The announcement that Anaga in the north east of Tenerife has finally been awarded UNESCO Biosphere Reserve status is long overdue.
Every other Canary Island except Tenerife (until now) can boast Biosphere status. La Gomera with the focus on Garajonay; Fuerteventura and its western coastline; Lanzarote and the volcanic landscape; a third of Gran Canaria and the whole of La Palma and El Hierro.
Tenerife has two UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Teide National Park and the old centre of La Laguna. But it seems crazy that it was the only island without a Biosphere Reserve given its rich history and geographical characteristics.
Having walked through the Biosphere Reserves on the other islands, Anaga is perhaps the most beautiful of them all. Beauty alone doesn’t warrant Biosphere status, but visiting Anaga is like travelling back in time and possibly even switching continents. It is a magical part of Tenerife.
The Familiar Face of Anaga
Although difficult to get to, many coach excursions do venture into the land of steep ravines, hidden hamlets and verdant slopes. Most roads are too narrow for coaches, so their well trodden Anaga route involves winding to the coast beyond the picturesque hill town of Taganana, after a brief stop at a mirador (viewpoint) with killer views across the valley to Anaga’s jagged peaks, neat and narrow agricultural terraces and the drama of the Atlantic rollers kissing the wild north east coastline. On a sunny, cloudless days it’s one of the best vistas you’ll find on Tenerife. Despite its remote location, Taganana was one of the first places on Tenerife to be settled following the conquest of the island in 1496.
End of the line for the coach excursions is the coastal hamlet of Roque de las Bodegas whose name comes from the rock jetty jutting out into the lively ocean; the place where barrels of wine were once ‘transported’ to waiting merchant ships. Information boards at the rock explain exactly how the barrels made it from shore to ship.
Just about everything your read about the fish restaurants at Roque de las Bodegas (often referred to as Taganana in excursion blurb) mentions Casa Africa, the favoured stop for coaches. For independent explorers there are other fishy lunch stop choices in the area which are less frantic if you arrive at peak coach party times.
Because excursions stick to the same route, just about everywhere else in Anaga could be classed as unfamiliar. It’s demanding terrain that makes you work for its rewards, whether driving or on foot. There are hamlets whose streets are little more than goat trails and there are hamlets which can’t be reached by road. Within Anaga’s confines there are even areas which are beyond remote; lost worlds hidden from all but those who are given permission to explore.
It’s not widely known, but there are a couple of areas on Tenerife other than the peak of Mount Teide where a permit is required before you can set foot in them; one is El Pijaral – a lush land of ancient laurisilva forest, giant ferns and cooing Bolle’s pigeons.
It’s places like this that makes Anaga so special and thoroughly deserving of its long overdue spot in the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve club.
Category : about tenerife
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