It was an early start for the hours drive from the south of Tenerife up to the Teide National Park and the Mount Teide cable car. The roads were steep and windy, which was fun and kept me on my toes.
We hit the cable car at 9am, our internet booking meant we were first on, and ten minutes later I was gasping for breath at the top station. At 3,555 metres the air was noticeably thinner, and as we started up the route #10 to the summit I was gasping for breath and felt quite light headed.
A permit is needed to hit the top these days, which is free, but you have to book online well in advance. Passing through the entrance gate we showed our permit to the warden, and in a mixture of Spanish, English and sign language he indicated that the route was fine for Elizabeth’s wee legs and it would take us around 90 minutes for the round trip. With the path well laid out, going was fairly straight forward to start, with but it quickly got steeper. Under normal altitude, like the sub-1,000 metres we’re used to back home, everything would have been fine, but the thin air kept us at a reasonably slow pace, forcing me to stop every couple of minutes to let the dizziness pass. Elizabeth being Elizabeth wouldn’t listen though and insisted on charging ahead, only to stop a few minutes later completely washed out. Repeat this a dozen times, and within spitting distance of the summit she was starting to look quite pale and complained of a headache, so we decided enough was enough for her. While reaching the top together would have been nice, the altitude just wasn’t playing ball for her today, so Julie and Elizabeth descended back to the cable car.
I pushed on however, stopping every couple of minutes to let the light headedness pass and regain my breath—anyone would think I was trying to scale Everest. Within a few minutes I could smell the faint aroma of volcano. It’s source, a small vent wafting out warm sulphuric gasses. Holding my hand over the vent I was surprised to almost burn it—so surprised in fact that I had to try it a second time—and guess what … I burned my hand again. How does that saying go — “Any man can make mistakes, but only an idiot persists in his error”. Anyway, this was the point where it hit home that Teide is still an active volcano and not as extinct as it looks at first sight.
Finally, at 3,718 metres the view from the summit was excellent, with almost the entirety of Tenerife and La Palma visible in the distance. After a few minutes of admiring the view my mind turned back to Elizabeth, so I hit the trail back to the top station. Coming down was much easier, with every meter filling my lungs with more air, the light headedness eased. By the time everyone was back at the car we were feeling much better, so much so that we all had an ice-cream to celebrate.
But Mount Teide isn’t the only attraction here, the whole area is a national park, and rightly so. It’s hard to do this stunning landscape justice in only a few of hours—my photos may as well be of another land. It’s certainly not the landscape that immediately springs to mind when someone says they’re going to Tenerife. I’d love to spend a week just wandering around, exploring and photographing every nook and cranny.
The landscape here changes at every turn. One moment you are in a boulder field and next, what looks like a golden sandy beach (but isn’t). It’s easy to see why so many films have used this location in place of desolate lands & alien worlds.
The Teide National Park is definitely a must on your next visit to Tenerife. And if you don’t fancy one of the many coach tours you can always hire a car like we did, and it’ll probably work out cheaper. AutoReisen have what is probably the best value car hire I have ever found. At £66 for two weeks and a tenner for the fuel it’s hard to imagine a better way to see the Teide National Park.