Friday, 12 July 2013

Chinyero and Montana del Estrecho

Montana Chinyero, with Teide & Pico Viejo in the background

In 1909, to the north-west of Teide, the last ever eruption on the island took place. The cinder cone of Montana Chinyero was formed during this eruption and a circular walking route of 5.7 kilometres was renovated and signposted in 2009 to mark the centenary of the event.

The path runs through pines and lava fields

As you circle around the dark volcano, there are excellent views of the cone itself, as well the lava flows that spewed from the ground, looking now like a black, stormy sea, frozen forever in time. The lava flowed into the Santiago valley but so legend has it, was stopped in it's tracks before reaching the villages of Santiago del Teide and Las Manchas by statues of Santa Ana and the Virgin of the Peace, which were placed in front of the advancing flow.

La Gomera and the Santiago Valley from Montana del Estrecho

The walk is easily accessed from the TF38 road to the Las Canadas National Park from Chio, there is space to park a car on the right shortly after a 'Chinyero' sign, the start of a track leading to the path is across the road heading into the pines. I usually walk this route in an anti-clockwise direction so I turned right when the path crossed the track and climbed higher up into the forest. As the climb levels out, there are superb views of the Chinyero cone and the surrounding lava flow.

Montana Negra (right) as seen on the climb to Montana del Estrecho

The route is easy to follow as it is well marked by finger posts and yellow paint marks on the rocks. One of the most interesting sections is where the walk actually crosses the lava flow as this gives you a good idea of the size of the sea of lava as it flowed down the valley en-route to Santiago del Teide.

Path junction after the lava field

Once across the lava, the walk turns left for the short walk back to the TF38 but a good diversion is to cross the track here and climb a steep, narrow path of loose stones and soil up the flank of Montana del Estrecho. Once on the track above, it encircles the mountain a number of times as you gently ascend to the summit.

Refuge on Montana del Estrecho

The ever-changing views on the ascent as well as from the summit make this a worthwhile side-trip as you are afforded excellent aerial views of Chinyero and the lava fields as well as Teide and Pico Viejo among many others.

Chinyero erupting

On the summit you will find an old refuge where you can sit and enjoy a break as you take in the views. To resume the walk just retrace your steps and pick up the Chinyero signposts once again. Overall, the walk takes around 3 hours and is a leisurely but spectacular introduction to the scenery in this area.