If you only do one daytrip while staying on our beautiful island, where better to go than Mount Teide. Sitting in the centre of Tenerife, its often snow-capped peak is visible from all but one of the other islands. What can be said that hasn’t already been said about Spain’s highest mountain and the island’s crowning glory, other than it is an absolute ‘must-see’ for any visitor.
It is easy to get to from both the north or south and whichever way you go, you drive through lush vegetation and leave the sun on the coast for the thick pine forest, which traps the clouds before you re-emerge into the dazzling sunlight.
To get the most out of a trip, call into one or both of the visitor centres. El Portillo in the northeast gives the geological history, the environment and the life forms that inhabit the area. Cañada Blanca in the south has interactive displays, photos, and videos that explain how the whole volcano thing happens. A touchy-feely place that kids of all ages love, with its cables to pull and buttons to press, all housed inside a mock lava tube. Free tours take place twice a day. (See below).
Reaching the top of this dormant volcano isn’t too tough, as long as the cable car is running. If windy, it’ll most likely be closed. Otherwise, it will whip you up to the summit in eight minutes where the views are simply breathtaking. A permit is required to go right to the top.
If you visit at night, it feels as though you can touch the stars. The sky is so clear it looks like part of a film set. Mount Teide National Park is considered one of the best star gazing places on earth.
The National park is approx 2000 metres above sea level and in the winter months the roads often close due to snow or gale force winds and the summit is covered in snow, which blends perfectly with the lava. At this time of year, whole families make a point of visiting, although it is always a popular attraction. In contrast, during the summer temperatures often soar to over 40C.
At the foot of the volcano lies the Ucanca Valley, you can’t fail to be impressed by this stunning lunar desert, impossible shapes, a myriad of colours and home to species that can’t be seen anywhere else in the world, such as the Mount Teide Violet or the Tajinaste. The spectacular scenery has featured in movies, until recently the most famous being One Million Years BC however nowadays Clash of the Titans is better known, but don´t believe anyone who says it was Planet of the Apes!
Teide has enchanted and inspired millions of people. A couple of the more famous are Mike Oldfield and Brian May of Queen. The less famous or creative amongst us can be mesmerised by the history, myths and legends of this magical world.
Before leaving, one of the must-see highlights are the Roques de Garcia, the best known of which is el Cinchado, which challenges the laws of gravity. Don´t forget to have your photograph taken with the majestic and iconic Mount Teide as a backdrop to keep your memories alive.
Entrance to the Visitors’ Centres is free. Open all year round 9am to 4pm (except Christmas Day, New Years Day and 6th January). The tours need to be booked in advance Tel: 922356000 or 922922371 Monday to Friday from 9am – 2pm.