Hiking and Hill Walking in Tenerife

Montaña Blanca

Posted on January 4th, 2009 by David Parkes in Recent Walks | 1 Comment »
Montaña Blanca

Montaña Blanca

Montaña Blanca is the mountain immediately to the east of Mount Teide and at 2,748m is the 3rd highest peak on the island of Tenerife. Its also one of the easiest and most rewarding walk in the National Park.

The walk begins from a small car park alongside the main road through Las Cañadas between the cable car (Teleferico) station and the visitor centre at El Portillo. The 342 and 348 buses stop at this point on request.

The footpath, which is actually a fairly wide dirt track first heads north and gradually curves back on itself in an anti-clockwise fashion, taking in a view-point offering fantastic views towards El Portillo, the North East of the Island and the north side of Las Cañadas, including the La Fortaleza cliffs. The path then zig-zags up the “back” of the mountain, passing amongst the huevos de Teide (Teide’s Eggs), giant boulders ejected by volcanic eruptions. Continuing higher still, we come within touching distance of the lava flows down the side of Mount Teide.

Teide Violet

Teide Violet

At such high altitude and in such barren conditions that alternate between searing heat in summer and icy cold sub-zero temperatures in winter, its remarkable anything survives at all. However, Montaña Blanca is one of the few accessible places which you might catch a glimse of the elusive Teide Violet, a small flower which blooms in late spring.

As we near the summit we have to leave the path we have been following, as it continuous a further 1,000m up the side of Mount Teide, a gravel footpath takes us instead the short distance to the summit of Montaña Blanca, from which we can enjoy a spectacular view of the National Park, the lunar landscapes and the high peaks of the southern ridge of Las Cañadas. Return by the same route.

Walking Route: Montaña Blanca
Distance: 7km (4.5 miles approx)
Ascent/Descent: 500 metres (1650 feet)
Grading: Easy (Caution in Winter, snow & ice a real possibility)


Posted on October 31st, 2008 by David Parkes in Recent Walks | 2 Comments »
Guajara, Tenerife's 3rd highest peak

Guajara, Tenerife

Guajara is Tenerife’s 4th highest peak. Rising to 2,715 metres (9,000 feet) this impressive turret-shaped mountain has shear cliffs on 3 sides. Located on the south-eastern edge of the Las Cañadas ridge, Guajara is best approached from the Parador (state run hotel) in the Las Cañadas National Park.

A word of warning, Guajara certainly isn’t a mountain for casual walkers, although the ascent is just a little over 600 meters from the Parador, the high altitude of the walk and thin air means, climbing this mountain can feel a lot hard. Altitude sickness may become a problem, particularly over 2,500m as you near the summit. Plus the changeable and unpredictable mountain conditions can lead to sudden changes in weather. Temperatures are likely to be 10-20 degrees cooler on the summit than on the south coast and snow flurries in winter are a real possibility, so exercise caution and go prepared.

For me the best time to attempt an ascent of Guajara are in May/June or September/October, the weather tends to be less severe and you can focus on the other challenges this mountain offers.

For example, if you travel by bus, you will arrive at the Parador at about 11:00, both from Playa de Las Americas/ Los Cristianos (Line 342) and from Puerto de la Cruz (Line 348). Both buses then depart the Parador at 16:00 so you have just 5 hours to complete the ascent and return to the Parador.

Our route sets off from the Parador, east along a good trail know as Siete Cañadas and after a couple of kilometres walking along this track through the lunar landscape of Las Cañadas we turn off the track and begin our climb up to the ridge on the east side of Guajara. In May and June you will see beautiful red flowering tajinastes as well as other high mountain shrubs which some how eat out an existence in this volcanic landscape.

Once up onto the ridge you will enjoy breathtaking  views of Las Cañadas, Mount Teide and the south coast of Tenerife, subject to cloud cover, which if anything will usually be beneath your feet. From here we walk along the ridge up to the back of Guajara. A dusty track, ground out of the soft volcanic rocks, leads the way to the summit. The path is fairly steady, steep in parts without been arduous and you can normally arrive at the wide open summit within 2.5 hours at a slow steady pace.

