Teide, Tenerife – A Guide to the National Park
Tenerife is the largest of the Canary Islands, and with its hot weather and great beaches, it is a popular tourist destination. Most people visit the island for its beaches, yet the beautiful sands aren’t the only thing that Tenerife has to offer. Centred on the island’s volcano Mount Teide is a true Spanish treasure: the Teide National Park.
Teide National Park
Named as one of the 12 Treasures of the Kingdom of Spain, and a UNESCO World Heritage site, Teide National Park truly is a great place to visit.
National Park is a surprisingly green area considering the desert-like environment typical to most of the Canary Islands; this is due to the Canary Pines found there. Clouds form over the Canaries at around 500-1200 metres; as such they run into the tops of the towering pine trees, leaving their moisture on the branches and their needles. The moisture then runs down the trees to saturate the land.
The long and short of this is that the area is rife with interesting fauna and flora, making the park a great place to visit. Alongside the Canarian plants, three types of lizard are residents in the park, along with countless species of birds.
At 3718 metres high, Mount Teide is the world’s third largest volcano, and is found right at the centre of Teide National Park. The summit of the volcano makes for breath-taking views, Gran Canaria on one side and La Palma, La Gomero and El Hierro on the other. The summit can be reached by cable car or on foot (however a permit is necessary to make the chest-heaving hike).
Mount Teide is an active volcano, as can be seen from the sulphuric fumes sometimes billowing from points around the summit. You would imagine that this fact, combined with its location in the Canaries, would mean that Mount Teide is a very hot place. Yet due to its altitude, it is actually quite cool nearer the summit, indeed, the peak itself is often covered in snow. This can therefore make for a welcome change of temperature from the heat you would normally be accustomed to on a visit to the Canaries.
On and around Mount Teide can be found intriguing panoramas that are almost lunar in make-up. Due to the many craters and the desert-like terrain, many films make use of this area for dramatic, alien landscapes. Most recently, the 2010 The Clash of the Titans was partially filmed there.
Along with the sweeping lunar vistas, there are various interesting rock formations created by lava flows many years ago. Of note is the Roques de Garcia which juts out of the landscape, reaching into the sky. The most well-known is the unusual-shaped red rock of Cinchado, which due to constant erosion will one day topple over. However, for now it makes for a great photo (indeed it’s supposedly the most photographed rock in the world), so catch it while it’s still standing.
Teide National Park is a Canarian treasure, and simply begs for inclusion in any holiday. Yet even if you don’t wish to centre an entire trip around it, if you are in the Canaries for the sun and beaches, a trip to the Teide National Park makes for a memorable day excursion.
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Article by Rob Holman