Thursday, 23 August 2012

Arona to Ifonche Circular Walk - A Southern Classic

One of the things I like about living here in Tenerife is the ease with which I can get into the mountains when I want to go for a walk. In the UK, as I lived in the south, it meant a drive of at least two and a half hours to get anywhere with any ‘real’ mountains. Now, it takes me less than fifteen minutes. Close to where I live in Chayofa in the hills above Los Cristianos in south Tenerife are the Adeje Mountains, which are easily accessible from the town of Arona from where there is a wonderful circular walk along old caminos linking the town with the remote hamlet of Ifonche. The route leaves Arona for the nearby village of Vento, from where it crosses the Barranco del Rey in the shadow of the imposing table-topped summit of Roque del Conde. This impressive ravine passes through the Ifonche region on its way to the coast where it reaches the sea by the infamous Veronica’s nightclub complex in Playa de Las Americas, a world away from its origins high in the mountains. 

If you have time on your hands, a short detour will take you to a derelict farmhouse adorned with a mural depicting the Guanche Ichasagua, who was Mencey of Adeje and fought a guerrilla war against the invading Spanish from his stronghold in the area. Returning to the route, the walk follows the Camino de Suarez, an old goat herder’s path that passes the remains of the Casa de Suarez, as it climbs through rugged mountain terrain below Roque Imoque on its way to Ifonche. It’s hard to believe in this parched, harsh landscape that wheat, barley and potatoes were once grown and cheese was also produced for sale in Arona. After a climb of around one and a half hours, the pass between the needle sharp summit of Roque Imoque and twin peaks of Roque de los Bresos is reached and here you will find a well preserved threshing circle, one of numerous examples in the area. From the pass, there are superb views to Costa Adeje and inland to the Ifonche region where the terraced hillsides are dotted with houses set against a backdrop of pine forests and the high mountains of the Las Cañadas National Park. After the exertions of the climb, the route now follows a quiet rural road for around half an hour as it passes through the tiny hamlet of Ifonche. Here, you can stop if one of the local bars for a cooling drink or a bite to eat. The route passes by the door of the El Dornajo restaurant and a short diversion of a few hundred yeards later in the walk will bring you to the Tasca Taguara. 

Both are worth a visit as is the El Refugio restaurant, which can be found along the Camino del Topo, the return path linking the village with Arona, which was used by villagers gathering dried pine needles from the hills above the village for use as animal bedding and fertilizer. This building is an old farmhouse, now converted into a spectacularly situated restaurant on the edge of the Barranco del Rey. Here is a good spot to sit with a drink and admire the views before continuing the walk to a viewpoint into the barranco just below the restaurant, which at this point is an awesome chasm at the foot of Roque Imoque. The walk, which takes around three hours, continues its descent passing the forlorn ruins of an old finca and a reservoir, to arrive at the road which you can follow back to Vento or into the pleasant, shady plaza in the centre of Arona. This walk, which is easily accessible from the southern resorts by bus or car, can be started in Arona, where the bus terminates, or at the start of the path in the village of Vento, which is a short walk away. If starting in Vento you will need to drive as there is no bus service to the village, there is however on-road parking nearby. The walk can be downloaded direct to your inbox in PDF format from and includes full route directions, map and photographs as well as other useful information.
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