Cuevas Negras (Black Caves): A Wonderful Tenerife Walking Route
What Is Cuevas Negras?
Cuevas Negras means "Black Caves" and is a very picturesque location in the Teno Mountains of Tenerife. It is a very tiny settlement with a few ruined and long-deserted houses and others that are occupied in the valley made by ravines with steep cliffs and forest-covered mountainsides all around. Down below on the coast lies the town of Los Silos. And yes, Cuevas Negras has caves!
How to Get to Cuevas Negras
There are footpaths to Cuevas Negras, either from Los Silos and climbing the mountains, or coming downward in the other direction from the village of Erjos. You can take your pick but starting at Erjos is the easiest route by far.
It is also possible to walk to Cuevas Negras from the rural village of Tierra del Trigo which has a road that goes in a zigzag down the steep cliffs and is used by extreme cyclists as a challenge.
You will see signposts in Erjos showing the way to the start of the footpath to Cuevas Negras. It is just over 3km to Cuevas Negras from Erjos and 5.7 km to Los Silos, according to the sign. It is easy to get to Erjos on the 460 bus from Icod de los Vinos in the north or from Costa Adeje in the south. Also the Puerto de la Cruz to Los Gigantes bus number 325 goes through Erjos and it is possible to get to the village using this service too.
Likewise there are signs posted just above the main road through Los Silos, which is also conveniently on a bus route. This makes it a great starting or ending point if you are hiking.
The path from Erjos quickly descends out of the village, past some farmland and into very pretty evergreen laurel forest, or "laurisilva" as it is called. The air is often cool and damp along the beginning of the pathway, and in spring and early summer there should be plenty of wild plants in full bloom. The houses of Cuevas Negras are in a very green and forested part.
Wild flowers and both endemic and introduced shrubs and trees can be seen growing along the sides of the pathway. There are plenty of birds too and flying insects, including the pretty yellow Cleopatra butterflies (Gonepteryx cleobule ) and the Canary Island Speckled Wood (Pararge xiphiodes ).
Songbirds, such as Robins and Blackbirds, live in the forested areas and Buzzards hunt over the cliffs and ravines.
Anyone who loves nature and the countryside is sure to delight in the countryside along the walk through Cuevas Negras. It is a sensory feast of sights, sounds and the wonderful aromas of resinous plants and perfumed wild flowers.
One of the few residents of the area, however, told me that he is saddened by the number of hikers who leave litter along the way. This is a very good point. If people are going to go into the countryside to enjoy it then they should take their rubbish home or dispose of it safely when they get back into an urban area.
Cuevas Negras, Tenerife
What to See
As you move out of the forested area you come into mountain slopes and views downhill and to the coast far below. There are scrub-covered cliffs, stark and picturesque crags and peaks, and staggering volcanic rock formations. In places, where when it has been raining, the water runs in torrents and cascades.
The Cuevas Negras surrounding countryside is incredibly beautiful and you will see other pathways you can explore such as the one that leads to Tierra del Trigo.
On a parallel pathway on the left-hand side down through the mountains from Monte del Agua ("Mountain of water") to Los Silos there are the deserted ruins of the farming settlement known as Las Moradas.
As you descend the pathway takes you through some really majestic-looking cliffs and rocky peaks with ravines below. Eventually you will re-enter 'civilisation and the farms of Los Silos and its streets.
In spring you will pass through a part where there are many frogs of the Stripeless Tree Frog (Hyla meriodonalis) species. They breed in reservoirs for the farms and inhabit the rush-filled lower levels where the water flows. If it is the breeding season and has been raining you will hear them singing.
Cuevas Negras has a wealth of endemic wild flowers, trees and shrubs, including some rare species such as the Mallow Lavatera phoenicea , the attractive shrub known as Palo de Sangre (Marcetella moquiniana) with its red upper stems, and with similar leaves but a lot larger as a plant Bencomia caudata. Both of the last-named shrubs are actually in the Rose family but you probably wouldn't know that unless you were a botanist.
More common but interesting species include the Canary Island Sowthistle (Sonchus radicatus ) and the St John's Wort (Hypericum reflexum). The last-named St John's Wort has characteristic yellow starry flowers like others in its genus but small leaves arranged around its stems giving it a distinctive appearance.
In earlier stages of your walk, after leaving Erjos, you will pass some excellent examples of the white-flowered and very attractive shrub or small tree Viburnum rigidum. In spring this shrub is a real picture when in full bloom.
Look out too for the pretty orange flowers of the scrambling Canary Island Bellflower (Canarina canariensis ) which grows in the moister and semi-shaded areas. Its berries are edible and turn from green to a yellow-orange as they ripen.
The unusual flat rosettes that hug the rock-face they grow out of of the Houseleek Aeonium tabuliforme can be found on some of the cliffs and crags. This plant is known as Pastel del Risco in Spanish, which means "Cake of the Cliffs".
In early spring, along the pathway down into Los Silos, you will also see the unusual hooded spathes of Dracunculus canariensis from the Araceae or Arum family. Its white or creamy spathes have an inner spadix which is yellow and after pollination the plant carries a group of reddish berries.
The wildflowers you can encounter in the Cuevas Negras area are just some of this walk's many delights.