The island of Tenerife is home to a unique landscape; the Teide National Park. It is one of the major attractions of the Canary Islands and at its heart towers Mount Teide, the 3rd highest volcano in the world, at 3,718 metres.
It is a great landscape for sightseers and hikers alike and is suitable for all family members, providing an almost lunar like environment. There are various ways to reach the park, both by public transport and by road.
From Puerto de la Cruz catch the number 432 bus, which leaves at 9:15, returns at 15:15. and takes 1 hour and 45 minutes each way. To reach the park from Las Americas, the number 342 bus is the one to board, with 9:15 and 15:40 being the respective journey times. Both routes charge 15 euros for a return ticket.
From Los Cristianos a Titsa bus will take a family of 4 to the park for 33 euros. It is advisable to stay on the bus until it arrives at the cable car station (the Teleferico Teide station), although there will be a 10 minute break at the Visitors’ Centre (Parque Nacional Office). Various hiking maps can be purchased from here, which detail the trails threading around the volcano and surrounding areas.
For a more flexible trip, a hire car could be the answer; this option takes away the restraints of bus schedules and costs from as little as 40 euros per day. A car journey to the park from Costa Adeje will pass along a scenic route of small hill stations and scented pine forests, displaying the unusual extra-large pine cones which are a special feature of the pine trees here.
Once at the cable car station, the large crater can be walked around, with the rough grey rocks and barren landscape providing a base from which to start the ascent. The 25 euro gondola ride takes around 7 minutes and stops at the 3,500 metre platform.
To hike up Teide takes around 5 hours; the rock formations en route change in colour and texture as the altitude increases. A field of black obsidian, the eggs of Teide, is passed after an hour’s climbing. Once at the upper station, trails carved out of shiny basalt wind through the lunar terrain of the lava flow and lead to viewing points.
The climb becomes steeper after this point and takes around 45 minutes to complete. The reward can either be a view of “the sea of clouds” which can form a bracelet around Teide on a misty day or a dramatic panorama, which includes views of the other Canary Islands and often the coast of Africa.
For adults and older children a trip to the summit can be the highlight of a visit to Teide; permits should be obtained in advance from the website “Pico del Teide Access Permit”.
The steam and sulphurous smoke emerging from the top remind climbers that this is a dormant volcano, with hot rocks covering the ground like pale dragon’s eggs. Hikers who wish to stay overnight on Teide can stay at the Altavista refuge near to the top of the volcano. From 20 euros , this includes a permit to the summit.
At daybreak the huge form of Teide can be seen casting its shadow over the Atlantic Ocean, the birthplace of the volcano itself. There is no official snow sports area on Mount Teide, however, snow falls frequently making it a fun place to ski. The area has approximately 20kms of slopes and can be reached via cable car, with some stunning scenery to see on the way up.
Even though this mini ski resort is not similar to the locations in France, you can always say you've skied in a massive extinct crater.