It takes just eight minutes for the cable car to speed you to the top of Tenerife’s Mount Teide, the highest mountain on Spanish territory and the world’s third-loftiest volcano. Infinitely more rewarding, though, is to pull on your hiking boots, pack water and sunblock and devote five hours to walking up it.
The path, called La Rambleta, starts almost apologetically from a lay-by at kilometre 40 on the road (the TR-21) that crosses the Teide National Park. At an altitude of 2,300m, you are already above the tree line, in the middle of a broad, ancient crater, rimmed by red and ochre walls of rock, out of which thrusts the severe and imposing cone of Teide.
If, like most visitors, you’ve travel led up from the coast, be prepared for the thinness of the air and, in the morning at least, a significant drop in temperature. From November until March the higher slopes are snow-covered.
The star of nature’s show is rock, in all shapes, sizes and colours. Most spectacular, about an hour into the walk, is a field of huge black balls of obsidian lava. Known as Los Huevos del Teide (the eggs of Teide), they look as though they’ve been rolled there during a giants’ bowling game.
The top station of the cable car at 12,198 feet, gives you the opportunity to buy a drink, enjoy the sweeping views and indulge in smug feelings as you observe the trippers in their flip-flops and shorts, stumbling across the sharp rock of a lava flow and shivering in the keen wind. The other good thing about el teleférico is that, for the return leg of the journey, you could let the cable take the strain. (Although on very windy days the service is subject to interruptions or doesn’t run at all.)
The summit of Teide, smoke can be seen on the right hand cone!
View from the top, Gran Canaria in the distance
View from the top of the huge caldera
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