Tenerife, it’s definitely one of my favourite island. Where else can you move from a sunny beach to an active volcano and from there to a prehistoric forest and savour four seasons in one day? In my first article about Tenerife I will take you to the highest mountain in Spain and still an active volcano, the magical mountain Teide.
Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands, lies in the Atlantic Ocean west of the African coast. It can be said that Tenerife literally grew into a volcano. The movement of the lithospheric plates weakened the ocean floor, through which magma crossed the surface creating an island. Personally, prefer to think that Tenerife is the remains of the mythical Atlantis, also known by Plato as the Happy Islands.
Volcanoes have always fascinated me. The mountain, which connects the world underground with the outside world. Its size is the proof of how tiny we are in the face of the elements. The volcano area is the Teide National Park, which got its name from the summit name – Pico del Teide. This name, in turn, comes from the original people of Tenerife, Guanches and means “Hell Mountain”. The last Teide eruption took place in 1909, which means that the volcano has been dormant for over 100 years and hopefully it will stay that way.
Together with my friend, a native inhabitant of Tenerife, we set off in the morning, by car to the volcano. The road is nice and pleasant. Tenerife is called the island of short distances and because Teide is practically in the middle and virtually from every direction you can get there by car in no more than 2 hours. From el Sauzal, where Ricardo lives, we set off on the TF-24 road, which is one of the longest and takes about 1 hour.
However, this is not an ordinary road. As we start climbing up to a height of 4 920 feet, we leave the semi-arid vegetation and enter a pine forest. Canary Pine is an endemic species and something that I associate with Tenerife. The smell of sun-warmed pine can be felt in many places on the island. Furthermore, its characteristic feature is the ability to withstand fire and ease of rebirth after a fire, thanks to different layers of bark.
We are already at an altitude of over 6 562 feet. There is a stop at the side of the road, perfect to enjoy the view. It is truly breath-taking because we are above the clouds. In the distance you can see the Teide volcano reigning over the island. An intensely fragrant pine forest is emanating with lush greenery. Right in front of me, some clouds look, as if it was enough to reach by hand, to touch them.
The sun is already high in the sky and it is quite hot. I stand on the edge of the rock, facing a volcano and there are no people around. It feels like this moment belongs to me… Perfectly remember every detail. This is one of these moments when you have the impression, that you are one with all the beauty that surrounds you. My energy batteries have been charged. I reached 100% happiness!
Teide is a volcano that, during the eruption, was throwing away everything. Huge stones and boulders, lava and dust. Currently, around the cone of the volcano, there is a huge caldera. It has a diameter of 9 miles and a circumference of 25 miles and is nothing but a remnant of an earlier explosion. Pico del Teide is another cone that formed in this caldera as a result of further volcanic activity. I mention this because the caldera now looks like a landscape on Mars. The walks there are free.
I mentioned that Pico el Teide is another cone, but this cone is 12 198 feet above sea level. Therefore, don’t be fooled, it’s a massive cone! We drive through this lunar landscape by car and reach a height of 7 730 feet where Teleferico del Teide originates. Teleferico is a cable car reaching the summit precisely at 11 663 feet. This is the height at which the air is already much thinner. That is why it is not recommended to jump too much from excitement, caused by the beautiful views of the panorama.
On the one hand, a view of the vast caldera and the moon-like landscape. On the other hand, the vast blue of the ocean. From this place, you can go higher up to the crater, but only with special permission. If you plan to climb the crater, it is worth organizing such a permit in advance, because the number of people per day on the crater is limited. At 11 663 feet, it is quite cold, temperatures are below zero. Although, the sun is so intense and the level of excitement is so high that I did not even get cold.
I planned to spend the night on a volcano, yes, it’s possible! At an altitude of 10 696 feet there is the Altavista del Teide hostel. There you can book accommodation for only one night (price from 20 euros) and thus bypass getting permission to enter the crater itself. Sleeping in the shelter, you can enter the crater before 9 am, which is the time from which permission is required. This is not the only plus, the location at an altitude of 10 696 feet allows great visibility of the sky at night. Therefore, if you, like me, are a lover of stars, you will be interested.
You also need to know that Tenerife is one of the best places in the world to observe stars. Here the sky is literary protected. There is a special law that controls light and atmospheric pollution so that the observation of celestial bodies is as convenient as possible. Also, Tenerife has a very good geographical location. Winds that prevent the formation of clouds are also helpful. All these factors make the universe at your fingertips.
Unfortunately, I was unable to watch the sky at night in the Altavista shelter. All dates were already booked a month ahead. If you have a car at your disposal, I recommend going to the observation point in the Teide area to indulge and appreciate the starry sky. We did exactly that. In the evening we climbed to a height of 6 562 feet. The view was wonderful, but it was not the stars that caught my attention the most. The moon, which at this height was visible on the horizon, looked unreal. Lying on the ground and staring at the sky, I had the impression that the moon was touching the earth. Something truly amazing!