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Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Discovering Tenerife's Secret Paths

One of my favourite pastimes when out walking is discovering new routes. Recently, I studied the 1:25,000 IGN map for the Adeje area to try and create a circular route above the Barranco del Infierno. This famous landmark in the south of the island is walked by thousands of tourists every year who follow the pathway to the waterfall at the head of the barranco and return by the same route. Lately, the authorities have restricted access to the walk, ostensibly to try and control erosion damage caused by the large numbers walking the route. While I can see some of the reason for the restrictions, it always makes me feel uneasy when routes such as this become 'pay as you walk' and I am glad that I walked the route before it became a paying attraction and too pedestrianised for my liking. Having said this, you can still walk the route for free on a Sunday. However, an excellent alternative to the crowded barranco are the many paths above, where you can roam at will to the numerous fantastic viewpoints looking down into it.
One of the problems with devising your own routes in Tenerife is that the maps, unlike UK Ordnance Survey maps, do not accurately record paths, so what appears on the map does not necessarily appear on the ground, and vice-versa. Checking mine, I noticed that there appeared to be paths allowing a circular route high above the barranco taking in all of the viewpoints along the way. After a number of false starts, I found the path on the map leading high up into the mountains before crossing the Barranco de la Fuente and circling round and back down towards the Barrranco del Infierno. As I skirted around the top, I succesfully found my way to the three stunning viewpoints, one on each side and one looking down the length of this impressive ravine, before returning to my start point. Although the latter section of the route followed a popular trail, I did not pass one other walker on the whole walk. I always get a special 'buzz' when I plan a route that starts as an idea on the map and then tranfers successfully to the ground. It is so much more satisfying than just following a route from a guidebook. The other bonus is that, because these paths do not appear in any guidebooks, you often have the place to yourself giving the walk a greater feeling of adventure.