The Anaga Mountains
Entry by Franco.
During our second week in Tenerife Kath and I went for a couple of great walks in the Anaga Mountains. These are a very rugged range that reach about a thousand metres in height, situated in the far north of the island. The walks follow old mule tracks and the mountains are so steep and covered in impenetrable vegetation that it would be almost impossible to travel across country. The vegetation is a form of cloud forest and the mountains do attract a lot of cloud and, for these islands, a good deal of rain.
The village of Taganana.
Wednesday 29 October. The first walk was a circular route from the tiny hamlet of Taganana. After a traverse across the slopes above the sea, you pass the tiny vineyards that are still cultivated on a sort of ‘hobby farm' basis. The area has been cultivated since the Spanish ‘conquista’ of the Canaries. The original inhabitants known as ‘Guanches’ put up a fierce resistance but were eventually beaten. They were armed with slingshots and obsidian tipped weapons. The stone age against the best Toledo steel. No contest really.
Looking back along the coastal traverse.
Winepress cut into the local 'volcanic tuff’ stone
The route then reaches a ‘barranco’ which after the recent rains still had some water in it and we followed this up hill to the village of Afur. Here we had 'café con leche’ in a very ‘local’ café and were bemused by how little of the local dialect we could understand given how well our Castillian (standard Spanish) is coming on.
View from above the village of Afur.
The route carried on steeply to the top of the ridge through lichen draped trees. Here we were in cloud and it started to gently rain. It was so warm that we carried on in out T shirts, as long as we kept moving there was no need to don our waterproofs. The downside was that the rocks underfoot were very slippery and the descent, a twisting route through steep woodland was quite tricky. The walk was given a time of five hours in the British guide and seven hours in the Spanish one. We took about six, and being sailors and out of walking condition, were reasonably tired.
On the way back we stopped off in the old town part of La Laguna, where we indulged in a well-earned 'crêpe au chocolat’, calorie city! La Laguna is higher, wetter and cooler than Santa Cruz. The temperature dropped to a chilly 18 degrees. The locals were walking around in ‘puffa’ jackets and fur lined boots. Fashion is an amazing invention. In the day the temperature is in the mid to high twenties and in the evening it rarely goes below 20 degrees, yet you can’t buy swimwear in the shops and their Autumn collections consist of clothing that would be adequate in Finland.
That evening after dinner on Caramor, Kath was soon busy plotting and scheming the next walk. “I can’t find another circular walk, how about we go up this one and down that one”, she said. “We could have a swim at the finish and then go for a meal. It’s a little bit longer that today’s walk, about seven hours.” After allowing me a quick glance she, suspiciously quickly, whisked the guide away. Those of you who have been subjected to a ‘Kath adventure’, will realise that the alarm bells were ringing.
“I suppose,” I said, “that you are hoping that I didn’t notice that both of those routes start at the highest point. So if you do one of them uphill there is another 1,000m height gain to add to the timing. Say another couple of hours. So given that we took an hour longer than the guide suggested on today’s route, your circular route could take us ten hours.” I got one of those looks.
The difficulty was bus connections. So after a bit more research we settled on the Cruz Del Carmen to Punta de Hidalgo walk with an extra four kilometres uphill to get from Las Cantares (where there were frequent buses) to the ‘start’ of the walk.
Friday 31 October. We left the car at the finish and caught a bus to Las Cantares. From here, rather than follow the main road, we walked up a single lane road that followed the ridge line. However, Spanish maps are amongst the greatest works of fiction. In this case the shape of the land was portrayed correctly but the track petered out into a footpath. After checking the lie of the land we were confident that it was going the right way and had a delightful walk up the ridge line through dense forest to the visitor centre at Cruz del Carmen. Here sustenance to fortify us for the walk ahead was called for, so we tucked in to a Spartan fare of apple pie and café con leche. (What, no cream?)
View from ridge path above Las Cantares.
The weather was fine and the walk itself was delightful. A well maintained mule track led down through dense forest until at mid height the trees thinned allowing for great views. At times the track made use of geological fault lines and we would be walking along ledges above dizzying heights. We passed the village of Chinamada that still has caves converted into modern houses and along the way saw several abandoned ones.
The densely forested mountain tops.
Views as trees thin out.
Ledges above big drops.
The path cuts through an amazing volcanic landscape.
After retrieving the car at Punta de Hildago we drove a couple of kilometres to an outdoor seawater swimming pool at Bajamar where we even had time for a vigorous swim before dark. These pools are a feature of the Canaries as many of the resorts don’t have much in the way of beaches. This was followed by iced coffee and I had passion fruit cake. We stopped off at La Laguna on the way back and had tapas for dinner followed by cake and coffee at another venue. Hard as it is to believe, I have lost quite a lot of weight on this trip!