“Today you´ll discover the natives secret of how they survived on the island, the capital and a wonder immersed in the ocean.”
The circular route of the water was created in 2010 and is 16 km long, made of old and new paths, all well marked and with explanation panels, presenting to you the water culture and history of El Hierro.
Starting in San Andrés, you will walk direction Guarazoca into the pine tree forest. Did you know that the indigenous pines of the island don’t get destroyed by fire? You will soon reach La Albarrada, the first village of the island, now in ruins, but where the spirit is still alive in its old paths and stony walls. It is a very mysterious town where I use to imagine love stories, discussions and funny anecdotes on its, now silent, streets, only accompanied by skeletal stone walls of houses without roofs.
Up the mountain, you will pass the Dornajos, containers made of a trunk to collect the rain water for the animals. But more interesting is the view downhill on the right: There is a big perfect green round spot. As the herreños can´t find an explanation for that enigma, they say that an UFO landed there…
Next stop will be the Sacred Tree, “Árbol Garoé”, here the bimbaches picked up their water, that dropped down the tree in their bowls made of clay. Over 400 years ago, the original tree disappeared in a hurricane.
An old legend tells a story about the native princess Guarazoca: When the conquerors discovered El Hierro, they couldn’t find drinkable water and almost left the island. But princess Guarazoca fell in love with one of them and showed him this so called “The holy tree”. When she realized what the consequences were, the death of her people, she committed suicide jumping down the cliffs close to La Peña. That is why the closest village to that place has now her name.
Continuing the route, you will pass the “Albercas” (artificial water pools to collect water) and immersing the vegetation, you will get closer to the capital. Here the landscape changes between different kinds of forests and deserted areas that are being reforested. When I spend time on the island I often visit this places because it is really interesting how nature changes so quickly only in a few meters: First the tipical laurisilva forest, then I am like on the moon and then the eucalyptus smell and the sound of the wind in its leaves.
Next stop will be the dam Presa de Tifirabe, far too big. I have never seen it full of water.
The last part of the path downhill was mainly used for ranching. Once you arrive at the first houses, the return starts uphill, on the path “El camino de la Virgen”. When you cross the road, you will soon arrive at the viewpoint from which you can see part of the hydro-wind plant. This is a unique project in the world serving as reference point of renewable energy aiming at supplying the whole island with 100% clean electricity.
The smallest village of the island will be the next place you will reach: Tiñor. It is very cute with small houses with geraniums at the doors and only older people living there and always welcoming you with a warm “hello”. After that, two more “Albercas” and soon you will be back in San Andrés.
Once you return from your walk, visit the capital Valverde. With around 5.000 habitants, it is placed on a mountain which is usually being surrounded by crowds (water from the ocean evaporates and, as it ascends, it bumps into this mountains and stays there.) The indigenous lived there, hidden in the cloud and feeling save from Spaniards eyes. Nowadays it is a beautiful town, but not very crowded because of the humidity. Herreños call it “Mordor”.
It has one main street called “La Calle” where you can find most of the shops. It is worse to visit the “plaza” and, close to it, the church “Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Concepción”, with a classicist baroque style, built between 1767 and 1820.
To have a snack, I recommend “El Secreto”, “La Taberna”, close to “La Plaza” or “La mirada profunda”.
If you want to have a desert, try the “quesadilla”, a typical cheesecake, directly coming out of the wood oven at the factory Adrián Gutiérrez e hijas.
And now, it is time to relax at the beach at Las Playas. Passing Puerto de la Estaca, Timijiraque and the tunnel you will arrive at the beach. In front of you, you will have a huge monument: A rock, like an iceberg, with a whole in the middle, 200 meters tall from its base on the ground of the ocean. This is a perfect place to swim and snorkel around the rock (don´t swim much further than the rock because sometimes there are currents). Under the water there are amazing colorful fishes, amazing blue waters interrupted by the sun rays that try to reach the ground and some round stones polished by the waves.
If you wait for the sunset, you´ll enjoy a wonderful natural performance, perfect for the end of the day.