Tenerife is often perceived as a place where people go to get drunk and lounge by busy pools for their entire stay. However, determined to unveil its true colours, we set out to explore. Only having 4 days was in fact a blessing, meaning that we made the most of every minute. Having seen just a bit of what the island has to offer, I would describe it as ‘a place of opportunity, with something for everyone’. Sun, sea, wildlife, trekking and fun- it’s all here on this mini-continent.
Looking around at the breath-taking 360 views, we couldn’t quite believe where we were. The scorching heat mixed with the smell of sulphur made it even more real. We ate our sandwiches silently, overwhelmed with a sense of achievement and awe that we had made it to the edge of a volcano crater.
Climbing Mt Teide: Research and Preparation
Rewind a few hours and we woke after a restful sleep, grabbed an energising breakfast and headed to Pouls Auto to pick up our rental car for the day. Wearing our walking boots, almost excessive amounts of sun cream and obligatory ‘we ❤ Tenerife’ caps, we were sweltering, but needs must! One of the reasons we decided to visit Tenerife in the first place, aside from the turtles and pilot whales, was to attempt climbing Mt Teide, the island’s volcano.
Its summit reaches 3,718m, making this volcano the highest point in Spain, and the third highest above sea level in the Atlantic. To add to this, Teide is the third highest volcanic structure in the World- after the magnificent Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa in Hawaii. Now, if that’s not an accessible bucket list challenge, I don’t know what is! Again, I carried out lots of research in preparation for climbing Mt Teide. First up, its essential to know how the access to the summit is structured.
On entering Teide National Park, visitors have the option to walk through directly to the summit, or they can walk/drive to a ‘lower cable car station’. From here, it is possible to take a cable car almost to the summit. Then you can either enjoy the views at 3,555m, or you can walk the remaining stretch to the summit- read on for important information!
The Cable Car is a fantastic way of climbing Mt Teide without intense hiking (despite what you may have read in March 2017). The lower station (Telerifico) is located at 2,356m. Here, you can purchase a ticket and then queue to take the 8-minute cable car ride to 3,555m.
At the upper station (3,555m), there are 2 viewpoints within close, accessible walking distance:
- Route 11 takes you to La Fortaleza vantage point, and take approximately 25 minutes. This point is said to offer the most perfect views of Teide’s cone shape and offers northern sights of Tenerife. This walk is fairly flat, but it is important to remember that at altitude everything is a little more difficult!
- Route 12 will take you to Pico Viejo, taking approximately 30 minutes. From this viewpoint, you can see the south of Tenerife as well as the crater of Mt. Chahorra, plus neighbouring islands of La Gomera, La Palma and El Hierro.
There are also vending machines at the upper station, should you need a drink or some chocolate/crisps! Now, the views from here are fantastic but, for those who want to get away from the crowd and see the view from 3,718m, Route 10 beckons!
Telesforo Bravo (Route 10)
This is the only route allowing you to reach your goal of climbing Mt Teide to the summit. To walk route 10, you must first obtain a permit. These permits are free of charge, and are simply there to preserve the volcano. Some companies offer this permit as part of the tour, whereas others don’t- so make sure that you check! To obtain the permit, you simply go to this website, fill in your details, select your date and time slot and it’s yours! The time slots are 2-hourly, which is long enough to climb to the summit and return. All visitors also need to provide their passport number, and when there everyone will need to provide a scanned copy of their passport and proof of reservation. The person who booked must be there, with their scanned passport. Otherwise, neither of you will be allowed onto the route. This route takes 40minutes each way and is described as ‘strenuous’.
Climbing Mt Teide Options:
Now that you know the structure, there are various options for seeing the spectacular views.
- Climb to the summit from the base. This is possible to do independently, but companies also offer excursions with knowledgeable guides and a night on the volcano. With these tours (or even independently) there is a further option to walk to the cable car, and take that to almost the summit.
- For those who have less time for this adventure, a day tour is another option. Again, various companies offer the chance to take you up to the cable car, and back, this time via bus. They give enough time between arrival and departure to take the cable car up to 3,555m but not enough time to reach the summit. I know this for certain, because I asked them in preparation for our trip!
