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.
On Friday I had a walk with two friends interested in nature and we had a great day out. We first visited the upper part of the Nature reserve of the Barranco del Infierno, reached from Ifonche, but much of what we went to see there had suffered from the fire in July. Although while we were there we had some close encounters with two Canarian woodpeckers, and four Barbary partridge, which we spent many happy minutes watching and trying to photograph.
Then we decided to go down to Adeje to look at the lower part of the barranco there. It had previously been closed to the public but we found the gate open and scores of people walking both ways along the narrow path. There is a warning, quite rightly, of the danger of rock falls in the barranco, which is especially dangerous in the narrow gorge section at the far end. Clearly it would be inadvisable to walk there in wet and windy weather when falls are most likely to occur, but on a fine and sunny day as it was last Friday it posed no more risk than many other mountain footpaths which we venture onto.
The first part of the path is high above the watercourse of the barranco on the northern side, where it winds in and out around the natural contours of the barranco. This part is much exposed to the sun and has vegetation which tolerates this. This included the non-native Prickly pears (Opuntia sp.), Bitter and Sweet Spurge (Euphorbia lamarckii and balsamifera), and Canary Spurge (Euphorbia canariensis). But among these, the most notable at this time of year were the Mountain Carrot (Todaroa montana) and Sea Rosemary (Campylanthus salsoloides), both of which were present in great numbers and full of flower.
After a few bends in the path taking us deeper into the barranco we reached areas less exposed to the sun, with shrubby plants such as Canary madder (Rubia fruticosa), Spiny buckthorn (Rhamnus crenulata), Balo (Plocama pendula), and Cornical (Periploca laevigata). The Canary madder and the Cornical were both in flower but both are greenish small flowers that some may not notice, though they are worth looking at. Draped over some of the bushes were the climbing stems of the Canary bryony (Bryonia verrucosa), covered in yellow flowers at the moment. Perhaps the most noticeable flowers of this section were the purple flowers of the Canary lavenders (Lavandula canariensis), and the white daisies of the Marguerites (Argyranthemum gracile).
After about 40 minutes of walking the path descends to and crosses the streambed. Immediately after crossing the streambed the vegetation seems more luxuriant, and, in addition to many of the previously mentioned shrubs there were Tenerife Tree bindweed (Convolvulus floridus), Wild jasmine (Jasminum odoratissimum) and Maple-leafed lavatera (Lavatera acerifolia), the latter two in full flower. Up the cliff side to the right were two Juniper bushes, (Juniperus phoenicia ssp canariensis) the species that grows in the lower regions.
The Barranco turned a bend shortly after and we were into the shade. We crossed the streambed again, zig-zagged up a small slope and arrived at a small clearing with a wooden trunk-like storage box. Nearby a signpost had a 5 on it. From here on the barranco narrows to a gorge and the path is more difficult with many stream crossings on bridges or stepping stones, and several obstacles such as fallen trees partially blocking the way. It is a pleasant change, though, for those used to walking in south Tenerife, to walk next to a running stream, with luxuriant vegetation around. There were Canary bell-flowers in this section, and Canary willow trees (Salix canariensis) with their large flowers like pussy willow, and I saw one Maytenus tree (Maytenus canariensis), though it was not in flower. Eventually the path ends at a pool fed by a waterfall coming down the side of the closed end of the gorge. It took us one and a half hours to walk to the waterfall, but we were walking quite quickly with few stops, and could have easily spent a lot longer, there was so much to look at.
From the waterfall it is necessary to turn around and go back the way you came, and enjoy afresh the lovely landscape and the great range of plants. I did not take the GPS on this walk as the satellite coverage can be difficult in a gorge. The distance is probably about 4km each way, if you go to the end, but you can turn around at any time.