There’s a ruined stone shelter on the summit, just short walls remain, but its a good place to shelter from the wind and eat lunch. Remember it can be cold on the summit so take an extra layer as well as a waterproof just in case.

Descent is urged by the same route, however, its possible to pick up an old goat-herder trail which follows a ravine down the west face. This is certainly a more advanced route as the trail descends quite far down in the valley on the ‘wrong’ side of the ridge and you have to climb 50-100 metres back up to the Ucanca Pass on the West side of Guajara or alternatively cut across country, picking your way through boulders and tabaiba shrubs, before the path descends lower than the head of the pass.

From the Ucanca pass on the west side of Guajara, we follow a steep but clear path back down to the Parador. This last leg of the journey takes less than a hour at slow pace and can be yomped in 25 minutes if you are running short of time. Its during this last leg that you get the best views of Mount Teide, so don’t forget your camera for some memorable photos.

Walking Route: Guajara (from Parador)
Distance: 9km (5.5 miles approx)
Ascent/Descent: 600 metres (2000 feet)
Grading: Difficult (high altitude)

Roque del Conde

Posted on August 20th, 2008 by David Parkes in Recent Walks | 4 Comments »
Roque del Conde

Roque del Conde - the Mountain looks more imposing from the coast.

Roque del Conde is one of the most recognisable landmarks in the south of Tenerife, this majestic mountain with its seemingly table-top summit looms large over the resorts of Los Cristianos and Playa de las Americas. Rising to 1,005 metres, Roque del Conde is taller than every mountain in England and just 80 metres short of Mt Snowdon. However, its a very walkable route which can be completed in as little as 2 hours 15 minutes (typically 3 hours) and the summit offers unrivalled 360 degree panoramic views of the south of the island.

The footpath to ascend Roque del Conde, leaves from the village of Vento, a suburb of Arona and is clearly sign-posted from the main road. At this point we are about 600 metres above sea-level so for those of you shuddering at the prospect of a 1000 metre summit, relax, there is less than half of the mountain still to climb.

The footpath winds out away from the village towards the mountain, descending steeply into Barranco del Rey, a deep gorge which cuts through the southern side of the island, before climbing back up onto the plateau. If that didn’t you breathing heavily, then the next part as we pass an old ruin and begin our accent for real certainly will.

Purists may feel a little irritated by the cobbled stone footpath we follow, after all, we’re hill walkers, we don’t mind a footpath, but paving, even cobbles, really aren’t in keeping with the spirit of the wilderness. That is of course until we realise the footpath isn’t there for our benefit. The terracing and milling circles that we pass, together with the ruined building are all evidence of agriculture and the footpath was built and laid by the local farmers who in years gone by intensively farmed every square metre of available land. Keep this in mind for when you reach the summit because you are in for a surprise.

Caldera del Rey and Playa de las Americas from Roque del Conde

Caldera del Rey and Playa de las Americas from Roque del Conde

The path now climbs steeply up to the saddle of the mountain, from where we get our first taste of the views. This is a good spot to pause for a drink, snack and to take some photographs, but the real views await us on the summit, so we press on. The path gets steeper and a little trickier as we near the summit, there’s no more cobbled paving, that ran out before we reached the saddle, but it is in no-way dangerous and feels very safe. The views of the south coast below us just get better and better with every step we take.

With a final push we arrive on the top of the mountain. And as I said, you are in for a surprise. The first surprise is the shear scale of the top, its the size of a couple of football pitches. From the south coast Roque del Conde looks flat-toped, but the reality is that this is an illusion, the summit slopes gently and the highest point is actually on the north-east side. The top is terraced, yes it was actually farmed! And the rough footpath we just followed was used by farmers to tend the wheat growing on the summit.

