If you’re looking to work off some of the tapas and sangria then Tenerife certainly has you covered.
At 3,718m above sea level, Mount Teide is the tallest mountain on Spanish territory and the third-tallest volcanic structure in the world. It’s a challenging climb, though well within the realm of most active people.
What makes it most worthwhile, apart from the stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean and the rest of the Canary Islands, is the opportunity to see one of the most spectacular sunrises or sunsets anywhere on the planet.
Mount Teide National Park is a UNESCO world heritage site and access to the summit is tightly controlled to preserve the landscape for everyone. There are two stages to climbing Mount Teide and both offer a superb experience.
Hiking on foot
The first stage – from Montaña Blanca up to La Rambleta – the cable car station – gets you to a height of 3,555m. The walk from the bottom to the upper cable-car station is around 8km and will take about four hours.
It’s a fairly easy walk for anyone used to hill walking though would be very challenging for the less practised. Once there you’ll find incredible views of the scenery all around, stretching to the other Canary Islands.
The second stage, from the upper cable car station to the summit, is known as El Teleforo Bravo. It’s a very steep and challenging climb of about one hour, with oxygen at around 50% of base level, and shouldn’t be attempted by anyone who is inexperienced. Likewise, people with heart conditions, pregnant women and small children should avoid it too.
If you feel that you can rise to the challenge, you will need to make sure you’ve applied for a permit in advance. Permits are free and you can apply for one on the National Parks website. As numbers are strictly controlled you’re best applying as far in advance as you can to ensure you don’t end up without one. You’ll need to show both your permit and passport at the permit checkpoint so make sure you take them with you.
Make a night of it
If you want to enjoy the sunrise and sunset up the mountain, the only real option is to arrange to stay at the Altavista Refuge. Costing just €24 for a night of dormitory accommodation, with accommodation for 54 hikers, this allows you to walk up in the evening and watch as the sun dips behind the mountain, lighting the sky in an incredible pink colour as the day winds down.
In the morning you can then wake up around 5am – don’t worry, the thin atmosphere makes it difficult to sleep so you’ll be fine! – and hike the last part of the trail up to the summit to see the spectacular sunrise to herald the new day.
Once you’ve experienced the glory of the summit you descend back to the upper cable car station where you can either head down mechanically or enjoy the much less challenging descent to the base.
A stay at Altavista includes your permit for the summit, the only condition being that you have to be off the trail by 9am when the day trippers start turning up. As always with a hostel-style operation, if you want any food then you’ll have to take it with you.
If you’re reading this page at all then I’ll assume you’re somewhat experienced in mountain hiking so as mentioned before, it’s not a particularly difficult ascent. The most important thing to bear in mind is that you must be prepared for the conditions.
If you’re there from November to March you’ll almost certainly encounter snow and ice on the trail so be prepared for all conditions. Later in the year, whilst it may be roasting hot at the base, it can still be pretty chilly at the summit. The sun will also be a lot stronger due to the thinner atmosphere so sunscreen is essential at all times of the year.
Teide in style
If you fancy seeing the mountain but don’t really want the long hike to the cable car station then you can, of course, ride the cable car. Running from 9am to 4pm, it’s an incredible 8 minute journey giving you a stunning aerial view of the national park’s scenery.
From the upper cable car station you can then trek up to the summit, if you have a permit, or simply enjoy the views stretching all the way around the island from there. The cable car costs €27 for adults and €13.50 for children round-trip alternatively you can get a one-way ticket for €9.50 if you want to ride up and hike down, or hike up and ride down.
Getting to Teide
There are buses that leave every morning from Playa de las Americas and Puerto de la Cruz. These are one-a-day tour buses so they leave at 9:15am and return at 4pm.
If you’ve hired a car, there’s a car park at the cable car base station that’s open from 8am to 6pm. Be warned that if you miss closing time then your car is locked up for the night!
Have you ever hiked Mount Teide, or has this article inspired you to plan a trip? Or do you just prefer a relaxing beach holiday? Let us know!