If you only venture out of your holiday resort once during your visit to Tenerife, it should be to Teide National Park. Coming to Tenerife and not visiting Mount Teide is like going to the Sahara Desert without seeing the sand.
I’ve lived on the island for nearly eight years and have visited Teide National Park on countless occasions. Every time I turn the corner on the road up from Puerto de la Cruz and La Orotava to be confronted by a landscape so unique that it defies description I feel the surge of excitement. There’s a reason why the term ‘other worldly’ is often used to describe the immense plains of glistening black basaltic lava fields, rust coloured cones and melted rock formations like melted wax from a candle stuck in the nozzle of a chianti bottle – it is like no other place on earth.
It doesn’t take an over-active imagination to visualise dinosaurs or mythical monsters lurking behind surreal rock formations in the middle of the park’s 18,990 hectares; film-makers clearly feel the same as One Million Years B.C. and both Clash of the Titans were shot in the Mount Teide crater…but not, despite what most tour guides claim, Planet of the Apes or Star Wars.
It is an epic landscape and although Spain’s highest mountain, Mount Teide, is the gasp-inducing centrepiece, there are a number of strategically placed viewpoints that overlook some of the most mind blowing views in the park. Here’s a brief guide to my favourites.
Roques de Garcia
The vistas over the Plains of Ucanca from the Roques de Garcia are pretty special, but what everyone really wants to do here is to get a picture of the shillelagh shaped Roque Chinchado with Mount Teide in the background. Paths lead around the rocks and up into them for other excellent photo opportunities. The island’s parador lies opposite the rocks and you can buy refreshments there but prices are outrageous.
The Cable Car
Even if you’re not planning on taking a ride to just below the summit of Mount Teide it’s still worth stopping at the cable car station as there are superb views across Las Cañadas del Teide.
Minas de San Jose
One of my favourite spots in the crater. The undulating blue-green soil and pahoehoe lava formations spilling down the mountainside here make me think of a setting for Star Trek; a notion encouraged by the fact that there are large pumice rocks littered about the place that are so light you can lift them as though they were polystyrene.
One of the real curios in the park, La Tarta is a rock formation whose diverse layers resemble a slice of cake. It lies on the road heading east from the El Portillo Visitors’ Centre in the direction of La Laguna and Santa Cruz.
The best way to get to the crater is by car. There are excursions and a public bus service from Puerto de la Cruz in the north and Los Cristianos and Playa de las Américas in the south – but the bus only runs once a day and excursions only allow limited time to explore the wonders of this unique gift from Mother Nature.
Category : days out
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