Roque de Imoque and Barranco del Rey from Roque del Conde

Roque de Imoque and Barranco del Rey from Roque del Conde

The true summit of the mountain is located towards the north-face ad is marked by a concrete cairn with a metal pole sticking out it. Not picturesque, but of course we’re not here for a cairn, we’re here for the views which can only be described as breath-taking. On a clear day you can see 4 other islands from the summit, La Gomera, El Hierro and La Palma to the west and to the east Gran Canaria can be seen peaking out behind Roque de Jama. Then of course, there is the south coast of Tenerife, from our vantage point we can see from El Medano to Los Gigantes as well as looking down on the geographic features such as Montaña de Guaza, Caldera del Rey and the spectacular Barranco del Rey. And there is no better place to view the Mountains of Tenerife than from the top of Roque del Conde. We have excellent views of Roque del Imoque, Ifonche, the Pine Forests and the peaks of Las Cañadas as well as Mount Teide, all of which appear to be magnified before your eyes.

Walking Route: Roque del Conde
Distance: 6km (3.75 miles approx)
Ascent/Descent: 400 metres (1300 feet)
Grading: Moderate

A walk through the pine forests of Tenerife: Las Lajas – Ifonche

Posted on August 7th, 2008 by David Parkes in Recent Walks | 4 Comments »
Forestry track in the Tenerife Pine Forests

A forestry track in the Tenerife Pine Forests

This fairly easy walk starts at Las Lajas barbeque area and camp site in the Parque Natural de la Corona Forestal about 10Km above Vilaflor deep in the pine forests of Tenerife’s southern slope. We descend down forestry tracks through the pine forests towards our destination, the village of Ifonche which is some 1,000 metres below us.

The first leg of our journey is very easy going, a long slow descent from Las Lajas (2,000 metres) along a really good dirt track, which is popular with mountain bikers at weekends, particularly during winter, but in the heat of the August sun, completely abandoned. The smell of the pine trees is thick in the dry air and the bright sunshine abounds, though on another day you might find misty clouds rushing up the hillside to greet you. As we descend we get a fleeting glimpse of our destination between the trees, the Pasaije Natural Protegido (Protected Natural Space) of Ifonche is visible and beyond it in the haze the tourist resorts of Los Cristianos and Playa de las Americas.

After about 2 hours we find our view has been obscured by the mound of Alto de Chimoche, a rounded hill rising to 1,500 metres, though as we have descended from above it, we are stood on its back and from our perspective its a modest 50 metre hump on the landscape.

Looking across to Baranco del Rey as we arrive in Ifonche

Looking across to Baranco del Rey as we arrive in Ifonche

From here we pick up a footpath with is absent from most maps, or incorrectly marked as is the case with the IGN (Spanish Geographical Survey) maps, this narrow footpath takes us around the side of Alto de Chimoche and decends down its southern face through thick pine forests. Finally we descend into a deep valley and follow a path alongside a dry riverbed to some of the outlying farmsteads of Ifonche.

This is not a route to be rushed as the 342 bus drops you in Las Lajas around 10:30 and the first bus back from Ifonche is the returning 342 bus which passes at about 16:45. (NB: The Ifonche bus stop is on the main road to Vilaflor, the bus does not come into the village.) As the route can be completed within 4 hours unless you have private transport, its well worth eating a late lunch or enjoying a refreshing beer in one the tipico restaurants in Ifonche. Or if you are feeling exceptionally energetic you may wish to continue the walk on down to Arona.

Walking Route: Las Lajas Ifonche
Distance: 12km (7.5 miles approx) +3Km for bus
Descent: 1,000 metres (3300 feet)
Grading: Easy-Moderate

NB: This distance is an approximation based on the time it took me to complete the walk. My maps are not accurate enough for me to trace a distance measurement. The route could be as long as 15Km, excluding the walk out of Ifonche to the bus stop.

Alternative strenous route, do the walk in reverse.

Coastal Walk: Los Crisitanos – Las Galletas

Posted on July 31st, 2008 by David Parkes in Recent Walks | 10 Comments »
Los Cristianos from Guaza Mountain

Los Cristianos from Guaza Mountain

There are some great walks right on the doorstep of the major tourist resorts in Tenerife, this one beginning in the town of Los Cristianos is no exception, taking in two nature reserves and breathtaking views of the town and the south coast.

