Teide National Park occupies the highest part of the island of Tenerife and Spain (Canary Islands). Declared January 22, 1954 Teide National Park, one is the largest and oldest national park in the Canary Islands and the third oldest in Spain. In 2007 it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and since then the Teide National Park is considered one of the 12 Treasures of Spain.
Teide National Park was in 2008 the most visited National Park of four at their disposal the Canary Islands with a total of 2.8 million visitors, according to the Instituto Canario de Estadística (ISTAC) and is also the National Park most visited in Spain, the most visited in Europe and second in the world with 3,142,148 visitors in 2007. The main sight is Spain's highest mountain, the volcano Teide, rising 3,718m over the sea level.
Flora and fauna
From the southern airport (TFS) it takes about 1:15h by car to get to the bottom of the cable lift station.
A taxi from the airport to the bottom of the cable lift may set you back up to 150 Euro. Hitchhiking may be possible but is certainly easier for the way down than up.
To climb to the summit of El Teide at 3,718 m (the uppermost 168 m), special permission is essential and checked thoroughly and strictly. It can be obtained online.
However, only a very limited number of permits is available for the general public. In addition, time slots are assigned, which may not align with your plans. Hence it is strongly recommended to get it as soon as possible, but at least two months before the planned hike. The reason given for this artificially created scarcity is conservation.
A car is easiest, however, some busses may be running. Sometimes streets can be closed due to snowfall. Check in advance. Race biking is also not unheard of. However, the thin air makes the trip up an exhausting exercise. There is no bike rental place in the park.
If there is no cloud cover, you have an amazing view all over the island, the neighboring Canary Islands, and if you are lucky you may even get to see the African mainland. Usually clouds develop in the morning; hence, you are best advised to get to the top as early as possible.
From the car park area the view isn't particularly special: You'll have to ascend further to the top for the real goods. There are no roads available, so unless you're up for a hike the cable car is your only option. It's a 10-minute lift to 3,550 m (27€ per person/return - half price for the residents). The return ticket is valid for 1 hour; if you miss it, you will have to pay additional 12.50€ to go back down (however, this limitation does not seem to be enforced very strictly).
Tickets are sold for a specific departure time and sell out quickly. Buying one on the day itself means you'll have to wait for hours at best, but in the high season more likely it's not possible at all. Get your ticket online a couple of days in advance for a guaranteed spot.
Hiking El Teide (easy)
- From the mountain station of the cable lift at 3,550 m the hike up to the peak at 3,718 m can take up to 1 hour depending on your physical abilities. Do not forget the permission and your passport!
- In case you could not get a permission it may not come as a surprise that local tour agencies can almost always organize a tour at any given day, even on short notice. The created shortage of tickets seems to work well as a mechanism to foster organized tours instead of individual tourism. Needless to say the price for an organized tour is significantly higher.
Hiking El Teide (advanced)
Access to the peak is only controlled from 9h - 17h every day (first and last ride of the cable lift). If you manage to get up (and down!) to the peak before 9h or after 17h you will be able to hike to the top without a permission.
You will either have to walk up Mt. Teide by foot up or down (or both). The 10-km hike up starts at 2300 m and usually takes about 5 1/2 hours one way. It should be well prepared as there are no facilities along the way and the surrounding can be anything from sharp magma stone, snow, ice or merciless sun.
Alongside the cablecar, a hike is possible a well. The ascent by foot starts at the base of the “Montaña Blanca” at a parking lot on the TF-21 highway, at an altitude of 2,300m (very limited parking even very early in the morning). Don't underestimate the short walk as the gradient and low oxygen levels make it challenging even for experienced walkers.
After a relatively gentle start up a 4x4 track for around 4 km, you begin the steep and spectacular climb, ascending 530m in just over 1.5 km, when you will reach the recently rebuilt Altavista Refugio (3,260m). This offers climbers a bed for a maximum of one(!) night and kitchen facilities.
After a further kilometer and 250m ascent, the path joins with another leading to La Fortaleza viewpoint, which follows the contour around El Teide to the cable lift. If required for descent, always check if the cable lift is operational before you set off, as it does not run in poor weather conditions and closes without warning. You should allow 6-8 hours (one way) for an ascent and descent on foot. Trailrunners can manage to run up the path in two hours, but this depends on fitness and experience.
You can also aim to sleepover at the very basic Altavista Refugio at 3,260m. To reach it you can take the cable lift or work your way up using the 10km trail. A reservation is needed and it closes early in the morning so you will need to continue the climp to the peak as early as 7:30 a.m. .
Hiking Pico Viejo
A moderately demanding hike (hiking boots recommended) is possible from El Teide. One reasonable itinerary is leaving car at "Boca Tauce" (interesection of TF-21 and TF-38), taking bus (line 342) from there to the cablecar, going up and then just descending via Pico Viejo, Narices del Teide and back to Boca Tauce. It takes around 5-6 hours from the top to bottom.
There is not much to buy here.
- Parador de los canadas del teide. $$$$.
- Refugio Altavista (by foot only). Check-in: 19:00, check-out: 7:30. Located at 3,260m. A reservation is needed. No food is served and there are no showers. $.
You are advised to stay on the marked paths.
At 3,718m (12,198ft) El Teide is the highest mountain in Spain. The rapid ascent by cable car can lead to altitude sickness. Most people come here directly from sea level, which can be stressful.
If symptoms start to manifest you should descend immediately, note that at peak times the wait for the cable car descent can be over an hour. Details on what to expect can be found at Altitude sickness#How high is high.
At the summit, strong winds are not uncommon which significantly reduces temperatures. Irrespective of temperatures on the beaches, a trip to El Teide (or even just the National Park) can be very cold, with snow at the peak common until typically March/April on average. In Winter expect a few feet of snow and ice, and strong winds so prepare accordingly.