For trekking and hiking lovers, in Tenerife there’s a special place called Teide. It’s an active volcano that can be climbed from bottom to summit (3.718m) in a single day.
Teide is the second volcano I’ve climbed, following Mount Kilimanjaro, and one of the highest point I’ve ever reached. During my stay in Tenerife, I went hiking 3 times and the one to the top of Teide is definitely been definitely the most intense.
Routes and permits
Mount Teide is found in the homonymous Natural Park, a huge protected area with stunning landscapes. There are two information centres, many paths to hike, petrified lava flows, calderas and a semi-desertic flora.
To reach the summit of the Teide there are two main ways: by cable car or on foot.
The cable car leaves you 30 minutes away from the summit, cutting the hike to a short walk!
The full trek is obviously more interesting and rewarding. It can be done at any hour of the day, thanks to Refuge Altavista where it’s possible to spend the night.
To be able to reach the very summit of Mount Teide, called “el Pico”, you need a permit. It gives you access for 2 hours to el Pico, between 9am and 5pm. Without the permit, or outside your specific allowed time, the highest point you can reach is a view point close to the upper station of the cable car. Booking is almost mandatory because there are limited accesses given per day. You can book on the Spanish National Park website.
If you plan to sleep at Refugio Altavista, you better book your stay in advance, especially during high season. It costs about 20 euros and it’s open from the afternoon till 8am. You’ll have sheets, a blanket, a bunk bed in a common room, a decently equipped kitchen and a couple of vending machines.
It’s possible to hike Mount Teide to the top starting from a couple of different places. The most common route, however, is Montaña Blanca. It begins with an almost flat wide road that turns into a steep tight path.
It takes about 4 hours, excluding breaks, to go from the parking area to the Altavista Refuge at 3.270 metres. The altitude difference between the two points reaches already 1000 metres. With another 1.5 km walk you can get to La Rambleta, where the viewpoint La Fortaleza is, at 3.536m, close to the upper station of the cable car. This second part of the hike can be done in about one hour, it’s less steep but not any easier.
Either you choose to spend your night at the refuge or you reach la Rambleta in one run, you still have another 30 minutes walk to reach the very top of the volcano. This last past is very rocky and uneven. But from here you can already smell sulphur and see the first fumaroles. In few minutes you’ll be able to have an amazing 360 view!
By day light or by night?
I suggest to ask your permit for the early morning, so to be able to see the sunrise from the summit. The best planning, would be to hike up to the Altavista Refuge in the afternoon, spend the night there and face the last part of the hike just before sunrise, ready to see the sun coming up from the sea when you’re already at the Spanish highest point.
If you don’t want to spend one night at the refuge, you can climb in the morning and reach el Pico in the afternoon, so to have still some time to climb down before it’s gets too dark, maybe taking the comfy cable car!
Otherwise you can actually climb at night and still reach the summit by sunrise. But I frankly advise against this option because the temperatures at night are really low and follow the path in the dark can be more challenging than you expect.
Either way, if you want to see the sunrise from el Pico, you’ll have to hike a little bit in the dark. But from Altavista Refuge you’ll be in good company! Jut follow everybody else!
The view from above: Teide’s shadow and the 7 Canary Islands
The most incredible view during the entire trekking, has definitely been the shadow of the Teide on the clouds and the sea around Tenerife. It’s difficult to describe, but it looks fake! We’re used to see mountains casting shadows over the land, but seeing it from above in the sunset and sunrise light, so sharp and clear, it’s magical.
The morning I reached el Pico del Teide someone said that all 7 Canary Islands were visible (including Tenerife!) from up there. It’s rare, but possible.
Gran Canaria and La Gomera are the closest to Tenerife and they are easily seen every day from the coast.
There was definitely another island “on the right” of Gran Canaria: Fuerteventura. People were pointing at Lanzarote behind Fuerteventura. My eyes couldn’t see that far and my lens was perceiving “something” that could have been a dark low cloud or the further part of Fuerteventura.
Looking west, La Palma was standing very clear in the sea. And again someone, with a good sight and/or a good lens and/or a good imagination, was certain that “that spot above the sea” was the 7th Island, El Hierro!
After all, I’ve seen at least 5 of the 7 Island. Not bad!
For some bizarre reason, I’ve seen people hiking with a coat and fancy shoes, with short and tank top in the freezing evening, with an umbrella…. I’d say to keep your backpack pretty simple for a standard short trek!
- good hiking shoes/boots
- warm cloths (if you hike at sunset or sunrise, don’t forget gloves, hat and warm jacket)
- head lamp (for the evening and the early morning)
- enough water (2-3 litres per day)
- something to eat during the hike (at the refuge you can cook a warm meal, but you have to bring along all the necessary ingredients!!