In the north-east side of Tenerife, there’s the greenest part of the island: Anaga Rural Park. This incredible area has been recognized by UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2015. The park was born with a volcanic eruption that happened about 7-9 million years ago and it is nowadays made up of Macizo mountains range and Mercedes forest. It extends for 150 square km and the altitude varies from sea level to 1024 meters.
Cruz del Carmen
Cruz del Carmen is a beautiful viewpoint with stunning landscapes. It is considered the centre of Anaga Park not only because from here dozens of paths leaves to all directions, but also because there’s the only touristic office of the area. Besides a bar and a parking, here you can indeed ask for maps and information at the information office.
As it often happens in similar places, the experience can be very different depending on who you interact with. I mention this just because last time I passed by, I met a clerk that clearly felt like chit-chatting and engaging with the visitors. Are you in a hurry? Come back another day! He did not spare either information nor small talks to anybody!
Hiking in Anaga Rural Park
It’s fairly common to visit Canary Islands to enjoy sea and beach life all year around. But this means missing half of the beauty of these lands. In Tenerife, for instance, you can find the highest point of Spain, volcano Teide, and Anaga Park it’s a must-see for hikers and moutains lover.
There are plenty of opportunities to hike in Anaga, from day-long and hard trails, to simple family-friendly paths. From Crux del Carmen, for instance, there are a couple of shot walks suitable for trolleys and wheelchairs. They are 20-30 minutes long circular routes, with wooden pavement and basically flat. Nonetheless, the forest surrounding them is beautiful and there are a couple of interesting viewpoints to enjoy the landscape.
Cruz del Carmen – Punta del Hidalgo
A hike I enjoyed because it is very diversified goes from the information center in Cruz del Carmen to Punta del Hidalgo. The starting point is therefore high up, at around 920 meters of altitude. The forest here is thick and often wrapped by the clouds. And you go downhill: 10 km downhill to reach the coast, just next to the beach.
The path crosses forests that turn into more and more dry areas, till reaching a completely rocky volcanic landscape. On the way there are a couple of small villages and viewpoints worthy of a break. In Chinamada, for instance, there is a good restaurant, the Ermita de Chinamada chapel with fresh running water to refill your water bottle and, with a 10 minutes detour from the main route, the Mirador Aguaide. From here, there’s a stunning view over the north coast of Tenerife and Punta del Hidalgo that still seems very far away.
You can hike the entire route in about 4 hours and it’s not very hard. But I’d strongly advise anybody with knee issues to avoid this 10 downhill km!
Beautiful village in the middle of nowhere, Taganana is the end point of many paths. I walked from Cruz de Taganana to the north coast of Tenerife, walking a third of one of the longest circular routes of Anaga that also passes by Afur. The highest portion of the trail goes through a beautiful fresh forest and it’s very steep. This part is known as las vueltas de Taganana because the path has tons of hairpin turns between the trees.
Lower down, closer to the coast, the landscape becomes dry with a nice view over the far-away sea. In the Taganana area, the walk is between terrace fields with old houses and stone walls.
There are a few coastal routes with stunning views, but I’d avoid these ones during hot days because there’s little shade to shelter from the sun.
I would like to mention an area of Anaga that fascinates me the most in Tenerife: El Batan. I discovered this place the very first time I went hiking in the Park and it fell in love with it. El Batan is a small village sleeping in the omonimous valley, inhabited by mostly farmers working the terrace fields. It can be reached walking 4-5 km from Crux del Carmen and it’s crossed by many routes. A good point to aim for is the little church Ermita de la Virgen de Candelaria. There’s a nice view over the landscape and a bar serving the 300 souls living in the village.
How to reach and move in Anaga
Since it’s mostly a mountain area with small villages, infrastructures and public transportation are not at their best. There are some busses (that here on the island are called guagua) going back and forth from Santa Cruz and La Laguna to the villages. I used them: they are cheap, fairly reliable and they also offer pretty good views over the valleys. But they don’t run often and, especially during the weekends, there are only very few runs per day. Some villages are not even reached by public transportation. If you want to go by bus to Anaga, you need to be well organized!
Having a car is obviously easier. There are many parking areas at both ends of most hiking paths and many routes are circular, so it’s possible to park the vehicle and pick it up at the end of the walking day.