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The Beautiful South - A walk in the southern hills of Tenerife
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Contributed by Gary Rosson   
Tuesday, 21 August 2007

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The south of Tenerife is not somewhere that is normally associated with scenic excellence and is often ignored as a walking destination, but the mountain walk between Arona and Adeje is one of my favourites and is as varied and beautiful as any on the island.

The walk begins with a short bus ride from the southern resort of Los Cristianos to Arona. As you alight from the bus in this quiet hill town, you immediately become aware that this is a different country from the bustling, commercialised resorts you have left behind on the coast, as there are few, if any, tourists wandering around in shorts and T-shirts and certainly no signs advertising   ‘Full English Breakfasts’ or ‘Large Beer, 1 euro’. This is a real Canarian town and, despite being only a short bus ride, is a world away from the popular impression of Tenerife as portrayed by people who have never taken the time to ‘escape’ from the busy resorts. I walked the short distance from the bus terminus to the pleasant square in the centre of the town with its simple church and impressive Canarian balconies. It’s a quiet spot to sit in the shade of a tree or at the bar while you watch the unhurried locals go about their business. Unfortunately, on this trip, there was a great deal of work going on and the roads and pavements were being dug-up for what looked like the laying of new pipe work, which did nothing to encourage me to linger.

Leaving the square by the NW corner I soon arrived at the main TF51 road that climbs relentlessly toward the Parque Nacional del Teide. Here, I turned right and followed it out of the town along flower lined pavements, until they ran out just past the last of the houses. To my left stood the bulk of Roque del Conde, the prominent table-topped mountain visible from the southern resorts. Leaving Arona behind, I found myself heading out into the country, the needle-sharp summit of Roque Imoque becoming prominent ahead. The quiet of the countryside was intermittently disturbed by occasional cars fizzing by, but with the hills ahead beckoning, minor inconveniences such as occasionally having to walk in the drainage channel by the side of the road,  could not detract from the excitement I felt at being out in the Canarian landscape on foot. Soon, I arrived at a restaurant on the left-hand side of the road and took a track just beyond that led below a small reservoir to my right. Keeping right at a fork, I continued until the track veered right where I left it, following a small path right of a ruined barn as it angled left for a short distance along the top of the Barranco Del Rey. Locating a steeply descending path, I followed it to the floor of the barranco. It was hard to believe that as I stood in the bottom of this impressive, silent ravine, had I turned left and followed it to the sea, I would emerge in the centre of Playa de las Americas, by the infamous Veronicas complex of bars and discos.

Shunning this dubious opportunity, I crossed the barranco floor and located a largely invisible path marked by a splash of paint on a rock and climbed up the opposite wall, occasionally pushing through undergrowth blocking the way. Once at the top, the path turned left before descending slightly to a dry stream-bed, which I crossed and turned right to follow it uphill. I was now heading gently upwards towards a saddle between Roque del Conde on my left and Roque Imoque on my right. The prominent ‘V’ shape of the saddle ahead meant that route-finding for the moment was not an issue and I relaxed and enjoyed the climb, the peace of the countryside broken only occasionally by the rustle of  a scurrying lizard, startled at my approach.

 

Roque de los Bresos & Roque Imoque 

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Roque de los Bresos & Roque Imoque

 Soon I stood at the saddle and stopped to take in the marvellous view that now presented itself. To my left lay the steep flank of Roque del Conde, while directly in front the ground plunged dizzyingly down into the Barranco de Fanabe before soaring once again to touch the sky in front of me in the form of a ridge of jagged pinnacles, culminating in the twin-summit of Roque de los Bresos at the right hand end of the ridge. This spot was certainly an impressive one and I spent a few minutes admiring the view, my camera working overtime as I tried to capture the stunning views. Having safely stowed my camera, I turned right and walked inland following an indistinct path towards Roque Imoque, the path soon becoming more defined as it climbed through rock, occasionally vanishing again before finally establishing itself along the lip of the barranco.  Soon, I reached a hidden valley containing the ruins of one or two old barns and some well defined but abandoned terracing. Looking back towards Roque del Conde, I was amazed that such a scene could be found so close to the southern resorts, being more reminiscent of the Inca trail in Peru than a handful of miles inland from one of Spain’s largest holiday resorts.

 

Roque del Conde and the hidden valley

Roque del Conde and the hidden valley.

Continuing, the path entered a more rocky area below the ever approaching peak of Roque Imoque, the silence now broken by a faint but distinct musical sound. As I rounded a bend I was suddenly faced by the source of the music, a herd of goats each with its own bell dangling around its neck. My sudden appearance temporarily startled these sure-footed mountaineers and they stood in the middle of the path for a while staring at me and waiting for me to make the next move, which I did, standing slightly away from the path as they bounded past in a flurry of musical jingling.

