Walking in the Tenerife mountains and forests of Agua Garcia
Agua Garcia is a mountain village
Agua Garcia is a mountain village in the north of Tenerife in the Canary Islands. It is surrounded by ancient laurel forests or laurisilva, as they are called in Spanish, and is a wonderful place for walking and exploring the countryside of the island.
There are many woodland pathways and forest trails that you can follow and a very wide range of flora and fauna you can expect to see along the way. Such a good spot for those who like to combine their love of nature with rambling in the countryside is Agua Garcia that a book was published entitled El Bosque de Agua Garcia (“The Forest of Agua Garcia”). The authors Maria del Carmen Brito and Vicente-Lope Lucia detail the wildlife and wild flowers and trees you might find in the forests, as well as providing some suggested footpaths and maps of the area.
Mt Teide, the highest mountain in Spain, provides a picturesque backdrop to some views over the forests.
Laurel Forest or Laurisilva
The evergreen laurel forests are some of the only surviving patches of this woodland still left on the planet. There are also large areas of “fayal-brezal” forest made up of Tree Heather (Erica arborea) and the Faya or Haya (Myrica faya), as well as plantations of Eucalyptus and Monterrey Pine (Pinus radiata) trees.
Agua Garcia footpath 2013
How to get to Agua Garcia
Agua Garcia is situated above Tacoronte and has the villages of Ravelo on one side and Barranco las Lajas on the other. The main road connecting them continues to El Ortigal and further onward to the Los Rodeos airport for Tenerife North. It is possible to get to Agua Garcia by bus from La Laguna on the service 054 or by taking the buses that travel along the TF-5 motorway and getting off at the junction for Tacoronte on one side and Agua Garcia on the other. The village of Agua Garcia is just a couple of kilometres uphill from the bus-stop but it is quite a steep climb if walking.
Check the weather forecast before visiting Agua Garcia though and take appropriate clothing especially in winter and spring. It is in the mountains of the north of Tenerife and can get chilly and wet. It is nevertheless well worth seeing if you enjoy really beautiful forested countryside and the charm of rural settings.
Madre de Loro fungus
Flor de Mayo
Flora and fauna
Amongst evergreen trees you can find in the forest are the Laurel or Loro (Laurus azorica), Viñatigo (Persea indica) and in clearings you might spot Estrelladera (Gesnouinia arborea), which is type of tree Nettle in the Urticacae but don’t worry because it doesn’t sting! There are many endemic wild flowers and in spring you will see the bright yellow Canary Islands buttercup known as Morgallana (Ranunculus cortusifolius), the Canary Islands Foxglove or Cresta de Gallo (Isoplexis canariensis) with its reddish-orange flowering spikes and the purple-pink daisy-like flowers of the Flor de Mayo (Pericallis cruenta). Look out too for the pretty white umbels of the large shrub or small tree known as Follao (Viburnum tinus ssp rigidum).
The rare parasitic fungus Madre del Loro (Exobasidium lauri) produces its strange antler-like growths coming directly out of the trunks of laurel trees. It is a species that depends on these ancient forests.
There are plenty of birds you will hear singing including the Blackbird (Turdus merula cabrerae), and if you are lucky you might even spot a rare Laurel Pigeon of either the species Columba bollii or Columba junoniae, both of which depend on the specialised forest habitat that survives here.
There are plenty of woodland butterflies in the forests of Agua Garcia too and in spring you can expect to see the Canary Red Admiral (Vanessa vulcania) and the bright yellow Cleopatra (Gonepteryx cleobule). The caterpillars of this latter species feed on the shrub Buckthorn (Rhamnus species) and the adults look very similar to the British Brimstone butterflies.
Cruz de Fune
A holy place in the woods
If you find the trail that takes you past the Recreation Zone for Lomo de la Jara there is a pathway that leads to the chapel known as Cruz de Fune. It is surrounded by woodland but is tended by people who show their religious devotion with flowers and other offerings. A large rose-bush that someone must have planted years ago grows in front of this shrine.
Get a good map if visiting the forests of Agua Garcia and you should find plenty to enjoy there. There are caves too if you can discover where they are. The woods of Agua Garcia offer a very different side to Tenerife and are a wonderful place to explore on a day out.
© 2013 Steve Andrews