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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.

 

An exciting new walk in the reserve of the Barranco del Infierno near Ifonche, Tenerife

I did this walk last Saturday, 30th May, and was so excited by this newly rehabilitated path, I had to share it. The path goes beneath cliffs on the edge of the special reserve of the Barranco del Infierno, Adeje. It passes through a very scenic landscape, rich in botanical variety, and cultural interest, and in addition has some great views down to the coast.

Canary foxglove (Isoplexis canariensis) in flower beneath the first cliff

Canary foxglove (Isoplexis canariensis) in flower beneath the first cliff

 

The white post in the track after passing the threshing circle. Continue down the track

 

The first part of the walk I have known about for some time and always enjoy its botanical richness, but the second part, beneath a range of cliffs in a semi circle, was a complete revelation. I found the route on Wikiloc and thought it sounded worth exploring, and it certainly was.

 

The route starts at the Bar El Dornajo at the end of the village of Ifonche.  I actually parked just beyond the bar where there is space for a few cars, and started out on the path by the signboard on the bend, continuing till the path was crossed by a track, and turning left there.

Shrubby burnet (Bencomia caudata) growing beneath the first cliff

Shrubby burnet (Bencomia caudata) growing beneath the first cliff

The path beneath the first cliff.

The path beneath the first cliff.The route started at the Bar El Dornajo at the end of the village of Ifonche.

The track passes a finca perched on the edge of the spectacular Barranco de las Fuentes, and just beyond it is a threshing floor where you can enjoy the view into the barranco. Continue on the track beyond this, passing a white pillar,  and keeping on the track for about 100 m till you see a small green and white sign on the right with ‘Parque natural especial’ on it.  At this point the track forks into two paths.  The left one, and most obvious, goes slightly uphill to a viewpoint.  The right one, which you take, is less obvious because it immediately heads downwards.  This is a path I know and love, going down the side of the barranco and passing beneath an impressive cliff. The area is very rich botanically and I have always enjoyed it, even though the path is a bit rough.

After a while the path comes out on an open col between two rocky crags, the soil is bare and a pale pinkish cream and composed of pumice. Here there is a junction. The path that goes straight on goes to Adeje, but it is very rough, and has some narrow places which would upset anyone troubled by vertigo. Up to now that was the only path I knew from this place, but now the newly cleared path goes left here.

The cairn at the start of the newly cleared path

The cairn at the start of the newly cleared path

Very soon after beginning the new path, a diversion to the left leads up to a cave known as the Cave of the Donkey. A short climb up allows one to see the shallow cave, and then I returned to the path.

The path beneath the cliffs

The path beneath the cliffs

Not much further on is a more substantial cave called La Cueva de la Estancia (The cave of the Stay/Farm) which would seem to indicating it was used as a dwelling. This was the childhood home of a large family – 11 children I think- with 2 0r 3 of them still surviving, in their 80s, in 2014.

 

 

Part of La Cueva de la Estancia

Part of La Cueva de la Estancia

Continuing, the path dips downhill towards a  a shady bend in the path with lots of plants, including a large Canary willow tree, and a profusion of shrubs. There is a lot of bracken in the dip at the bend, which obscures the path a bit as some steps take you up again. High above the path here, an old water channel passes and along that are lots of Shrubby Plantains (Plantago arborescens) a macronesian endemic which, although it is common in North Tenerife, isn’t found in many places in the south and west of Tenerife. Soon the path passes two more caves, La Cueva de Regocijo (The cave of rejoicing), which enjoys a great view to the coast, and La Cueva Negra (The black cave), a small cave with a trickle of water coming out of the cliff nearby. Then the path reaches La Fuente el Chorrillo, a spring the like of which I have not seen before in Tenerife as it was not just dribbling water, but a steady small stream of water was trickling out of the base of the basalt cliff.

The view from La Cueva del Regocijo

The view from La Cueva del Regocijo

Around the spring there are water-loving plants including Mint (Mentha longifolia) Mentha longifolia) and where the water flows into a trough, watercress grows.

Long-leaved mint (Mentha longifolia) growing in a damp crevice on the cliff above the spring

Long-leaved mint (Mentha longifolia) growing in a damp crevice on the cliff above the spring

The water then trickles down a channel into a tank, and on down the hill.