The walk begins next to Casa Carolina, (the old villa on the sea-front at the end of the promenade), from here we head along a dusty track past the rocky beach towards Montaña Guaza (Guaza Mountain). The entire mountain is a protected natural space, which given the rate of expansion of Los Cristianos is very fortunate. We spurn the rather obvious “tourist route” and instead take the less troden path to the right, which takes us up towards the cliffs. Whilst at no point are we walking along a precipice, a good head for heights is recommended, as is a camera because the views are fabulous.

The turret in Palm mar

The turret in Palm mar

Once on top of the cliffs we follow the track meandering around the plateau, we see old quarries used to gather stones for the farm field walls and terracing which abound the plateau. We walks through a rocky landscape surrounded by tabaiba, cactus and Canary Island Spurge before descending down a steep scree slope to the village of Palm Mar.

A quick pause for a snack and drink and we set out again, picking up a coastal track on the other side of the village. We now enter Malpais de la Rasca, which is also a nature reserve, ‘malpais’ literally means badlands and in Tenerife is synonymous with rugged lava fields, however, we have a decent path to follow which takes us around Punta de la Rasca and on towards the lighthouse.

La Rasca, for those that are interested, literally means “the ordinary one”, which rather undersells this area, yet every geographical feature between Palm Mar and Las Galletas uses its name. There’s a Mountain called La Rasca, the headland is called Punta de la Rasca and even the lighthouse is known as Faro de la Rasca.

Faro de la Rasca located on the southwest tip of Tenerife.

Faro de la Rasca located on the south west tip of Tenerife.

And it is the lighthouse that is our next landmark, which in the heat of summer offers a welcome tower of shade and some iconic photos. From here we embark on the last leg of our journey towards the fishing port of Las Galletas. We pass banana plantations and disused farm fields before winding around the headland and discovering a small beach the locals have seeming managed to keep as a secret from us ex-pats.

Eventually we emerge at the Red Cross station overlooking the main beach and harbour of Las Galletas, arriving just in time for a seafood lunch at one of the sea-front restaurants. Suitably refreshed we return to Los Cristianos by bus.

Walking Route: Los Cristianos – Las Galletas
Distance: 14km (9 miles approx)
Ascent/Descent: 150 metres (450 feet)
Grading: Easy-Moderate

Trek: Las Cañadas – Bco. de Fuente Pedro – Los Realejos

Posted on July 21st, 2008 by David Parkes in Recent Walks | 1 Comment »
La Fortaleza, Las Cañadas, Tenerife

La Fortaleza, Las Cañadas, Tenerife.

I spent last weekend on a two-day trek, hiking from Las Cañadas national park down to the north side of island and camping at the Barranco de Fuente Pedro camp site in the pine forests above San Juan de la Rambla. Before hiking out the next day to Los Realejos.

My route took me alongside Montaña Blanca (White Mountain) and through the desert-like flats of Cañada de los Guancherros. The sun was beating down and it was only the cool breeze and ambient air temperature, cooled by the altitude, which made this walk bearable. My rucksack, laden with my tent, sleeping bag and provisions, weighed in at 13.5Kg (30lbs) and wasn’t making my journey any easier.

Cruz de Fregel - on top of La Fortaleza, Tenerife

Cruz de Fregel - on top of La Fortaleza, Tenerife.

After about two hours I began my climb up the “La Fortaleza” pass, a spectacular set of cliffs rising up in this end-of-the-earth landscape. There’s a chapel at the head of the pass where I stopped for lunch and a rest under the pine trees which offered the first shade I’d had since I’d started my trek. At this point I was cursing the weather forecast which had promised a “partly cloudy” day looking up all I could see was clear blue skies and a fierce sun. However from my vantage point at the top of the pass looking down the north side of the island I realised the forecast hadn’t been entirely wrong. There, 1200 metres beneath my feet, was a blanket of white fluffy clouds. Typical! They’d offer me no shade whatsoever and worse still, largely ruin any views I was going to be offered of the north coast. Still, at least the next part of the descent would be in the shade (and relative cool of the pine forests) or so I thought.

