Did you know there are parks in Tenerife consisting of forests formed millions of years ago, with trees and vegetation that date back to the Cenozoic Era? These humid forests of laurel and similar plants are living relics that Tenerife makes every effort to preserve as part of our shared heritage dating back some 20 million years. They are the last vestige of the vegetation that covered much of North Africa and Southern Europe in ancient times. After the Ice Age, desertification, and the emergence of new species, landscapes radically changed and consequently only a very few of these ancient forests remain, dotted about the Canary Islands.
The Teno Rural Park and the Anaga Rural Park are the two protected areas on Tenerife with laurel forests. Take advantage of this privileged opportunity to experience a humid tropical environment among trees and leaves of extraordinary size such as willows, laurels, heathers, Visnea mocanera (mocanes) and Rhamnus glandulosa (sanguinos), the latter two unique to the Canary Islands and Madeira.
Teno Rural Park
Just 40 minutes by car from your luxury home is one of the most singular parks in Tenerife: the Parque Rural del Teno. Its isolation has allowed these 8,063 hectares of forest to preserve their natural treasures in a virgin state. In addition to the laurel forest area, Teno also enjoys a beautiful contrasting landscape of cliffs, valleys and paths at different elevations. Make a worthwhile stop at the Los Pedregales Visitor Centre, where you can get information about the trail paths and see what each route has to offer.
In Monte del Agua you will walk among firetrees, lemonwood, strawberry trees and holly…leafy plant species of great value for the area’s ecosystem. Threatened species receive special protection here, including Laurel Forest doves, spotted lizards, crows, Perez’s sea lavender, Vieraea, and the sea hawk. Connect with the most ancient land you’ll ever walk upon, with millions of years of history concentrated in roots, trunks and rocks, and get a visceral sense of why they demand our best conservation efforts.
We also recommend a walk through Punta del Teno, where you will find trees of spectacular size, such as balsam spurge and the Canary Island spurge. Return to your home with photos of flora that are truly one of a kind.
If, in addition to nature, you enjoy the charms of rural towns, take a walk around the farmhouses in El Palmar, Teno Alto, Las Lagunetas, Las Portelas, Los Carrizales, Masca and Erjos, where you can still see many old bread and tile ovens.
Anaga Rural Park
In the northeast corner of Tenerife, one and a half hours’ drive from your luxury residence, sits a real treasure not to be missed: the impressive Anaga Rural Park. Declared a Special Protection Area for Birds, this is home to endemic species such as the Laurel pigeon and Bolle’s pigeon, as well as Scopoli’s shearwater, the common kestrel and the owl.
Anaga Rural Park covers an area of 14,500 hectares, so you can plan different visits throughout the year and enjoy it at your own pace over several visits. You’ll always find different and magical places to take walks and spectacular photos with the family. Before heading off into the mountains, find out about the different routes and trails in the Cruz del Carmen Visitor Center. And if you are an expert hiker and your intention is to spend some nights in the Park, check availability at the Anaga Hostel, located in the town of El Bailadero.
“Walk” is the verb best associated with the Parque Rural de Anaga Biosphere Reserve. Fill your lungs with fresh air, examine the moss and lichens, and don’t forget to look up at the beautiful light filtering through the treetops.
We offer some trail suggestions below, but once inside the park, you will find there are a myriad of paths available, and you can choose those that correspond to your interests and your hiking level.
- Path of the Senses: Beginning close to the Visitor’s Centre, it has three tracks of varying levels. No matter which you choose, you’ll feel like you’re in a fairy tale of gnomes and elves. Ancient trees form tunnels, you’re surrounded by all kinds of birdsong, and the humid ground will remind you that you are stepping on a land full of history.
- From the mountain to Antequera Beach: when you reach the peaks of Anaga through the laurel forest, you can descend through the Antequera Ravine until you reach the fine sandy beach. If you yearn to be close to the sea, get on a boat that takes you to the Playa de las Teresitas and allow yourself to be amazed by the shape and height of the cliffs of the coast of Anaga.
- Enchanted Forest Path: as its name indicates, this path will transport you to another time and place. You will find this circular route in the Nature Reserve of Pijaral, through a laurel forest dominated by huge ferns. Make your way among them, stopping to observe their remarkable leaves, and reach the natural lookout point of Roque Chinobre. From here you can see the Anaga Peninsula and a good deal of the island of Tenerife.
As you can see, there is an invaluable natural wealth in these special parks in Tenerife. When you’re searching for Tenerife destinations to explore, these are a must to put on your list. The ancient laurel forests are not only a living treasure of great significance but also form part of the history of our planet, still standing tall, and delighting those who choose to visit and care for them.