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Chanajiga in May with lots of flowers and butterflies

A view from the track as we were returning to the start.

My blog of 31st July, 2015, describes a walk from Chanajiga Recreation area high above Los Realejos in the Orotava valley. I love going there in the summer on a clear day to get the views and enjoy a shady walk. This year I went at the end of May when the flowers and insects were amazing. I was with my husband who is not a walker, but loves nature, so we just did a there and back walk on the lower track.

Canary Strawberry Tree (Arbutus canariensis) an endemic tree, showing its characteristic smooth red bark

On arriving at the barbecue area there is a wide part of the track where we parked, and then continued on the same track for as long as we felt like, returning the same way. It was a delightful walk. The photos below are some of the delights we saw.

Atlantic Islands Buttercup (Ranunculus cortusifolius) still in flower at the end of May

Large-leaved St John’s Wort (Hypericum grandifolium)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Small White Butterfly (Pieris rapae) on Canary Geranium flowers (Geranium reuteri

Spoon-leaved houseleek (Aeonium spathulatum) growing on the cliff at the side of the track

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Hummingbird Hawk-moth or Bee Moth (Macroglossum stellatarum) feeding on Vipers Bugloss (Echium vulgare) Sorry the picture not clear! They don’t stay still! I saw several around this time in May, including in the National Park at the El Portillo botanic garden.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pericallis cruenta – a relative of Cineraria

 

 

Canary houseleek (Aeonium canariense) on the rocky cliffs above the track

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Canary Red Admiral butterfly (Vanessa vulcania) on Echium strictum

 

Cardinal butterfly (Argynnis pandora) on Pitch plant flower (Psoralea bituminosa)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Masca Barranco in May

A narrow gap near the bottom of the barranco

Canary Willow (Salix canariensis) and Canary Palm (Phoenix canariensis) in the base of the barranco

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.

 

Dorycnium eriophthalmum, a rare Canary endemic.

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.

 

 

 

Tenerife samphire (Vieraea laevigata) hanging on a shady cliff

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.

A flatfish area of rock raised high above the barranco bottom crowned by a Dragon tree (Dracaena drago) surrounded by Euphorbias

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.

Canary Knapweed (Cheirolophus canariensis)

 

Queen’s crown (Gonospermum fruticosum)

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.

 

 

 

A slope covered with Canary Palms (Phoenix canariensis)

The walk took us around 3.5 hours, walking up.

Montana Blanca hike in May

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.

The rare endemic Teide helianthemum (Helianthemum juliae) flowering in the El Portilla visitor centre garden

Cistus osbeckifolius a rare Tenerife endemic growing in the El Portillo visitor centre garden

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.

Shrubby scabious (Pterocephalus lasiospermus) is a Canary endemic which grows widely in the high mountain area of Tenerife

Teide Margarite (Argyranthemum teneriffae) a Tenerife endemic beside the path up to Mtna Blanca

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.

Night-scented campion (Silene nocteolens), another endemic, which is being repopulated in the pumice areas near Mtna Blanca.

Mountain Wallflower (Erysimum scoparium) in the open pumicy landscape

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.

Mt Teide Broom (Spartocytisus supranubius) (white flowers), surrounded by Tenerife flixweed (Descurainia gonzalezi)

Blue tajinaste (Echium auberianum) beside our path. Some of Teide’s eggs (large blocks of lava) in the background.

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.

Blue Tajinaste in front of Tenerife flixweed and a pink form of Mt Teide Broom behind Mtna Blanca

More Teide’s eggs, and a view to the long rocky ridge called La Fortaleza, which we had planned to walk to.

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.

Tenerife Flixweed beside the pumice track

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.

An easy walk on the dorsal ridge to enjoy the views and the flowers

The national park sign at the start of the path, describing the walk

The national park sign at the start of the path, describing the walk

 

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.

Roque de Mal Abrigo which is on the opposite side of the road to the start of the walk

Roque de Mal Abrigo which is on the opposite side of the road to the start of the 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 view to Mt Teide from the start of the walk, with Shrubby Scabious (Pterocephalus lasiospermus) in the foreground

The view to Mt Teide from the start of the walk, with Shrubby Scabious (Pterocephalus lasiospermus) in the foreground

 

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.

