If you're a nature lover, a visit to the Los Tilos forest in La Palma (officially 'Los Tiles') should be one of the first things you add to your 'to do' list. Declared a Unesco Biosphere Reserve, Los Tilos is one of the world's last laurisilva forests, a dense and peaceful forest full of giant ferns and the broad-leaved laurel trees that covered the planet millions of years ago.
Los Tilos Forest is located in the north-east of La Palma near Los Sauces, 24km from the capital Santa Cruz. The forest has its own visitors’ centre, which has themed rooms, videos and a cafeteria. In terms of exploring the forest there are some excellent self-guided walks to choose from, two of which are particularly good. One is 2.5 kilometres long, and takes you around the heart of the forest, while the other climbs up 1,000 metres until you reach the springs of Marcos and Cordero.
On anything other than a perfectly sunny, dry day, the forest has an enchanted feel, with clouds hanging on the tips of the branches and dripping from the fern fronds. It's impossible not to be impressed.
For those who actually know something about the fauna that surrounds them, you'll find (amongst others) tiles (Ocotea foetens), viñátigos (Persea indica), palos blancos (Picconia excelsa), laureles (Laurus novocanariensis), acebiños (Ilex canariensis), barbuzanos (Apollonias barbujana), madroños (Arbutus canariensis), peralillos (Maytenus canariensis), fayas (Myrica faya), brezos (Erica arborea) and the extraordinary giant ferns. If your eyes are sharp enough you'll also find Bolle’s Pigeon and the White-tailed Laurel Pigeon, as well as countless invertebrates, tucked away in the fauna.
The Los Tilos Interpretation Centre, located inside Los Tilos Forest and by the ravine called Barranco del Agua, has a permanent display explaining the forest's nature.