated climb, and 1090m of descent. It took us about 4.75 hours.
A GPS downloadable track can be found at: