Category Archives: West Tenerife
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The walk took us around 3.5 hours, walking up.
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/
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
The GPS track of our walk can be found at the link below:
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.
We revisited this walk on Wednesday, 20th January, but did do some minor variations. We walked in a clockwise direction, to ensure that we walked the ridge while it was clear of cloud, though on that particular day it was not a problem as it turned out.
The main variation we made was on the return from the Albergue de Bolico (point 11 in the book). After taking the path up from the Albergue till reaching the track, we walked only 450m on the track before turning left onto a footpath to cut through the laurel woods rather thancontinue on the yellow/white marked trail on the track. That path took us through the woods joining the book’s route at point 5. These changes resulted in a walk that was only 14.52 km long and took us under 5 hours.
The day we chose turned out to be exceptionally clear, and we had the best ever views from the ridges we walked on.
This walk was done on September 21st to explore a newly signposted route. I had seen the signpost just above the village of Chiguergue several months before, and had tried to find out where the path went, but could find nothing on the internet, or at the tourist office in Guia de Isora. So we decided to walk it.
The signpost said it was a spur off the TF-PR 69 – a footpath from Chio to Vera de Erques. This one was numbered TF-PR 69.1 and was signposted to Chasogo 9.2km. Chasogo is a mountain on the western side of the TF-38 road from Chio to Teide, at around Km 4. However, although we did not follow the path all the way there, I now believe the signs send one to a track just below the mountain, which, if you turned left comes out on the TF-38 around Km 6.
I was curious about the route because I could see that it started out, across the TR-38 Teide road, with a newly-cleared footpath I was not familiar with. So I wondered if there were a lot of newly-cleared paths in this newly signposted route. However, it turned out it was the only section of path that I and my friends had not previously explored, since Guia de Isora ayuntamiento (local council) cleared a lot of footpaths in a project in 2007-8. All the same it was good to see that the signage makes the route much more accessible to those who do not know the area, especially as walking in forest can be a little disorientating even if you are a good navigator.
The path took us up from Chiguergue, across the Vergera canal and onto a ridge from which was a lovely view. It continued up the ridge, then a slight diversion to the right, and again upwards till we reached the TF-38 again after its first big bend. We crossed the road between km 19 and 20 and continued upwards.
Soon afterwards we reached a crossroads of paths and continued upwards until we reached a signpost. By this point we had climbed 600m uphill with little respite, on a very warm day, and since we now knew where the path was going to end up, we had had enough climbing. So we decided to take the green and white signposted route downwards, going left at the signpost. It indicated the path went to Chio.
The path TF-PR 69.1 went to the right at this signpost up a footpath known locally as the Camino del Plato. I have previously walked it and found it a very pleasant walk passing through the pine forest and coming into open country. It passes some pahoehoe lava from Pico Viejo on its way before reaching a track in the national park.
We followed the Chio signs down to cross the TF-38 again between Km 18 and 19. After crossing the road the path crossed a track and then rejoined the same track lower down. At this point we could have gone left onto a faint, but clear track and later turned right down another path descending another ridge to arrive back near where we started. Instead we continued down the green and white path, which for a while was comfortable walking as it followed a smooth pahoehoe lava with large crystals in it.
However, after crossing a track, the descending path became very unpleasant to walk, being steep and covered in loose rocks. Eventually it came down to the TF-38 just above Chio, and we had to turn left and walk approximately 2 km along the road to get back to where we started.
This walk was done last Wednesday, 24th June, on a warm sunny day with fluffy drifting clouds occasionally blocking views. It is a very varied walk through a variety of environments including laurel forest, pine forest and the lakeside area. Consequently we saw a range of different flowers, and butterflies, in the different areas.
We parked in the centre of Erjos, behind the square and followed the signposts across the main road, down some steps beside the church, across a minor road, and straight on down the road opposite to the right angle bend in the road where a path drops down past a high wall and around an old water reservoir. We were now in the sunken lane which leads to the lakes, by which we would return, but we immediately turned right up another path, signposted to Las Portelas and Monte del Agua. This leads up towards some communications masts where we meet a track.
