Walk 15 in the book Tenerife Nature Walks starts in the village of Las Sabinita, climbs up to the recreation area at El Contador and descends to Villa de Arico. This walk, which we did last Saturday, 12th December, starts and ends at El Contador, and takes in some of the best scenery in that longer walk.
We parked at the El Contador recreation area. This is reached from the roundabout on the edge of Villa de Arico, from where it is signposted up a 7 km single track road. The road is tarmac all the way to El Contador, although in places it is in need of repair, so it needs to be taken slowly. There are a few passing places, but we have hardly ever met another vehicle on it, so it’s not so bad as it sounds.
From the parking area we went right, towards the east, following the tarmac to a left-hand bend where there are two signposts, one for the track leading uphill, and the other, straight on, for the path we were to take. The path passes a group of houses, probably originally a large farm, and plunges downhill from a signpost by the houses. It crosses a valley and continues a few hundred metres before joining a track. Turn right on the track.
In order to take in another path in the area, we continued on the track, mainly downhill, for about 1.9km. Not far from where we joined it we passed a path steeply coming down from the left to join the track. This was where we would later return. As we went on down the track we passed on the left is a well-tended farm with vines in terraces up the slope above the track. Continue down until you reach a rather neglected track joining acutely from the left near some neglected vines in some nearby fields. We turned left here and head up the neglected track till it reaches the edge of the pines, as shown in the photo. The track there heads sharp right towards a reservoir, but we take an old but neglected path which heads up beside the large pine on the left in the picture. Initially the path is not very clear, but look up the slope and you will see the stone reinforcements at the side of the path as it zig-zags up the hill on a ridge with great views to the left.
Nearing the top of the ridge, cross over a large water pipe to reach the other side of the ridge, but do not go too close to the edge, which is a cliff. Also there are some large cracks back from the edge of the cliff, so do not walk on the rock between the cracks and the edge of the cliff. However, get as close as you dare, where it looks safe, to enjoy the delightful view down into the Barranco Tamadaya, a jewel of biodiversity, which is well worth a visit from below.
A little further on the old path reaches a well-defined yellow/white signposted route which we initially set out on, but left where we continued down the track. Here we turned right to join the yellow/white route and immediately descended to cross a minor barranco, Barranco de las Hiedras, which is one of the feeds for the Barranco Tamadaya below. The barranco is well-polished rock leading around a bend to a drop into the lower Barranco. The path goes up out of the barranco, crosses a ridge and descends into another feeder barranco, Barranco Albarderos, with a dramatic cliff above the path.
The path ascends out of the barranco and goes fairly level for a while with great views, and then climbs a pumice slope to a rocky pinnacle which is the highest point of this walk. There is a steep slope zig-zagging down into a sheltered area where we stopped for our lunch before continuing on the path.
We decided to continue downhill to take another look at an unusual stone building with a corbelled roof, which is at point 7 of the walk in the book. I have puzzled as to its original purpose, but, approaching from above, it was easier to see the walls supporting terraces on the slightly flatter area in front of the building. I now think it most probably was a very small farmhouse, built entirely of stones because they were the available material, and there was a shortage there of clay to make roof tiles.
After looking around the building we retraced our steps, climbing nearly 170m back to the highest point, so clearly if you do not want too much climbing, it is best to cut out the bit between the highest point to the stone building, and back. You will still have seen some beautiful views and exciting barrancos.
When we reached the junction, traversed by the big brown waterpipe, where we had re-joined the yellow and white waymarked route, we went towards the right on the waymarked route to follow it all the way back to the El Contador parking area. This walk was 10.56 km / 6.6 miles and took us 3hr 45m. It involved 586m of climbing and descent. A GPS track of it can be found at the following link, where it can be seen on maps, and downloaded:
Returning to El Contador, with Casas del Contador in sight.