The Water Tunnel between Cuevas Negras and Barranco de los Cochinos
Erjos, Los Silos and Monte del Agua
There is some really spectacular Tenerife countryside below Erjos and above Los Silos in the area of the Monte del Agua (“Mountain of Water”). There are two ravines or “barrancos as they are known in Spanish that have green forested slopes and run down between the mountains towards the coast. Cuevas Negras (“Black Caves”) and the Barranco de los Cochinos are connected though by a long tunnel carrying an aqueduct of flowing water.
This means that walkers can get from one ravine to another by taking a shortcut underground and a circular route can be plotted. One of the entrances to the tunnel is located off a side-path that leads away from the main footpath down the Cuevas Negras ravine. Only experienced hikers are recommended to take this route though because the tunnel itself is about 1km in length and has flowing water, is all in the dark and has a low ceiling.
Light at the end of the tunnel
Cuevas Negras, Tenerife
The Tunnel between the ravines
If you begin your walk from the main square in the village of Erjos and follow the signpost for Cuevas Negras you will soon find the rocky pathway that leads through the forest-covered ravine down towards Los Silos. There are a number of abandoned houses, though one still has someone living in it in splendid isolation surrounded by greenery and trees.
The side path leading to the tunnel entrance is on the right some way past the houses. It is best to go with someone who knows where it is because it is easily missed.
Once you find it you have to climb up on to the top of a concreted water channel that leads away from the entrance to the tunnel itself. You will need a good torch and be prepared to go either barefoot or wearing sandals. The water is only ankle-depth in most places though gets deeper towards the exit into Barranco de los Cochinos.
Once you are in the tunnel you will have to bend down as you are walking if you are tall because the ceiling is quite low and it is easy to bang your head on it. So be careful!
In winter the water can be very cold but in summer it is pleasantly cooling after you have been walking in the warmer air outside.
Eventually you will reach the exit and find yourself in the Barranco de los Cochinos. The path you need to take involves a bit of scrambling upwards but after that you are on a forest pathway. This leads eventually to another trail with sign posts for Los Silos, Monte del Agua and Erjos.
Piedra de los Cochinos gallery
Would you go down a tunnel with water flowing through it?
The dangerous Tenerife tunnel where six people died in 2007
The forested pathway though the wooded slopes of Barranco de los Cochinos goes right past the entrance to a closed-off mine shaft that sadly was open back in 2007 when a party of hikers entered it thinking it was the other tunnel that leads to Cuevas Negras. This was a very serious mistake which led to the deaths of six young people who were overcome by poisonous gases in this underground mining tunnel which is known as the Piedra de los Cochinos gallery.
Another 23 people were injured and this terrible tragedy caused many questions to be asked about the safety of the many tunnels like this on the island. The entrance was sealed off with metal grating and a warning sign but this was too late for those that lost their lives.
This tragic incident is a reminder to all hikers and walkers that go exploring the island that it is not a good idea at all to enter tunnels unless you know they are safe and are with an experienced guide. The other water tunnel between the two ravines is safe because it has entrances both ends and allows the flow of fresh air as well as water through it. The Piedra de los Cochinos only had the one way in.
In the tunnel with a water channel
Monte del Agua (Mountain of Water)
Your walk will take you through the lush evergreen laurel forests of Monta del Agua and back on an easy forest trail to your starting point in the village of Erjos. This circular route is about 14km and takes around 5 hours allowing for breaks. It is recommended that you go with an experienced guide such as David Parkes whom you will see in the photo above and who runs Tenerife Outdoors.
It is a very enjoyable and interesting walk though the water tunnel may prove challenging for some people.
Copyright © 2013 Steve Andrews. All Rights Reserved.