After a steady, rocky ascent I arrived at a large threshing circle between the peaks of Roque Imoque and Roque de los Bresos. Ahead lay the Ifonche plateau, a quiet agricultural area dotted with the occasional farmhouse and further beyond, views inland to the pine trees and mountains. I decided against climbing either peak as I had climbed both in the past and still had a lot of walking left to do. Leaving the threshing circle, I took a path contouring right of Roque de los Bresos to a country lane by an old farmhouse. Turning left, I followed this to a junction with a wooden cross set in the middle of the road, where I turned left again, eventually arriving at the Bar El Dornajo in Ifonche. At the crossroads I turned left once more and as the road dropped down to a bend, I left it for a wide track on the right to reach, in a few yards, a signpost for Adeje.

 Mountain goats above Las Americas

Mountain goats above Las Americas

Passing this, the walk now began to change in character as I headed into pine trees, soon arriving at a wide crossing track near a cottage. Crossing straight over the track, I followed a path into the woods. The mountain views now disappeared and I walked through near silent woods following the obvious path as it climbed through the trees. Emerging from the woods, the path descended on a thick carpet of pine needles as the ground dropped away on the left to reveal the first glimpses of the Barranco del Infierno. This impressive fissure is accessed from the town of Adeje - my destination for the day - and is walked by thousands of tourists every year who flock to the pretty little waterfall at the head of the barranco, one of the few continually flowing streams on the island. As the path rounded high above the head of the barranco, I looked down far below to see if I could see any sign of the path but if anyone was walking through this spectacular canyon, they were hidden from my view.

 

Looking back to the towards the mountains

Looking back to the towards the mountains

After lingering for a while absorbing the view into the barranco, I continued, turning right at a fork marked TS3, which climbed slightly before descending into another barranco. The path quickly crossed the floor of this before ascending once again on the opposite wall. As I climbed to the lip of the barranco, the mountains I had passed through earlier became visible once again through the pine trees. Turning sharp right at the top of the canyon wall, I once again entered dense pine forests and followed the path as it crossed a number of much shallower barrancos. The silence at this point was almost eerie as I made my way through the forest of Canarian pines, arriving after what seemed an age at a junction in the path. A line of stones had been placed across the path in front of me, encouraging me to turn right onto another path. I consulted the map but I knew from an earlier trip that it didn’t matter which route I took as both paths ended up at the same point so I continued, stepping over the stones.

Eventually, the path arrived at another fork where I kept left, and as the path veered right, the trees finally began to thin out as I emerged back into daylight, thankful to be back in the sunlight and free of the slightly sombre forest. The path, once out in the open, veered left and crossed a now rocky ridge of reddish stone. To the east stood the peaks of Roque del Conde and Roque de los Bresos that I had passed by earlier in the walk. To the west the ground dropped away towards the village of Taucho and behind me, the mountains rose toward the peak of Teide, now visible in the clear blue of the sky peeking just above the pine trees. An intermittent channel carved in the red rock now appeared on the ground, although what its purpose was I can only speculate but presumably at some time it was a water channel used for irrigation.

The path now began to drop slightly to the right hand side of the ridge before turning left and arriving at the spectacular Boca del Paso.  The view from here was simply stupendous. Far below I could see my destination, the town of Adeje, still a good hour’s descent away. To the east lay steep, pine clad slopes rolling away towards the Barranco del Infierno, while towards the horizon lay the coast and the southern resorts sparkling in the heat of the afternoon sun. I sat for some time in the silence absorbing this wonderful scene before beginning the long and tiring descent. After what seemed an age stumbling over loose boulders and scree, I reached a track and turned left and almost immediately found myself at the entrance of the Barranco del Infierno. Turning right down an impossibly steep street, I turned left and then right to find myself in the high street in Adeje with an abundance of bars to choose from for a cooling drink before catching a bus back to Los Cristianos.

 

If you are interested in finding out more about this or other walks in Tenerife, log onto my website at www.cyberhiker.co.uk

 

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Comments

I have done this walk alone and with company. Regarding the subject of the 'dangers' of walking alone, this is often debated and in the end comes down to personal preference. I love walking alone and have a good deal of experience of doing so having walked across England on the Coast to Coast walk and to the summit of Teide solo, among others. However, it is not advisable to walk alone in remote hill country until you are sure of your walking 'skills', such as map reading, compass use etc. On the subject of mobiles, it is a good idea to take one along but the signal cannot always be relied upon in remote hill country. It is advisable to leave details of your days route with someone reliable along with your anticipated finish time.

Gary Rosson.

Posted by Gary Rosson, Whose homepage is http://www.cyberhiker.co.uk on 09/08/2007 at 09:07

I can also recommend this excellent walk. However Mr Rosson's directions give the impression (possibly mistaken) that he was alone. I would not advise any walker to attempt this walk alone. It does not take much to twist a leg. Depending on the time of year the area is also subject to sudden cloud mist. A fully charged mobile phone is a necessity.

After a day's rambling I enjoy a game of bridge and if there's a bridge player living in the Arico area looking for a relaxed partner (Oct-May), I'm your man. Contact me at dunsscotus13@hotmail.com
Terry O'Brien

Posted by T. O'Brien, on 08/26/2007 at 23:08

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