Instead of walking along the track, we took a path up from the corner, marked with a yellow and white cross. This can be overgrown with brambles, but was not bad this time, and our group helped to clear some of the stems encroaching on the path with secateurs, as we passed. The path climbs up to the top of a ridge which, after a little while, overlooks the Erjos lakes in the valley below. There are also fine views over the lakes to Mt Teide, and the volcanic landscape between.
On the ridge we saw many Canary Blue butterflies (Cyclyrius webbianus) and Brown Argus (Aricia agestis cramera). The photos are not the best, as the subjects do not stay still long! And with other walkers I cannot linger too long! After walking along the ridge some way, with ups and downs we met a track coming up from the lakes, joined it for a few yards and then took a path right into the laurel forest. (Note this was not the first path on the right down into the forest – there is one just before you reach the track)
The path in the laurel forest is roughly level with only slight ups and downs. It goes through an area affected by the forest fire in 2007. The burnt laurels grow up from the base again, leaving the burnt trunks standing, but now they are rotting at the base they are falling, often across the path! So there are a few obstacles on the path, but nothing major as some cutting has been done. The fire allowed light to get through to the forest floor, and since then there have been a wealth of flowers through this part. Those in flower at this time of year included Balm of Gilead (Cedronella canariensis), Malfurada (Hypericum grandifolium), Reina del monte (‘Mountain queen’) (Ixanthus viscosus), Forest Bindweed (Convolvulus canariensis), Canary Islands Buttercup (Ranunculus cortusifolius), and Canary Islands Cranesbill (Geranium reuteri). The last two had nearly finished flowering. The butterflies seen in the laurel forest were the Canary speckled woods (Pararge xiphioides).
In the forest at the first path junction we went right, then shortly after we took a right fork down to the Fuente de los Loros, a lovely spot where a tap drips water out of a rocky outcrop. Because of the water, you can hear plentiful bird life in the vicinity. Returning to the fork, we continued on the other path, turning left shortly afterwards to join a track, turning right along it, and walking down to an open col, the Cumbre de Bolico, where the track turns sharply to the right. At this bend we took a signposted path, up to the left. The path continued up gently, with beautiful views to the right down towards the rugged landscape around Masca till we arrived at the col called the Degollada de la Mesa where we had our lunch.
After lunch we continued following the yellow and white waymarked path over the col, down towards Santiago del Teide, until we reached the end of a track, where we turned left. This track winds around Mt Gala, the mountain with the fire watchtower and communications masts, until it reaches the tarmaced access track to the tower and masts. Here we should have continued across the track following the yellow and white marked path down to the lakes, but instead we decided to walk down the track and turn down another path towards the lakes, which was, I believe, the Camino Real or Royal Road, from Santiago del Teide to Erjos. However a short distance before this path joins the tracks around the lakes, it is badly overgrown with brambles, so we had to do a long detour through the overgrown abandoned fields to find a way around the brambles.
After that adventure we just had to walk along the track by the lakes, and rejoin the yellow and white route, through the delightful sunken lanes, back to the village of Erjos. On the way we saw Bath White butterflies, Small white, Clouded yellow and Canary Red Admirals.
The walk was approximately 12 km and involved around 450m of climbing, mainly in small ups and downs. It took us nearly 5 hours, at a leisurely summer pace, enjoying the surroundings.
We did this walk last Wednesday, 3rd June. It did not go to plan because of a path overgrown with brambles which resulted in us turning back and having to do an alternative walk to that planned. So I will not be describing the walk in detail, or sharing a GPS trail because it was a fairly haphazard route. I just wanted to share the delights of the flowers and butterflies we saw in the area.
In the south of Tenerife now, where I live, the flowers are getting hard to find, as it is now so dry after a dry winter and a very hot heatwave a couple of weeks ago, which finished off a lot of greenery. However, just over the watershed between Santiago del Teide and Erjos, there are still some flowers, so that is why we planned a walk there.
We parked at the start of the track to the rural hotel which leaves the Eco Museum roundabout about 1km west of the turning to San Jose de los Llanos on the TF-373. (The Eco Museum is a low traditional building to the north of the roundabout which was built and completed a few years ago but has not yet opened. The building is used once a year for a threshing festival in late July, but is otherwise unused.)
