Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Walking from Tenerife's National Park to it's highest village

Yesterday, I caught the once a day bus to the Las Cañadas National Park to the start of a walk from the Parador to Vilaflor, the island's highest village. The route involved a climb to the Ucanca Pass and then onto the summit of Montaña Guajara, from where I planned to descend on the GR131 to the Lunar Landscape and eventually onto Vilaflor to catch the return bus. It meant I had to keep up a good pace as I only had 5.75 hours to get back to Vilaflor to catch the bus.

The Parador with Tenerife's 2nd highest peak, Pico Viejo, in the background

Leaving the Parador, I headed towards Montaña Guajara, Tenerife's fourth highest peak at just under 9,000ft. .

After forty minutes of walking, I was on the summit of the pass, where I stopped briefly for a snack and to enjoy the stunning views of the National Park and the Parador below, now reduced to the size of a dolls house.

From the pass, the route tracked diagonally below cliffs towards the summit, although from here, the path was not immediately obvious. 

The climb involved some minor scrambling over boulders with sheer drops hundreds of feet to the caldera floor below.

After one hour thirty minutes of walking, I reached the summit of Montaña Guajara, where I stopped for a short break to enjoy the views of Teide and the National Park.

Gran Canaria apparently floating in the sky from the summit

The Ucanca Valley from the summit

The east coast and Gran Canaria from the GR131

The Barranco de Las Arenas from the GR131

Descending from the summit, I joined the European GR131 route and began descending towards Montaña Arena, a black sand volcanic cone below Montaña Guajara. Here, the path becomes a boulder-lined route across this surreal black 'beach'

Descending swiftly, I joined the path to the Lunar Landscape, a valley of wind and rain eroded pumice pinnacles.

After a steep descent, the outlying houses of Vilaflor, the highest village in Tenerife, came into view.

After just under five hours of walking and jogging, I arrived in the centre of the village and one of the most welcome views on the whole walk! 

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