North face of Mount Teide and the Pine Forests

North face of Mount Teide and the Pine Forests.

WRONG! As I set of down the forestry route, I realised I was walking through the parts of the forest worst hit by last year’s forest fire. 12 month’s earlier this whole area had been devastated by one of the fiercest fires ever to rage through the island’s forests. The pine trees were still standing but the foliage hadn’t had time to grow back. The laurel trees faired much worse, for the most part all that remained was acres of twisted burn out branches. This was the first time I’d seen the results of the forest fire first hand and I felt dismayed that anyone could be so careless – or worse deliberately start a forest fire.

I left the main forestry route and followed the path down the fire-breaks. The surface of these paths is more uneven and they are steeper than the forestry tracks but they are straighter and can shave several Kilometres off the length of your journey if you can make use of them.

By 15:00 and 3.5 hours into my journey I arrive at “Piedra de los Pastores”, a small picnic area high the pine forests and overlooking the La Orotava Valley. Here I meet a couple of firemen maintaining the forestry installations. Unlike most the mountain picnic areas, there is no tap or spring in Piedra de los Pasfores so the fireman offer to let me refill my canteen from their fire truck, they confirm my directions to the camp site and warn me that I have at least another 10Km to go.

This came as somewhat of a shock as I’d measured this leg on my map and judged just 4Km, but my 1:75000 scale map did not show quite how many twists and turns around deep valleys that the forestry track actually made. It took me another 1hr 40mins to arrive at the camp site so I’m guessing it was more like 6.5Km.

Camping in Barranco de Fuente Pedro

Camping in Barranco de Fuente Pedro.

Campamento Bco. de Fuente Pedro is actually one of the best camp sites on the island. In the borough of San Juan de la Ramba and some 1250 metres up in the pine forests, it boasts some really excellent facilities including showers, toilets, drinking water and barbecue areas. However, this meant I wasn’t alone, I had a entire Scout troop and a British family for company. Still I pitched my tent, took a cold shower and set about cooking some dinner on my gas stove.

Dusk fell about 21:00 and I gave up trying to read by torch-light as I was just attracting moths and midges, but the scout troop wasn’t about to let me turn in for an early night, so instead I rocked out to some music from my MP3 player. At about 23:00 I finally turned in.

It wasn’t a comfortable night, I was stiff and sore from the hike which had turned out to be about 5Km longer than I’d expected. (21Km rather than 16Km). Still I slept until about 08:00 and had a slow breakfast before packing my kit and setting out on my walk out.

The objective for day two was to hike back to Los Realejos from where I’d catch a bus home to the south. I set back out along another forestry track which ran parallel, to the track I used yesterday from Piedra de los Pastores. I was heading towards Mirador el Asomadero (a viewpoint) and just above there I met a local guy called Fran who had just hiked up to Chanajiga and who like me was heading down to Los Realejos, he offered to show me the best route down.

Fran led me down through the fire-breaks and we weaved along parts of the main forestry track effectively cutting the journey time in half were I to have stayed on the forestry track alone. We’re making towards La Corona, giving the Mirador a miss as we were descending through thick cloud. It was here that Fran rather casually asked, “Did you know there was an apparition of the Virgin Mary near here?”

“Frankly Fran I didn’t, but tell me more.”

There was an apparition of the Virgin Mary at Fuente de Pedro

There was an apparition of the Virgin Mary at Fuente de Pedro.

Fran went into tour guide mode, he showed me a small gap in the hedge-row marked only by two huge Hydrangeas. We entered this wooded depression, which housed the entrance to a galleria and a spring co-incidentally called “Fuente Pedro”. It was here where the virgin had alleged appeared, a small statute of the Madonna a little shrine mark the areas and pilgrims regularly come to lay flowers, pray or just drink from a spring which the Madonna has seemingly decided to bless with her presence. The whole area is just covered with Hydrangeas and the humidity is intense, my dusty map starts to disintegrate like soggy toilet paper and its easy to see how someone could have a spiritual experience in this very special place.