 

 

 

 

Continuous trickles of water out of the cliff at La Fuente el Chorrillo

Continuous trickles of water out of the cliff at La Fuente el Chorrillo

Continuing along the path the next cave is called La Cueva de las Goteras (The dripping cave). It had some damp places on the ceiling with maidenhair ferns growing. In the front of the cave were some Canary bellflower plants (Canarina canariensis), another plant that is not very frequent in the south of Tenerife. They flower early in the spring around Feb-Mar.

Shortly after this cave the path goes through a shady patch with several large shrubs with leathery pale green leaves.  These are Moralitos (Rhombus integrifolius), a Tenerife endemic I am particularly fond of as there was one near my previous home in Acojeja, and it took me 2 years to finally identify it!

 

 

After the valley with the Moralitos the path climbs steeply to go around the end of the cliff, and join a track which finally joins a minor tarmac road.

 

The signpost where the path joined the minor tarmac road

The signpost where the path joined the minor tarmac road

Although the part of the walk which was most special for me was over, there was more to see.  I turned right and followed the tarmac road to the end, then joining the red/white way marked path GR131, till I reached a large threshing floor in another col.  This was a part of the walk I knew, and I went left with the wooden signposts (leaving the GR131) to cross the Barranco del Rey. This is a crossing I am familiar with, but recently a path has been cleared and signposted to the Fuente las Pilas down the barranco from the crossing. It is only a few hundred metres down, but I never suspected that it was there.

The signpost to the Fuente Las Pilas in the Barranco del Rey

The signpost to the Fuente Las Pilas in the Barranco del Rey, with the basalt cliff from the base of which the spring comes

 

The spring was a delightful sight with a substantial trickle of water emerging from the base of the basalt cliff. The path makers had planted a little garden around the spring.  It is a beautiful and tranquil spot.

La Fuente las Pilas with maidenhair ferns and watercress enjoying the damp conditions

La Fuente las Pilas with maidenhair ferns and watercress enjoying the damp conditions

This was the end of the newly renovated path and I made my way back to Bar El Dornajo by a short route I knew, though it is not the best path.

 

La Piedra de descanso (The Resting stone) near La Fuente las Pilas (The Spring of Basins, or Stacks)

La Piedra de descanso (The Resting stone) near La Fuente las Pilas (The Spring of Basins, or Stacks)

The walk I did was less than 9km and took 3.5 hours, with a couple of diversions.  It was not particularly strenuous, with little ups and downs adding up to around 350m. It is highly recommended to those interested in plants, especially in the spring, as it is rich in variety. However, it is not a route for those who have trouble with vertigo as there are frequently steep slopes to one side.

Edited 27th February, 2016

I recently did this walk again, but added a short bit at the beginning to lengthen it.  The link below gives this initial extension as well as a pleasant path back to the beginning without walking much on tarmac.

http://www.wikiloc.com/wikiloc/spatialArtifacts.do?event=setCurrentSpatialArtifact&id=12401150

This is a description of the return route from the Fuente de las Pilas

From the Fuente de las Pilas, walk back along the barranco and on the path to the signpost still at the bottom of the barranco, where there is a junction with the path you arrived on.  Join this path, going up the opposite side of the barranco.   At the top there is a building near a threshing floor and beyond that there is a well worn track used to access the Refugio as well as other houses in that area.  Do not go as far as this track, just before you get to that track another track goes left, running parallel to it just off the top of the ridge.  Walk along this track for about 200 yards until you see a small path going gently down the side of the barranco to the left. Follow this path down to the streambed and when you arrive at it look ahead directly in the line that you descended and you will see, a few yards down the barranco, a path sloping up in the same direction.  At the top it turns left and then right and then becomes a track, passes a few farms and houses, before joining a minor country road and arriving back at the crossroads by the Bar El Dornajo.

Edited again 19th July, 2017

This walk is still a great delight, for its biodiversity and views.  I have taken out the references to large white paint arrows as these have now all but disappeared, and edited the description of the approach to the path.  Below is a picture of the start of the downward path next to the Reserva Natural Especial sign:

The green and white protected area sign by the start of the downward path

Exploring a new circular walk above Ifonche

The path through the woods above Ifonche

Tree sow-thistle (Sonchus canariensis) a Canary Islands endemic

This walk was done on Friday, when the hot calima weather was starting, so we were glad of the shade of the pines. The initial climb was the hardest, so we got that out of the way before it got too hot. We set out from the crossroads by Bar El Dornajito at the far end of Ifonche village, going up the hill. Whilst still on the minor tarmac road I spotted a late flowering Tree sow-thistle (Sonchus canariensis) beside the road. As I was away over their main flowering season I missed seeing the masses in flower, but this was a delightful reminder.

