… Las Cañadas del Teide National Park

Trips to Mount Teide, aka “El Teide”, which is the Tenerife volcano, and Parque Nacional de Las Cañadas del Teide (Las Cañadas National Park), are a must and give you an idea of how much more there is to Tenerife than just the beaches and the sun. You definitely won’t regret it. The views there are simply spectacular, and, on clear and haze-free days, you can see the other six Canary Islands from the peak. If the skies are cloudy, then you get to enjoy the view of the splendid sea of clouds that forms around the volcano.

The weather conditions at the volcano are very extreme. Snow is common during winter and extra precautions have to be taken during summer due to the sun – so keep this in mind when you go there. You can get to the top of Mount Teide either by hiking, locally known as senderismo, or by taking the cable car – although make sure you’re fit if you plan to hike up the volcano.

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A brief history of the volcano and Las Cañadas

The Guanches (the original inhabitants of the Canary Islands) were the first to use the lands of Las Cañadas del Teide as a pasture to feed their sheep and goats. Several centuries later, in 1799, the renowned German scientist Alexander von Humboldt visited Las Cañadas, making him the area’s first “tourist”. Las Cañadas del Teide National Park has been classified as a Spanish national park since 1954, which makes it the oldest of the four national parks in the Canary Islands (the others being Garajonay in La Gomera, Roque de los Muchachos in La Palma and Timanfaya in Lanzarote). The park boasts indescribable views that are a hit with every tourist that goes there. Las Cañadas del Teide National Park was also named a World Heritage Site on 29th June 2007. This title enabled the authorities to ensure that the area was protected, allowing all those who have the chance to visit the island of Tenerife to enjoy the park to its fullest potential.

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Tenerife Travel Secret

A record-breaking 4 million visitors went to Mount Teide and the national park in 2017.

Las Cañadas del Teide

2,000 metres above sea level, Las Cañadas del Teide has some incredible scenery and captures its visitors’ imagination thanks to the wealth of unrivalled landscapes formed by centuries of volcanic eruptions. Because of this unique beauty, it comes as no surprise that renowned directors have chosen this location to film their movies, like “One Million Years B.C.” (1966), which propelled Raquel Welch to stardom, “Clash of the Titans” (2010) and its sequel – as well as various TV commercials.

You can also enjoy some fantastic views at the facilities of Parador de Las Cañadas del Teide. The Parador is a hotel located in the middle of the park and is the only building in the area surrounding the volcano. This makes the hotel a unique place to stay overnight or to simply enjoy the daytime views or the starry sky.

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Tenerife Travel Secret

Las Cañadas del Teide National Park is a certified Starlight Tourist Destination thanks to its clear night skies, which are perfect for stargazing. This is also one of the many activities you can do with the different local tourist agencies, like El Cardón NaturExperience or Volcano Teide Experience.

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El Teide - the volcano

Mount Teide is 3,718 metres tall and has a crater that has a diameter of approximately 80 metres, which makes it the tallest mountain in Spain. You can get to the peak of the volcano to see the unparalleled views with a free permit, which needs to be applied for in advance. It is recommended that you book your permit further in advance if you plan to go there during the summer months when more visitors tend to go to the park. You will be accompanied by a guide for the last part of your ascent. It is important to know that, in order to protect the area from permanent changes to its topography, a collection of rock samples from the park is strictly prohibited. If you’d prefer to climb the volcano by a different method, you can climb up to 3,600 meters by cable car or on foot without the need for a permit. Provided you’re in good shape, it takes roughly 4 hours to walk up the volcano.

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Tenerife Travel Secret

Mount Teide is the third tallest volcano in the world, and is only surpassed in height by Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa in Hawaii. Thanks to its close proximity to the sea, the shadow that Mount Teide casts over the water at dawn is the largest in the world.

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It is essential to go to Mount Teide but, due to the hiking trails that take you up to 2,000 metres above sea level, it is an even better experience if you’re in good shape. It is better to go up the volcano during the last days of summer, as it is quite likely that you’ll be able to see some of the nearby islands from the peak. It is also great to climb to the peak of Mount Teide at dawn to see the shadow cast by the volcano over the sea of clouds below. Lastly, sunburn is quite common amongst visitors due to the high level of sun exposure, so Tenerife Travel Secrets recommends that you use lots of sun cream.

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What to do in Las Cañadas and the surrounding area

There are a number of places that are worth a visit throughout the Las Cañadas del Teide National Park, so we recommend that you make a few stops during your car journey through the park. If you’re travelling from Santa Cruz, you’ll drive up Monte de la Esperanza where, in addition to stopping at La Tarta viewpoint, you’ll see the Observatorio de Izaña on your left, which has two guided tours on selected days that are run by Volcano Teide Experience. Afterwards, you could then stop in El Portillo or La Bambi for something to eat or drink.

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Tenerife Travel Secret

You can take a beautiful photo of Mount Teide from the area behind the houses in La Bambi. Keep in mind though that these houses are privately owned, so you need to be considerate when you’re close to them.

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After having a bite to eat, continue onwards until you reach Minas de San José – where you definitely need to stop. As well as marvelling at the variety of colours in the earth, you can also enjoy the beautiful view of Sietes Cañadas with Alto Guajara at the bottom. If you continue driving for a few more minutes you’ll pass the entrance to the cable car station on your right and the entrance to the Cañada del Capricho viewpoint on your left. You’ll also have the chance to see the Roques de García and Llano de Ucanca, which are on the opposite side of the road.

Tenerife Travel Secret

For almost a decade, the Roques de García, with Roque Cinchado in the foreground, were featured on the 1,000 pesetas note (which is the equivalent of €6).

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Continuing along this route, on the left you’ll see the intense blues, greens and yellows of Los Azulejos and, as you continue driving along Llano Ucanca’s grand esplanade, you’ll see Zapato de la Reina. You’ll then come to a fork in the road which will take you to either Vilaflor and a marvellous view of Sombrero de Chasna with the island of La Gomera opposite, or to Chio. This second route will take you along the volcano Pico Viejo’s Narices del Teide and the road to the Circular del Chinyero trail a little further down.

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Contrary to its seemingly inhospitable and bleak appearance, the area surrounding Mount Teide and the national park is home to a wide variety of plant life and wild life. There are many endemic plants like Mount Teide bugloss (which blooms in May and June), Rosal del Guanche, Teide violet and yellow-flowered Retama del Teide. With regards to wild life, there are many species of lizard in the area as well as some small birds – like the famous and difficult to catch Tenerife blue chaffinch.

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Final comments from the authors

Words cannot describe what you’ll see when you visit Las Cañadas del Teide National Park. Don’t miss it for the world and come to Tenerife to see it by yourself.

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