Without any doubts, with its rugged landscape the Caldera de Taburiente National Park, established 65 years ago, is the most astonishing attraction of the Isla Bonita.
Thanks to its unique nature, the island of La Palma has been acknowledged by UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve since 2002. In 1983 Los Tiles, a particular laurel forest, was the first territory on the Canary Islands that earned the title and since then the entire island, “which contains a wide range of representative habitats with all the diversity provided by the transition from the coast up to the mountain peaks” (UNESCO) is under protection. La Palma is also the home of the very first UNESCO starlight reserve worldwide with the telescopes of the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory.
As the difference between the lowest point and the highest peak (El Roque de los Muchachos, 2426 m) is almost 2200 meters, the landscape of the Caldera de Taburiente National Park is extremely steep. It also means that a large area of the national park is not even accessible for the people. There are only few trekking paths that are leading across the territory. As hikers are not able to reach the wildest parts, there are completely untouched areas where the ecosystem is absolutely pristine.
Beside the breathtaking landscape of the national park, its ecosystem is characterised by a high percentage of endemic plant species also by single island endemics thanks to the unique always humid climate. It also means that there are species that are still undiscovered by scientists. Most of the territory of the national park is covered by the endemic Canary Pine forest.
Geological History of the Caldera
The caldera, which is a large depression formed by a volcanic eruption and then a collapse, visually dominates the northern part of La Palma with its 10km diameter and 2000m high walls which make it one of the world’s largest of its kind. Geologists believe that the caldera was generated 2 million years ago by volcanic eruptions, landslides and the action of the water.
The national park has also a sacred “aura” as the site where the last tribes of the Guanche people, the native inhabitants of the Canary Islands, survived the latest after the Spanish conquest. In the 15th century the conquerors only could defeat the Benahoaritas, the last stand of the indigenous people of the archipelago by luring their leader with a fake agreement. The natives, knowing very well the territory, used the steep walls of the caldera as a fortress made by nature. Sacred places and artefacts from this ancient culture still exist in the territory of the national park.
The natural park is rich in permanent springs, waterfalls and amazing geological formations such as pillow lava, dikes, volcanic cones and pyroclastic falls. The most famous natural attraction is Cascada de Colores, the rainbow waterfall which is a six-metre-high semi-natural waterfall. The wall of the waterfall is like a rainbow, painted in tones of green, yellow and orange by the river which is rich in iron and minerals from the volcanic rocks. Following the river, there is the “best beach” of La Palma, the La Playa de Taburiente, hikers’ favorite spot.
Amazing hiking trails
- Camping Area – La Desfondada: It is a 2-hour long medium intensity hike with steep climbs, amazing views of peaks and ravines, and a spectacular waterfall whose name is La Desfondada.
- La Cubrecita – Lomo De Las Chozas: This walk is only 1.5-hour long and considered easy especially the first half of it. From the trail path there is a breathtaking view of all the highest peaks.
- Roque Muchachos – Los Andenes Look Out Point: The intensity of this 1-hour hike is low, because there is only a little 200-meter slope, but it goes along the area of the highest peaks all above an altitude of 2000 metres.