The landmark of the largest Canary Islands, Tenerife, is the famous volcano Mount Teide. It reaches an altitude of 3,718 meters above sea level, making it the highest mountain in Spain.
It is located right in the center of the island and in winter months it’s often snowy there. Besides, it is surrounded by an incredibly fascinating area, the caldera, which has a diameter of about 17 kilometers and is surrounded by mountain walls. The landscape in the island’s center reminds of fascinating lunar areas. In 1954, the entire area was declared National Park (Parque Nacional del Teide).
Legend has it that the name of the mountain comes from a demon, who have lived in there. His name was Guayota and he imprisoned the sun god Magec in the mountain so that the whole area around the Teide submerged in darkness. The original inhabitants of the island (the Guanches) called the mountain Echeyde and that is the word, which developed to the Spanish name “Teide”. Since the natives were terribly afraid of the dark, they asked the Supreme God Achaman to save the sun god Magec. Achaman then chased the demon Guayota of the island. To close Guayota’s way back home forever, Achaman bolted the opening of the mountain and put a sugar loaf into it.
Ascending the Teide – an adventure!
Today a cable car runs from the foot of the Teide (approximately 2,000 m) up to 3,500 m altitude. From there you can ascend to the summit by foot, but only with special permission (which you may apply via internet at the National Park Administration). The trail is strenuous and difficult due to the altitude and thin air, but on clear days these efforts will be rewarded with a fantastic and unique view. You will see the entire island of Tenerife, the Atlantic Ocean, as well as the neighboring islands of Gran Canaria, La Gomera, La Palma and El Hierro.
(Photo: Carsten Frenzl)
For the very sporty hikers the island’s highlight is to admire the sunrise from the summit (for that you can sleep in a mountain hut). This is a truly incomparable experience. Several ways are leading to the national park itself: from the south, it goes over the highest mountain village in Spain, Vilaflor, which is with its local specialties and handicrafts also worth a visit.
Coming from the North, the road leads through the beautiful city of La Orotava, which is famous for its great old town and the magnificent wooden balconies. From the east and La Laguna you can drive through pine forests, but also from Güimar it’s possible to reach the national park. From the West you will pass Chio. During the impressive drive, one criss-crosses the clouds and then you suddenly find yourself over them. This view of a sea of clouds has its charms. In any case, one should have the suitable equipment on oneself. We recommend sturdy shoes, sunscreen and in winter definitely warm clothes. At the height of 2,000 meters, the climate conditions are often extremes with very hot temperatures in summer and very cold winters.
(Photo: Willi Winzig)
Visiting the National Park is worthwhile in any case and is an absolute must for every holidaymaker on Tenerife. Anyone who has seen this majestic mountain will be under it’s spell and never forget it. In the coastal regions there are plenty of suitable apartments for visitors. The mere glance at the volcano in the middle of the island during the landing is fascinating!