We strike on again, reaching La Corona in record time, there’s time for a quick photo at the view point now we are finally below the cloud base, before we march on down a steep cobbled track towards Los Realejos. Although this track is mercilessly steep it shaves miles off the walk along the main road from La Corona to Los Realejos and Fran reliably informs me that they run a mountain bike race down this track each year. This strikes me as nuts, as one one move and your cyclist is careering off into the abyss, but hey each to their own.

Fran has one more prize for me at the end of this path, another fresh water spring from which we both take a long drink. Thanks to my impromptu guide I’ve managed to hike out in just 2 hours and discovered some fantastic secrets which I’d have otherwise walked past in complete ignorance. Fran showed me where the bus stop was and we swapped details so he could email me some photos of his previous trips, I hope he gets in touch as I’d love to walk with him again. Anyway a big thank you to Fran for making day two the highlight of the trip.

Three buses and 2.5 hours later, I’m back home in Los Cristianos taking a well earned hot shower.

Walking in the south of Tenerife

Posted on July 16th, 2008 by David Parkes in Tenerife Hiking | 1 Comment »
Footpath from Vilaflor to the "Paisaje Lunar"

Footpath from Vilaflor to the "Paisaje Lunar"

The south of Tenerife is one of the best parts of the island to go walking. Some of the most spectacular routes on the island are right on the doorstep of the popular holiday resorts of Los Cristianos and Playa de las Americas. The scenery is varied and includes rugged coastline, rugged mountains, rural farmland, spectacular lava flows and lush pine forests.

A great walk for beginners is a walk across Guaza Mountain from Los Cristianos, either to Palm mar and along to the coast to Las Galletas or simply on to Guaza for lunch in a tapas bar. The summit of Guaza Mountain (430 metres) is purely optional, but offers great views up and down the coast.

Other nearby walks start from Arona – which is very accessible via the number 342, 480 or 482 buses from Los Cristianos or Playa de Las Americas, these include, Roque del Conde (table-top mountain), Arona-Ifonche a picturesque rural hamlet. Arona – Adeje which offers two routes, one down the side of the barranco del infierno (the valley of hell), and the other through the pine forests and descending down a steep mountain track on the far side of Adeje, emerging near Othello’s restaurant which is famed for its Canarian Chicken and overlooks the Barranco del Infierno.

Vilaflor also offers some great walks (Buses 342 & 482 from the south). This pretty mountain village is one of the last rural areas in the south of Tenerife and at altitude 1400 metres (4600 feet) often offer much cooler walking conditions than on the coast. The most popular walk from Vilaflor is a saucepan shaped circuit out to a magnificent pumice rock formation known as the Paisaje Lunar (Luna Landscape). But there are many other varied and intersecting routes which offer great rewards to the intrepid explorer.

Most of these routes involve hiking or walking on well trodden or well maintained paths and will not pose any difficulty for the regular walker. And when you consider the scenery, wildlife and all around life experience you are missing out on, its amazing that more people aren’t already hiking in Tenerife.

Footwear for hiking in Tenerife

Posted on July 16th, 2008 by David Parkes in Equipment, Hiking Advice | 3 Comments »
Quechua Diosaz Raid 500 Cross-country Running Shoes

Quechua Diosaz Raid 500 Cross-Country Running Shoes

There seems to be a debate in the industry at the moment as to weather cross-country trainers or approach shoes are a better choice of footwear than hiking boots. To a certain extent is a matter of personal choice, but I’m an advocate of cross-country running shoes, particularly when hiking or walking in Tenerife and here’s why.

Tenerife has low rainfall and there are no permanent overland streams, so waterproof shoes with high ankle guards are not required to keep the water out.

Trainers are far lighter and invariably more comfortable to wear for long periods than hiking boots.

The absence of ankle support can actually strengthen your ankles, which can in itself help prevent injury if you take a bad step.

My recommendation is for some like the Quechua Diosaz Raid 500 (pictured), they cost around £50 and are really comfortable. Although they are not waterproof, if worn with a synthetic mix sock they’ll dry out really quickly thanks to the breathable 3D synthetic mesh. The sole offers great grip and the Phylon + Diapad® midsole offers great cushioning.

