‘Macizo de Anaga’ is a mountain range, which is situated in the north-eastern corner of Tenerife, its highest peak being ‘Cruz de Toborno’, topping-out at 1,024 m above sea-level. The Anaga Mountains stretch all the way from Cruz del Carmen in the south-western tip of this northern peninsular, right through to Punta de Anaga on the north-eastern tip of the island. The mountains were formed by an enormous volcanic eruption between seven and nine million years ago, thus making this segment of Tenerife the oldest part of the island. Sitting alongside the Cruz de Toborno are the peaks of Anambro, Bichuelo, Chinobre, Cruz del Carmen and Pico Limante, and since 1987 the area has been protected as a ‘Natural Park’. (It was later reclassified as a ‘Rural Park’ in 1994).
The Anaga Mountain Range is engulfed in humid forests, and in 2015 it was awarded the title of ‘Biosphere Reserve’, boasting the largest number of endemic species in the whole of Europe. Many archaeological discoveries have also been unearthed in the mountains, including the ‘Guanche Mummy of San Andres’ -one of the very few ancient mummies that were actually named after the place where they were found.
The mummified body was that of a man, estimated age between 25 and 30, who could well have been a ‘Mency’ (an aboriginal king) at the time of his passing. His body was discovered in a cave, down a ravine, just outside San Andres Village, and it had been wrapped in half-a-dozen goatskin strips. The mummy now resides in the Museum of Nature and Man of Santa Cruz de Tenerife in the capital city of Santa Cruz, where it is regarded as the best preserved -and the most representative mummy in the entire museum. The main villages in the mountains are Igueste de San Andres, Taganana and San Andres itself. There is also a place in the mountains called ‘El Bailadero’, (which refers to the dances performed by witches around a fire) and this area is believed to be the centre for witchcraft rituals on the island.
The ‘Witches of Anaga’ were women who were devoted to covens (groups of 13 witches) who, after performing their ritual dances, would run-off down to the coast, where they would tear-off their clothing, before swimming naked in the cool, Atlantic waters. As time progressed, and the stories of blood-sucking vampires in Europe spread throughout the world, so the tales of the Anaga witches became more infused, as claims of them sucking the blood from newborn babies, as they slept in their cribs were rife. Many say that the myths and origins of these witches is related to pagan rituals performed by the Guanches, which were considered as witchcraft by the Catholic Church. Off the northern tip of Tenerife lies the Roques de Anaga, two islands which are included in the ‘Natura 2,000′ -a European ecological network of protected areas’. The islands have also been classified as a ‘Special Protection Area’ for birds.
The Witches of Anaga -an artists impression courtesy of Mark Rain@Flickr.com
The ‘Punta de Anaga Lighthouse’ (Punta de Anaga being the most northerly point on the island, and where the Anaga Mountain Range finally reaches the sea) was completed in 1864, and it is one of the oldest lighthouses in the Canary Islands, alongside the Punta de Jania on Gran Canaria, which was also opened in the same year. The lighthouse consists of a single-storey house, which has been white-washed, , along with dark, volcanic rock, which has been used for the masonry detailing. Attached to the sea-facing side of the house is a 12-metre high tower, with a twin gallery overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The lighthouse still has its original ‘Fenestre’ lens, and with a focal height of 247 m above the sea, it can be seen by sea-fairing vessels for over 20 nautical miles.
A similar lighthouse was also proposed for the Savage Islands, which lie about 100 miles (165 km) north of Tenerife, but due to sovereignty issues with Portugal the lighthouse was never built. However, if one really wants to get away from it all then there is always the Roque de Bermejo, which consists of a small community of boat-builders, that can only be accessed via the sea -unless one is willing to attempt a three-hour climb up one side of a mountain and down the side other, of course. Alternatively, why not head for Las Gaviotas Beach, with its rugged shoreline and black, volcanic sand -and there is also a very good chance that one might spot a handful of naturists laying naked on the beach!