Rural Park of Anaga
A land out of a fairy tale. This is the most repeated remark among those who visit the Rural Park of Anaga, one of the major sites for biodiversity in Tenerife. Anaga is one of the oldest areas of the island.
It is an abrupt mountain range of steep peaks branching out in deep valleys and ravines all the way down to the sea, leading into numerous beaches, many of which are only accessible on foot or by boat.
The park is characterized for its incredible natural beauty made of spectacular contrasts. It is home to a wealth of flora and fauna, with many endemic species. This is a direct of the isolation and ecological diversity of the area: Anaga hides unique zoological and botanical treasures.
Designated as a Natural Park in 1987 and subsequently as a Natural Space of the Canary Islands, the Park is located in the Anaga massif, a protected natural area of great scenic and cultural interest. There are three sectors within the park, all of which highly protected: the Protected Natural Reserve of Ijuana (T-1), the Protected Natural Reserve of Pijaral (T-2) and the Protected Natural Reserve of Roques de Anaga (T-3). All of them boast a high degree of environmental protection in order to ensure that their fragile ecosystems are preserved. In addition, this space has been declared a special protected area for birds, due to the vital importance this habitat holds for the life of species such as the laurel forest pigeons.
One can hardly resist being seduced by the beauty of its landscape, so spectacular and diverse at the same time.
The Rural Park that we know and enjoy today is the fruit of the hilly orography of the land, which owes for the isolation of the area, both in terms of accessing it from the outside and the connection between the various residential settlements within the Park. The area’s current population of around 2,500 inhabitants is distributed and scattered around in small hamlets such as El Batán, Las Carboneras, Chamorga, Afur, Taganana or Benijo among other 20 residential hubs dotted over the rugged area that is the Anaga massif. There are several paleontological sites of great scientific interest in the park, as well as human settlements of an incalculable cultural value if we consider that they were historically used by the indigenous settlers as a residential and herding area. However the present decline of the traditional activities, agriculture and animal husbandry has forced the vast majority of its neighbours to seek a job in the metropolitan areas. The use of houses and orchards as weekend retreats is a common practice among those who decide to dedicate themselves to self-consumption agriculture, namely of potatoes and vines. There is nonetheless a small percentage of the population that haver their permanent resident in Anaga. People who are still deeply rooted in traditional agriculture, which is a key element for the conservation of the environment. The major crops found in the area are as follows: the vine, which is made difficult due to the structure of farms, small and steep. This prevents mechanic procedures, which is the reason why they are mostly “low vines”. Vegetables, potatoes and fruits aimed for the local market and home consumption are also prominent. The livestock sector comprises essentially goats, pigs and birds, with a remarkable presence of rabbits.
Surrounded by a diversity of environments and inclines, a wide range of ecological communities home to numerous species of animals and plants exists, with over 120 local endemic species, some of which are very rare to find to the extent of being presently endangered. Among the natural habitats of Anaga the visitor will find some of the best manifestations of Canarian ecosystems. The laurel forests located on the peaks stand out for their good state of conservation, along with the juniper forests in Afur or the “cardonal-tabaibal” bushes in the eastern tip of the massif.
For those who choose to explore this unrivalled land, it is important to note that the main access to the Park road the TF-12 road, which connects La Laguna with El Bailadero and San Andrés. If visitors are able to, we strongly recommend a stop at the Visitor Centre of Anaga, located in Cruz del Carmen. They will provide information on the Park as well as on the walking routes that criss-cross the massif. This is without a doubt a unique opportunity to take a walk to the past and the present of these peaks steeped in history.