Quechua are a brand renowned for offer great products at low prices so for my money this is the best type of footwear for hiking and trekking in Tenerife.

- – - – - — -

Since writing this and hiking on a daily basis instead of only at weekends, I’ve changed my opinion somewhat. Cross country running shoes wear out terribly quickly on our rocky terrain and last me no more than 3 months before all grip is gone on the soles. Also after suffering a slight ankle injury, I was grateful of the extra support a higher ankled boot offered. I’ve also found that there are number of synthetic boots with Vibram or Contragrip soles which fit and feel like a trainer, offering you comfort as well as waterproofing and ankle support.

Arona – Ifonche Circuit

Posted on July 13th, 2008 by David Parkes in Recent Walks | 1 Comment »
Roque de Imoque 1,107m

Roque de Imoque 1,107m

The Arona to Ifonche Circuit is one of the most popular walks in the south of Tenerife. Its a well marked, well trodden route, starting from 1km north of Arona. The walk follows old goat herder tracks to the rural hamlet of Ifonche, where you can take in the beautiful scenery of protected natural space before returning via farm tracks along the side of a deep gorge know as Barranco del Rey.

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve walked this route because its a personal favourite and its also represents the first leg of longer walks to Adeje, Taucho and Vilaflor. This time we decided to reinvent the walk with a slight twist, we’d incorporate a climb of Roque del Imoque (1,107m) – that’s the jagged spike of a mountain visible from Los Cristianos.

The spot height sounds more impressive than it actually is, as the route starts from the 700 metre contour. And although it descends 50 metres into a deep ravine, the total ascent is just 450 metres.

We start out under heavy cloud from Restaurante La Granja de Arona, which according to the sign is open just 3 days a week between 1:00pm-5:00pm – Cushy! (Before you jump to conclusions it’s *not* Canarian owned.) Anyway, we head out along the Camino del Suarez, footpath, and old goat herder trail which descends into the magnificent Barranco del Rey and almost immediately climbs out the other side.

The path then takes us around to the col between the back of Roque del Conde and the hump of Montaña del Suarez. This vantage point affords us excellent views of Costa Adeje, from Puerto Colon to Callao Salvaje. Were it not for the low cloud and poor visibility we’d have been spoilt by excellent views of La Gomera.

We continue northwards along the path past the abandoned Suarez homestead and pause briefly explore the caves that surround this old dwelling. Pressing on, the path keeps to the west of Roque de Imoque and we continue to enjoy excellent views of the south-west coast. Its from here the vegetation changes, upland plants appear and moss and lichen adorns the rocks, covering them with vivid shades of orange and green.

Almost too soon the path emerges on the saddle between Roque de Imoque and Roque de los Brezos, though a quick check of the journey clock reveals its taken us 2 hours to get this far. As the cloud drifts by us we realise we’ve emerged at Ifonche, with it’s rural farmsteads dispersed between the terraced fields and small copses of pine trees. Looking back we enjoy the full splendour of the view back down the valley towards Costa Adeje.

At this point we are just shy of 1,000 metres contour and look up to the jagged peak of Roque de Imoque to see the last part of our ascent. Thin cloud is rushing up the valley and passing around us and the summit is slightly obscured by cloud, which is rare for July. Still, undeterred we make our ascent.

The terrain is steep but a faint path takes you up to within 30 meters of the summit, a short scramble allows you to reach the top of the peak. We ditch our packs behind rock and begin the climb. A good head for heights is required as the spiked summit is narrow and there are sheer drops looking down 300 metres into the depths of Baranco del Rey. To add to this, the cloud rushing past beneath and above you gives you an unsettling sense that the mountain is in motion. The final part of this ascent really is not to be attempted if you suffer from vertigo.

Still the rocks offer good footholds and you don’t need to be an experienced climber to make the summit, which is marked rather oddly by a metal pole. The cloud ruined what would be on a clear day one of the best (and at the same time terrifying) views on the island, however it did at least keep us cool and created a weird atmospheric which really gave you a sense of accomplishment.

