GR 131 Tenerife

GR 131 Tenerife

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Arona GR 131GR 131 Tenerife, after our adventure in the north of Sweden last year my girlfriend wanted a warmer destination to go hiking. And so I googled in search for a nice trekking destination. Finally I decided to go to the Canary islands. La Palma, La Gomera and Tenerife were all three shortlisted and eventually the Tenerife GR 131 hiking trail was the winner. For Hannelore the timing was unfortunately not so good, so I went on a solo hike. I’ve booked with Brussels Airlines, despite the negative experience of the last trip, one ticket to the Spanish island for the ‘Gran Recorrido 131’.
At arrival I took bus 111 to the touristic Los Cristianos where I waited for the bus to Arona. Suddenly a pale brown Peugeot 205  stops next to me with an old man in a dark suit that looked  a few sizes too big. It appears to be an illegal taxi driver. We agree on a price and he brings me on steep roads to the mountain village of Arona. His car creaks in all joints. Beside Arabic he speaks only a little Spanish and English. A smile is our only means of communication and the old African smiled with his yellow-brown teeth, or what remains of it. Arriving in the town of Arona I finally can start my journey on the GR 131 Tenerife. The Spanish trail GR 131 runs on all the Canary Islands off the north-west coast of Africa and is part of the European Walking Route E7. The GR 131 Tenerife is part of the route on the Canary Islands.

GR 131 Tenerife / Arona – Villaflor

20 km – rise 1400 meters – 400 meters drop – supplies Arona, bar Ifonche, Villaflor

GR 131 TenerifeAt the Plaza Cristo in Arona I’ve got a solid water supply which made my backpack a few kilos heavier. I left the sleepy village that seems to take a ‘siësta’ and I’m immediately impressed by the beautiful nature.

Winding on dusty trails along old terraces for agriculture, far under me I see the dark blue sea glittering and colourful paragliders hover above my head. Before I know it I’ve lost the winding path, an our later, bush crafting over jagged rocks and falling into a giant cactus I finally come back on to the GR 131, a good start!

I walk further and start a strong climb in a blackened pine forest due a fierce forest fire. After 1400 meters altitude and a little more than 20 kilometres I arrive in the lovely village of Villaflor. I buy a water supply and some nuts for the next day, walked a few extra kilometres firmly up and put my tarp next to a stone footpath.

GR 131 Tenerife / Villaflor – Montaña de las Arenas Negras
31 km – rise 1260 meters – 625 meters drop – supply Villaflor, El Parador, El Portillo


GR 131 TenerifeI
wake up with a big peel of ice on my down sleeping bag. I’m hopping around to keep myself warm.

Soon, the heat returns. The road goes up and winds through a beautiful pine forests. The panorama changes and I find myself suddenly in a moon landscape with black lava sand. Nothing grows and the route is only recognized by the stones on the sides of the path. After a time the strange landscape turns into a climb full of large yellow rocks. It is quite a scramble now. I’m happy when I’m on top and got rewarded with a nice view. This is the highest point of the GR 131 Tenerife.

Comfortably I wander down and suddenly the volcano El Teide emerges from the fast moving clouds. I make some couscous with dried vegetables and enjoy the view while eating.

After a short but steep descent I had to go for an extra seven kilometres walk to the tourist spot of Parador to fetch water. In this piece, which oddly enough is not very nice, I’m suddenly meet a lot of day trippers. For the rest, I’ve never came across anyone yet.
After
my water supply I walk on towards El Portillo. A wide path goes sluggish continuing in the blazing sun. I walk through a stunning volcanic landscape, see mountain goats higher up sharply jump from rock to rock as the sun begins to set behind the tall volcano. I put the trailstar up in the soft lava sand.

GR 131 TenerifeAt night I see an incredible starry sky,  I only saw something like that already in the Atacama Desert in Chile. It is very cold and my sleeping bag is closer to the limit temperature than its normal temperature. In the morning my water is frozen and I wait for the sun which still hides behind the Montaña de las Arenas Negras.

