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Aguamansa and La Caldera cloud forests of Tenerife in the Canary Islands
La Caldera photos
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In the misty mountains
La Caldera is a popular beauty spot in the forests above the La Orotava valley in Tenerife in the Canary Islands. It is just above the village of Aguamansa and both places are often shrouded in dense cloud, which makes visibilty poor but adds a weird and magical quality to the area and really benefits the trees and other plants that flourish there.
When my friend Chris (CJ) Stone was on the island last year I took him to see the cloud forests of Aguamansa and he was absolutely fascinated by the copper-coloured tree trunks we found on some species that grows along the road there.
They really look not just copper-coloured but as if they are made from the metal. I have been looking in vain in my books and searching online but I still cannot find what these trees are.
Most of the other trees are Canary Pine and Tree Heather and because of the dampness caused by the cloud cover the branches and trunks are often festooned in Old Man's Beard and other species of lichen.
The ground is carpeted in moss and pine needles and I stopped to admire a very big and ancient pine tree I found deep within the forest.
Many wild flowers grow there including the very beautiful Asphodel (Asphodelus aestivus), the Canary Geranium (Geranium canariense) and, from the buttercup family, the yellow-flowered Ranunculus cortusifolius. Species of Canary Island Sowthistle (Sonchus) are easy to spot with their jagged leaves.
The beautiful rose-pink flowers of the Jarón or Amagante (Cistus symphytifolius ) shrub are carried on the bushes of this endemic Rockrose shrub, and bright yellow bushes of some species of Teline also brighten up the sides of pathways through the forests.
La Caldera and Aguamansa are both on the road up to Mt Teide and because of their height and the frequent cloud the temperature is often quite cool for . This doesn't put off local people though and there is a recreation area for barbecues as well as a bar and restaurant by the car park in La Caldera. Tenerife
The smell of woodsmoke and food cooking blends with the smell of pine resin and the earthy aromas of the forest floor. Species of wild mushroom are often to be seen in the damp mossy and pine-needle covered ground. There are water channels coming down from the higher mountains and I found a spring at one place.
There is a wealth of wildlife living in the forested area including some rare birds and wild flowers. It is said that the Canary Island Blue Chaffinch (Fringilla teydea) has been seen there but all I spotted while I was there was the Canary Island Tit (Parus caeruleus teneriffae) and some Blackbirds. In the dense swirling cloud it is difficult to spot anything much at times though!
Along the road there were large and conspicuous clumps of the bushy Viper's Bugloss species Echium virescens . This is a really spectacular endemic wild flower that I love to see.
There is a regular bus service from Puerto de la Cruz on the coast that takes you to Aguamansa and La Caldera. The journey is an interesting one because you are leaving the usually warm and sunny coastal resort to climb into the misty mountains and there are some great views along the way.
Exploring Tenerife by bus is a great way to see the island and the ride on the 345 takes around 45 minutes. It is such a contrast between "civilisation" down below and the wildness of the forests hidden by clouds.
UPDATE: Since publishing this hub, hubber Jerilee Wei has successfully identified the trees as a Manzanita species. Thank you, Jerilee! Having checked out descriptions of the many species I think it is the Common Manzanita (Arctostaphylos manzanita).
The Bearberry or Manzanita in astrological terms is ruled by Mars and there are many other trees, shrubs and flowers that do well on this island that are also under the Red Planet's dominion.