Vulcano-tour: Route: from the visitor center to Fuencaliente (17 mi)
7 to 9 hour hike, depending on your speed and fitness
There is convenient access by public bus to the visitor information center of the Nationalpark of the Caldera de Taburiente. It`s located at the mainroad connecting Santa Cruz and Los Llanos. A concrete building, approx. 6 mi. east of El Paso, you can`t miss, because of it`s strange architecture. The stuff is willing to provide you with free camping permits for El Pilar, Caldera de T. and Fuencaliente and other places (?) as well. There is also an office somewhere on the southside of Santa Cruz. In the C.d. T, rangers are very strict and tell you to leave when having no permit ! When you are female and single traveler there is a good chance of getting the permit right on the spot at the campground (off-season!). The park-office must regulate the number of overnight-travelers, otherwise the place will be runned down soon.
Begin the tour at the visitor center and walk westbound on the main road (towards El Paso) for about 1/3 of a mile. On the left hand side there is Fuente de Colorada (spring), you´ll recognize the white wall with wooden cross on top of it. Turn here s.e-bound on the paved road that softly ascends towards the mountains. Stay on this road until the Serpentines start. As remarkable landmark take the last finca on your right hand side - easy to determine by its circular architecture. Continue the slopes uphill and check the Camino Real (King`s trail) that crosses the paved road, easy to recognize by its marginal wall built of natural stones. There are not many footsteps on this trail, so there are parts that are grown by weed. Anyway, after reaching the edge of the forest you´ll have a breathtaking view of Los Llables. Dunes of vulcano ashes and nice little fir-groves among, are shimmering in the distance. You will certainly percept a strong breathe and being there in March be prepared to have warm chothing with you. Follow the jeep- tracks and take the left one (after a few minutes), leading to the paved road that connects the tunnel and El Pilar. At evening time there is not much traffic on this road, therefore continue on it for 50 minutes to El Pilar. In the middle of the forest lies campground, picnic-area and playground. On the left side of the road is the official designated camp-area (acampar). There is a water-tab and shower in a small boarded shelter, that just hides the intimate parts of your body....Anyway on the right-hand-side of the road are facilities, which hosts toilets, showers, etc, which were open until 6 o'clock at nights (travelers told me).
Well, the temperature dropped to chilly 4 degrees Celcius (40 degr. Fahrenheit) at night at Feb./March. To start the vulcano-tour follow the trail southbound, that begins at the facility building. It takes 6-8 hours of hiking to get to Fuencaliente. There are lavastreams, vulcano craters, fir groves, spread on a moonlike landscape. There is no water available on the trail, so carry it with you. In Fuencaliente are several cafes, supermarkets and bars. And of course: a bus-stop at a small plaza.
I better talk more personal about the trip that adjoints to the mentioned tour: We hiked downhill towards the lighthouse which is 700 metres lower of altitude than Fuencaliente. Have in mind to make it back to F. and carry water with you. There are two and more vulcanos along the trail. If Climbing vulcano Tenegue, be prepared of strong winds rushing by at this southernmost hill of the island. I had to return just 10 metres away from the top of the rim...because the hurricane almost got me (the strength is some kind of predictable). Cape Horn must be that way.
The beach, Playa Nueva, was nice and lies in solitude at wintertime. Bring wine, stay overnight...and catch the spirit!
The Crater-tour: We took a taxi from the city-center of Los Llanos (20 min by hiking) to the rim of the Augustine`s Canyon (Barranco de Augustine) and continued the trip by walking down to the bottom. Being there we stayed overnight close the parking area. We took a jeep-taxi (available from 8:30 to 12:30) for 1500pts per nose, up to Los Brecitos, a small parking-lot in the wildernis (since the crater is national-park) and startet hiking on the trail to the designated backcountry camping-area that is located in the middle of the crater (overnight-permit required!). It takes 2 hours to get there...depending on your speed and breaks. It´s an easy hike in a forest of firs that make you feel that you´re in another world, expecting dinosaurs in this prehistorical area. Even kids will make that trail. There are several opportunities of refreshments by creeks on the trailside (March). At the campground is room for approx. 50- 80 tents and the creek nearby provides water for cooking and cleanup, so watch what the person does upstream... I hiked up to HoyoVerde (300m above the campground (1 hr.) and watched the pools that were carved out ot the rock by water. Take a bath or whatever....At the campground be prepared to meet rangers that are very strict. If being without permit they tell you to leave! So far..the next day I hiked back to L.L to complete the round-trip. Better start early from the campground, cause after a while the sun bakes your brain...The trail leads through narrow canyons, sometimes you have to walk in the flat riverbed (dried-out?). Take your time...it takes 3-4 hours (no breaks) to get to the parking lot at the bottom of Barranco de Augustine.
I stayed in Los Llanos for 2 nights enjoying carneval and sitting in the cafes. The daytrip to smugglers`bay was nice. We had our flashlights with us to hike through tunnels that were built in the coastal mountains to carry the water pipeline. Some of the tunnels have a length of 300m.
to be continued...
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