- Another option is to take the bus to the lower station independently. You can use Titsa to organise this, meaning that you will be able to take the bus near to the lower station, then back in your own time (depending on timetables). This is a really good, inexpensive option, and it allows time to climb Route 10 if you wish! However, it does mean that you need to plan thoroughly. If you miss the last bus, you’ll be stuck!
- The last option is to drive to the lower station, then take the cable car up, then walk to the summit if you want to. The beauty of this, is you have free reign of timings, aside from cable car timetables. You can leave the hotel when you like, and return when you like. You can even explore Teide National Park at your own leisure if you like! Parking at the lower station is also free (I love that word).
Climbing Mt Teide: Our Trip
As mentioned, there are many tour companies offering day trips to Mt Teide. However, the timings of these wouldn’t allow us to hike the last section up to the top of the volcano. Furthermore, the available buses didn’t suit the time slot that we had booked our Route 10 permit for. This left 2 options. The two-day hiking tour would have been fantastic. However, as you may know from previous posts, we only had 4 days in Tenerife. Therefore, taking 2 of these days wouldn’t have been possible given the other things we wanted to experience. So, we went for the car option!
The route to Teide National Park and lower station was accessible and easy to navigate. It took just over an hour from Callao Salvaje and, after a couple of tours of the carpark, we got a space. The lower station had a café but, seeing the queues, we bought our tickets and started waiting. We were a little worried that this would be ruined as there were so many people. About an hour later, we boarded the cable car and it made its was swiftly up the side of the volcano.
Every time the car came to pillar it rocked violently, but those used to the London tubes would probably not even notice it! After an 8-minute ride, overlooking the steep volcano edge, we reached the upper station.
This process had taken much less time than expected, so we arrived an hour before our permit was valid. We decided to check out where the start was anyway and excitedly got chatting to the guards, who were lovely. After hearing what had happened, they very kindly allowed us to go in early as they had had a cancellation anyway!
Route 10 to the Summit
On the route to the summit there were much fewer people, and most of these were clearly locals. As novice walkers, the climb was a little difficult. However, it wasn’t so difficult that we felt we couldn’t go on. We took into account the altitude and listened to each other. We made sure we had plenty of short stops for water, but maintained a steady pace.
After 35 minutes of climbing, the rocks around us were steaming and the air smelt of sulphur.
Around a few more steep rocks, we made it! Sitting alone on the edge of the crater, we soaked in the magnitude of where we were. The views were amazing, despite the calima.
After a while of sitting ‘on a high’, enjoying a picnic of sandwiches, chocolate and doritos we began the decline. Going down the volcano was much easier, and everyone we saw (including the friendly guards) congratulated us. This made us even more excited about what we had achieved. This part of the trip was incredible. There was just no way that this was the same island that everyone dismisses as being for drunken teenagers. On the way back to Callao Salvaje, we drove remote roads through banana plantations. We finished off the fantastic day climbing Mt Teide with a well-deserved cocktail on the black sand beach by the hotel!
Climbing Mt Teide Top Tips:
- Carry out research. As mentioned in this post, there are many options. Personally, this option worked perfectly for us. Next time, we would probably attempt the full two-day trek to enjoy the sunset and sunrise! If you do choose to rent a car, I’d recommend Pouls Auto. It was affordable, easy to find and a straightforward hire.
- Be honest. The only reason that our walk to the summit was enjoyable was because we were honest with each other. When a break is needed, it’s needed. This mentality allowed us to keep a comfortable, steady pace. We also made a pact that if either of us felt that the altitude or the hike was too much, we would both descend without getting annoyed. Again, this trust allows for a happy, safe climb.
- Respect the volcano. Don’t mess about and don’t take anything back with you. Just take it all in and enjoy it while you’re there!
- If planning to do Route 10 to the summit, obtain your permit in advance. We got ours 3 months before and all the earlier time slots were already fully-booked! Also, the person who registers must be there. If they aren’t, or if they don’t have their passport, you won’t be allowed up!
- Be aware that, even on a sunny day, views may be restricted. This is due to calima (a hot, dusty wind, common in the Canary Islands). Despite this, the feeling of accomplishment is unbeatable.
Have you climbed a volcano? Maybe you’ve seen the views from Mt Teide, or even climbed from the base to the summit? I’d love to read your stories, and will answer any questions- just leave a comment below!