This unique walking route explores the black lava landscapes of Malpaís de Güímar, contrasting against the bright blue sky and vibrant greens of the succulents and native shrubs. The rocky landscape extending out infront of us, wide open ocean to the right and mountains rising to the left with villages dotting the flat basin and snaking up the base of the mountain.
Filled with excitement and ready to explore, we began our walk from the town of Puertito de Güímar, where we found free off road parking right near the beginning of this route.
Malpaís de Güímar, located on the south eastern coast of Tenerife, boasts numerous walking routes exploring the historic10,000 year old volcanic territory. These rocky lava fields have been colonised by a multitude of local species, creating this unique and beautiful landscape. Endemic species found within this landscape have adapted to the arid climate, these include:
During the beginning of the walk, the giant Euphorbia canariensis, also known as the giant candelabra decorate the Malpais in every direction, along with endemic grasses and Lavandula canariensis.
"I believe the world is incomprehensibly beautiful – an endless prospect of magic and wonder"
- Ansel Adams
As we gain altitude the plant life begins to shift, the Euphorbia canariensis is no longer visible, but instead, large quantities of Euphorbia balsamifera (creating attractive mounded multistem forms) and Plocama pendula (small shrubs with slender, pendulousbranches the appearance of a small weeping willow) are dotted around the landscape. As we ascended we also spotted several large Barbary spurge hawkmoth caterpillars, with their striking body of colours, spots and red horn tail.
It a tiring walk up to the crest of the mountain, as there is no shade within this landscape and the hot sun overhead in a clear sky. Luckily with this walk in January, the temperatures were comfortable with the maximum of the day at 22 degrees Celsius. From the top are beautiful views of the surrounding land, the nearby towns, Santa Cruz faintly visible in the distance and the large mountain range rising above.
As we descend in the opposite direction, the downhill route turns to a very loose volcanic sand, we descend with an almost ski-like sideways motion and the small sand particles filling our hiking boots. Once we are down the slope and join the level walking route, we paused to empty out our shoes and continue along the hard stone path.
The last section of the walk along the coast was a completely difference experience compared to the paths through the inner landscape. Here on the edges of the cooled black landscape, where the lave meets the ocean, there is very little plant life, a few bright green succulents and grasses popping up here and there. The coastal path continues back to the village where we parked for about one hour.
An interesting bit of history we passed along the way, were excavated hollow rectangles, these were used by local inhabitants of this land as a way to preserve their meat and fish without the use of a fridge. These rectangles were then filled with seawater and once evaporated, left the remains of small salt crystals, which was then used to preserve their food.
This Special Nature Reserve of great ecological importance was declared a protected area since 1987. An amazing place to explore, whether you are looking for a short half an hour stroll or an all-day walk. Information notice boards are dotted along the paths with information regarding the history, the landscape and flora and fauna.
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