Fire creates, water destroys

Even now, in the 21st century, scientists fail to agree on the origins of the Caldera de Taburiente. After much debate, only one thing seems to be certain: everything you can see is the result of a titanic struggle between these two elements.

Even though its origins have been the subject of heated debate for centuries (there was even a theory that linked them to the explosion of a giant volcano), nowadays it is clear that La Caldera is the immediate consequence of water erosion, which has been taking place for thousands and thousands of years.

La Caldera is surrounded by some of the highest peaks of the island, whose ceiling is to found at Roque de los Muchachos (2,426 metres) Other peaks in the National Park worthy of mention include Pico de la Cruz (2,531 metres), Pico de la Nieve (2,232 metres) and the lonely El Bejenado (1,854 metres). All these peaks are a reminder of the youth of the island, at a mere 3 million years. In fact, although the outer slopes are less pronounced, in the National Park, you can see almost vertical wall plunging about 800 metres down, with a total drop that can exceed 2,000 metres.

The water driven erosion, which, as we have seen, has moulded La Caldera , has also sculpted many ravines both in and around the National Park. The most impressive of these is the Barranco de las Angustias , with opens into Puerto de Tazacorte, about eight kilometres away. Erosion is so powerful that it could be said that it has carved the island down to its bare bones. In some parts of this ravine, we can see the pillow lava that formed part of its ancient basalt complex. The ravines inside the National Park include: Bombas de Agua, Almendro Amargo, Ribanceras, Verduras de Alfonso and, of course, Taburiente. Water has also woven a network of ravines outside the National Park, covering the north of the island. Moving clockwise from West to East these ravines include: Los Gomeros, Garome, San Mauro, Briestas, Barranco del Cedro, Franceses, Gallegos, San Juan, La Galga, Nogales, Barranco Seco, Barranco de la Madera and Barranco Hondo.

Finally, we have to mention the “roques” , that is, large stone towers that have resisted erosion because they are made of extremely hard rock. For example: Roque Huso, Roque Salvaje, Roque de la Brevera Macha and Roque de la Fondada. But , undoubtedly, the most important, and also the most photografied, is Roque Idafe . It can be seen from the Barranco de las Angustias (one of the entrances to the National Park). According to fray Abreu y Galindo (16 th century), the aborigines of the island regarded it as a sacred place and they were afraid that it would collapse, which they considered to the very worst possible sign.