Mercedes Forest Guide
Although best known for its beaches, Tenerife has a wealth of natural scenery, particularly in the north of the island, where the Mercedes Forest is located. This lush landscape is truly the stuff of fairytale, with ancient, twisted trees stretching their fingers towards the sky and gnarled roots that criss-cross above the ground.
The forest is set in the protected Anaga Mountains, formed by volcanic eruptions millions of years ago. The unique climatic conditions - a combination of humidity and Alpine sun - create the perfect environment for giant laurels that reach over 30 metres in height and aren't found anywhere else in the world.
Flora and Fauna
In contrast to the desolate landscape of Teide National Park, the Mercedes Forest, which is classified as a 'rural park', is verdant and teeming with life. Aside from the laurels, visitors will find mosses, lichens, lianas, and ferns all around them, and where the sunlight breaks through the canopy and slants to the forest floor, flowers such as gentians and bellflower grow.
Wild butterflies are a common sight in the summer, with species including the canary speckled wood and the canary red admiral gathering in the north-west of the forest. There are also lizards and Columba Bolli woodland pigeons that are perfectly adapted to life in this distinctive climate.
Many Brits who choose to visit the Canary Islands will do so for the coastal resorts and sandy beaches, so the Mercedes Forest is a peaceful destination for those who want to get off the beaten track. There are a number of walking trails to follow, each of which offers a different sensory experience, helping visitors make the most of the natural surroundings. Several trails begin at the Casa Forestal on TF-12 and finish in Taganana, a pretty fishing village that is one of the oldest settlements on the island.
Joining a guided walk gives tourists the opportunity to learn about the history of the forest, and to discover its hidden treasures. Tours take in the forest itself, as well as some of the charming, remote villages in its depths and the dramatic scenery that opens out at the edge of the trees. Although these are a great way to meet other walkers, the tranquillity of the forest is only really appreciated on gentle wanders alone or in couples, when the senses can open up to the sights, sounds and smells that this fascinating and mysterious area of Tenerife offers.
Due to the tropical nature of the forest's climate it's not unusual to encounter rain or fog here. Lightweight raincoats and boots or shoes that can stand up to muddy forest trails are therefore recommended, as is plenty of snacks and water for the journey. The trails are signed, but it's worth picking up a map if exploring the area without a guide.
For more unique things to do on the island, check out the Hidden Gems of Tenerife!
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