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The Gap Year Blog

Expedition to Anaga Cloud Forest

13 Aug 2019 14:15 PM

At the end of a busy week, myself and 8 other volunteers decided that we would rent a car to access the north of Tenerife, so that we could enjoy it in all its glory without worrying about the burden of bus schedules. A far cry from the hustle and bustle of the southern Tenerife, the Anaga rural park is the perfect place to unwind and bask in all its natural beauty.

Situated at the very top of the island, the park boasts Andean landscapes, several species of trees that are exclusive to this area and the chance to go on some unforgettable hikes. The beautiful, peaceful Anaga forest is only a part of the bigger biosphere reserve of the “Macizo de Anaga”. The reserve, only recognized as a biosphere reserve in 2015, includes most of the north east of the island, for a total of almost 2,000 hectares, including many marine areas and special bird protection areas.

What may come as a surprise to many is that the Macizo de Anaga is the place in Europe with the highest number of endemic species- most of the things that can be observed around there (both flora and fauna) can only be found in Anaga and nowhere else in the world! The highlight of the area, and what we decided to visit, is the amazing laurel forest, mainly characterized by broadleaf trees, as well as ferns, and relies upon a humid, mild and stable climate, just like the one in Tenerife, in order to thrive.

This ecosystem used to cover much of Europe until the last glaciation, when advancing ice on land drove it close to extinction and restricted its habitat to a relatively small belt of Micronesian Islands. It is often known as a “cloud forest” and, just by having a quick look around, it’s easy to understand why. As the forest grows close to the ocean, the warm air is forced upward by the mountain until it cools and condenses into rain or fog. While walking through the forest, the atmosphere is surreal and almost dreamlike, with the fog suspended midair in-between the trees.

After spending several weeks in the south of Tenerife, none of us were prepared for the weather change in the northern forest. A quick and well needed stop at the shop allowed us to purchase a couple of jumpers and coffees to keep us warm. Although shoe choice wasn’t great for everyone, it was funny watching a couple of our group members struggle and slide as they tried to walk down the slippery, muddy slopes! We took a supposedly 45-minute trail around the forest, but it ended up taking us 2 hours since everyone was in awe of the forest’s beauty and kept stopping to take pictures. In particular there was one incredible viewtop that overlooked the clouds. We spent a lot of time there admiring the view.

If you get the chance to go to Anaga, particularly Laurel Forest, whilst in Tenerife I fully recommend it, but bring warm clothes as it’s definitely a colder climate than the south.