 

Plants growing among the rocks on Montana la Negrita, including the yellow-flowered Flor de mapais (Tolpis webbii)

Plants growing among the rocks on Montana la Negrita, including the yellow-flowered Flor de malpais (Tolpis webbii)

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.

Camino real route from Guia de Isora to Arguayo and return via Chiguergue

Madama (Allagopappus dichotomus) is a Canary endemic plant which is fairly common in the area

Madama (Allagopappus dichotomus) is a Canary endemic plant which is fairly common in the area

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 delicate Canary endemic shrub known locally as Duraznilla (Ceballosia fruticose)

The delicate Canary endemic shrub known locally as Duraznilla (Ceballosia fruticose)

 

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.

The Camino Real gives some interesting views of the new part of the TF-1 road below.

The Camino Real gives some interesting views of the new part of the TF-1 road below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

The church in Chio which the route passes

The church in Chio which the route passes

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.

The Camino Real starting the ascent to Arguayo with Tenerife Birds Foot Trefoil (Lotus campylocladus) and marguerites (Argyranthemum spp) along the route

The Camino Real starting the ascent to Arguayo with Tenerife Birds Foot Trefoil (Lotus campylocladus) and marguerites (Argyranthemum spp) along the route

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.

This specimen of the Giant Houseleek (Aeonium urbicum ssp meridionale) is a particularly strong pink colour

This specimen of the Giant Houseleek (Aeonium urbicum ssp meridionale) beside the path is a particularly strong pink colour

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 Canary endemic medicinal plant called Poleo locally (Bystropogon origanifolius)

The Canary endemic medicinal plant called Poleo locally (Bystropogon origanifolius)

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.

On the malpais (rough aa lava flow) the Giant Houseleeks were making a great show

On the malpais (rough aa lava flow) the Giant Houseleeks were making a great show

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.

Dicheranthus plocamoides, a Canary endemic known locally as 'Pata de Gallina' - Hen's foot.

Dicheranthus plocamoides, a Canary endemic known locally as ‘Pata de Gallina’ – Hen’s foot.

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.

Some fine specimens of Lesser white Bugloss (Echium aculeatum) another Canary endemic

Some fine specimens of Lesser white Bugloss (Echium aculeatum) another Canary endemic

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.

A shrub of Retama (Retama raetem) with its lovely scent, beside the path on the way down to Chio

A shrub of Retama (Retama raetam) with its lovely scent, beside the path on the way down to Chio

The GPS track of our walk can be found at the link below:

http://www.wikiloc.com/wikiloc/view.do?id=13445979

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.

A nature walk in the dramatic Barranco de Badajoz, Guimar

Looking up the barranco as it narrows.

Looking up the barranco as it narrows.

I have wanted to visit the Barranco de Badajoz for a long time as I was aware of its historical interest and biodiversity. However I always thought it was a rather short walk for my energetic walking friends, and too difficult underfoot for my less active friends. However, I was proved wrong on both counts when I finally visited it on Saturday, 19th March.

Approaching the canal bridge across the barranco after which the path becomes very rough

Approaching the canal bridge across the barranco after which the path becomes very rough

The Barranco de Badajoz is known historically for being the last stronghold of the resisting guanche population after the spanish invasion. However, I was interested more in the wide range of interesting and endemic plants that grow there. Usually such a barranco would be extremely difficult to walk up, due to large boulders, etc, but this was not the case until the last 100m or so before the end point where the barranco becomes almost vertical some hundreds of metres high.

The lush greenery where a side ravine joins the main barranco.

The lush greenery where a side ravine joins the main barranco.

 

The path up the barranco is a driveable (4×4) track for a great part of the way, and then becomes an easy sand/gravel path until you reach a decaying and unused concrete water channel bridge overhead just below the Galeria Izana. Only then does the path deteriorate to a rubbly scramble through bramble bushes till you reach a very narrow gorge, only a couple of metres at its narrowest, where the cascade chain begins.

The final end to the trail, the narrow gorge through which the water gushes after a near vertical fall of 2-300m.

The final end to the trail, the narrow gorge through which the water gushes after a near vertical fall of 2-300m.

 

We began our walk from near the church in the village of San Juan in the Guimar valley where there are a number of parking places and a nice friendly little bar for our end of walk drinks. However, if we had wanted to shorten the walk further we could have driven a further kilometre to park on the side of the barranco itself, or even further than that.

