Sunday, 12 February 2017

Montaña Sámara & the Las Cuevas Negras

View from the summit of Montaña Sámara

This walk was a new route in an area that I had intended investigating for some time so I was pleased to find details on the web about a new path leading from Montaña Sámara to the Cuevas Negras, a series of lava tubes just off of the path in the volcanic landscape below the slopes of Pico Viejo. There is a convenient car park just below the Montaña Sámara cone and after parking the car I was soon climbing up the cinder path to the summit. The views from the top were simply stupendous and far-reaching to the summits of Pico Verde and Pico de Gala in the Teno range with the twin summits of the island of La Palma in the clouds beyond providing a fitting backdrop. 

View from the summit of Montaña de La Botija

Descending from the summit, I followed a path up Montaña de La Botija, another volcanic cone from where I had views across the lava fields to the towering peak of Pico Viejo, the second highest summit on the island. In the other direction, I had further views to the harbour at Playa San Juan and the prominent bulk of Montaña Tejina. Descending once more, I continued as the path wound a tortuous course through the volcanic landscape, passing large 'standing stones' of lava at the side of the path. 

Collapsed lava tube or 'jameo'

As the path turned downhill, I suddenly realised that I had passed the Cuevas Negras lava tubes and back-tracked a little until I located the first of these, which was a large opening in the ground with a 'lava bridge' across the centre. This type of tube is called an 'jameo' and is formed when the roof of a lava tub collapses, leaving an opening in the ground. 

Entrance to a lava tube

I continued to backtrack and located all five of the tubes, one of which, as with the first, had collapsed. The others were still intact and had cave-like openings, all of which had metal gates blocking entry into them. Lava tubes are formed when slow a moving lava flow solidifies on the surface but this then insulates the lava below, which continues to flow beneath the solidified surface, leaving a tube when the flow ceases.

Lava stalactites on the roof of the lava tube

Looking through the gates I could see lava stalactites on the ceiling of the caves in various shades of reddish brown. Despite not be able to access the tubes, it was still interesting to see into them and I thought it was odd that, although the path is signposted as the Cuevas Negras path, the location of the lava tubes is not signposted from the path as they are very easily missed if you don't know where to look for them. After leaving the lava tubes, I followed a return route to my car at Montaña Sámara as I enjoyed excellent views to the island of La Gomera hanging in the clouds ahead and to Pico Viejo behind.

Looking back to Pico Viejo & Teide

Video of the walk

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