GR 131 Tenerife / El Portillo – La Caldera
17 km – rise 300 meters – 1100 meters drop – supply El Portillo, La Caldera

GR 131 TenerifeIn El Portillo I do a resupply of water and drink a coffee to warm me up. I’ve lost the GR 131 Tenerife track for a moment and start some downhill bush craft. All in all I am glad to have my GPX track and be back on the trail after a few kilometres. I have a magnificent view of the lush green forests and fast moving clouds under me. It is now primarily downhill true woods with Canary pine trees that thrive perfectly on the volcanic soil.

After a while I see the sparkle of the sea. Colourful houses stabbing in the distance against the Atlantic coastline. It’s going up and down and finally I arrive in El Caldera. I drink a cold beer in a very typical Spanish café and store water. The next 30 kilometres there are no houses or villages and so my backpack is again five kilos heavier. I walk a few kilometres, come along a signpost with the E7 indicated on it and after a steep climb I find a beautiful camp site in the green rainforest.

GR 131 Tenerife / El Caldera – La Esperanza
30 km – rise 1000 meters – 1300 meters drop – supplies La Caldera, La Esperanza

trailstar The night was much warmer than the previous two nights. When I put my muddled head out of the sleeping bag I see the rising sun lighting up El Teide between the dripping pine trees. Everything goes in the clammy backpack and I start immediately on a long steep climb towards Roque del Topo. Once on the top is goes on along a narrow path above a deep gorge, Barranca del Inferno. The most dangerous pieces have wooden fences beside the path. After a long climb I follow a declining path true moist forests.  It goes nearly 15 kilometres from one Barranco to another, sometimes the sun shines through the trees but mostly I walk through a thick cloud. The transparent gray fog comes and goes, sometimes I’m completely in the fog or the veils disappear just as quickly within seconds.

Dark green laurel trees take place off the pine trees as I descend further. The last 10 km go on a wide dirt road and through eucalyptus trees to the village of La Esperanza. The arrival isn’t spectacular, you’ve just arrived at the destination. As always, the path is the goal, not the end.

The GR 131 Tenerife is a beautiful trip! On the 95km trail there is tremendous diversity in the landscape. Highly recommended! I take a taxi or bus to the coast and stay a few days in the cosy hostel Los Amigos in Los Abrigos.

Praktical

Map

Transport

There are daily planes from Belgium. I flew with Brussels Airlines from Brussels to Queen Sofia airport in the South. Although there is no train or subway, buses and trams are cheap and have an extensive network. The transport company in Tenerife called TITSA. The buses are green and white, known as Guaguas (pronounced wah-wah). The friendly drivers and air-conditioned vehicles make bus trips enjoyable. Do not expect the buses to be punctual, but the appointed hour is a good indication.

There are good links between the airport and major cities. The rates are reasonable and there are discounts or special rates apply when repeatedly driving the bus.

Signage & Supplies

E7The GR 131 Natural Tenerife or Camino Anaga-Chasna is well marked and usually the path is clear. Nevertheless I’ve managed to lose the trail twice, probably more my fault than the road markings. A map is basically unnecessary, I did not had a map. But I’ve loaded the GPX track on my smartphone which was sometimes useful.

Do not expect to find water on the go, let alone direct potable water. A water filter thus has little value, take enough to drink it. Restaurants and cafes are rare on the island. In the villages Villaflor, El Portillo and La Caldera you can do some shopping if needed. In El Parador is a possibility to supply but do you have 7 rounds km (around 3.5 km / 3.5 km return).

Temperature

The weather conditions were good in late March ’17. Warm but not too hot. At night it was near Villaflor and at the foot of Mount Teide or very cold. My sleeping bag with comfort temperature 0 ° C was on the limit. Between El Portillo and La Esperanza it can be very humid, you are literally in the clouds. ” The sense temperature in the sheltered damp forests can then also be lower than the specified temperature.

The sun’s about seven o’clock in the morning and 8 o’clock in the evening under, whether it is summer or winter. Do not expect long summer evenings.

Books & Maps

I’ve used the book of Paddy Dillon published by Cicerone. It describes the GR 131 Tenerife and more than 40 other day walks on the Island and El Teide

Photo’s


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