A rare Canary endemic broom Teline osyroides

A rare Canary endemic broom Teline osyroides

 

On entering the barranco it is fairly wide, with small farms either side on the slopes. Gradually as you walk up the barranco sides close in and get steeper and the farms get fewer and then disappear. Half way up the barranco is a concrete and cobbled ramp which takes you past a gallery entrance on the left and through a narrow gorge on a bend in the barranco. Afterwards the barranco widens again but from this point on, the richness of the plant life and the breathtaking scenery are amazing.

Flowers and leaves of Atlantic Island Buckthorn - Sanguino - (Rhamnus glandulosa)

Flowers and leaves of Atlantic Island Buckthorn – Sanguino – (Rhamnus glandulosa)

Immediately after the gorge there is a group of evergreen small trees including Atlantic Islands buckthorn – Sanguino in spanish -(Rhamnus glandulosa), Spiny Buckthorn – Espinero – (Rhamnus crenulata), Canary maytenus – Peralillo – (Maytenus canariensis), and mixed in with them some Wild Olive (Olea europea). Also luxuriant growth of shrubs and climbers such as Shrubby Burnet – (Bencomia caudata), Forest Bindweed – Corregüelón de monte – (Convolvulus canariensis) and Madder – Azaigo de risco (Rubia peregrina ssp agostinhoi).

Canary Maytenus (Maytenus canariensis) and its fruits

Canary Maytenus (Maytenus canariensis) and its fruits

At the sides of the path and tracks can be found Pinnate Rue (Ruta pinnata), False sages (Sideritis oroteneriffae), Viper’s Buglosses of two species (Echium virescens) and (Echium strictum), an endemic broom (Teline osyroides) and Canary St Johns Wort (Hypericum canariensis) among many other things.

Rough-leaved bugloss (Echium strictum) in a mass of vegetation - another Canary endemic

Rough-leaved bugloss (Echium strictum) in a mass of vegetation – another Canary endemic

 

 

 

 

 

On the steep slopes are forests of ferns, lots of native sow thistles (Sonchus sp.), native Cinerarias (Pericallis sp.) and so much more. Even in the luxuriant brambles near the end of the trail an endemic of the stinging nettle family can be found (Urtica morifolia).

Pinnate Rue - Ruta pinnata - a Canary endemic.

Pinnate Rue – Ruta pinnata – a Canary endemic.

The walk took us 3.5 hours at a leisurely pace with plenty of time to look at the plants. We walked 8.5 km / just over 5 miles and climbed approximately 310m on a gentle incline. As mentioned above, starting the walk 1km further on, and finishing a little sooner could have reduced the distance by 2-3 km, and, as it is a there and back walk one can walk as little or as much as desired. However, I do recommend going past the concrete and cobble ramp and through the gorge to see the best biodiversity.

The flowers of Shrubby Burnet (Bencomia caudata), a Macronesian (Atlantic islands) endemic

The flowers of Shrubby Burnet (Bencomia caudata), a Macronesian (Atlantic islands) endemic

You can find various walks to the Barranco de Badajoz on the wikiloc.com site to help you get to the beginning.  Clearly the higher reaches of the barranco with high vertical cliffs does not lend itself to accurate GPS tracks.

Vicia cirrhosa - an annual vetch which scrambles over other shrubs is another Canary endemic

Vicia cirrhosa – an annual vetch which scrambles over other shrubs is another Canary endemic

Walk 3 from the book ‘Tenerife Nature Walks’ revisited on a very clear day

View from Degollada de la Mesa

View from Degollada de la Mesa with clear views of the islands of La Gomera (left) and La Palma (right)

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. 

View to Masca

View to Masca 

 

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.

Tenerife viper's bugloss (Echium virescens) on the ridge above Masca

Tenerife viper’s bugloss (Echium virescens) on the ridge above Masca

 

 

Tree heath (Erica arborea) which grows widely on the top of the ridge either side of the path.

Tree heath (Erica arborea) which grows widely on the top of the ridge either side of the path.

 

The day we chose turned out to be exceptionally  clear, and we had the best ever views from the    ridges we walked on. 

