Tenerife, Vilaflor to Parador

My walk on this day, near enough a walk I did three years previously, took me from Vilaflor along the GR131 to the summit of Mt Guajara, on the rim of the caldera – a climb of 4800 ft over 10 miles. The route then drops down to the crater floor and the Parador hotel which is also the bus terminus. The time constraint of having to catch the 4pm bus back down puts a real imperative into the walk.
As usual I walked up the hill from Golf del Sur to Las Chafiras to catch the 111 bus which runs along the motorway, stopping only at bus stops constructed in laybys between sliproads at motorway junctions – a very clever idea. The motorway was very busy at 7.30 am, people returning to work after the Easter weekend, but I still made Los Christianos in time for a coffee at a cafe opposite the bus stands.
Titsa bus 342 leaves the Guagua Estacion at Costa Adeje at 9.15am and arrives in Los Christianos around 10 minutes later. There are the usual mix of passengers – mountain bikers (with their steeds placed in the hold), hikers, day trippers as well as locals of Arona and Vilaflor. Bono cards are not valid on this service and the fare to Vilaflor was just over €3.

At Vilaflor the bus drops you at the southern end of the village and you to have to navigate through the back lanes to reach the GR131 path which, once found, is labelled clearly thereafter. After an initial dip the path then climbs relentlessly through the forests on a rough stony a track. There are points of interest along the way, indicated by a marker post and a sequential number – I’ve yet to discover which document these numbers are explained in. At around 1970m a path off to the right leads down to the picturesque Paisaje Lunar. I took this diversion, which isn’t too long but does drop around 150m, last time but meant I had to miss summiting Guajara. This time I carried straight on.
After the forest you cross the Barranco de los Arenas and climb onto the open hillside – smooth beige rock with the path, still rising, marked by small rocks – much like an aircraft landing strip. At around 2200m the path becomes rough again, zigzagging through a sea of boulders as it makes its way over to the shoulder of Mt Guajara.
The climb is hard work. A breeze becomes more noticeable as you climb but the slight thinning of the atmosphere does add to the effort. It is with joy that you reach the metal post, at 2400m, that marks the path off left up to the summit of Guajara – though there is still 317m (1039ft) left to climb!
Once reached the summit is one of the finest for viewing Mt Tiede, facing you directly across the caldera. It is amazing to think that the height of Tiede above the crater floor is greater than that of Mt Snowdon from sea level!
From the summit I took the path that heads South from a junction a short way back along the way I’d ascended from the metal post. After a steady descent the path plunges through a cleft in the crags to Degollada de Ucanca, crossing the shoulder to descend directly towards the Parador hotel complex. Although hard work this route is straightforward.
I arrived at the Parador in time for food and drink before the bus arrived from El Portillo. This is one of the great bus journeys of the world and praise must go to the drivers and engineering staff of Titsa.
Amazingly I was back down in the same Los Christianos cafe as the morning by just after 5pm. What a terrific walk!
NOTE: You must constantly monitor your progress against the 4pm deadline for the bus – there is only the one. If you miss this you must either stay overnight in the hotel or call a taxi (very expensive). If you think you will miss the bus it would be best to turn around and head back to Vilaflor. From there book a taxi, or it is 10 miles down to Los Christianos – not the end of the world if your are still in fit shape.

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