The Bizarre Tenerife Landscape of Paisaje Lunar

Wed, June 19th, 2013 - By Andrea Montgomery

When it comes to the world’s extraordinary landscapes, Tenerife can hold its head high thanks to the drama and beauty of Mount Teide and Teide National Park with its stunning rock formations and kaleidoscope of volcanic fallout. But there’s another, far less known area of Tenerife that is just as remarkable to the eye, and that’s the Paisaje Lunar, or moonscape of Vilaflor.


Paisaje Lunar


Originally called Los Escurriales and still referred to by that name on directional signs, the Paisaje Lunar was formed around 500,000 years ago when a powerful jet of cinders, stones and ash from a volcanic eruption was carried on the wind, and rained down onto the slopes of the barranco, settling in a thick layer and melding the various elements together as they cooled. A further eruption then covered the area with another layer of harder, more erosion resistant materials.


Paisaje Lunar


Over thousands of years the top layer has been eroded to reveal the cinders and pumice layer beneath which, highly susceptible to erosion by wind and rain, has been sculpted into these fantastical shapes. Contrasting with the dark of the forested landscape, the white pumice towers are straight from the set of a SciFi movie. The layers in the columns betray the different materials from which they are formed and if you look at the sides of the ravine where the Paisaje begins, you can clearly see the thinner, harder surface layer which has eroded away to allow the elements to get to the pumice.


Paisaje Lunar


Fearful that the delicate site will suffer damage if too many footfalls interfere with nature’s work, the environmental department has now created a walking trail which takes you to a viewing platform on the far side of the ravine so it’s no longer possible to walk amongst the extraordinary sculptures in order to ensure their preservation. The photo below pre-dates the new route and gives perspective on the size of the sculptures.


Paisaje Lunar


Reaching the Paisaje Lunar is best done on foot from Vilaflor and is a beautiful 13km walk of around 4-5 hours, climbing above the village and through forests to the site before doing a circuit and then retracing your steps. The drive to Vilaflor from Los Cristianos, Playa de Las Américas and Costa Adeje begins on the TF28 above Chayofa. From El Medano and Golf del Sur you can drive up through Granadilla and San Miguel respectively.

There’s a shorter and less pretty walking route that begins on the TF21 outside Vilaflor en route to Teide National Park where you can leave the car and follow the path towards Madre del Agua campsite. The path to Paisaje Lunar is signposted to the left along that path.

Posted : Wednesday, June 19th, 2013 at 11:46 am
Category : about tenerife
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