Barranco de Los Arcos
...Rappelling the Canyon in La Orotava 

Every time I think about the rappel in the Barranco de Los Arcos on Saturday December 21, 2013 in the morning, it comes to mind that you should never end the day without doing something new, and that is what I did that day with great satisfaction.

The company Patea Tus Montes, offering activities surrounded by nature among many others in their portfolio, have the activity of rappelling into one of the most charming and perhaps unknown places in Tenerife: the canyon Barranco de Los Arcos in La Orotava.

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Meeting the Group

A little before 9:00 am I got together with my father and my son to the meeting point - the car parking of the last restaurant before arriving at the fish farm of Aguamansa. There was already a small family, although I was not very clear at the moment that they belonged to the group going for the rappel. At the same time two more cars arrived with two couples and a bit after, the team of Patea Tus Montes. All of us, that for some hours were going to be fellow adventurers, organized ourselves in the vehicles to access the entrance of the road of Los Arcos de Chimoche.

The group that participated of the activity at Barranco de Los Arcos

The temperature was about 6-8 ° C, but was gradually going up to 20 ° C. We left the cars at the entrance of the road at 9:40 and before starting to walk almost two miles to access the upper canyon, Jose Maria and Samuel were officially presented as our guides in the techniques of rappel, followed by the presentation of the rest of the group. My fellow adventurers were Robert, Jenny and Felix (a Swedish family who already had some experience in climbing, and wanted to give an interesting and attractive activity to Felix, their 10 year-old son), Cristina and Pedro, a couple from Barcelona, and finally Carolina and Josué, from Tenerife.

While walking with Samuel, he was kindly answering me all questions, with occasional anecdotes, about the different activities and things to do in Tenerife and the islands that Patea Tus Montes performed.

At the end of the course of about 3 kilometers walking down the runway, Samuel showed me the place of the first rappel descent we were taking that day at Barranco de Los Arcos, at which point I thought he was just kidding, because the leap that I saw in the distance did not seem to be accessible and in any case for beginners... But as we were getting closer to the place I could see that I was wrong and it was just the first impression.

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Before the Activity, Safety Measures and Instructions

Barranco de Los Arcos has nine descents listed, but actually only seven of which can be done with the technique of rappelling.

José María told us that Samuel would go to the starting point for organizing everything while we were practicing a little the rappelling technique. And there, with a rope tied around a pine tree, we did practice the different ways we should act according to the different situations. We were given the necessary equipment, such as harness, helmet, carabiner and the figure 8 (an “8” shaped device used as a descender). He pointed out that the legs should form a right angle and showed us the right position of the legs and arms while descending. In order to perform properly the technique, the rope should run by our hand and if we wanted to brake we simply needed to hold the rope with our hand next to the hip. And while descending the rocks of Barranco de Los Arcos we should give a little push with the legs against the wall, just enough to not lose the balance (not too strong if we are initiating in the activity).

Tenerife Travel Secret

In any case never put your fingers inside the eight (which is where the rope will move and create the friction to stop), otherwise you might hurt yourself.

The guides from Patea Tus Montes, given their experience and also their responsibility towards their customers, are always ensuring the set-up of the equipment was done accordingly and that the rope was placed properly. Samuel was the first going down, to ensure he could hold the rope during the descent in case necessary, and José María was the latest always supporting and giving tips to the participants.

Tenerife Travel Secret

José María recommended never get on the border of the ravine without proper safety equipment and always look where we step because a ravine is usually full of falls apart from the uneven ground. Also reminded that at least for a few hours we should think we'd all be partners in the canyon, therefore we should help each other if the situation required it.

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The Real Deal Starts...

And around 10:00 it was time to begin the adventure :) We bordered the top of the canyon of Barranco de Los Arcos and then, the 10 of us were on top of a small mountain. Samuel rappelled first, slowly, so to prepare the safety measures from the bottom for the participants of the activity.

