Monday, 20 June 2011

Walking in the Afur Valley

Despite having lived and walked in Tenerife for three and a half years, the island continues to surprise me. Yesterday, as forecasts promised temperatures rising to the mid-thirties by the early part of this week, I set off for the Anaga Mountains from the south with the temperatures already nudging the high twenties. As I drove north, the whole island appeared to be quietly simmering in the heat, with the haze as evident over Santa Cruz and La Laguna as it had been in Los Cristianos in the south. Turning off of the TF5 autopista, I headed for the mountains and was surprised to see a white topping of cloud slowly tumbling over the summits and hanging over the nearby valleys as I headed towards the village of Las Mercedes. Climbing up into the Anaga Rural Park on the steeply winding road, the atmosphere changed abruptly as I passed through laurisilva forest, the wet roads evidence of the moisture laden cloud drifting through the branches and condensing on the leaves before dripping onto the tarmac below. Soon, I was forced to turn on my headlights and slow my speed considerably as I was having difficulty seeing more than a few yards ahead in the gloom. Arriving at the Casa Carlos restaurant, I parked and surveyed the scene, or I would have had there been one to survey. Normally, from the restaurant there is a fantastic view into the Afur valley, which was my destination for the day but now all that was 'visible' was a swirling white blanket hiding everything apart from the nearby flora. Setting off, I followed the steep path in eerie silence down towards Taborno as it passed through tree heather dripping with condensation from the moisture laden clouds. From Taborno, I followed a contouring path through giant ferns and brambles, the wet ferns soaking my shorts as I pushed through them before arriving at a house that abruptly materialised from the mist. A woman brushing the path outside the house wished me 'buenos dias' and I replied 'mucha bruma', which in the circumstances probably didn't need saying and as I continued downhill, pungent smelling woodsmoke from a nearby bonfire mingled with the fog, as more houses materialised out of the mist before de-materialising just as rapidly .
Descending to the 1,400ft contour, I was suddenly treated to a superb view into the Barranco de Guardoz and as I continued, the village of Afur came into view below me. Descending further, I reached the outlying houses of the village clinging to a ridge and followed a paved path down into the bottom of the the valley. The fertile valley is known for it's stream and as I crossed the bridge to the village it was clear the flow of water, which in the winter months almost becomes a river, would soon be reduced to a few rockpools until the winter rains returned.
The main part of the tiny village consists of a few houses and a church haphazardly arranged along the valley road and often, when arriving in places as remote and isolated as this, I feel a little like an intruder, so I didn''t hang around long before locating the path out of the village. Climbing steeply, I arrived at a ridge and the amazing site of abandoned cave houses hanging precariously in a cliff-face, a wall built in front of these dwellings being all that stood between the original occupants and the valley floor several hundred feet below. Having passed this awe-inspiring sight, I re-entered the mist and climbed to the tiny hamlet of Roque Negro, where I located a relentlessly steep path up to the ridge road, which I followed back for a couple of miles to Casa Carlos. From here, I observed a cloud inversion in the Afur Valley and the amazing sight of the nearby summits protruding like mystical islands from a sea of white cotton wool before I set off on the drive back south in brilliant sunshine. Full size versions of photos below.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Barranco de Las Cuevas Negras

Photos of yesterday's walk from the village of Erjos through the Barranco de Las Cuevas Negras in the Teno Mountains

Friday, 10 June 2011

Montaña Colorada, The Red Mountain

The weather yesterday here in Tenerife was superb with clear blue skies and I took the opportunity to climb to the summit of Montaña Colorada from the peaceful village of Cruz de Tea. The peak itself is not particularly imposing but from the summit marker there are stupendous views in all directions with the high peaks of Montaña Guajara and Sombrero de Chasna particularly dominant. The climb from the village is a strenuous 1.5 hour hike up paths that are often difficult, being covered in loose, gravelly red soil and rocks, making the walk initially a little like struggling up the side of a sand dune. Eventually, the gradient eases and the going becomes easier underfoot as you enter pine forest, giving you more chance to enjoy the scenery. Montaña Colorada means 'Red Mountain', and although the description 'mountain' may seem a little exaggerated, there is no denying it's colour! As you ascend, the summit cone peeks tantalisingly between the pines, frequently disappearing again making the climb seem longer than it really is. Once on the top, it is well worth stopping for a break to admire the 360 degree views, which in clear weather extend from the coast to the caldera rim. The return route is the almost total opposite of the outward path, as it descends through terraces of vines and fruit trees before following a deserted country road steeply back to the village. As you reach the village, you will find a very large, well preserved tile kiln, next to the appropriately named Tasca El Horno, where you can enjoy tapas and a drink as a reward for your earlier efforts. Photos below.

Montana Colorada

Monday, 6 June 2011

Montaña Guaza, Climbing the Tourist's Mountain

I recently climbed Montaña Guaza, the large, barren lava dome towering over the town of Los Cristianos. Read about the walk on the Tenerife Holiday Blog

Walking the Rio Conde

Last Thursday, my wife and I walked the Rio Conde, a disused water channel running through the mountains from Adeje to Arona, which is a town close to our village, Chayofa. The plan was to bus to Adeje and then climb up to the Rio Conde and follow it to a point where it passes closes to Chayofa before leaving it to follow a path back home. The channel is about a metre wide and very vertiginous in some places as it skirts around cliff edges, so the walk is not for those with a fear of heights. There are also sections where the slabs on the top have broken and a balancing act is required to negotiate these, which is a little unnerving at times. At one point, it crosses a ravine and although the channel is quite wide, you have nothing to protect you from a sheer drop on either side so concentration is vital. Because of this, I forgot to take a photo of the aquaduct as it crosses this point. The walk went well until towards the end of the channel when it started becoming very overgrown and it was necessary to climb down off of it at some points. It was during this section where I had an encounter with a prickly pear cactus and sustained an injury to my leg. I'm still not sure but I think I may have a cactus needle buried in my shin although the swelling is going down now. Hopefully, if there is a needle in it, it will work it's way out in time. This is the second injury I have sustained to my left leg in recent weeks but I suppose after years of walking with hardly any problems, I was due some bad luck. The walk took 5.5 hours overall, although it was made longer by some of the overgrown sections and the injury, which slowed me down a bit. Photos here