Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Tenerife’s Most Popular Walk – The Barranco del Infierno (Hell’s Ravine)

It’s got a great name and it’s known as Tenerife’s most popular walk.

The Barranco del Infierno’s proximity to the main tourist resorts probably has more to do with it earning the title of Tenerife’s most popular walk than anything else. Lying at the top of Adeje old town, it’s easily accessed from Playa de las Américas, Costa Adeje and Los Cristianos and for that reason it attracts people who may not normally venture too far into the countryside. It’s not uncommon to see people arrive at the entrance to the walk dressed as though they were about to spend a day at the beach.

Basically the route involves venturing deep into a ravine, criss-crossing a trickling stream until it ends at a magical little grotto where there’s a small waterfall; anyone expecting Angel Falls might be a tad disappointed. Along the way it’s worth looking out for falcons, kestrels, wagtails and tiny green frogs in the little pools that run parallel with the path. The walk to the waterfall and back again takes around three hours.

There are a few factors which set this particular walk apart from hiking in other parts of Tenerife – some positive, others less so. Firstly for conservation purposes the number of walkers is limited to 200 people per day, so booking a reservation is recommended, if a bit at odds with walking most other places on the island where you can just more or less go where and when you want. There’s also a charge of €3 to enter the ravine; another unique aspect. Having a kiosk marking an entrance to a walk makes me think of the toll gate in Blazing Saddles.

The walkway itself has been nicely developed, but if you like your countryside paths to be more of a ‘walk on the wild side’, you might find it borders on being a tad manicured.

The big difference for me is the ‘kit inspection’ before you’re allowed to enter the ravine. Seeing the state of some people who turn up, I understand the safety reasons behind it, but it’s very ‘nanny state’ and it just doesn’t happen anywhere else on Tenerife.

However, saying all that, it is a very pleasant walk and the existence of streams, pools and a waterfall on the arid south coast is fascinating in itself. Serious walkers might find it not particularly challenging, but it’s a good introduction to exploring Tenerife on foot.

For me, walking the Barranco del Infierno is akin to reading an abridged version of a classic book.

Barranco del Infierno official website: There’s a downloadable pdf about the walk here.

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