We descended again back down to the Ifonche plateau and after traversing a dry river bed, headed into the village to our favourite “tipico” restaurant for a lunch of varied tapas. Goat’s cheese, serrano ham, garbanzos (chick peas), Conejo al Salmorejo (rabbit in Salmorejo sauce) and Fiesta de Carne (pork with onions), accompanied by salad and chips and washed down with a cool Dorada made for a well earned and tasty Canarian lunch. The bill, just 10 euros per head. Bargain.

To walk off lunch, we set off on our return leg to Arona, the route we followed is known as the Camino del Topo and it runs roughly parallel to the east side of the Barranco del Rey gorge, which is one of the most under-rated sights in the south of Tenerife. Rain and wind have carved this deep scar into the landscape. It runs for miles starting higher in the pine forests and finally emerging at Veronicas in Playa de Las Americas. However, its here, between Arona and Ifonche where the canyon is at its most impressive, with shear walls of rock hundreds of meters deep, the blue pebbles of the dry river bed at the bottom and the occasional sparrow hawk gliding out across the ravine.

The cloud finally lifts and the sun comes out to warm our descent. The downward leg is much shorter and it takes us a little over an hour to return to our start-point. But photo opportunities abound, with the Barranco del Rey, views of Los Cristianos and Costa del Silencio as well as further ruined houses to explore. All in all a great day in spite of the cloud.

Route: Arona – Ifonche Circuit (Incorporating ascent of Roque de Imoque)
Distance: 9km (5.5 miles approx)
Ascent/Descent: 450 metres (1500 feet)
Grading: Moderate (Easy if you exclude the climb of Roque de Imoque)

Las Montañas Negras

Posted on July 12th, 2008 by David Parkes in Recent Walks | 1 Comment »
Mount Teide and Pico Viejo

Mount Teide and Pico Viejo

Last week I joined a walk organised on Tenerife Forums. We headed to the Northwest of the island and a small village called San Jose de los Llanos, just north of Santiago del Teide. From here we began our circular route up into the hills and past Las Montañas Negras (The Black Mountains), so named because of the colour of the volcanic ash and rock that formed them.

Las Montañas Negras include the Volcan de Garachico (Volcano of Garachico), the site of the 1706 eruption which destroyed the port of Garachico on the north of the island.

Our route first took us south towards Montaña Bilma, before turning east and picking up the forrestry track which runs alongside Canal Vergara (the water channel bringing water from the north to the south of the island. In the early part of our walk we would have enjoyed excellent views of the valley around Santiago del Teide, but rare cloud obscured most of the vistas.

Hiking in Tenerife

Hiking in Tenerife

As we joined the forestry track alongside the water channel we were afforded some great views of the lava flows from 1909 eruption of the Chinyero vent which is the site of the most recent volcanic eruption on Tenerife. Between the clouds we also had fleeting glances of Teide and Pico Viejo. We turned north along the forestry track and followed the channel towards Volcan de Garachico and around towards the Arenas Negras camp site.

We turned off the track just before Arenas Negras and this is where we stopped for lunch, picnicking on the site of the trail before following the footpath across the black sands of Las Montañas Negras. At this point we still had not seen the Volcan de Garachico, even though it was just a few 100 metres away. Cloud was still obscuring our vistas and spoiling any chance of a decent photo.

Volcan de Garachico - Las Montañas Negras

Volcan de Garachico - Las Montañas Negras

But just as we arrived at the foot of Volcan de Garachico, nature smiled on us, the clouds parted and gave us a stunning view of the volcano and a fantastic view back towards Teide and Pico Viejo. No sooner had we finished snapping away and turned our backs to continue on the last leg of our walk the clouds drew back in and obscured the view once more. Nature’s sense of timing never ceases to amaze.

Finally we descended back through the pine forests on a lightly warn trail to San Jose de Los Llanos. The absence of an open pub forced us to drive back to Santiago de Teide for that well earned beer.

Route: San Jose de los Llanos – Las Montañas Negras (Circular)
Distance: 14Km (9 miles)
Ascent/Descent: 200m (660 feet)
Grading: Easy