We planned to do a circle starting to the north of the road, crossing at San Jose de los Llanos and finishing the circle on the south of the road, which we did, but not quite the route planned. The north side of the road has some remnants of laurel forest, and a lot of lush vegetation, with little farms in between, whereas the south side of the road is the edge of the pine forest, with a shrub covered open area around the rural hotel.
Unfortunately the lushness of the area favours the growth of brambles, which we encountered blocking the path as we descended to the delightful patch of laurel forest we discovered only last July. On that walk we had encountered a very difficult and overgrown part of the path at the end of a lovely path through the laurels. This time we met a barrier of brambles before we reached that bit. Even though we had secateurs, we would have taken a long time cutting our way through the bit we saw, and we still did not know if last year’s bad patch would have been cleared so we turned around.
From San Jose de los Llanos we took the track from the top of the road that passes Bar Risco and on the edge of the pines we saw several Cardinal butterflies. We were also seeing many Meadow Brown butterflies in the grassy areas, though most were uncooperative for photos! The Clouded yellow butterflies we saw lots of were all camera shy! We also saw Yellow under Pearl moths flying, and Bath White, and Canary Blue butterflies in quite large numbers. Then towards the end of the walk, we saw two Small Copper butterflies.
So I am sorry the photos are not the best, on walks it is difficult to take the necessary time to get good butterfly and moth photos – and I don’t carry my big camera either. As it is I am not very popular with my walking companions for breaking off conversations on a butterfly hunt, and ending up well behind and having to catch up!
However, I hope the description of some of the lovely flowers and butterflies and moths that can be seen will inspire you to go out and look for them.
Another walk from Tamaimo, which had plenty of floral interest. We did it last Wednesday, 22nd April, on a glorious sunny day, so the views from the ridge above Tamaimo were great.
We went up the path signposted to the Cruz de los misioneros, which climbs steeply up to the white cross on the ridge to the north of Tamaimo. The path is steep but easy to follow and with plenty of rock steps making the walking easy. It was not the dangerously loose scree path I remembered descending a number of years ago, so that was a pleasant surprise. That was the main reason I had not walked this path since then. So the first half of the walk was relatively new to us, but the second half was the same as end of the walk we did in February which I wrote a blog about entitled A scenic and botanically interesting circular walk from Tamaimo, Santiago del Teide
We walked from the church in Tamaimo following the yellow and white signs to the Cruz de los misioneros till we came onto a footpath taking us to the barranco streambed, which we crossed, and began the ascent, following the signs.
The Retama (Retama raetam)bushes and the Canary Tree Bindweed (Convolvulus floridus), were both covered in white flowers from the barranco streambed until quite high up the ridge. As we neared the top the rocks had clumps of Aeonium sedifolium hanging off them, covered in yellow flowers, and there were also the yellow flowers of the “Queen’s crown” (Corona de la reina) (Gonospermum fruticosum) and the Madama (Allagopappus dichotomus). On the top of the ridge there were also a lot of Kicksia scoparia again with yellow flowers, with a spur on the base, blowing in the wind on their grass-like stems.
We walked up to the knoll where the cross is mounted and enjoyed the beautiful views in all directions, including to Teide, the Santiago Valley and Teno. Then we decided to continue following the yellow and white marked trail up higher to cross the top of the Montaña de Gauma and then down the ridge. The climb from the Cruz de los Misioneros to the top of Mt Guama was steep with many rock steps which were easily climbed, ably led by Andy Tenerife Walker who does Guided walking for tourists. Visit his Facebook page and website for more information if you are interested. http://www.tenerife-guided-walks.com
Madama (Allagopappus dichotomus)
As we continued down the ridge the vegetation was dominated by Retama and canarian Spurges (Euphorbia lamarckii mixed with the Retama, and Euphorbia canariensis on the rocky bits). However, as we descended other plants were interspersed, including Parolinia intermedia, Neochamaelea pulverulenta, and Justicia hyssopifolia. All of these I mentioned and illustrated in my previous blog, but the Justicia was not then in flower, so I have added a picture with flowers this time.
We continued down the path till it turned left to descend to the valley, and had our lunch break on the rocks overlooking the Los Gigantes harbour. Then we went down into the valley, turning left at a T-junction of paths with a signpost, to return to Tamaimo.
The walk took us 3.75 hours and was approximately 7km / 4.4miles long with 492m of ascent.