Monday, 11 July 2016

Walking through the Island's Volcanic Past

Montana Samara

I have recently been exploring the area between Montana Samara and Montana Chinyero, site of the island's last eruption. The north-west Santiago rift is littered with many volcanic cones and makes the area a fascinating one for observing the recent volcanic history of the island. I parked at the Montana Samara car-park and followed the obvious path to the summit where I had fantastic views towards the Teno Mountains, Teide and even down towards the south-west coast. 

Views from the summit

The surrounding countryside was a fascinating mix of cinder cones, frozen seas of lava and pine trees, all set to a backdrop of the Teno mountains and nearby islands of La Gomera and La Palma. I stood for some time on the summit absorbing this amazing scene while to my right lay the harsh volcanic hollow of the volcano's crater. Descending, I crossed the road and followed a forest path downhill towards Montana Chinyero, although today, this very familiar cinder-cone volcano was not my objective as I was heading for Montana del Cascajo, another volcanic cone, which lies at a higher altitude. 

Montana del Cascajo

Montana Chinyero erupted in May 1909 and for ten days spewed lava into the surrounding countryside. The lava flowed down into the Santiago valley and threatened the village of Santiago del Teide and neighbouring villages before coming to a halt without causing any damage. 

Views from the summit of Montana del Cascajo

Having reached the start of the path to the summit of Montana del Cascajo , I began the climb to the top, which was quite difficult as the path was almost vertical and the surface was comprised of very deep volcanic soil, which made progress very slow. Once on the top, I skirted around the cone to the highest point where I enjoyed more excellent views over the volcanic terrain and also to Santiago del Teide. 

Volcanic Landscape around Montana del Cascajo

Path through the forest

Montana Chinyero

 Having descended, I followed the easy track through the forest for a while until it became more indistinct before disappearing altogether in an area strewn with yellow birds foot trefoil flowers. Picking my way through this was slow and difficult as I climbed steadily uphill. Crossing a volcanic ridge, I was suddenly confronted by a very rough, frozen sea of Aa lava. 


Areas of land such as this in the Canaries are usually called 'malpais' and the literal translation 'badlands' was certainly appropriate in this instance. Fortunately, there was a path, albeit fairly rough and rocky, skirting around the edge of the lava and I picked my way very carefully along this as it headed uphill. Soon, I arrived at a waymarked 'sendero' onto which I turned right and followed it very easily downhill back to Montana Samara and my car.

Teide & Pico Viejo

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