Where the tarmac road did a 90º turn to the left we went straight on following a track.  We continued straight on up where the GR131 was signposted off to the right, and again where a track went to the right..  The track finally stopped by a house, but from there a footpath started, continuing straight on up.

Pine forest cistus (Cistus sympytifolius) another Canary Island endemic

After a while the path descended into a shallow barranco, the Barranco del Agua and continued along its bottom to a junction.  The most well-worn path turned sharply to the left here, but we went straight on up the barranco following cairns.  It was a bit rough underfoot on this stretch but manageable with boots.  The path continued up the bottom of the barranco till nearly reaching a wall of cliffs, where it turned sharply right, up the slope out of the barranco and onto a ridge.

A view through the pines to Roque Imoque and Ifonche

As I climbed out of the barranco I noticed the sun filtering through the pines above and highlighting the pink flower of the Pine forest cistus (Cistus symphytifolius).  At the top, from the ridge there was a great view through the pines down to Roque Imoque and Ifonche village.  We then walked up the ridge, following the cairns, till we reached a slightly flatter area with a small semi-circular walled structure, probably a shepherd shelter.  At this point is a crossing of footpaths.  We continued straight on, slightly uphill, turning left after a few yards to follow a narrow, cairned path around the bottom of the hill, Alto de Chimoche.

The path follows a pipe from the barranco crossing till it reaches the track

After about 10 minutes walking we reached a path junction and turned left, and shortly after at a fork in the path we took the right fork.  We then continued following this path until we came to a disused water channel across our way.  This again is a crossing of paths, and again we continued straight on, over the canal and immediately descending into a barranco, the Barranco de la Fuente.  Crossing the streambed, we followed the path out the other side and continued in the same direction, following the path and its cairns until we met a track.  Here we wasted a good deal of time as the map showed the track forming a loop, both ends of which reached a track descending from Mt Teresme.  However, our investigations of the lower part of the track loop proved it did not exist.  The track ended and although there was a path continuing, with cairns, it soon died out, as did another alternative.  So we returned to the point where our path from the barranco crossing joined the track, and went along the higher part of the ‘loop’ on the map.  This did join the downhill track from Teresme and we turned left to walk down this track.

Local Tenerife endemic marguerites (Argyranthemum foeniculaceum) growing up the cliffs in the Brco de la Fuente

We continued down this track, which is easy to walk, till we reached a bar gate at a junction of tracks.  We turned left to continue downhill down the same ridge we were on, till we reached a point where the track went sharply to the left.  In the next few yards we looked to the right for cairns, which marked a footpath zig-zagging down a steep hillside to meet another path where we turned left.  We were now on the main, well-known and well-trodden footpath from La Quinta, Taucho, to Ifonche.  We continued along it, with its ups and downs around barrancos, till we reached Ifonche, near the Bar El Dornajito again.

On the way, in the biggest barranco we crossed, which was again the Barranco de la Fuente, there were some plants in flower despite the drought.  A few Roof houseleeks (Aeonium urbicum var. meridionale) were in flower on the cliffs as we entered this big and very scenic barranco, and some Tenerife Bird’s foot trefoil (Lotus campylocladus) in the path.  At the streambed crossing there were some plants of the rare endemic, Tenerife sea-kale (Crambe scaberrima) in flower hanging from the cliff on the other side, and a bit off the path up the streambed was a Poleo de Monte (Bystropogon canariensis) in flower.  In the streambed by the path exiting, a huge shrub of Shrubby burnet (Bencomia caudata) was also in flower, with its long knobbly catkins.  The other side of the barranco had the purple flowers of Palomera (Pericallis lanata) and some of the local endemic marguerites (Argyranthemum foeniculaceum), in addition to more pine forest cistus.  This floral richness even in a time of drought shows just why this is part of the Reserva natural especial del Barranco del Infierno which houses great biodiversity including many rarities.

The whole walk took us 5 hours, but that included one large and two small diversions looking for paths, so without those it would have taken about 3.5-4 hours.  It would then have been around 11km/6.9miles long and involved about 400m of climbing.

A GPS trail of this walk without our diversions can be found at this link:

http://www.wikiloc.com/wikiloc/view.do?id=4189587