Barranco del Infierno, the trail to hell

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The Barranco del Infierno gorge was a must-do hiking activity for us south of Tenerife. But the first sight of that empty pool should have warned us. The entrance to the gorge is in the unassuming village of Adeje. If we didn’t know about the gorge, we would never have thought there was such a thing.

The pool should have warned us
The pool should have warned us


The gorge can only be entered with permission. Only 300 people a day are allowed in, and they not only have to pay for an hour to find a parking space in Adeje, but also undergo training on navigating the gorge.

Shepherds and water canal maintainers used to work in the gorge. And the village paid them. But in Adeje, they realised early on that turning it the other way around was better. You won’t find shepherds and maintenance workers in the gorge anymore, and the village, instead of paying them, collects 11€ for each entrance from sensation and adrenaline-seeking tourists. Good business thinking.

Barranco del Infierno
Barranco del Infierno

Three things stayed extra in my head. “Don’t go there without water, without good shoes, and wherever you are, turn around at 12.30 and walk back. If you feel dizzy, turn around too”.

“Obligatory bullshit. They’re going to lecture us,” we said to ourselves and set off before 10.00am for the supposedly 3.5-hour trek, which was supposed to be no more than 8km.

Hell’s Gorge

Barranco del Infierno has magnificent nature, rock trails, jungle and a dry water supply. But it also has a dark history that goes with its name.

Barranco del Infierno translates as “ruin of hell” or “ravine of hell”. According to local legend, the place was once called “Barranco de los Difuntos” (Gorge of the Dead) because there have been many tragic deaths due to the rugged terrain and dangerous conditions.

However, there is another version of this legend. This one says that the place was once called “Barranco del Diablo” (Barranco del Diablo Gorge) because it was believed that the devil often appeared there and lured people into the gorge to imprison them or lead them to their deaths. This legend became popular among the locals, which is how the place eventually got its current name.

Barranco del Infierno

The bedeckers promised a lot of things. The altitude of the gorge ranges from 100 metres to about 1300 metres above sea level, so the likelihood of rain and rapid temperature changes are usual here. To our detriment, we did not get that rain.

Infernal silence and warmth

The gorge itself is relatively easy. The first two kilometres are walked on a relatively comfortable trail to the end of the water channel. However, you are already looking for every millimetre of shade in the morning.

Hike on the rocks of Barranco del Infierno
Hike on the rocks of Barranco del Infierno

And just when you think you’re at the end, you realise that the gorge is just beginning. The following two kilometres are along a steep, narrow trail, with several hundred-metre rock peaks rising a few metres around. You walk through streams, wetlands and sagebrush, and the destination seems to continue.

Nearly a third of the hikers turn around before their destination. Janko is also disciplined. When 12.30 has fallen, he spins as well. Salty and wet, he wrings the last drops from his two-litre bottle and seems to have had enough. I carry on. It’s a pleasant walk. My head won’t let go, and discipline has never been my strength. I don’t turn around before the end.

Under the waterfall

At the end of the gorge you'll find a hellish paradise 🙂 Adrenaline slicing
At the end of the gorge you’ll find a hellish paradise 🙂 Adrenaline slicing

At the end, I’m just waiting for the controlling body that turns the last tourists back. He is used to it. Hundre but understands us. A few photos of the peeing waterfall, and we’re spinning. We don’t know yet that the real thing is yet to come.

Hell’s Hellmouth

We wriggle out of the narrow parts of the gorge, and the sun shines. We have it straight over our heads, and I begin to understand my heroic mistake of donating the rest of my water bottle to a loved one.

Not even a merciful breeze blows in the gorge. It’s called a Hellmouth. Even though it’s March and we were prepared for anything, we weren’t prepared for a 50-degree grill. For the third time, I slather on the 50 lotion. I’m still burning all over. Eyes stinging, lips like the Sahara. And I understand that heatstroke is not the main thing to worry about. But dehydration of the body.

Return through the Barranco del Infierno
Return through the Barranco del Infierno

The sun overhead, hot rocks all around you radiating like a furnace from all angles. Not a breeze, not a sound anywhere. Nothing. Just silence and baking. I’m beginning to understand the name Infierno. Also, why they were so keen on getting us turned around in time. My perception of the last kilometre was blurry. I staggered back and drank a two-litre of water on the ex and then another litre. And I understood something else.

  • Even 50+ lotion may not be a sure thing that you won’t get sunstroke if you bake.
  •  Trust that the locals are smart and need to be listened to. 🙂

I was more dramatic than the reality. Crossing the gorge is relatively easy. The baking, combined with the lack of water, is challenging. Remember to consider the drinking regime.

Los Gigantes

We ended the afternoon in nearby Los Gigantes. There are a couple of tunnels in the cliffs here. However, another hike or black sand beach was too much for me. We ended the day festively with a local beer and orange juice. We fell asleep before eight.

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Pavel Trevor
Pavel Trevor

Active traveling, exploring and discovering new worlds totally fulfills me. The feeling of being thrown into the water. When you don't know what's coming next and it's all up to you.

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