Then all my fears were gradually increasing giving me lots and lots of butterflies in the stomach once I had to put myself on the edge of the ravine to start the descent (with the moral support of Jose Maria and the safe measures from Samuel from the bottom of the mountain). Those fears then disappeared as soon as I began to slowly descend along the wall. Suddenly I was looking at what had become a wet wall (mainly due to rainfalls from the previous week). It was long ago that I had taken my first steps in the walls with my Father, who was a climber, so this experience at Barranco de Los Arcos was practically new for me. The wall has about 17 meters, so it's a good start to overcome that initial fear. When I touched the ground I felt an inner joy for not only touch down safely, but also for that exciting experience surrounded by nature.

After everyone’s turn, we continued our hiking to the next place where we were rappelling. It was a lower height, about 10 meters, and that would take us to an area where water erosion was evident. The fact that the material of the rock in the canyon is so porous and easily eroded makes you see authentic beauties created by the nature, such as the different colors in the rocks. How wonderful! It was not necessary (although my curiosity wants to, of course) to go to the canyon in Utah (USA) or Petra in Jordan, to see this show of colors amid the rocks.

There we enjoyed the moment as little kids and felt really privileged (and small) around nature for a few minutes. After the pictures session with great sorrow we had to leave and to continue to seek adventure.

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Already Pros After the First Experience at Barranco de Los Arcos...

We continued the hiking, benefiting from the energy of little Felix, and José María, who every moment was repeating with great joy "ADVENTURE!”, apart from the stories Carolina and Josué were sharing from their trips.

The next descent was "just" 4 meters high, and we could do without the ropes. More like a playground slide after the first rappel, so we all crawled down like children.

Barranco Los Arcos - Walking a little bit

In the fourth dive we were doing a "parabolt”, or what is the same thing as to be hanging in the air in a controlled jump. I started descending along the rock the way I was supposed to do, but Samuel, seeing me a bit lost, was indicating: "loose the rope and push your body backwards”. And I flew for about 2 seconds... That was a good way to lose the accumulated stress of the year...

The trail from that point started to get narrow and with some areas with high humidity, probably because of the rains of the previous week combined with the trees that complicated the hiking a bit.

In the sixth descent of Barranco de Los Arcos, of 13 meters, the team recommended to stretch the knees to the maximum and take very small, but firm steps, in order to reduce the risk of losing stability.

The last descent was just beautiful: the rocks had a smooth and green texture, due to the years of water flowing along the about 15 meters of wall down the ravine.

Barranco Los Arcos - Have fun with the parabolt

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Why Always Important to Be Extremely Cautious?

A little before 14hrs we finished the descents and headed to the house of Chimoche to eat some food and drink some water to recover a bit the energies. While eating we continued to hear the noise of a helicopter, that seemed to be looking for someone in the area or doing some rescue practices.

We then returned from the road Galería La Puente to pick up the cars and drink some beverage in the bar where we had originally met in Aguamansa for the activity at Barranco de Los Arcos. There, we met some volunteers taking a break from their search of a German resident who was lost for at least two days. He had gone to collect material for a book he was writing on botany. Unfortunately he was found dead the next day.

Tenerife Travel Secret Tip

We, from Tenerife Travel Secrets do not get tired of repeating the words of caution and care: whenever you are to make any kind of trekking (senderismo) or excursion through the Canary Islands by yourself, and decide to do without the necessary equipment, take extra measures to reduce the risks of injury or getting lost. Always bring along warm and dry clothes, water and some food, inform the local authorities which routes you are taking and stick to them. We strongly recommend not going to the mountain alone – there are many groups and companies that support and assist these kind of activities, and the costs are by no means high enough to risk absurdly. 

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An Unforgettable Experience at Barranco de Los Arcos

As I mentioned at the beginning, what a pleasant experience! What a fun group! What a joy to have made rappelling in Barranco de Los Arcos with the team from Patea Tus Montes, even with the initial fears a beginner like me can feel during the activity. I look forward to come back to Tenerife sooner than later and hire the adventure activities promoted by Patea Tus Montes again. If you also want to do something similar or any other kind of activity in the portfolio of the company, do not hesitate, for sure you will not regret.

Barranco Los Arcos - the team says

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