Tenerife is a fascinating island with much more to see than just its beautiful black sand beaches along the southern coast, and its historical towns along the northern part of the island. In the middle of the Island of Tenerife sits Mount Teide, which is 3718 meters high and is the tallest mountain in Spain. You can imagine the anticipation of knowing that I was about to climb to the top of the world’s third largest volcano and it is still active!
Teide National Park it certainly worth the trip alone. The entire park is a unique geological treasure filled with craters, vents, lava flows and different materials that form an impressive array of shapes and colors.
We thought it would be best to experience it both during the day and in the evening. So early one day, we set off to Teide National Park from our Hotel Botanico in Puerto de La Cruz.
It’s over an hour drive going up winding roads that lead through small towns until you reach the park. Once you are finally in Teide National Park, you start the climb up in your vehicle, and its surreal. You are captivated by the very tall and straight Canary pine forrest trees all around you, the smell of fresh pine, and of course, seeing Mount Teide.
At one point during the car ride up, you realize that you are now above the clouds and all you can see are blue skies and Mount Teide volcano ahead of you. The National park where Teide is located is approx 2000 metres above sea level, and in winter, the roads are often closed due to snow or gale force winds. In the summer, temperatures often soar to over 40C. You have to dress accordingly depending on the time of year you go. For us, even though it was a warm day in May, we knew it was going to be much colder at the top of the summit so we were prepared with layers of clothes. We were equipped with gloves, hat, scarf and a thick jacket.
Climbing Mount Teide and going on the cable car up the side of Teide volcano was always something that I wanted to do. Frankly, it looked pretty scary to me seeing these cable cars getting smaller and smaller as they assented into the sky closer to the top of the Teide volcano.
We drove all the way to the cable car station at the lower base of Mount Teide, called Teleferico del Teide, located at an altitude of 2,356 m in Teide National Park. It was before 10:00 a.m., so the parking lot wasn’t crowded. We made sure to use the restrooms first, took out all our winter gear from the car, and proceeded to go to the ticket booth. The lower cable car station has a rest area, coffee shop, a self-service restaurant, a souvenirs shop and public toilets. If you forget a jacket, you can conveniently rent one for $5 euros.
People were lined up buying their cable car tickets for the ascent. We skipped the line of people and went up to the counter for internet ticket holders and show them our e-ticket. They gave us each a little ticket to open the gate to get to the cable car. We made sure to put them away somewhere safe since we needed it to get back down.
The cable car cabin holds a capacity of 44 people, and can reach the summit or upper station in 8 minutes. We piled inside the cable car and shortly started the journey up to the top. The views during the trip up the Teide Mountain were breathtaking.
After exiting the cable car at the upper station, just 200 meters from the summit of Teide National Park, you can feel the cold brisk air. I was surprised by the number of people in shorts and not dressed accordingly. We were freezing so I could only imagine they must have been as well.
The upper station is located at 3,555 m altitude and is the starting point for three routes. If take the cable car, you’ve still got an hours hike to reach the summit.
- Route No. 10 (Telesforo Bravo) to the Crater of Mt Teide, which takes you to Spain’s highest peak, from where you can enjoy one of the world’s most magnificent landscapes. On clear days, you can glimpse the nearby islands of La Gomera, El Hierro, La Palma and Gran Canaria. For environmental reasons, access to the peak is controlled, requiring a permit issued by the national park offices.
- Route No. 11, La Fortaleza Vantage Point an incredible spot from where you can take in the spectacular view of the north side of Tenerife, including Valle de La Orotava in the centre and the long ridge of Monte La Esperanza that melds with the rugged Anaga Massif.
- Route No. 12, Pico Viejo Vantage Point, an awe-inspiring viewpoint overlooking south Tenerife and a perfect place from where to admire the great caldera of Las Cañadas del Teide, its enclosure of sheer walls of rock and the aftermath of the last volcanic eruptions. You can also survey the multi-colored crater of Pico Viejo, the rocky outcrops of Roques de García and Mt Guajara.
Inside my pocket was the permit that was issued by the Government of Canaries that allows only a limited number of people per day access to climb to the crater and take pictures. If you wish to ascend to Teide’s peak, you need to apply for the free permit from Teide National Park which can only be obtained via the park’s web site. The free permit is called “Pico de Teide Access Permit” Only individuals who’s name appear on the permit must show proper identification such as a passport or drivers license once they reach the Telesforo Bravo Trail (Route 10) to continue to the top of the crater.
We started off hiking Mount Teide on one of the routes walking very slowly while paying attention to the elevated rock paths in some areas. We were very glad that we wore hiking boots and sneakers with thick soles because some of the lava rocks were sharp. The altitude definitely does take it’s toll, and we were very tired from walking after only a few minutes. We had to stop because I started to get dizzy and lightheaded. At the top, the air is pretty thin, so some people experience altitude sickness.
We spend about an hour on top of the Teide Summit. The views were spectacular and definitely worth it. Visiting Teide’s crater is a unique experience with the entire geography of Tenerife at your feet, as well as smelling the sulfurous odors emitted from volcanic fumaroles. These are some of the experiences that await hikers who ascend to the mountain’s peak. For many the thrill of walking the whole distance from the volcano’s base at 2,200m (7,218ft), roughly a nine-hour round trip, is more appealing than riding up.
Due to the very high altitude, lack of oxygen could affect your physical performance, causing you to get tire more quickly. Therefore, this climb is not recommended for pregnant women, individuals with pulmonary, respiratory or cardiac problems or those with high blood pressure.
Overnight Accommodations in the Park:
Know Before You Go
- Take warm clothes, proper climbing shoes and protect yourself from the sun (hats, sun screen).
- Take a bottle of water.
- A permit for the summit can be obtained from the national park office in Santa Cruz de Tenerife located at Emilio Calzadilla 5; open from 9am-2pm. Take a copy of your passport. Or book your permit online in advance.
- The cable car runs from 9am to 4pm. The last ascent is at 4pm and the last descent at 4:50pm. Don’t miss the last descent or you’ll have a very long hike down in the dark!
- A round trip ticket costs €27 for adults and €13.50 for children.
Disclosure – I would like to thank Turisme de Tenerife for providing us with a press pass for our trip and a permit to access Pico de Teide. These are solely our personal opinions/experiences and I were not financially compensated for this post.