National Parks in the Canary Islands, Spain's natural volcanic paradise
One of the best ways of discovering all the natural biodiversity of the Canary Islands is to explore its protected areas. The Canary Islands archipelago is home to four of Spain's National Parks.
Parque Nacional del Teide
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Stop for a moment and imagine a unique setting of volcanic islands with subtropical forest, autochthonous animal and plant species, one of the world's largest craters and warm weather all year round… If this sounds good, then you are in luck, because you can see all this with your own eyes at Spain's four National Parks in the Canary Islands. A real natural wonder within reach.
A visit to the Canary Islands means discovering a privileged destination, whether on the coast or in the mountains. Furthermore, if you are someone who likes to walk in unusual, beautiful landscapes, then this is the place for you, because in the Canaries you will find 546 endemic species of plants and 141 protected nature areas, four of which are National Parks. All the islands are close together and have good communications between them, so if you want you can visit them all in a short time.
You could start your trip on the island of La Palma, home to the Caldera de Taburiente National Park. There you can walk in a huge crater almost 1,500 metres deep, or visit a spectacular pine forest. You will also be amazed by gorges over 1,000 metres deep, the setting for waterfalls such as La Desfondada. Sounds fascinating, don’t you think? Within the park you can also visit the IDAFE monolith, an altar of the ancient indigenous people, major peaks such as El Roque de los Muchachos, and you can discover the rare violet flowers of La Palma.
Besides this natural spectacle, in the Caldera de Taburiente Park there is also a modern visitor centre with an exhibition room, a camping area and a mountain refuge. Everything is designed for you to enjoy.
Another of the National Parks to be found in the Canary Islands is Garajonay, on the island of Gomera. There you will have an irresistible opportunity: seeing its amazing laurisilva forest. It is almost unique in the world and is one of the last remnants of the ancient subtropical forests. Feel the pleasure of peacefully exploring this park, which has the UNESCO World Heritage designation. Enjoy the beauty of its tracks and trails, animals such as the Canary big-eared bat or the long-eared owl, and take photos of stunning landscapes from the viewpoints in the area.
What is more, three kilometres away is the park's visitor centre, which has various exhibition rooms and an Ethnographical Museum, where you can discover various aspects of the island's traditional culture: the inside of a farm-worker's house, wine cellars, historic buildings...
Fancy a few more options? On the island of Tenerife is the Teide National Park. It is the largest in the Canary Islands and has the UNESCO World Heritage designation. A perfect place to discover unusual animals, but especially to see Spain's highest peak: the Teide. Feel all the wonder of this volcano that reaches 3,718 metres above sea level. Would you like to go to up? Then your wish is granted, because the park allows visitors to climb up as far as 3,550 metres. To get to the very summit you must apply for a special permit.
The possibilities of this park are enormous. Besides the wonderful landscapes you can see from a range of viewpoints, you can also visit the botanical gardens and the Juan Évora Museum. He was the last inhabitant to live in this region in the ancient, traditional way.
Finally, head for the island of Lanzarote to get to know the Timanfaya National Park. When you get there you will think you have arrived on the moon. It has a weird and wonderful landscape of volcanic terrain, along with the "malpaises" (fields of solidified lava) created by recent eruptions. Guides will often show visitors how sea water turns into steam when it enters into contact with the volcanic tubes. You can enjoy this spectacle from various viewpoints and three routes that help to see it. On the Volcanoes route you will go on a beautiful walk where you can even go through a volcanic tube and see the impressive Timanfaya craters. Another interesting route is the Coastal Route, ideal to see cliffs where lava once flowed into the sea. Do you feel like exploring them?
To have even more fun, at this National Park you can go on a camel trek across the southern slopes of a mountain.
Sport in the heart of the countryside
If, along with looking out over stunning landscapes, you also like doing sport, whether to relax or to feel intense excitement, then in the National Parks of the Canaries it is easy. Take suitable footwear because besides guided routes, the four parks are also ideal for hiking. You will be in direct contact with nature.
The volcanic landscape of the archipelago also makes it perfect for mountaineering enthusiasts. For example, the Caldera de Taburiente and Teide National Parks have mountains with different levels of difficulty for this sport. Volcanic chimneys or a spectacular view of the Teide will accompany you. Do you prefer water sports? When the heat sets in, Caldera de Taburiente is perfect. You can swim in the Taburiente River and play in its waterfalls. Diving centres and sea outings available in Garajonay round off the array of options. You will love the wonderful marine beds of these islands.
Any time of year is good to visit these four parks, with amazing colours and landscapes, and wonderful temperatures. Don't forget, besides sun and sand, in the Canary Islands you will find idyllic spots with volcanoes or laurisilva forest as backdrop. Come and discover one of the most unusual and beautiful places in Spain.
If you liked this article, get more information at: -The Canary Islands – sure to please -The Canary Islands, an adventure all the year round -The Canary Islands: European sun capital -Garajonay: a forest that goes back millions of years