The Canary Islands bubbled up from an isolated hotspot, forming a chain of islands as the continental plate moved across it over several millions of years. The older islands to the east have been steadily eroding away in the meantime, but the western part of the archipelago still boasts some impressive mountains.
Pico del Teide
Pico del Teide on Tenerife is the biggest of them all. It’s even higher than any other mountain on the Spanish mainland. Surrounded by a huge caldera, its peak juts up an astonishing 3718 metres into thin air. Its flanks are a volcanic playground, with a multitude of colourful cones and bizarre cathedral-like rock formations, and winding roads along titled layers of rock and miscellaneous volcanic deposits.
NaturePic Challenge – Mountains & Volcanoes # 3: Pico del Teide, Tenerife
Pico del Teide, a colourful volcanic playground.
View from Volcán de Sámara across to Pico Viejo and Teide in the distance.
Bizarre structures & rock formations.
Titled layers of rock, with Teide astronomical observatory in the distance.
How to get to Pico del Teide
Teide National Park is right in the centre of the island. Road TF-21 winds its way in multiple hairpin bends and steep inclinations around the southern flanks of Pico del Teide. You’ll pass through the charming mountain village of Vilaflor, where it’s also possible to stay overnight. It’s a great location to explore the park from.
You can go almost all the way to the top of Pico del Teide by cable car. The Teleférico del Teide goes from its base station within the national park at 2356 meters to La Rambleta at an altitude of 3555 meters. From there you can explore walking tracks circling around the upper slopes and leading to several stunning viewpoints. If you want to go up to the top itself and smell the sulphur, you will need to book a permit in advance at the Teide National Park authorities. The permit is free, but there is a limit to the number of people that can go up each day.
Staying overnight on Pico del Teide!
Another interesting option is to stay overnight at the Altavista Refuge mountain hut, located on the eastern slope below the cable car station. I didn’t know about this when I visited, but I definitely want to stay there next time! Besides the chance to see the amazing sunset and legendary starry skies, you can also access the Teide Peak crater track between 06.00 and 09.00 hrs the next morning. You don’t need to apply for a permit beforehand – it’s included in your stay.
(c) Nancy Claus – Wilderness Coffee & Natural High
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