Just a few minutes' drive away from the capital, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, lies Anaga Country Park, which has been declared a Biosphere Reserve and has succeeded in preserving its natural assets quite exceptionally. You would not be the first person to be besotted by its beautiful precipitous mountain chain full of sharp peaks. The deep valleys and ravines that cut across it eventually reach the sea, forming a series of beaches where you can take a refreshing dip. The area is also home to a wealth of fauna and flora with plenty of native species.
Anaga Country Park covers much of the mountain range located on the north-west of the Island. With an expanse of almost 14,500 hectares (35,800 acres), it crosses quite a significant stretch of Tenerife, spanning the municipalities of La Laguna, Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Tegueste.
It represents one of the region's major leisure areas and is a great tourist attraction.
How to get there:
By guagua (bus): From Santa Cruz, lines 945 and 947. From La Laguna, lines 076, 077, 273, 274 and 275.
By car: From Santa Cruz take the TF-11 that links Santa Cruz with San Andrés, then the TF-12 to Igueste de San Andrés and El Bailadero. From there, take the TF-134 to Taganana, Almáciga, etc.
What to see:
The impressive sight of its robust mountains rising high above the nearby sea is as attractive as it is unique. But if you really want to make the most of your visit, the best idea is to follow one of the many trails that will lead you to its charming little beaches of fine, shiny black sand (such as Benijo) dotted along the coast. Whip off your shoes and stroll along the delicate volcanic sand beach, dive into the Atlantic waters and feel your senses burst uncontrollably.
The area's landscapes are also adorned with geological formations such as "roques" (old volcanic chimneys), dikes (fractures filled with solidified magma forming sheets of rock that look like walls), cliff faces and deep ravines. Another of the area's unforgettable sights is, without doubt, the blanket of clouds.
High up on the peaks you will find Tenerife's most wonderful areas of laurel forests. This vegetation could quite simply be classed as a living fossil, having survived more that 40 million years. The Mediterranean basin used to be covered in this greenery until the glaciers swept it away. A walk amongst this forest's twisted tree trunks lined with moss is like a journey back in time. Listen to the forest, feel it and breathe in its prehistoric air. As if all of this weren't enough, the Anaga mountain range is geologically one of Tenerife's oldest areas, which along with the varying altitudes, weather conditions and soils provide it with a huge biological diversity for such a relatively small space. Almost every kind of ecosystem on the Island can be found here, except high mountain flora and fauna. It contains coastal vegetation, populations of Canary Island spurges and euphorbia, dragon trees and Canarian palms.
And where the flora is rich and diverse, so too is the fauna. The undisputed kings are invertebrates. You will find almost a hundred species here that are unique in the world. If you are a keen birdwatcher, you might recognise such emblematic species as Scopoli's shearwaters, kestrels, owls, Bolle's pigeons and laurel pigeons (both of which are considered living relics and are native to the Canaries). In fact, the abundance of birdlife has led Anaga to become a Special Bird Protection Area. No less magnificent is the array of sealife, making quite a treat for divers, with such wonderful species as the chucho (a type of ray), the Canarian cod, the vieja and the endangered local eel.
The park also houses small settlements of people. You will find up to 26 small villages and hamlets inhabited by a total of 2000 people. Their residents live mostly off small-scale farming, tending traditional local crops such as sweet potatoes, potatoes, yams, vines and other fruit trees and plants.
What to do:
There are a whole host of options for you to experience the wonders of the Park: hiking, mountain biking, horse riding... If you are more of a sea lover, make the most of the area's good winds by going sailing, dive into the depths to explore the ocean floor, crown the Atlantic's powerful waves on a surf board, steer a kayak wherever you want, and why not try water skiing or wakeboarding?
Inside the Park there are several specially protected areas where access is restricted. If you would like to discover their carefully guarded secrets, check out the terms and conditions set by the Tenerife Government's Environmental Department. Call (+34) 922843097 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like a convenient spot from which to access all of the Park's activities, a good option for accommodation is the Albergue de Anaga lodge. Located in the village of El Bailadero, the establishment is like a balcony overlooking both faces of the Anaga mountain range. It is just a short distance from the area's best beaches and is equipped with all the amenities.
Albergue de Anaga
El Bailadero-Chamorga road, 38129. Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Tel. 0034 922823225
Prices: from €14.50
The Cruz del Carmen Visitors Centre is also worth visiting. It is dedicated to studying, preserving and promoting the Park, and organises special group tours.
Cruz del Carmen Visitors Centre
Las Mercedes road, Km 6, 38294. San Cristóbal de La Laguna
Tel. 0034 922633576
Opening hours: Monday to Sunday from 9.30 am to 4 pm.
What to take:
It all depends on the activities you plan on doing. If you decide to go for a hike, remember to take your mobile phone with you just in case you need it. Sun cream and a hat. A coat or jacket and a raincoat because the weather can turn quite quickly. Water and food to keep you going and, of course, suitable footwear as you might come across some rather rocky terrain. And don't forget your swimsuit in case your walk ends at one of the area's lovely beaches or bays. What could be better than a refreshing and replenishing dip in the sea?