I thought about and discussed whether or not to post this walk for several weeks and, in the end, decided to give the reader the option with all the available and best information I can give. There have been variations of the hike published in two different books that I am aware of so the walk does exists but the descriptions make it sound easy; in discovering the hike myself I had to ‘rescue’ a couple who have attempted it and have gotten lost and another who had a vague word of mouth description but had no idea what they were letting themselves in for so it is up to the reader to decide if it is for you.
Disclaimer: This hike is not for the fainthearted. If you don’t like; walking close to the edge of high places, tight enclosed spaces, the dark, scrambling over lose rocks and scree or having to climb up or down short but sheer rock faces…then this hike is not for you.
Having scared you half to death, let me tell you, this is one of my favourite hikes for many reasons; the views are spectacular, there is the excitement of being on an adventure knowing not everyone will venture this far out of the way and the variation in plant life and colours is just staggering. First though, before we go anywhere, you are going to need a good reliable torch, one for each person in the group, I prefer a head torch but anything will do as long as it’s reliable. Also ceiling height can be quite low in places; I am 168cm tall and could walk upright with good head clearance, any taller and you may have to stoop or wear head protection.
As with the day 23 hike, we start at Los Gigantes bus station and head up hill past El Mirador Archipenque following the edge of the road for a hundred metres or so until you see the start of the PR TF 65 across the road on the left just before the junction.
Take this path walking up the steep surfaced road, following the Yellow/White markers and signs, climbing up through the banana plantations until it becomes a footpath and continue the assent. After about 3km you will get your first view of the tunnel (two abandoned buildings, one white and one grey set against the mountain side) continue the climb passing the yellow/white cross path on the left for Montaña Nifa and the sign posted path for Montaña Guama. Not much further on you will see the buildings on the left and the tunnel opening between. If you get to the goat farm you have gone too far.
Before entering the tunnel, make sure your torch is on and working; this first tunnel is 1.5km long and more than half of the distance you will be out of sight of both ends. There are also many trip hazards with rocks and old rail tracks so take your time and watch your step. When you are ready, enter the tunnel.
Top Tip 1: Going underground is something we would never normally do so why not try a little experiment? When you lose sight of the entrance (there is a dip in the tunnel floor that is an ideal point) group together and turn your torches off one by one. When it is dark, hold your hand in front of your face and try to see your fingers; this is total darkness, absolutely devoid of light and not something we ever experience…when happy, turn your torches back on and continue.
As soon as you reach the end, stop and let your eyes adjust then take a look around. We are going to be heading down the barranco to your left and you will see a path on your left to the barranco floor (it is marked with a green dot) however, I found it easier to turn right and walk a few metres to the path down the slope on the right. Descend on any path that you prefer and, when on the solid ground of the barranco, begin your descent.
This path is marked with green dots and arrows but you will find that others have built small cairns of stacked stones and these may be easier to follow. The descent to the next tunnel is 2.5km and will take about an hour. Take your time, you will have to traverse the occasional rock face but there are many toe and finger holds and they are very short and not very high.
A short distance down you will find a path opposite some deserted white buildings and above a watercourse; Uphill will eventually take you to the ridge at the top of Barranco Seco and an easy walk down the other side to Tamaimo, we however will continue downhill, across the watercourse, past the white buildings and onward down the Barranco.
Top Tip 2: If you go into Google Play, search ‘Maps’ and download MAPS.ME to your phone you can use the maps for Tenerife (with your GPS position) while off line and it’s free. The tunnels are marked as broken lines so you can check distance to go…can’t for the life of me remember who told me about this App, but it has been invaluable. Thanks whoever you are.
Continue down the barranco, (taking time to look back uphill at the colours of plant life and rocks…I think it looks like it came straight out of a Sir Arthur Conan Doyle novel) until the path joins a stone watercourse on your left and follow this path around the bends, past the path on the right which takes you down to the coast, and about 50m further on you will see the opening to the second tunnel on the left behind a bush.
The watercourse will run down the left hand side of the tunnel for its 1km length and you will be able to see the other end of the tunnel throughout. Turn on and check your lights and proceed. I like to imagine and admire what it must have been like to dig out these tunnels and what the people had to endure during their construction just to transport water around the island.
Once through the tunnel stop once again, switch off your lights (you will not need them again so you can put them away) and let your eyesight adjust, this is where it starts to get tricky and you will want your wits about you. We are around the 200m above sea level and we have to descend to pick up the path across the cliff face so look to your left and you will see the stone watercourse, look down to the ground in front and pick out the green arrow pointing down, this is where we descend.
This is lose gravely stones so take extreme care and slowly continue the descent taking time to pick out the path (you are heading towards Los Gigantes and there is only one way to go) and carefully follow this path all the way. At points along the way there are places to sit for a drink or a snack, to take photographs, to admire where you are and to enjoy some spectacular views. The people on the tour boats will wave and wonder how you got there so wave back and smile, be proud you have made it this far.
From the second tunnel exit it is 3km to the road that will take you back to Los Gigantes bus station and the path traverses the face of the cliffs; climbing, descending and narrowing occasionally with one tricky high step up a large rock, it also passes under a small waterfall, just take your time and keep to the path all the way to level ground and the road.
At the end take all the photographs you like and then head down hill on Calle Tabaiba turning left and immediately right onto Av. Maritima Acant. Los Gigantes at the junction and continue down the road to the T junction with Calle El Hibisco. Turn left and you will see the bus station about 20m ahead. There is a restaurant/bar (Tipsy Terrace) next to the bus stop so pop in and have a well deserved refreshment.