Caldera De Taburiente Walk
PRLP13 La Brecita-Playa de Taburiente- Barranco de Las Angustias.
The full PRLP13 trail is a circular walk, starting and finishing from Los Llanos, which takes you down into the Barranco de Las Angustias (after a very long, very steep climb out of town along the access road), then back up the hills to La Brecita, across a number of tributary barrancos (the Spanish word for ravine) to the campsite at Playa de Taburiente, before a long walk back along the river bed before climbing back up the hill and down into Los Llanos. This walk takes approx. 9.5 hours, is very taxing and is therefore for hard core walkers only.
Luckily, there is a much shortened version, which takes much of the climbing out of the equation. It is still a long walk- it took us approx. 5.5 hours with breaks, but the scenery is spectacular and well worth the effort. This involves driving up the long steep hill out of Los Llanos (Camino La Caldera) then down into the car park at the bottom of the Barranco de Las Angustias via a slightly scary narrow lane with numerous hairpin bends. From here, the local taxi services are waiting for you to take you up the mountain road to La Brecitas. When we did this walk, it was not necessary to book- they flag you down as you enter the carpark. At time of writing (Jan 2018), the cost was 12.50 Euros per person. This service is only available until 12.30pm to ensure all walkers on the trail return before nightfall. There are no other roads in this part of the Caldera, so once you have started, you are commited, so don’t assume you can call a taxi half way round.
Another point to mention is that this is a fair weather walk only, due the fact that a large part of the trail runs along the river bed. Its best to check the weather forecast as even if it isn’t raining when you set off, if it is forecast then there is a good chance the access road will be shut, as flash flooding can make the trail very dangerous.
So, starting at the highest point at La Brecita, the first section of the walk is an approx. 6km gradual descent to the campsite in the heart of the caldera. Walking along a well laid and signposted track, the forest route takes you across a number of ravines with spectacular views of the caldera. This part of the walk is not particularly strenuous, the path is smooth and reasonably wide. It does however take you along the edge of the mountain at all times, so some of the drops to the side can be quite severe. For the most part there are no guard rails so if you don’t have a good head for heights like me, it can be quite daunting at times.
Just prior to reaching the campsite, you come to the Playa de Taburiente- not an actual beach obviously, but wide expanse of shallow stream with rocks where you can take a short break in the sun. After clambering over the stream, it is a short climb upto the campsite, where there are picnic tables, an information point and public toilets. It’s a good place to take a breather before the next section of the walk.
To the left hand side of the information centre you will find the path that takes you down into the Barrancho de Las Angustias. Again, if there is risk of flooding, the path will be closed by the Park Authorities. At this point you are still high up, so after a brief climb it is all downhill. The path is steep in places as it hairpins down the side of the ravine. The path is quite narrow, with large drops to the side. I was very relieved to finally reach the bottom.
On reaching the bottom, you can head right to head towards the exit, or if you take a 10 minute diversion to the left along the riverbed, following the lurid orange stream, you come across the unusual Cascada de Colores, which is the source of the strange coloured water. This orange waterfall is well worth diversion from the main route.
Returning to our main walk, large parts of the final 5.5km stretch take you along the river bed, so there is fair amount of clambering over rocks, the path is uneven and you are likely to get your feet wet. At one point you cross another larger stream coming in from the right – there is no way to avoid getting a bit wet at this point. The signposted path does occasionally take you back up onto the slopes of the ravine to take you round some obstacles in the ravine. If water levels are low, not all diversions are necessary- when we completed the walk only 2 of the diversions were really required. One of them in particular, that takes you past a concrete house in the ravine was quite unpleasant- steep, big drops, uneven paths.
There is no path in the riverbed as such, you just have to pick your way across the rocks, crisscrossing the stream numerous times to find the best route through. Eventually the stream peters out, the ravine widens and becomes much easier underfoot with small stones rather than rocks. You will eventually come out at the car park, your starting point earlier in the day.
In summary, the walk is about 15km in total with varying degrees of hardness, a few vertigo inducing moments, and a high probability of damp feet at the end. It is however, spectacular and well worth the effort. I would highly recommend it.
Links to More Walks
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Pista De Los Lomos Santa Cruz Walk, Spain, Canary Islands, La Palma
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Rincon To Malaga Walk, Spain, Andalusia, Malaga
Caldera De Taburiente Walk, Spain, Canary Islands, La Palma
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Caldera De Taburiente Waterfall Walk, Spain, Canary Islands, La Palma