A Raven (Corvus corax) on top of a Century plant (Agave americana)

A Raven (Corvus corax) on top of a Century plant (Agave americana)

 

Fleytas walk (10 of 12)

A lovely shady cobbled section of the path above the Albergue de Bolico

Fleytas walk (8 of 12)

A view to Las Portals and Buenavista del Norte from the Masca ridge

Fleytas walk (9 of 12)

Canary holly berries (Ilex canariensis)

Recently cleared obstruction to path

Recently cleared logs which were previously obstructing the path through the woods

Fleytas walk (12 of 12)

Tree sow-thistle (Sonchus canariensis) on the track down to the Erjos lakes.

Walk above Chiguergue, Guia de Isora, using newly signposted routes.

The newly cleared path just above Chiguergue

The newly cleared path just above Chiguergue

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.

On the path approaching the pine zone

On the path approaching the pine zone

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.

Welcome shade from the pine trees

Welcome shade from the pine trees

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 crosses the Vergera Canal which transports water from above Los Realejos in the north to Guia de Isora.

The path crosses the Vergera Canal which transports water from above Los Realejos in the north to Guia de Isora.

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.

A view from the ridge when we first climbed up onto it.

A view from the ridge when we first climbed up onto it.

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.

The signpost in the woods where we turned left, downhill

The signpost in the woods where we turned left, downhill

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.

The path here was paved by a smooth pahoehoe lava flow with large crystals in it.

The path here was paved by a smooth pahoehoe lava flow 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.

The loose stony path down to Chio

The loose stony path down to Chio

 

 

 

A delightful shady walk from Chanajiga picnic area in the Orotava valley

A section of the path climbing through the forest

A section of the path climbing through the forest

July has been very hot here in Tenerife, but the temperatures have gone down to pleasanter levels this week so we did this walk last Wednesday, 28th July. The forecast was good for the Orotava valley, with full sun and no cloud predicted. This is important for the upper Orotava valley as Chanajiga picnic area is in the cloud forest zone at the foot of the steep forested slope of the valley and is frequently in the cloud and although we wanted a walk in the shade of the forest, we preferred not to be in the cloud which takes away the chances of views and can also be quite disorientating.

A view of the top of the Orotava valley through a gap in the trees

A view of the top of the Orotava valley through a gap in the trees

We approached the Orotava valley on the north motorway – TF-5 – and went through some rain, so were wondering if it was the right day, but then saw sunshine ahead so continued up the Orotava valley. As we neared Chanajiga there was light cloud, but when we got there we were just above the cloud, in lovely sunshine. We left the main road through the Orotava valley at the junction in Camino de Chasna, signposted Benijos and Palo Blanco. After passing through Benijos we came to a turning left with a signpost to Chanajiga. From there on the road is very rural and we even came across a goatherd with a small flock of goats grazing the sides of the road.

Sticky Broom (Adenocarpus foliosus) along the track on the ridge

Sticky Broom (Adenocarpus foliosus) along the track on the ridge. A Canary endemic

When we arrived at Chanajiga I discovered I did not have the GPS track we had intended to follow on my GPS. I thought I had loaded it but did not check it before leaving the house. So we decided to do a bit of exploring and we might find the route intended, or part of it, or not as the case may be. We started off scrambling up an exceedingly steep unofficial path, which I am not recommending, till we got to a track, where we turned left and walked a little way till we saw a very well defined path crossing the track diagonally, and decided to go up that.

A Canary Blue butterfly (Cyclyrius webbianus) resting on my hand

A Canary Blue butterfly (Cyclyrius webbianus) resting on my hand

The path was going up a very steep hill, but with zig-zags it was not excessively steep to climb. There was shade from pines above the path and at intervals views through them to the mountains at the top of the Orotava valley, and the sea of cloud beneath. The day felt warm for the climb and we were glad of a gentle breeze through the trees.

A flower of the Pine forest Cistus (Cistus symphytifolius) in the shrubby vegetation on the ridge

A flower of the Pine forest Cistus (Cistus symphytifolius) in the shrubby vegetation on the ridge

Very suddenly the path came out on a wide dusty track, so we found we had reached the top of the steep side of the valley. At this point the footpath continued to the left, starting parallel to the track, but probably diverging from it – to be explored another time! We joined the track, and, after a lunch break, walked steeply downhill on the track. The track had very mixed vegetation either side, of the type found on the edge of the laurel forest with Fayas (Myrica faya) and Madrono (Arbutus canariensis), and lots of different flowering shrubs such as Sticky Broom (Adenocarpus foliosus), Pine forest Cistus (Cistus symphytifolius), Shrubby Burnet (Bencomia caudata), Shrubby scabious (Pterocephalus lasiospermus) along with Tenerife Birds-foot Trefoil (Lotus campylocladus). The flowers and sunshine on the edge of the forest attracted many butterflies including Canary Blues (Cyclyrius webbianus), Bath Whites (Pontia daplidice) and Clouded Yellows (Colias crocea).

