Saturday, 7 February 2015

A hike to the Fuente Madre del Agua waterfall

Blue Chaffinch

One thing I miss about walking in Tenerife is the lack of running water as there are virtually no rivers on the island, so I was interested to read recently about a waterfall in the south of the island high up in the mountains above the village of Vilaflor. The waterfall, which is fed by the Madre del Agua spring, is located in the upper reaches of the Barranco de Las Vegas at an altitude of around 1840 metres. It is possible to drive along the Madre del Agua dirt road to the Madre del Agua campsite from where it is only a short half hour walk to the waterfall but I wanted to make a day of it, so chose to hike along the Paisaje Lunar path from Vilaflor. 

Casa Galindo on the Camino de Chasna

This is a steep hike with around 1,000 meters of ascent, initially along an ancient trade route called the Camino de Chasna between Vilaflor and the town of La Orotava on the north side of the island. This path climbs very steeply out of Vilaflor before crossing the Barranco de Las Mesas and the Pista Madre del Agua dirt road as it heads off up into the Corona Forestal pine forest. 

Pista Madre del Agua road

On the day of my hike, the island was experiencing a calima, which is a local word for an occasional phenomenon that occurs when the air fills with sand and dust blown over from the Sahara and hangs suspended in the air like a mist. In the summer calimas can cause the temperature to soar to 40c or above but in the winter it can have the opposite effect. The temperature on my hike was quite cool in the shade, perfect for hiking, although the views were a little restricted as it was fairly hazy. 

Los Llanitos

After a couple of hours, I left the Paisaje Lunar path for another path leading to the campsite, which was closed for the winter, the wooden cabins standing forlorn and uninhabited in a clearing in the forest. After a few minutes of trying to locate the path, I began the last section of the climb to the waterfall and after crossing the Barranco de Las Vegas, the scenery began to change and I suddenly heard something that I rarely hear on a hike in Tenerife, running water, although at this point it wasn't visible. 

Mt Guajara seen through the calima

It was here that I had the good fortune to see a pair of Blue Chaffinches at close quarters and managed to take a few close up photos. Soon, the path descended to a stream crossing and as I climbed further, instead of pines, found myself surrounded by Canary Willow trees. 

Madre del Agua campsite

Higher up the path, I encountered a number of the willow trees blocking the path and I had to crawl underneath them after removing my rucksack. In this area, the stream was now quite fast flowing as it meandered between the trees and carpets of  willow leaves, which gave the area the look and feel of an English woodland in autumn. I was amazed at how unlike south Tenerife the whole area looked and soon, this feeling was compounded as I rounded a corner and came upon a beautiful waterfall tumbling into a dark pool at the foot of a cliff. 

Stream flows through the leaves beneath the willows

I stood amazed that I had walked many times in the area without being aware of the existence of the waterfall and after spending some time enjoying the beauty of this hidden corner, I turned and made my way back to Vilaflor.

 Click on the Wikiloc symbol in the corner of the map to download the GPS file
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