Daphne (Daphne gnidium) by the track

Daphne (Daphne gnidium) by the track

We descended on the track from around 1600m to just below 1350m where we came to a track crossroads and decided to turn right. The track we were now on was the same track we had reached first reached near the beginning of the walk, but nearly 2 km to the north. It was a delightful shady walk, roughly level with cliffs to the right where the track had been carved out of the hillside.

Shrubby scabious (Pterocephalus lasiospermus)

Shrubby scabious (Pterocephalus lasiospermus) A Canary endemic

Beside the track, on the rocks, were shrubby plants with flowers, including Cardo de Cristo (Carlina salicifolia) or Willow-leaved carline thistle, and Cruzadilla (Hypericum reflexum) or Reflexed St Johns Wort. At the base of the rocks Wild Marjoram (Oreganum vulgare) and Lesser Calamint (Calamintha nepeta) were flowering.

Cruzadilla (Hypericum reflexum) or Reflexed St Johns Wort. A canarian endemic

Cruzadilla (Hypericum reflexum) or Reflexed St Johns Wort. A canarian endemic

 

We got to the path junction where we had turned uphill earlier, and this time we went down on the path the other side of the track. This was a gentle descent, which after a while crossed a barranco and passed some buildings of the Galeria de la Zarza. Continuing on we joined a track and turned downhill. A hundred metres or so on we saw a cairn on the left of the track and a well used footpath going downhill. However, it was badly eroded by rain and bicycle use, with loose stones on a very steep slope, so we decided to continue on the track. The path would probably be OK to climb, but it looked somewhat dangerous going down. Soon the track reached a T-junction and we turned left to return to Chanajiga.

 

The level shady track

The level shady track

Because our initial ascent was not recommended, I have edited the GPS track to start and finish the walk on the same path. The walk should still only take about 3.5 hours. The GPS track can be found here: http://www.wikiloc.com/wikiloc/spatialArtifacts.do?event=setCurrentSpatialArtifact&id=10339097

The path we made our final descent on.  I have edited the GPS track to use this same path for the initial climb also

The path we made our final descent on. I have edited the GPS track to use this same path for the initial climb also

A walk around Erjos lakes with flowers and lots of butterflies

View from the ridge over the lakes to Mt Teide

View from the ridge over the lakes to Mt Teide

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.

Annual houseleek (Airchryson laxum) in the wall at the side of the sunken lane between Erjos and the lakes.

Annual houseleek (Airchryson laxum) in the wall at the side of the sunken lane between Erjos and the lakes

 

 

 

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.

A Canary Blue butterfly, with wings closed, on a wild thyme plant, (Micromeria sp.)

A Canary Blue butterfly, with wings closed, on a wild thyme plant, (Micromeria sp.)

 

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.

A Brown Argus butterfly (Aricia agestis), one of many flying as we walked along the ridge

A Brown Argus butterfly (Aricia agestis cramera), one of many flying as we walked along the ridge

 

 

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)

Forest bindweed (Convolvulus canariensis), along the path in the laurel forest

Forest bindweed (Convolvulus canariensis), along the path in the laurel forest

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).

A section of the path through the laurel forest, complete with fallen trunk.

A section of the path through the laurel forest, complete with fallen trunk.

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.

A view towards Masca from the path between Cumbre de Bolico and Degollada de la Mesa

A view towards Masca from the path between Cumbre de Bolico and Degollada de la Mesa

 

 

 

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.

A Meadow Brown butterfly (Maniola jurtina) feeds from a Roof Houseleek (Aeonium urbicum var meridionale)

A Meadow Brown butterfly (Maniola jurtina) feeds from a Roof Houseleek (Aeonium urbicum var meridionale)

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.

A Bath White butterfly (Pontia daplidice) feeding from a Milk Thistle flower (Silybum marianum)

A Bath White butterfly (Pontia daplidice) feeding from a Milk Thistle flower (Silybum marianum)